Ten Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer

Most people of faith won’t have a good answer to the questions posed in the video, since apologetics is not used as a tool for evangelism anymore, and most people operate from a modern definition of faith rather than a Biblical definition of faith. However, I feel it is important to equip the modern Christian with appropriate answers to these questions. These allegedly “tough” questions really are not tough at all.Before answering the questions, understand that the underlying worldview framing each question is one that makes three erroneous assumptions. First, because God is omnipotent and omniscient, this automatically makes Him responsible for ending every form of suffering and grief in the world. Second, that this life is all that there is and there is no higher reward or purpose for pain and suffering within this life. Third, because God is responsible for everything in their minds, that means that we do not need take any responsibility for our own free will choices.

God’s exhaustive divine foreknowledge does not automatically make Him responsible for every form of suffering in the world. Because He is not responsible for it, He is under no obligation to end the suffering. These questions automatically assume that God has that responsibility to the entire world (questions 1, 2, and 6), and to the elect in particular (question 10). These people fail to understand that foreknowing is not the same as foreordaining. J.P. Holding has a really good discussion of the difference here.

Holding’s discussion boils down to this: Because God knows that you will do something, that doesn’t mean that you must do it. Put another way, God knowing that I was going to wear white socks today does not obligate me to wear white socks. I still could have worn black socks today. It was my choice.

If God knows that “Bill” is going to murder “Phil,” and God still makes Bill, does that make God responsible for Phil’s murder? Under the idea that God’s foreknowledge is equivalent to absolute responsibility, most would answer affirmatively. However, the apostle Paul has a different idea:

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called. . . ? (Rom 9:21-24)

In other words, as the Potter, God has the absolute right over the clay (us) to make it however it pleases Him, whether He makes us to die in sin or whether He makes us to accept His saving grace through Christ. The choice is still our own, but God has a purpose in making each person the way that He does.

Assuming that this life is all that there is, this video makes a certain amount of sense. I don’t want to belabor this point, since I know that atheists think that we Christians place undue emphasis on the afterlife to the point of neglecting this life. Suffice it to say, this life is not all that there is, and we can expect rewards in the afterlife. Therefore, our suffering in this life may be preparation for the afterlife.

But on this point, I agree with the typical atheist position that Christians do place unwarranted emphasis on the afterlife. Though we feel confident that it is there and that we will receive rewards in it, we are still living in this life on this planet. The teaching of Scripture is that we should have a “now, but not yet” philosophy about things. This means we should consider this life (now) our reward, but that we have “not yet” fully realized what could be.

Because God created everything and knows everything that will ever happen, atheists falsely assume that God must assume responsibility for everything that has happened. Again, we ask: Has the potter no right over the clay? God makes people specifically to pour out His wrath on, and others to whom He shows mercy. As the created beings, it is not our place to question our creator. Everyone has a place in this world, and we are each ideally suited for the purpose for which God made us.

Now, let’s turn to the questions.

1. Why won’t God heal amputees?

God created the universe and imposed a certain order upon it. He defined and established rules for how the universe would work. One of these rules is that higher-order animals, such as humans, cannot regrow limbs. We don’t know why, perhaps it has to do with the complexity of the limb itself.

Within the scope of this created universe, under the rules established by God, He won’t heal an amputee anymore than He would make a square circle. God is nothing if not consistent. He will not do anything that is inconsistent with His own nature.

Agent Dana Scully, from The X-Files, once said that nothing happens contrary to nature, only contrary to what we know about it. The same could be said for any miracle that God has worked. All were worked within the scope of the rules and the order that He defined. We just don’t fully understand how they may have been accomplished.

Is that the final word? Well, no. What about all of the available technology in prosthetics? Could we not reasonably argue that God intended us to make those discoveries precisely to heal amputees? Indeed, He specifically created the raw materials and positioned them so that we would figure out how to make artificial limbs.

Not stopping there, God also made the humans adaptable to the artificial limbs.

This is a question that assumes that God should just do everything for us. This is a question that denies God’s involvement in anything that isn’t obviously supernatural. Unless it falls out of thin air, then God had nothing to do with it. Placing the burden of creating artificial limbs on someone’s heart and apportioning the resources for that person to succeed isn’t the work of God in the mind of the person asking this question.

