Tag Archives: God

The Question For Atheists Is Not “How Do I Find God?” | The Question is “How do I Miss Him?”

While God is a hidden God and is surrounded by mystery (we will never totally understand Him – He transcends us), He also has revealed much about Himself in the world that He has made (cosmos) and in how He has made human beings with an in-built God awareness (conscience). This is what theologians call “Natural Revelation.” This in itself provides enough evidence for a reasonable belief in God and renders us without excuse.

In Romans 1:20, Paul states: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

God has planted evidence of Himself throughout His creation so that we are without excuse. Even if you were a non-Jew without the Torah, according to Paul, you are totally responsible for your behavior and cannot plead ignorance of God or His ways because God has revealed Himself to us in what He has made.

Paul’s argument is this: If you looked long enough at what God has made, you would come to understand something of His beauty and nature. Glittering stars flung across a black heaven. The earth in perfect orbit around the sun – close enough to sustain life but far enough away to keep from burning up. Sculpted mountains. The earth’s crust carved into breathtaking canyons. Fish that glow in the blackest depth of the sea. A butterfly breaking free from a cacoon. The meticulously spun web of a gray spider. The growth of a child in the womb. Birth. God’s fingerprints are all over.

After all of this, how could we ever come to the conclusion that we can live life any way that we want; that there is no God; that life is all about my glory, not His. From the greatest feat of forming a beautiful cosmos out of nothing to the intricate details of the smallest little insect or cell, each act of God in creation serves as a missionary in miniature form. They are sermons without preachers; they are biblical texts without Bibles. And while general revelation is not adequate to explain the Gospel, it renders all mankind without excuse and calls for a response.

God is everywhere, yet invisible. God is a hidden God. God has given us just enough evidence so that those who want Him can have him. Those who want to reject Him can do that as well. Think about it. It’s the only way a relationship with God could not be forced. If He was here in visible form, ruling with great power, would anybody choose differently? Evil melts away in his presence. So God must hide and self-limit in order for a free-will world to be possible. The direct presence of God would inevitably overwhelm our freedom. God gives everyone the room to either choose or reject. He’s a hidden God and He will not force love.

What you will find in your spiritual journey, is that it’s not so much that you find God; He finds you. And you realize you knew Him all along, but you suppressed knowledge of Him in your life (Romans 1). So don’t so much focus on “How do I find God?” Turn it around. “How has He already found me?” He brought me to this blog. He’s communicated via the Bible (Special Revelation). He’s placed me in an intelligently designed world that operates according to natural laws. He’s used crisis, confrontation, catastrophe, and even some fantastic blessings in life, like friends, baseball, family, and a day at the beach to get my attention and to cause me to tune in to Him.

Many former atheists have come to this conclusion: “God has found me! He’s known me all along and has never lost me, even though I’ve suppressed knowing Him. If I would have just looked at things close enough, I would have seen Him looking back at me. I don’t want to suppress Him anymore. I want to see and know Him.”

“How do I find God?” you ask. I reply: “How do you miss Him?” Look closely, and the very fact that you’re looking indicates this startling reality. He already found you.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Conscience, Creation, Earth, Existence of God, First Cause, Free Will, Hidden God, Intelligent Design, Theism, Truth

The Old Testament Summed Up for Atheists

I have found that many people, especially atheists, struggle with a comprehensive understanding of the Old Testament Bible books. In this post, I mention each of the 39 Old Testament books by name; I succinctly in one sentence or less sum up that particular book or authors argument; and I tie it all together in a flowing, historical narrative that reflects the chronology of when books were written. This is literally the product of years of study. I offer it to you free.

By the way, don’t listen to Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. They don’t know the Bible.

