Save yourself

Lately, there has been much discussion and contention around Christianity. Much of it seems to have arisen from the Dawkins and Harris books promoting atheism. I suppose one get into the various specific attacks leveled by those two authors, but many have already done so.

One of the themes common in these attacks is the so-called “cruelty” of God. It puts God squarely in the dock as defendant. By eagerly defending against these attacks, well-meaning Christians give some credibility to the accusers, by assuming that there is some common human standard by which God can be judged.

It is, however, up to the accuser to prove that such a standard exists, and why such a standard is necessarily the correct one. If they are to level accusations, they must also prove that they are objective, or no judgment is possible. These are the preconditions that must be set before the accusation can logically be made.

One day, atheists will stand before the judgment throne, representing themselves and trying to save themselves from God’s justice.

We read that Job tried to find the same types of answers, and God had an answer for him:
(Job 40:1) And the LORD said to Job:
(Job 40:2) “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”
(Job 40:3) Then Job answered the LORD and said:
(Job 40:4) “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.
(Job 40:5) I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”
(Job 40:6) Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
(Job 40:7) “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.
(Job 40:8) Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
(Job 40:9) Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?
(Job 40:10) “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
(Job 40:11) Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
(Job 40:12) Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand.
(Job 40:13) Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below.
(Job 40:14) Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.

Those who seek fault with God will answer to Him. They seek to condemn God so that they may be seen to be right.

If you can do what God can, then He will acknowledge that you can indeed save yourself. The challenge is there, issued by God Himself. Dawkins et al have accepted, and are leading many more to accept the challenge.

I have Jesus to represent me. I, like Job, keep my mouth shut because I know what God can do. Apparently, the atheists who accuse God pretend not to.

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6 responses to “Save yourself

  1. August, everyone has a moral intuition. Saying, ‘Why do you think it’s bad?’ will not convince anyone, even though it is a philosophically valid question.

    So I am glad there are apologists who delve into these ‘cruelties’ of God and show that His mercy shines on those occasions. That will convince more people. (Don’t forget that this argument is mainly used in the sense ‘God can’t exist because He would be inconsistent’, not ‘God is real AND cruel’.)

    Of course there is a difference between hardened atheists and struggling people, or simply people who are looking for answers to these questions.

  2. I beg to differ. By delving into the “cruelties” of God, you are assuming the very thing that you are trying to disprove! There is no “neutral” position from where these moral judgments can be made, yet in their eagerness to engage atheists, some apologists do just that. It is simple enough to show, there are only two types of people in the world, Christians and non-Christians.

    Yes, God’s mercy shines, but it can only be explained in the Christian worldview of creation/fall/redemption. It does not make sense to someone who holds a worldview other than Christianity. Ultimately, apologetics is all about a clash of worldviews, and apologists should approach it in such a fashion.

    Spreading the gospel is the same, it is encouraging people to chnage their worldview, not to accept a specific argument for God.

  3. If apologists (like Glenn Miller, who has written VERY good articles on e.g. the battles against the Midianites and Canaanites) approach these issues, they do not assume that God was cruel. Instead, they remain unwavering in their faith in God’s justice and mercy, and try to look at God’s reasons (as far as they are knowable) for doing something that at first glance clashes with human morality.

    I agree that there is no neutral position. However, saying ‘you have no basis for morality’ isn’t going to convince anyone, since almost all atheists have moral ideas. Some will appeal to foggy concepts as ‘the good of the community’ (apparently never having heard of Sartre et al.).

    It is far more fruitful to show that atheists aren’t telling the story well. And enlightening, too — I remember enjoying the articles on e.g. the ‘genocides’ which weren’t genocides at all. To Christians, it just shows more of God’s mercy.

    People are known for being inconsistent and irrational (it’s part of Original Sin…). Some are like spoiled children — you have to explain everything patiently. Some bring Christians to emotional doubts, whether those are rational or not — and it’s a good thing that people exist who colour the stories with the background necessary to understand them well.

  4. What does all the explanations in the world benefit anyone? I already explained that it was down to a clash of worldviews. You can explain all you like about specific situations, but that is by its very nature inductive reasoning, which will not convince anyone. It will just encourage them to invent more arguments. The classical approach you describe has its place, but only as part of an integrated apologetic.

    By making others account for their worldview, you can point out the absurdity and self-defeating basis, which is a much clearer resolution. And I cannot convince anyone, all I can do is prayerfully consider that the Holy Spirit will do the convincing.

    I know one wants to jump in and address all the objections raised, but it is a roundabout way of getting to a discussion of worldviews.

  5. ‘The classical approach you describe has its place, but only as part of an integrated apologetic.’

    Precisely. As some people still struggle with those issues, it’s a good thing that these things get addressed too. Because when they aren’t, people might just start believing in some fuzzy unrevealed God that is just good enough to put down some (equally unrevealed) moral rules… 😉

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