When the Dust Settles

Christians don’t have only statements and creeds on which to stand. We stand on holy ground, before a holy God. And as Moses, Daniel, Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and countless others have discovered, it is a place of both awe and intimacy before the very One who describes and makes sense of all reality.

I would like to begin by telling a story about an event that took place some years ago when I was beginning my studies, an event that has had a major impact on my life and my approach to engaging others to this day. I had a neighbor who was deeply committed to a version of the New Age movement. He and I had many conversations about God in the course of several months. He was a highly educated man with a couple of PhDs to his name, and so he provided me with an opportunity to test my training. But the training I was receiving in apologetics was good, and I soon realized that I could not only answer the questions he was asking about my faith in God, I could also poke holes in his worldview in a way that forced him to check books out of the local library to try and put his worldview back together. And I was feeling very good about myself. I was actually getting it!

Finally I decided to challenge him to consider giving his life to Christ. His reaction surprised me. He did not seem to care at all about what I was telling him. So I said to him, “Can you please explain to me what is going on? You don’t seem to care about what I am telling you.” His answer was even more baffling to me. He said to me, “Listening to you asking me to become a Christian is like listening to a naturalist asking me to become a naturalist.”

I said to him, “What in the world do you mean? I just asked you to consider giving your life to the God who created you, and you are accusing me of being an atheist? What do you mean?”

He said to me, “All you Christians have are statements and creeds. You think that if people accept those statements and creeds, everything will be okay. When I pray, I get in touch with powers that you know nothing about.”

And that was one of the most convicting things anyone has ever said to me. Because what this man was saying to me was essentially this: “Yes, you can say a lot of very convincing things about your faith, but does your faith really rise beyond well-argued propositions?”

In his book Beyond Opinion, Ravi Zacharias says that the greatest obstacle to the reception of the gospel is not its inability to provide answers; rather, it is the failure on the part of Christians to live it out. J.I. Packer writes similarly in his classic book entitled Knowing God:

From current Christian publications you might think that the most vital issue for any real or would-be Christian in the world today is church union, or social witness, or dialogue with other Christians and other faiths, or refuting this or that -ism, or developing a Christian philosophy and culture…. [It] is tragic that … so many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and always will be the true priority for every human being—that is, learning to know God in Christ.1

Whatever your position of faith, it is helpful to occasionally step back and ask a similar question of priority. Whatever your calling in life, what is the ultimate goal of all that you do? As Jesus wisely observed, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Indeed, the Bible addresses this question in many places, in both the Old and New Testaments, but none so much as in the person of Christ himself. If there is a message we hear loudest in his coming to earth it is this: the primary call of God is to know God, to be near God, not to argue on God’s behalf. The end is knowing God. Even the Scriptures were given to us as a means to that end. For when all is said and done, when the dust settles, it is the eternally incarnate Son of God who lies behind the hauntingly inescapable question, “Who do you say that I am?” It is a question each of us must answer, with our words and with our lives. There is no neutral ground.

No, Christians don’t have only statements and creeds on which to stand. We stand on holy ground, before a holy God. And as Moses, Daniel, Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and countless others have discovered, it is a place of both awe and intimacy before the very One who describes and makes sense of all reality. How wonderful it is when the curtain is pulled back, and we see God for who God truly is, and we are able to say with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

John Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

1J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 279.

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6 Questions to ask an Atheist

Many times, as Christian theists, we find ourselves on the defensive against the critiques and questions of atheists.  Sometimes, in the midst of arguments and proofs, we miss the importance of conversation.  These questions, then, are meant to be a part of a conversation.  They are not, in and of themselves, arguments or "proofs" for God.  They are commonly asked existential or experiential questions that both atheists and theists alike can ponder.

1.    If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing?  This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers.  But it is an historic concern.  Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning to this life?  If there is meaning, what kind of meaning and how is it found?  Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end?  How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier?  If these concepts are merely social constructions, or human opinions, whose opinion does one trust in determining what is good or bad, right or wrong?  If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers?
2.    If we reject the existence of God, we are left with a crisis of meaning, so why don’t we see more atheists like Jean Paul Sartre, or Friedrich Nietzsche, or Michel Foucault?  These three philosophers, who also embraced atheism, recognized that in the absence of God, there was no transcendent meaning beyond one’s own self-interests, pleasures, or tastes.  The crisis of atheistic meaninglessness is depicted in Sartre’s book Nausea.  Without God, there is a crisis of meaning, and these three thinkers, among others, show us a world of just stuff, thrown out into space and time, going nowhere, meaning nothing.
3.    When people have embraced atheism, the historical results can be horrific, as in the regimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot who saw religion as the problem and worked to eradicate it?  In other words, what set of actions are consistent with particular belief commitments?  It could be argued, that these behaviors – of the regimes in question - are more consistent with the implications of atheism.  Though, I'm thankful that many of the atheists I know do not live the implications of these beliefs out for themselves like others did!  It could be argued that the socio-political ideologies could very well be the outworking of a particular set of beliefs – beliefs that posited the ideal state as an atheistic one.
4.    If there is no God, the problems of evil and suffering are in no way solved, so where is the hope of redemption, or meaning for those who suffer?  Suffering is just as tragic, if not more so, without God because there is no hope of ultimate justice, or of the suffering being rendered meaningful or transcendent, redemptive or redeemable.  It might be true that there is no God to blame now, but neither is there a God to reach out to for strength, transcendent meaning, or comfort.  Why would we seek the alleviation of suffering without objective morality grounded in a God of justice?
5.    If there is no God, we lose the very standard by which we critique religions and religious people, so whose opinion matters most?  Whose voice will be heard?  Whose tastes or preferences will be honored?  In the long run, human tastes and opinions have no more weight than we give them, and who are we to give them meaning anyway?  Who is to say that lying, or cheating or adultery or child molestation are wrong –really wrong?  Where do those standards come from?  Sure, our societies might make these things “illegal” and impose penalties or consequences for things that are not socially acceptable, but human cultures have at various times legally or socially disapproved of everything from believing in God to believing the world revolves around the sun; from slavery, to interracial marriage, from polygamy to monogamy.  Human taste, opinion law and culture are hardly dependable arbiters of Truth.
6.    If there is no God, we don’t make sense, so how do we explain human longings and desire for the transcendent?  How do we even explain human questions for meaning and purpose, or inner thoughts like, why do I feel unfulfilled or empty?  Why do we hunger for the spiritual, and how do we explain these longings if nothing can exist beyond the material world?

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Hugh Ross on FOX NEW's "Spirited Debate" with Lauren Green


 

Watch Dr. Ross' recent interview with Fox News Channel’s chief religion correspondent Lauren Green on her show Spirited Debate. Hugh and Lauren address the question "Does science support the Book of Genesis?" Click here to watch this exciting interview now!

The Implications of Darwinism: "Humans are a plague of Nature."

What are the true logical implications of the Neo-Darwinian materialistic worldview?  Is it truly harmless and benign, or is there perhaps a more nefarious side to this ideology?

"The War on Humans" will be released in the winter of 2014 documents the growing tide of anti-human language and sentiment that is building and developing within the Darwinistic circles and the extreme Eco-Gaia movements all throughout the country.  If man is truly perceived as just an animal, no more valuable than a pig or monkey, why not "dethrone" them from our place of supremacy and be open to our mass elimination.

Watch this short preview, and be sure to see the film when it releases later this year....