So, here we go…

In a world with much suffering and meaninglessness (Job & Ecclesiastes) and in a world where we have to be trained how to love and enjoy those closest to us because of sin, especially our spouses (Song of Solomon), God promised that a special Seed (Genesis) would come through Abraham, whose family evolved into a national race (Exodus) of Yahweh worshippers (Leviticus) who after a period of disobedience (Numbers) finally inhabit a distinct land (Deuteronomy) under Joshua’s leadership (Joshua), maintain control of the land under the leadership of the Judges (Judges), realize the curse associated with leaving the land (Ruth), and endeavor to rule the land with kings (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles), the greatest of which was King David who was promised a Messianic heir to his throne (Psalms).

However, the people of Israel divided into two nations, Israel [10 tribes] and Judah [2 tribes – Judah and Benjamin] after the death of wise King Solomon despite his wisdom sayings (Proverbs) and were disobedient despite tearful prophetic warnings (Jeremiah) which were mixed with prophecies of eschatological judgment, immediate hope should they repent, and future Messianic hope regardless of what they may do at the present (Amos, Micah, Isaiah, Zephaniah, Joel) and a dramatic story of His faithful love for them (Hosea).

To keep God’s covenant people from being blinded by their Jewish nationalism in this period, God demonstrated his love for the entire world when He sent an Israeli prophet (Jonah) to preach repentance to the pagan nation of Assyria. Even though Assyria repented, they still took Israel into captivity in 722 BC from which few, if any Jew, ever returned to their Jewish homeland. As a result of this and other atrocities, Assyria was conquered by Babylon about 150 years later (Nahum) in 612 BC. Nevertheless, Judah refused to repent of her wrongdoing, and though it was hard to understand how God could use a pagan nation to discipline His people (Habakkuk) and having no neighbor to help them against their enemy (Obadiah), they were sadly taken into captivity by Babylon in 586 BC (Lamentations) where, despite visions of hope and encouragement of future religious and political restoration (Ezekiel, Daniel) their identity and existence was threatened by this pagan culture (Daniel), as well as the Medo-Persian culture (Esther).

Judah’s residents were finally able to return (Ezra, Nehemiah) to their land in 539 BC. Even though they delayed rebuilding their temple (Haggai) and even though they eventually lapsed into the same sins that sent them into captivity in the first place (Malachi), they were assured of final national victory and prosperity, accompanied by peace and justice under the coming Messiah’s reign (Malachi, Zechariah). They were ever mindful that “the Promise” would come from a virgin (Isa. 7:14) from within the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10) and the family of Jesse (Isa. 11) and David (2 Sam., 1 & 2 Chron.) and from the town of Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2) and in the lineage of Zerubbabel (Hag. 2:23); a righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5; Zech.3:8; 6:12,13), a tender twig (Ezek. 17:22-24), a King-Priest (Zech. 6:13), and He shall be a great ruler/judge for a Scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num. 24:17) as well as a Suffering Servant (Isa. 53) who will eventually implement an incredible kingdom on earth (Mic. 2:12-13; 4:1-8; 5:4-5).

So God has self-disclosed over the centuries, all the while, keeping the promise of the Messiah alive in each generation.

Then, there are 400 silent years, where no prophetic, written word is heard. Then, Jesus is born. In the OT, Messiah is coming. In the New Testament Gospels, he’s here. In the New Testament Epistles, he’s coming again.

Don’t waste your time with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. They don’t know the Bible.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christianity, God, Jesus Christ, Larger Story, Messiah, Old Testament, Prophecy

Atheists Have No One to Thank This Thanksgiving

A favorite author, Chuck Colson, gives a great insight on this topic. He tells about a time in his life when he was “distinctly irreligious”. “I was on a lake in New Hampshire where I had taken a fourteen-foot Day Sailer to teach my two sons to sail. On one of our ventures across the lake, Christian, who was then ten, grabbed the sheet and was so excited over actually being able to sail the boat that his eyes sparkled. I was in the stern holding the tiller. I saw in my son’s expression the joy of a new discovery as he felt the wind’s power in his hands.

