Saturday, January 06, 2007

Repsonse to an atheist's essay had this feature where a bunch of prominent people shared an essay about their religious experience and then people were allowed to comment. I wrote this in response to Susan Jacoby.

Unfortunately, some of these comments convey an attitude of mockery and hatred toward atheists from supposed Christians. This is lamentable. As a Christian, Jesus has saved me from my wretched state as a sinner, and I am no better than anyone else.

The type of questions that have been called unanswerable in numerous posts are not too difficult to answer, however the answer goes to the heart of a person's pride. The existence of God is a logical conclusion. Something has always existed from eternity past, either dead matter or a living being. If you don't concede to this, then your assertion is subject to the question "Where did that come from?" over and over again, every answer you give begging the question even further. This very attribute that logically *must* be possessed by something is itself boggling to our minds. Of something in the universe we must conclude: "This had no beginning and therefore has no end as well. It is eternal." If the physical world is itself eternal, and there is no spiritual reality, then why is everything that is most important to every person in the world unseen? We want to be loved, and to love others, to be known, to enjoy intimacy, to be respected, to leave a legacy, to be feared, to have power over other human beings, and the list goes on of both good and bad desires. Why are we afraid of death? From a purely physical standpoint, it seems pretty peaceful and serene, with an absence of suffering. If you simply observe yourself and catalog your own thoughts, you'll realize when you get down to the heart of what you care about and think about and strive for, it is almost all immaterial. Even when you work hard for money to live the good life it's ultimately to have a feeling of security and experience pleasure inside that you hope will be induced by your physical possessions. Finally, most people, whether they believe in God or not, would say at the end of their lives that they gained the most satisfation from their relationships with family and friends and everything else matters little. This is no accident: it tells us in very simple terms both our purpose for existence and the nature of the One who created us.

God wants to be your father and mother, you sister and brother, your spouse, and your best friend. The reason he created human society with these relationships is so that we would understand the different facets of His own relationship to us! The natural and the supernatural are congruent, as Paul writes in Romans chapter one.

One of the major objections mentioned in multiple posts is the way God deals with human life and rights in the Bible. This is going to be tough for you to swallow, because it offends your pride, but here it is: something is right, because God says it is and something is wrong because God says it is, and for no other reason. Legitimate moral reasoning begins with that. Please bear with me, this is not illogical, although it is simple. Since God exists and is the Creator of everything, then He owns everything and is completely within His right to do whatever He wants with it. Since He Himself has authority of life and death, He can also can explicitly delegate that authority to human beings. Who can tell God that He's wrong? Seriously. How can the creature tell the creator what to do? That would be ridiculous. With a few notable exceptions, God has decided that everyone will physically die; we know this already. It's just a matter of when. Do I have a right to get mad at God when He gives someone only 25 years on earth instead of 80? It was all a gift from Him in the first place! As the Creator and Owner of everything, He has the right (and He is truly just) to do whatever He wants. This is not illogical in the slightest; it just offends our pride.

If you can humble yourself and admit that God is always just and right to do whatever He pleases, included taking anyone's life at any time, then you've started toward Him. If, however, you reject His very nature of omnipotence and righteousness, then you are choosing to remain separated from Him. I assure you that He wants you. This is where the sacrifice of Jesus comes in. People get offended when Christians say that God will punish all sin. How can God be so cruel? For your sake, he poured out His terrible wrath that each one of us deserved for our negligence to glorify Him properly and draw close to Him in relationship - He poured out this just wrath on His own Son, because His heart is so unimaginably filled with fiery, passionate desire to be reconciled to each one of us as a Husband. (As a side note, this identification of God as a husband to his people is first found in the Old Testament...see Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Psalms.)

There are so many people who call themselves Christians who really are not. They don't understand this framework of God's love and redemptive free grace to save us from His terrible yet just wrath, which is clearly revealed in the Bible. My heart breaks for people like Ms. Jacoby who were introduced as children to a loveless, intellectually flimsy, perversion of true faith in Christ that pushed them away from the man Jesus Christ. He is alive, and He's waiting for you to come to Him. Like the parable of the prodigal son, all you have to do is come to the end of yourself and ask for His help and His heart will leap for joy to see you coming, and He'll start running when He sees you in the distance and He'll embrace you and wrap His arms around you and kiss you, and then all the angels of heaven will rejoice with a party like you've never seen before, because the heart of God is overflowing with joy at your return. You may think this is flowery language and wishful thinking, but it's *literally true.* Not only have I reasoned through the logical challenges to faith in Jesus, but I've tasted His presence, and He changed my life. Repent of your sins and come to Jesus today.