2. Why are there so many starving people in the world?

As above, God created a world with limited resources, but unlimited wants and needs. I believe that He has provided for our needs, but not our wants. If we, as people, would put aside some of our wants, then we could help these starving people meet their needs. The nature of our beast is selfishness, however (see #3–this is part of sin).

3. Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people?

In response to this question, we ask one of our own: Who is actually innocent before God? The verses below present the answer: No one is innocent in God’s eyes.

They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. . . . They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. (Ps 14:1b, 3)

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Eph 2:1-3)

God, as Creator, Lawgiver, and Judge has the absolute right to take away from us the life that He gave us in judgment of our sins. In the above passages, we note that no one is innocent, all have sinned. That means that God is not demanding the death of innocent people in the Bible; He is, in fact, passing judgment on sinners.

4. Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense?

What the Bible contains is truth, however it presents that truth.  That truth may be presented as a fictional story.  Fiction, though not true itself, may contain truth presented in a very dramatic way.  So, for example, the story of Jonah and the whale may not have actually happened, but it presents a dramatic truth about Christ (see Mt 12:40).

5. Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery?

“Slavery” in the Old Testament is actually a form of indentured servitude. In lieu of bankruptcy laws, it was the most humane way for someone who didn’t have enough to pay a debt off to work it off. Remember that theses slaves were set free every seven years with all debts forgiven (Ex 21:2). Under the New Covenant, no slaves exist, for all of the old distinctions pass away (Gal 3:28).

A careful examination of the verse would note that slaves actually take equal part in the covenant relationship that God has with Israel. For a more detailed examination of each verse, check here.

6. Why do bad things happen to good people?

The problem of pain–existence of suffering in a world allegedly controlled by a benevolent and all-powerful God–is the number one issue that seems to drive atheists away from Christianity. I don’t think that this is as big a problem as many make it out to be. I think that this is as big a problem as you want it to be.

God’s love is only properly understood side-by-side with His wrath, not in opposition to it. Like any father, He only wants what is best for His children. This means that, unfortunately, discipline is often necessary.

God has disciplined us specifically in the Bible (Gen 3:14-19, for example). But more often than not, I think that, like any good father, He simply allows us to stumble and fall on our own. This means that we create many of the problems in this world ourselves.

God, benevolent though He is, should not be obligated to clean up our messes. We create most of the problems on this little blue dot, and we should accept that responsibility and clean them up–without expecting God to snap His fingers and make it all better.

However, there must be a reason why God allows us to suffer at times. I propose that He lets us suffer for two main reasons. First, He does it to teach us something. Second, He does it because that is what is best for us.

I can speak as a father now, and use my daughter Ashleigh to illustrate my point.

Ashleigh still has trouble controlling her muscles. I’ve obviously been controlling my muscles for many, many years now; so I find it amazing that this little girl actually has to learn how to do that from scratch. She’s not skillful in the least, yet. Sometimes, she scratches her eyes. She’s never put a fingernail directly into her eye, but I imagine that someday she will.

My point is that I can try to take her hand away from her eye as much as I want to. I can warn her to be careful, but at one month old that isn’t going to make a whole lot of impact. Nope, painful as it may be, the best way is to actually let her scratch her eye. She will learn the lesson much faster than if I try to save her from it once too often.

Ashleigh is also very squirmy. She flails about a lot. She hates being tied down for any length of time, and was been like this even in utero. She was known to kick monitors away when the doctors would try to perform tests on her.

Given this, you can imagine that she hates to be swaddled. Sometimes, however, swaddling is the only way to calm her down or even to keep her warm with this cold November weather. As much as she struggles against it, I know what is best for her–and sometimes swaddling is just what she needs.

The second example makes a great explanation for the problem of pain. Sometimes, we confuse our needs with our wants. God knows exactly what we need, and I think that an honest person who looks back at a trial in his life will decide that he needed that to happen at that moment. I know that the first year of marriage for me was rough, but I believe that it was just what Jody and I needed to become stronger as a couple.

Maybe someone who is reading this went through a trial for which there is no explanation. He didn’t seem to need it to happen. He didn’t learn anything. Does this invalidate my theory? I don’t think so. Perhaps the reason has yet to be revealed. I’m not taking the Christian stance that atheists hate so much here; these trials are to teach us something here, in this life–not the afterlife. That something may be a long way down the road.