In that unguarded moment, I found myself saying, ‘Thank you, God, for giving me this son – for giving us this one wonderful moment.’ I went on to tell God that if I were to die tomorrow, I would feel my life had been fulfilled. When I realized what I had done, I was startled. I had no intention of trying to talk to God, whoever He was – if He did exist and was even knowable. I was certainly not intellectually convinced that God existed. But I had to admit that I was simply overcome with gratitude for that unforgettably rich experience with my son Chris, and I needed to thank someone – God…

What moved me that day to talk to God was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that incredibly joyous experience… Gratitude, I have discovered, is built into every one of us, as much as a universal human characteristic as guilt. When you wake up in the morning, lift the window, feel the fresh [fall] breezes, and see the sun rising, aren’t you filled with gratitude? (Good Life, 272).”

Perhaps, in an unguarded moment, an atheist will look up this Thanksgiving and say, “Thank you” to the One who has made their life possible. Otherwise, the thing about atheism is that you have no One to thank. Someone even suggested that you cannot be grateful for some thing without being grateful to a someone. One can express gratittude only toward another intelligent, conscious being. You cannot be grateful to a fencepost, or the moon, or some collection of atoms. An atheist can be happy that the sun sets over Maui, be he/she can’t be truly grateful for these things since there is no one to whom to be grateful.

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Filed under Atheism, God, Gratitude, Thanksgiving

How A Father Can Avoid Raising An Atheist Son

I learned recently how many renown atheists had poor relationships with their fathers (I would venture to say that 95% of atheists have had poor relationships with their dads). This is indicative of the “Father Wound” that so many children take on early in life. Our concepts of God are formed from the type of father that we have. An aloof, harsh, disconnected, obnoxious (even religious) dad has produced far more atheists than any “evil God” argument, or “fairy-tale Bible” argument, or a “bad church experience” argument has ever thought about producing. Check out the de-conversion blog for more “arguments”. But what they will never tell you is that “My father wounded me deeply and I’ve never been able to get over it.” De-converting and rejecting belief in God is my way of getting back.

Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. Many of our social problems can be traced to fatherlessness – to dads who refuse to be dads. Newsweek ran a cover story about “The Boy Crisis”. The author said, “A boy without a father figure is like an explorer without a map (Eldredge, Way of the Wild Heart…xii).” So many boys are pretty much on their own. “Figure life out yourself and good luck.”

God recognizes the stupidity of such an approach. Even Jesus needed to know that His Father loved him and was going to guide Him. Two of the most prominent occasions where God speaks in the New Testament occur when He is blessing His Son, Jesus.

At his baptism, Jesus comes out of the water and a voice from heaven says,

“Mark 1:9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased (NIV)’.”

Then at Jesus’ transfiguration, the voice says again:

Mark 9:7 Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him! (NIV).”

Three valuable blessings were bestowed on Jesus from his Daddy (Canfield, They Call Me Dad, 39-40).

First, God communicated belonging. “This is my Son.” We must communicate our acceptance of our sons and our pride in them, no matter what. If there’s something we can’t be proud of, let’s deal with it openly. But they must always have a special place in your heart that no one else will have. Affirm who he is – “You’re mine. I’ll stand up for you and fight your battles with you. I’ll provide for you. The heavenly Father loves his children. He never abandons his own and I will never abandon you.”

Second, God communicates value. God said “Whom I love.” Jesus could live with confidence knowing that God, His Father, loved Him. A quiet confidence exudes from a child who rests in his fathers love. God was so committed to His well-being. “I love being your dad” are words every son needs to hear. The greatest words you’ll ever hear as a Dad are “Dad, I love you.” A boy needs another man to look up to and learn from.

Third, God communicates that Jesus was competent. “Listen to Him.” When we tell our sons, “Great job!” it conveys competence, adequacy – that they have what it takes. A dad is to watch and observe his boy and notice what he’s good at and encourage and affirm that. Admire his work. Affirm what he does.

We must have fathering. You have to give your sons your words. They convey importance, protection, comfort, tenderness, and caring. Many atheist sons have never heard an “I love you” from a dad. Or “I’m proud of you son.” Unaffectionate dads fail to bestow these fatherly blessings and end up creating multiple atheists who are still looking for a father to love them.

