The video you are about to see is Todd Friel of Wretched Radio speaking to a group of atheist students, among others, at a college. It is part of a video titled “Wretched Worldview: Atheism – A Christian Response.” Todd gives a wonderful picture of the gospel in this video as he pleads with the atheists in the auditorium to repent and trust in Jesus Christ. I ask you to watch this and observe how we as Christians can compassionately and lovingly share the gospel with anyone.
At the end of the story, after the student defeats his professor in the debate, it is revealed that the student is Albert Einstein. In actuality, there was probably no such debate, and this certainly isn’t a true story about Albert Einstein.
While it is an interesting tale, I don’t think this is the best answer Christians can offer to the problem of evil.
The objection the professor presented is sometimes known as Epicurean paradox.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God
To answer the objection above by saying that evil doesn’t really exist rubs me the wrong way. To look in the face of someone who has suffered something terrible and tell them it wasn’t evil—only a lack of good—is something I couldn’t do.
Rather, I would agree with the angry atheist presenting this paradox that evil truly exists. (Note that he didn’t merely state that he dislikes acts such as rape and murder, or that a majority of society dislikes those things, but that there really is evil.)
Next, I would point out that evil cannot exist in his worldview. The existence of evil can only be accounted for if there are moral absolutes—and moral absolutes can only be established by God. If, as an atheist would say, we are merely evolved apes, there shouldn’t be any moral absolutes. Therefore, evil wouldn’t exist if there were no God.
When the atheist presents this objection, he is revealing that he can’t be consistent with his worldview. If he were consistent, all the atheist has to go on is personal taste. But in admitting a firm belief in evil, he is acknowledging that he knows moral absolutes exist and there is a God. He is giving himself away.
Atheists claim the existence of evil all the time. One young lady I spoke with said Christians are evil. I explained to her that in order for evil to exist that God had to have established moral absolutes. She said she believes morality is relative, and each of us can establish our own morality. I think she was being consistent with her atheism at this point. I specifically asked her if it was a sin for someone to violate her moral code, and she said it wasn’t. Mere moments later, she said that the Bible has been translated. (I assume she didn’t mean translated from Greek to English, but some type of malicious tampering with the manuscripts.) I asked her if it was a sin to “translate” the Bible. At that point she made it abundantly clear she was no longer interested in talking to me.
Ultimately, the solution to the Epicurean paradox is that God has an adequate, moral reason for allowing evil. He may not reveal His reasoning for a specific situation, but ultimately it is for His glory.
In our current culture, especially as we are heading into the next election cycle, moral questions are being hotly debated and people are looking to to political leaders to solve these problems. For example, perhaps the two mostly controversial subjects are the definition of marriage and the issue of abortion. Everyday, we hear news reports of organizations petitioning political leaders for changes to these laws. Everyday, state governments pass, or attempt to pass, a law that will define marriage as either traditional, being between one man and one woman, or redefining it to include same sex couples. Abortion laws continued to be hotly contested as states pass laws that require women be informed of a baby’s development or the use of ultrasound to show them the child. Yet, efforts to extend personhood rights are being denied due to political machinations.
As we see cultural diversity, political correctness, pluralism, post-modern and secular humanism spread throughout, and erode, the culture, Christians rightly see the damage this does to the understanding of the word of God. Additionally, because these concepts demand that Christians capitulate their exclusivist position, which we are often unwilling to do, Christians are often seen as obstacles to unity within the culture. We recognize that the culture is moving to a point where Christianity could conceivably be seen as a threat. The further the culture takes this perception, the greater the possibility that one day Christianity could be outlawed. Therefore, Christians are rightly seeing a growing threat to the practice of our faith and, ultimately, the moral degradation of a country in rebellion to God.
So the question becomes, how does the Christian contend with this? Do we fight fire with fire, establishing political action committees, petitioning political leaders, fighting for more moral laws, putting Christians in political offices, and so forth? Or do we view the onslaught of the culture against Christianity as insurmountable and retreat into secluded enclaves where we can practice our faith in peace? Is there a balance between the two extremes? Is there a biblical answer to this? I believe there is and it may be what the vast majority of the church has ignored for some time.
