Christians are called to preach the Gospel. It isn’t an optional or a suggestion, it’s a command! One of my favorite places to share my faith is on the golf course. It’s great because I get to spend 3 to 4 hours with a person or group of people, and they have no place to go! I wrote a little about this in an earlier post entitled “Go Tell it on the Mountain”.
When I do share what Jesus did for me on the cross I get a plethora of responses. Some people ignore or pretend they didn’t hear what I said. Some roll their eyes and talk about how boring church is. Some, by God’s grace, have ears to hear and say they will look into what I said. Then, you have the objector who will attack what you are saying.
I have spoken with a couple of objectors on the course. One objector was a guy that still sends me text messages inviting me to go play with him. The first question that he asked me was, “How can you believe in a god when there is so much evil in the world?”
Before I go into the response I want to highlight that engaging in these dialogues is important. It is critical to understand that you do not need to know all the answers. There have been plenty of times that I have engaged folks that brought up interesting arguments that I could not answer at that moment. I told them I do not have a complete answer but I will do my best to find one. The key is doing our best to get answers and being ready to give them to those around us. 1 Peter 3:15 says:
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” -ESV
When we come across people who disagree it is imperative that we interact with “gentleness and respect”. That does not mean that we do not share the truth with them, but we do it in a way that is pleasing to Jesus and respectful to the objector. Now back to the question, “How can you believe in a god when there is so much evil in the world?”.
This is probably the most common question that come from the unbeliever. Yet, I find that a lot of Christians have not thought through how to answer it. My theology is in line with the reformed tradition. If you are familiar with reformed theology you know that presuppositional apologetics has its roots within it. The key to answering this question isn’t so much answering for God why evil happens. Rather, it is asking the atheist or agnostic how he/she can call anything evil?
It all comes down to exposing presuppositions. When the person says, “there is so much evil in the world,” the Christian must examine what that means. This objection implies that the objector knows what is and what is not “evil”. The problem is that his/her worldview cannot account for evil.
Here are a series of questions that the objector needs to answer:
#1 Are morals universal?
#2 Are morals unchanging?
#3 Are morals immaterial?
Most objectors will say, “Morals are not universal or unchanging. But they are immaterial.”
By saying that morals are not universal or unchanging the objector is saying that morals are then subjective. Some will say that morals are subjective to worldwide consensus (how they could know this baffles me). Some say that morals are subjective to the local community (should America have stopped Hitler then?). Some will affirm that morals are only subjective to the individual and nothing more. No matter which one of these the objector holds they still have one problem…they are subjective.
Once a person admits this subjectivity they are left with nothing but their own personal/communal opinion on what is right and what is wrong. When that happens you get what occurred in the White vs. Silverman debate:
White asked, “When you stand at the gates of Auschwitz all you can say is, ‘For me, this was bad’?”
Silverman responded saying, “yup.”
That is really what it comes down to. The objector has no grounds to call anything morally wrong or evil because he/she cannot even substantiate the moral grounds by which anyone else can determine what is right or wrong.
When their lack of moral foundation gets exposed the Christian needs to respond saying, “How can you say that there is no objective moral truth but use objective moral truth to not believe in the God of Scripture?”
If the person cannot answer that question they are faced with the fact that they cannot live consistently within their worldview. Then, the Christian can share the Gospel with them again.
Share your faith, defend the truth, and let God handle the rest.
Click the hyperlink for the White vs. Silverman debate “Is the NT Evil?”
Thanks for Reading,
Sunday is usually the best day in my week. I love that I get to spend time with close friends in Christ. I worship through music, preaching and teaching. I know a few people who would call themselves believers and do not go to church. Some say that they think it is boring. Others say that it doesn’t help them in their spiritual journey. But the majority say that they’ve been wounded by the church.
Before I was in the ministry I thought that everyone had their lives together. People would walk into church with their Sunday best and smiles on their faces (like the cartoon). I thought they were people that had everything together. Then I got into ministry.
People that I saw as problem-less started coming to me for their problems. And it didn’t take me long to figure out that church is made up of sinful people just like you and I . We all have struggles with sin and sometimes we break to its power and that can cause pain for others around us.
If you are one of those people who have been hurt by church I would urge you to be forgiving and go back. I cannot promise you that any church wont hurt you. I can’t guarantee that the perfect church is out there. But what I can give you is the encouragement that Hebrews 10: 24-25 gave to me.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -ESV
I pray this is encouraging to you because I know that church has encouraged me.
I have always been a bigger kid. Even when I was a little tyke I was chubby and most of the time my clothes didn’t fit me well. Unfortunately, the clothes still don’t fit me that well. I have learned not place my worth on my own merits but this wasn’t always the case.
Just like many young people today I struggled with “self-esteem” issues. I would get picked on in school and come home feeling worthless because I felt others viewed me that way…worthless. When I tried to boost my self-confidence it would always come through sports. I wanted to be the best in whatever sport I was playing because that gave me worth. Even if it were for fun I would play with extreme competitiveness to win and that was supposed to make me feel better about myself. But, that didn’t work! I realized that I was never going to be the best at sports and that realization dragged me down again.
For me, sports gave me a false sense of worth. That is the problem with “self-esteem” when we rely on ourselves to give us worth we see we are worthless. When we look into ourselves we see a person who is dirty, dark, and disgusting. I knew I needed change and I looked for it. Want to know what I found?
I discovered that “self-esteem” is a counterfeit for God-esteem. It sounds like a bad cliché but it is true. The only way one can realize their worth is through their standing with God. And as believers in Christ it is crucial to know how God views us and why he views us the way he does. Romans 8: 31-35a gives us the answer:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
As a believer no one’s condemnation can come against you…not even your own. God calls you elected. God calls you justified. God says that Jesus intercedes for you and that you will never be separated from the love of Christ. And all of this was given to you by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
So, if you are struggling with how you view yourself just ask this question…”How does God view me?”
That answer is the only answer that matters!