Be authentic and real with your sons. If you’re afraid; admit it. If you don’t know; say so. But, whatever you do, stop posing, faking, and wannabeing, and be a real man – love your boy, represent God well, and set your affection on your son.

Dads, make sure the sum total of your relationship with your children is encouragement. The world is tough enough on them as it is. Give them the gift of a nurturing, loving, supportive, present father. Let your son hang out with you. You can’t influence him if you’re never with them. Talk to him about key topics from an early age while you’re doing other stuff. Stay attached no matter what and be nurturing in that attachment. Avoid the “Cat’s in the Cradle” kind of stuff.

Jean Lush adds that the ripe age of 13 is absolutely critical mass between a boy and his dad. Don’t get disconnected, washed out to sea, when everything is on the line. Don’t pretend like you have the answers for everything; just walk with them through the issues.

A godly father is one who participates in the lives of the people in his home. He is active in the rearing of his children. He does not avoid responsibility; he seeks it. He sees his commitment to become responsible as a God-given calling. He provides the financial resources needed for his family. He is the one who makes sure the family is at church where their spiritual needs are ministered to. He is the primary one in the home who talks about God, right and wrong, and leading an honorable life. He leads by example by living out the values he espouses.

Larry Crabb said that what impressed him as a boy was that his father loved something and Someone more than he loved anything else, even his family. But he didn’t feel rejection. He knew he was loved. It was a mystery, an invitation to discover what that Something was all about for his father and for him personally.

What kind of father and father-legacy do you want? Place yourself on the spectrum from “I want to be just like him, he is showing me how” to “Good guy, but not who I want to be” to “Checked out, no clue” to “An evil man. May God deliver me from his legacy.” What are you saying with the message of your life? Accept the fathering challenge and leave a great legacy and avoid raising an atheist.

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Why are There so Many Atheism Blogs? – Part 2

The Image of God – Even in an Atheistic Blog

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Mankind is made in the image of God. What does this mean? Simply stated, we reflect our Creator.

Dorothy Sayers has questioned: “How then can [man] be said to resemble God? Is it his immortal soul, his rationality, his self-consciousness, his free will, or what, that gives him a claim to this rather startling distinction? A case may be argued for all these elements in the complex nature of man (The Whimsical… 114).” What she goes on to state is that we can observe God in Genesis 1 and begin to understand what or Who it is that we are reflecting. One of the things that stands out is our creativity. Like God, we love to create.

We love to write stories (even untrue ones reflect a bit of God’s image in us through the very fact that we are writing at all), produce movies (even immoral ones express some of God’s image as we tell a story we love), express poetry (even bad poetry indicates a measure of artistic expression), – you’re getting the picture now…

…We build buildings, create community, assemble machines, produce websites, explore the unknown, construct a great meal, and build a family with our spouse, and even write a blog. And even if that blog is atheistic – it still expresses God’s image.

We love to create! And what we create is not complete until it has been offered and shared with others in community. This is ironic for atheists, who proport that they don’t believe in God, but yet they reflect His image by bloging in community so much. They are expressing God’s image, even while they deny His existence.

By the way, these “reflective images” don’t sound like a machine to me for some reason? This is a living person we’re talking about here, shaped by God, not a collection of chemicals, or at one time cosmic garbage. These things we make are not distorted physical drives; they are expressions of God in us. It’s unique to human beings. (How many dogs do you see admiring a sunset in the evening?)

In Genesis, God said it was all good after the first week of creation, and then he told Adam and Eve, “Now, you guys keep this going. Keep creating and shaping, knowing and loving.”

To all people, including atheists, keep blogging! You are a reflection of the One you deny. But what do you say? Let’s polish His image, rather than tarnish it.

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Christian Worldview, God, Image of God, Imago Dei, Theism, Worldview

Humanity Has Lost the Larger Story (and atheists haven’t helped any)

John Eldredge has done a masterful job in his book Wild at Heart (44, 45). He shares how for ten years of his life, he was as an actor and director for the theater.