In the 1960’s we saw one of the most public attacks on the Christian faith when a Supreme Court case determined that a wall existed between the Church and the State. From that day forward, political representations of anything remotely Christian were prohibited. In response to this governmental decree, Christians began fighting through politics and legislation, attempting to reclaim that lost ground. Since that time, we have seen the establishment of the “Moral Majority” and Christian lobbyist committees. Religious groups have examined candidates with fine tooth combs, ensuring they would support biblically based laws. Additionally, legal groups have formed, fighting for Christian values in Courtrooms around the country. And, at first, it seemed we had the right idea. Good, moral laws got passed. Conservative politicians sought the support of the evangelical right. But, it did not last long.
By the 1990’s we began to see political correctness and post-modernism redefining how the culture thought and acted. Slowly, incrementally, how we understood morality, the definitions of right and wrong had been changing in the culture. Now, the greatest moral taboo wasn’t doing what the Bible called sin, it was to tell anyone that what they believed was wrong. Truth was now relative, everyone’s perceptions were equally valued, whether they had a basis in fact or not. To tell someone that their sincerely held beliefs were wrong was tantamount to treason. And by the time we had reached the turn of the century, this system had permeated our entire culture. Now, laws that Christians had fought long and hard for were seen as unfair, immoral, and unconstitutional. After all, if someone’s beliefs on sexual lifestyles, their desire to have abortion on demand or their definition of marriage was as equally valid as anyone else’s, then these laws were depriving them of the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution. The very fabric of the “Moral Majority” had begun to unravel.
Because of the almost viral like effect of political correctness and post-modernism, Christians have even found fighting within our own ranks. How many churches have we heard of today that actually support abortion or homosexual marriage? This is the key to understanding why Christianity is finding itself bullied into a corner today. See, while the church was busy fighting the political battles, secular humanism was establishing its very foundations. Those that sought to change the culture weren’t busying themselves with politics, yet. They were fighting for the hearts and minds of the culture. While we were protesting, they were proselytizing. In time, those whose hearts had been won to this way of thinking were growing up and taking their ideas into everything they do.
Christians, this is were we have failed. Our primary task, the one given to us by Christ Himself is to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 NKJV), and to “…make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19 NKJV). In other words, we are to be proselytizing to everyone we meet. See, somewhere along the way, maybe because we had become an affluent and prosperous nation, we forgot that we aren’t blessed by God because we are Americans. We are blessed because we have humbled ourselves before God, broken by our sins, repentant and trusting in the Savior, Jesus Christ. But we began to see our wealth, prosperity and power as evidence that God loved us. That somehow, we were deserving of it. Yet, when adversity began to rear its head, we did not look to ourselves, to see if we had lost our way. We just assumed we were on the right path and no one was going to take away God’s blessings without a fight! So we fought it on the world’s terms, trying to get OUR rights and OUR blessings back. Along the way, we forgot about those unregenerate and lost souls on their way to hell.
Like we were once, our country is populated with literally millions of sin bound souls, hearing only the call of their flesh. Post-modern humanist driven leaders exploited that. They preached a false gospel of unity, peace and self-gratification. Those souls that we were not evangelizing to greedily ate it up. In time, our children, fed well on a steady diet of tolerant pluralism looked at us and saw hypocrisy. Sure, we fought for conservatism and “morality,” but not everyone believed in what we did. In fact, we really didn’t believe in it ourselves. We worshipped our wealth and prosperity. We made out lives comfortable and pleasant. Yet, we ignored those around us that desperately need to hear the healing gospel. We left the work of preaching and teaching to the already over-worked preachers on Sunday morning. The hearts of the next generations belonged firmly to the world. For all our moral battle cries and politicizing, we had lost. Our culture is on a downhill slope and is picking up steam fast.
