A Powerful Apologetic Method: ABDUCTIVE Reasoning!

"What in the world is 'Abductive Reasoing'?" Well, abductive reasoning is employed by crime scene detectives, car mechanics, and your medical doctor.  Abductive reasoning is when you look at all the known facts, and seek to form the best explanation to explain the data.  Abductive reasoning seeks to find the "inference to the best explanation" for the known facts.   

This is a vital way of thinking and investigating that all serious Christians should be engaged in....

 - Pastor J. 

Why isn't God more obvious?

Why isn’t God more obvious?  This question is often asked in many ways and in many contexts.  When prayers go unanswered, why is God silent?  When suffering or tragedy strikes, why would God allow this to happen?  When struggling over the immense task of evangelism and the countless millions who do not know about God revealed in Jesus Christ, why wouldn’t God want more people to know God’s good news?  When all the “evidence” seems to counter the Biblical narrative, why doesn’t God just give us a sign?  When God was revealed through many wondrous signs and miracles throughout the Bible, why doesn’t God act that way today?  All of these examples get at the same issue – the seeming “hiddenness” of God.

Atheist Bertrand Russell was once asked what he would say if after death he met God, to which Russell replied: “God, you gave us insufficient evidence.” [1]    While many who have found God quite evident would balk at Russell’s impudence, a similar struggle ensued between the psalmist and his hidden God.  “Why do you stand afar off, O Lord?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalms 10:1)  Indeed, the psalmist accuses God of being “asleep” in these plaintive cries: “Arouse, yourself, why do you sleep, O Lord?  Awake, and do not reject us forever.  Why do you hide your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression?” (Psalm 44:23-24)

Indeed, the belief in a God who can be easily found, and who has acted in time and space makes the hiddenness of God all the more poignant and perplexing.  Theologians have offered many explanations for God’s hiddenness; to grow our faith, our sins and disobedience hides us from God, or at least keeps us from seeing God properly, or because God loves us and knows how much and how often we need to “find” God.  All of these explanations point us to the truth. Oftentimes, we are just as likely to hide ourselves from God because of our guilt and shame, just as our first parents’ did in the Garden when God sought after them.

But, once our hearts’ are examined and our lives are “blameless” with regards to any willful hiding from God, we cry out, just like Job did and wonder why God stays hidden away in unanswered prayers and difficult circumstances.  “Why do you hide your face, and consider me the enemy?” (Job 13:24)

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WHY ISN’T GOD MORE OBVIOUS?

Why is it that God does not seem to approach in a much more obvious way? One answer has been that God’s existence is not a matter of reality and facts. Isn’t it more of a faith position, anyway? More of a leap in the dark than an evaluation of evidence?

I would agree that God isn’t “forcefully obvious,” but I don’t think that this confines God to being a “take-it-or-leave-it” matter of faith. I think it makes more sense to see God as clearly visible, whilst not being forcefully obvious.

Did you know that the Bible actually recognizes the validity of the question we are asking? First, we see passages that affirm the human perception that God seems hidden. In Job 23:8-9 we read, “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.”

Interestingly, there are also many examples of God appearing as if veiled in darkness, whilst still simultaneously offering his presence.(1) For instance we read that, “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Jesus, too, invites people to trust in him and then leaves and hides himself. In John we find the story of a paralytic man who is healed, but then Jesus slips away into the crowd. Luke records that as news about Jesus spread, “he often withdrew to lonely places.” Later, Jesus tells the disciples that, “Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me.” Interestingly in many of these cases, God provides a clear glimpse of God’s reality, while at the same time veiling the fullness of that presence.

So perhaps an unavoidable part of the Bible’s answer to why God seems hidden is because it’s true. But why? And what about those times when we need a present God most, when God could offer us real hope in times of suffering?

Well, when Jesus resisted the crowd, he concealed his identity until exactly the right moment in time to explicitly disclose it. This was a wise decision as the consequences of more explicit or obvious disclosure led fairly quickly to a successful campaign to have him executed.

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