“They were, for the most part, joyful years. I was young and energetic and pretty good at what I did. My wife was part of the theater company I managed, and we had many close friends there… In spite of the fact that my memories of theater are nearly all happy ones, I keep having this recurring nightmare. This is how it goes: I suddenly find myself in a theater – a large, Broadway-style playhouse, the kind every actor aspires to play. The house lights are low and the stage lights full, so from my position onstage I can barely make out the audience, but I sense it is a full house. But I am not loving the moment at all. I am paralyzed with fear. A play is under way, and I’ve got a crucial part. But I have no idea what play it is. I don’t know what part I’m supposed to be playing; I don’t know my lines; I don’t even know my cues.”

While Eldredge goes on to make a slightly different application with that story, I see in his story all of our stories. We’re born into this world. We’re thrown out onto the stage. And unless we know the larger story, the meta-narrative, we have no idea what part we are to play. We don’t know our lines, our cues.

This is one of the primary problems in our world. The world has lost the larger story. And atheists have decided to deny that there is even a Story-teller, implying that we should just make up our own script.

As atheistic existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre put it, “On a shattered and deserted stage, without script, director, prompter, or audience, the actor is free to improvise his own part.” We become our own gods and write our own story without any larger story to be concerned about or overarching purpose to live for. Our lives are caught up in what has been called “a tournament of narratives (Greenslade).”

So following cues offered by an anti-Story-teller world, we all (including Christians!) settle for lesser stories to star in, a tournament of lesser narratives – little stories to live for – an affair, a corner office, a better seat, a few more dollars, a little more control and power, a quick buzz, a little more fame, an atheistic blog or two, huddling together to try to convince each other that we’re doing the right thing.

God has given to us a larger story to live for. God made us. We rejected God and our story has been sabotaged by Satan. But God won’t give up until He wins us back and restores us to his original plan. The Gospel explains how God has authored a story to do this very thing, to romance us to His story.

And it’s a story that must be told. The lives of so many people are in desperate need to see and experience this story personally. People are lost to the story, like actors on a stage who don’t know their lines and there is no one to clarify the story; there is no story-teller in their lives.

In part, that’s what this blog is about; one small voice, orienting those who care to know, to the larger, grand story, large enough and big enough for all of us to live in for a lifetime. I’m arguing that God has given to us a larger story to live for. All of our smaller stories tie to a larger story – a metanarrative. We have fallen into a story, a sacred story. And if there is a story, there is a Story-Teller (G. K. Chesterton). And if God is the Story-Teller, He must love surprise endings because mankind was created with free will. Create some unexpected and surprise endings of your own! Get oriented to the larger story, the sacred romance.

Even though we all have shown up a little late to the movie and can’t make sense of the characters, plot, and setting, we can get up to speed right away. Get oriented to the Larger Story, and then you’ll know what character you are to play, what plot in life you are driving toward, and what settings are best locations to see your story unfold.

https://spiritualquestions.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/dramatic-scenes-of-the-larger-story/

True love… true love…

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Existentialism, Free Will, God, Larger Story, Life Purpose, Sacred Romance, Theism

Suffering – God Played By His Own Rules

When it comes to human suffering, some have noted that it’s like God is playing this cosmic game and they don’t want to play. But whatever game God is playing, if you want to phrase it that way, He Himself has played by His own rules. Because when Jesus, God’s Son, came into the world, he knew loneliness, pain, and suffering. He is not above the quandary of unanswered questions and life’s deepest hurts. God played by His own rules.

John Stott says that one of the reasons he’s a Christian is the cross of Christ… “In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? (Why I Am a Christian).” The Cross represents our broken and pain-filled world and a God who has chosen to meet us there.

The problem of pain has hindered many people in their faith journeys. One writer referred to the problem of pain as “a question mark turned like a fishhook in the human heart (Strobel, The Case for Faith).”

But whatever else you may say about suffering and evil, one has to admit that “God played by his own rules.”

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Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Evil, God, Suffering, Theodicy