So what are we to do? Exactly what Christ called us to do, preach the gospel! This is the beauty of our faith! God’s word does not return void. Christians, brothers and sisters, hear this. If today, we will go forth and preach the word of God – that glorious gospel that teaches that we are wretched sinners deserving of damnation, yet, in His mercy Christ died for us, and that through repentance and faith we can receive forgiveness of sins – if we go out into our country and preach this word, souls will be saved. If we repent of our sin of trying to win this battle on our own, if we humble ourselves and pray over the lost and dying sinners walking the streets, if we raise our families to love and praise our Savior, souls will be saved! And as those souls are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be led to preach the same gospel! And, maybe, just maybe, we might actually see a real revival, not one of those charades that get scheduled on TBN every night.
Now, here is the interesting part. If a nation were to break out in genuine revival, if hearts were convicted of the sins our nation currently exalts, and if they were truly led of the Spirit, what happens? It begins to love the law of God and practice it without having to be forced through legislation!! See, all those laws and political machinations we are trying to win won’t need to have so much effort, because people will desire to obey God out of their sincere love and gratitude toward Him. I’m not advocating preaching the gospel just to get a better society, not one bit. I’m saying that if we actually love the Lord as we ought to and preach His gospel, because it is truly the best thing we have to offer (honestly, we are talking about the forgiveness of sins and eternal life here), then all the other things we keep fighting for will get won because God Himself will be fighting the battle.
Does this mean we surrender the political fight and never get involved? No. But this is where the balance must come into play. We are blessed to live in this country, so we must thank God by honoring our duties to care for and protect it. We must stand up against evil when it arises and vote in a manner that is consistent with biblical principles. But, at the forefront must always be the gospel! When we defend morality, it is not because “it is better for society,” it is because to allow the immoral to stand is to allow untold numbers of souls to believe sin is not sin and God will not judge it. We must proclaim sin to be sin and compassionately lead those who will hear us to the cross at Calvary to be forgiven. Always must this be the reason why we vote the way we do, and for no other reason.
Brothers and sisters, I have heard so many Christians speak vehemently over which candidates to vote for, which parties to back, and which laws to support. Yet, I hear so very little of that passion when it comes to speaking forth the truth of the gospel to the lost. Please, let us change that. Let’s end the notion we can win this world by worldly means. Let us, with one accord, proclaim the glorious gospel of our risen Savior for the salvation of souls and let us see what the Lord might do with our nation then.
Ingrid Schlueter recently posted a short but poignant piece on Christian cowardice. In light of the abandonment by fellow Christians after her resignation from VCY America (and after this utterly horrendous debacle), her recent post holds much weight. Here’s a quote from The Color of Silence:
“You find out very quickly who your Christian friends are when you tell the truth in a difficult situation. Those you have known for decades and assumed were godly Christian friends will abandon you overnight if they stand to lose something by associating with you.”
“You would never know by watching American television that 61 percent of Americans say religion is very important in their lives.”
For Philbin, one message in particular that the media is continuously throwing at Americans is that of affirming homosexuality and gay marriage.
A poll released by Gallup last week found that for the first time since 1996, more than half of Americans say marriage for gays and lesbians should be legal.
Philbin clarifies the data as the result of Americans being brow-beaten through various forms of media and being constantly sent a message that says “you’re wrong, now change your view.”
“I think frankly Americans are just tired of getting beat up over their resistance to it,” he explained. “I think that at a certain point cultural fatigue sets in and you get tired of being told that you’re backward, being told you’re puritan troglodyte (a caveman) and a homophobe who hates people. So you shrug and say, ‘yea, I’m for it’ and go about your business.”
Civilization, he lamented, is headed in a direction that devalues the family unit.
“If a family is just a group of people cohabitating or pooling resources, and ceases to be the very basis and building block of society, I think you’re in a sort of moral quicksand where things lose meaning,” Philbin cautioned.
Read the entire article here.
HT: Belt of Truth