In the past couple of months, two prominent people in Christian circles made waves. One announced he was divorcing his wife and leaving the faith. The other announced his faith was wavering under the barrage of his questions. None about if God exists, but the state of the world and how He does things.
The interesting thing to me is the differences between the first two. The one who left appears to have made the decision based more on feelings. He’s a former pastor, so I’m not questioning his depth of knowledge. It seems he just doesn’t like what he sees in the Bible anymore.
As an aside, if nothing you read in the Bible disturbs you and makes you think, then are you really reading it? I question God and wrestle with issues. However, He’s God. His ways are higher than my ways.
He’s still my redeemer.
The other one is more rational and unsatisfied with the answers that apologetics-Christian case-making-has given him. The answers are there. Christianity has a lot of depth to it: evidential, existential, philosophical, emotional, etc.
This is why I say every Christian needs a firm foundation of study in theology and apologetics. The questions will come, and they aren’t new. They’ve been discussed for thousands of years.
You don’t have to be a scholar with a degree. The basics would be reading the Bible front to back in an easy to read translation, then an introduction to Systematic Theology like Wayne Grudem’s. Apologetics books from Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, J. Warner Wallace, and the indomitable C.S Lewis can never go wrong.
You can go deeper than that.
There is more to it than that. C.S Lewis once said in a speech, “One last word. I have found that nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that Faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate. For a moment, you see, it has seemed to rest on oneself: as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than that weak pillar. That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality — from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself. That also is why we need another’s continual help — oremus pro invicem [‘Let us pray for each other’].”
However, head knowledge doesn’t matter if it’s a matter of the heart. Romans 1:18 (The Message) says,
“But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes, and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.”
Ask yourself this: if the God of the Bible is real, would I follow Him?
This shows whether you’re resisting based on lack of knowledge or self-will. No amount of apologetics can turn a hardened heart. God has to soften the resistance so we can consider it.
Then God gives us two choices, His will or our will. Turn toward Jesus and follow or turn your back to Jesus.
I’ll close with C.S Lewis’ quote from The Great Divorce, his book on Heaven and Hell.
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”