Whatever your trial, remember the words of James, brother of our Lord: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (Jms 1:2-3).

7.Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles leave behind any evidence?

What sort of “evidence?” Obviously, the evidence that I point to is the same evidence that the question asker has available: eyewitness testimony in the form of the gospels and epistles of the New Testament, New Testament apocrypha, patristic writings, Talmudic writings from the same period that deny only the deity of Christ (not the performing of His miracles). There are also other secular references, such as two passing references in Josephus and mentions in the letters of Pliny the Younger.

To me, however, the strongest evidence is that the eyewitnesses themselves were willing to die proclaiming the greatest of these miracles: that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

8. How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you?

Why should He appear to me? He has promised to be with me always, and has fulfilled that promise by sending the Holy Spirit. Why should I need to see Him?

This question is completely absurd.

9. Why would Jesus want you to eat His body and drink His blood?

John 6 is a spiritual teaching, not a literal one (Jn 6:63). Jesus wants me to have the same spirit that He does. In Jewish thought, you really were what you ate, and drinking the blood of something–repeatedly identified as the source of life in the Bible–was the equivalent of putting something of the blood’s owner irrevocably within you. It boils down to Jesus wanting us to be more like Him.

10. Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians?

This is a more specific question in the same vein as the more general #6.  It should be noted that no Christian believes that faith in God is somehow a magic talisman that protects us from the evil of the world.

That means that we are just as vulnerable as the rest of the world to things like divorce and pain (Jms 1:2).  The Bible assumes that we will suffer through these things, not be protected from them.

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Marter Chris  |  March 4, 2008 at 4:15 am

    You stated that “God makes people specifically to pour out His wrath on, and others to whom He shows mercy. As the created beings, it is not our place to question our creator. Everyone has a place in this world, and we are each ideally suited for the purpose for which God made us.”

    Whoa – so I guess you don’t help anyone who is suffering or in need? If so, you would be interfering in God’s divine plan to pour out His wrath on those people he specifically created for that purpose. You know, Marshall Brain may be a Godless heathen but it’s entirely possible that is he is a more moral person that you are. In my opinion, if you believe this and act in accordance with that belief, you’ve left the company of decent people.

    Reply
  • 2. Cory Tucholski  |  March 5, 2008 at 1:13 am

    I believe that God predestined some for heaven, and some for hell. My statement has to do with a person’s eternal destination, not with their suffering on earth. I have no idea how you can pass judgment on my morality from a single statement I have made, especially if you fail to read that most of my arguments about suffering have to do with human negligence.

    What do you do to alleviate human suffering? Me, I sponsor a child, and I donate to missionary work. At some point in my life, when financially reasonable, I plan to take a sabbatical and join some missionary work.

    Reply
  • 3. Marter Chris  |  March 8, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    You’re right. My comments were unjustified. You do seem like a person who is trying to make a positive difference in the world. I apologize.

    Reply
  • 4. Jackal  |  March 12, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    First, anyone can have any name they want on this site, so that last comment could easily have been forged.

    Second. You are saying that God has the right to take life away. Why? If he already knows man will sin, then why create and punish man. God must create a man who can sin to be able to have said man. If God didn’t want people to sin, he simply would have deigned a man who could not.

    Reply
  • 5. Mark  |  June 13, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Why are you insisting communion is symbolic? If it was, Paul wouldn’t get upset about the unworthy eating and drinking it. Anyway, here are MY answers to the questions:
    1. Why should God heal amputees? It’s not life-threatening.
    2. Because we’re not feeding them. If you are going to whine about it, why don’t you feed them?
    3. Ah, yes, innocents who butt-rape Jews, innocents who refuse to impregnate their late brother’s wife. Idiot.
    4. It’s not a science book, you big dummy. Stop acting like Sam Harris (for those who don’t know, this guy whined about the Bible not talking about dna and the age of the universe).
    5. He isn’t.
    6. Shit happens.
    7. *Yawn* Typical new-atheist whining. I think rising from the dead and being recorded and witnessed by many is evidence.
    8. He has.
    9. Try reading the Bible, dumbass.
    10. Why do atheists have a higher suicide rate? This is irrelevant.

    Reply

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