Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Answer That Christians Don't Give

"Where was your God when 9/11 happened?"

"Where was your God when Adam Lanza shot up the Sandy Hook elementary school?"

"Where was your God when the Fukushima nuclear reactor melted down?"

If you haven't been assaulted with questions like this you're probably not a Christian, or if you are a Christian you may be hiding your light under a basket. Just the act of announcing to the world that you worship Christ Jesus as your true Lord tends to bring out the atheist assault troops. I say assault because atheists generally do not ask these questions and expect an answer, these are an attack on your faith.

They love to throw these questions at Christians for several reasons. One reason is to end an argument that they feel they are loosing, much in the same way that a staunch leftist will accuse you of being a racist (or in the case of Hillary Clinton who will accuse you of being a terrorist) just to shut down the conversation. Another reason is they are trying to sew doubt in your mind about God whom they hate. This is item #3 in Tom Challies' article "8 Ways Satan Convinces You To Question Your Salvation" (And if you think that by this I'm inferring that atheism is a tool of Satan, then you are very astute). However mostly these questions are just an attack. They're attacking you for believing in God, and they're attacking God because they hate him.

A lot of Christian answers I've seen to these attack questions are pretty weak at best. When asked why God allowed James Eagan Homes to shoot up a movie theater in Aurora CO, Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel answered "I don't know" How can a Christian author and apologist not know? He does go on to talk about sin being the cause but an atheist isn't going to understand that at all. 

Christian political activist and pundit John Hawkins answers the question with answers like "we have free will", and  "It's a necessity for faith" among a few others. And they're OK as far as they go, but these are highly diluted theology and as with what Lee Strobel said an atheist isn't going to understand them.

I'm not real wild about the teachings of Dr. David Jeremiah but he did come a bit closer to the biblical truth when he said "There's nothing in the bible that says good people get protected from bad things" and that we're in the human race which is a fallen race. The first bit about no protection an atheist may understand, but a "fallen race"? They aren't going to understand that. As far as they're concerned the human race is evolved from monkeys and neither race has fallen.

One problem is that our society is being drown under a lie, the lie of Universalism. Universalism teaches that God is love (and only love) and the concepts of hell and punishment are rejected as inconsistent with a loving God. I once called this viewpoint the "Happy Slappy Clappy Church of Perpetual Joy" This leaves people to reason that if God is love (and only love) then He couldn't possibly allow bad things happen to people, therefore he is either impotent when bad things happen, or he doesn't exist. 

The view that God is love (and only love) denies so many, many of his attributes in the end you come up with this kind of theology. People actually end up believing that God is incapable of hate! We know that's not true in the least. We know that God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14), a God of anger (Psalm 7:11) a God of righteous wrath (Romans 2:5) so why don't we realize what we know?
God’s attributes are balanced in His divine perfection.  And they are perfectly balanced.  If God did not have wrath, and God did not have anger, then He would not be God.  God is perfect in love, on the one hand, and He is equally perfect in hate, on the other hand.  Just as totally as He loves, so totally does He hate.  As His love is unmixed, so is His hate unmixed.
Of Christ, it says in Hebrews 1:9, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.”  And there is that perfect balance in the nature of God.  As I mentioned, one of the tragedies of Christianity in our time is a failure to preach the hatred of God, the judgment of God.  We’re so saccharine.  We’re so sentimental.  We’re so kind of mushy in our Christianity.  When is the last time you heard a new song on the wrath of God?  Heard one lately?  I haven’t. (Dr. John MacGuire, June 7, 1981)
Here's the hard cold biblical fact - bad things happen to bad people. And here's a colder harder fact: there are no good people. 
Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man. (Mark 7:21-23)
9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10 “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
Because of our sinful nature we are under the wrath of God!
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (Romans 1:17-19)
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:3)
This isn't a school yard snit or a mindless vendetta, God's wrath is just and righteous:
God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil. (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, Pg 151)
God hates sin, and we are a sinful people. However God's wrath is his love in action against sin. I thought it was weird when I first saw this but give it a go:
God is love, and God does all things for his glory (Romans 11:36). He loves his glory above all (and that is a good thing!). Therefore, God rules the world in such a way that brings himself maximum glory. This means that God must act justly and judge sin (i.e. respond with wrath), otherwise God would not be God. God’s love for his glory motivates his wrath against sin.
Admittedly, God’s love for his own glory is a most sobering reality for many and not good news for sinners. It is after all, “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
So in effect we are, by our sinful nature, subject to the wrath of God. And as society breaks down and morality fades into a fond memory God's wrath is going to become more and more apparent. None of this will comfort a grieving widow or a tear filled orphan, but this is something we cannot ignore: God hates sin, we are all sinners, therefore we are objects of his wrath. Only God's grace and mercy keeps those of us who have accepted Christ Jesus as out Lord and Master protects us from his wrath:
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
So I think when an atheist asks me "Where was your God when XYZ happened?" I have a few honest answers. One may be "Watching to insure that none of his beloved suffer unjustly" but I think I'll go with this one:

"That's the wrong question, the correct question is 'Why do good things happen to sinners?' and the correct answer is 'Only through the grace of God does that happen.'"

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Doug for the wonderful article, it does give me pause to think about how I would have answered those questions. I hear too many Christians say, "God is love", and I know what they are say is God is only love and does not hate....I am alarmed at how many people say that without understanding that God also hates and He is just and righteous. All the attributes of God work in harmony, nobody can separate any attribute out from another.

    Again thank you for the article,