Monday, September 27, 2010

TEN QUESTIONS ANSWERED

On my previous post (TEN QUESTIONS) I wrote of “ten questions that every Christian must answer,” a video referred to in a comment on the post before that one.

I posted the questions and made some comments, but I did not answer the questions.  Here I will make an attempt to do so, though not in the order given.

First, I attempt to deal with what I previously referred to as “nonsense questions.”

Question #1.  Why won’t God heal amputees?

Apparently the interrogator feels that this is an extremely important question because this is what he named his website.  He tells us that because many, even doctors, believe in miraculous healings, it would seem that God should be able to restore severed members.  After all some species do regenerate.

While I referred to this before as a nonsense question, I guess it makes sense if there are many who claim to have witnessed miracles.

Perhaps part of the problem here is in the overuse of the word.  Many consider every answered prayer or healing a miracle.  I do not.  The word as used in the New Testament (Greek – DUNAMIS) describes a powerful work of God that can be seen but not explained.  By that definition most of us have not witnessed a miracle.  I haven’t!

True miracles are rare.  That’s why they’re miracles!  As I have often said, if everything is a miracle, then nothing is a miracle.

So perhaps God does heal amputees, perhaps not.  He is perfectly capable of doing so.  If He has, most of us probably would not have seen it happen.

Question #7.  Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles in the Bible leave behind any evidence?

I must confess that I don’t know what sort of evidence is expected.  Does he want videos of the healings?  Does he want to see petrified loaves and fishes?

We do have eyewitness accounts.  Are they not sufficient?  They’re sufficient for much of “secular history.”

Ah, but there is one miracle with continuing effects:  Jesus’ resurrection.  He is still alive, though it may be a while till we see Him, at His return.  Paul named over 500 witnesses, many of whom were still alive years after the event.  Unfortunately as Paul relates “some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).  (All have by now.)

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

I guess I’d have to say that it’s because He’s not been in the habit of appearing to folks visibly since His ascension.  I really fail to see how this question is even relevant.

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

Assuming that our questioner is a rational, critical thinking, educated person, I would have thought he understood what a metaphor is.

In John’s gospel, chapter 6, verses 32, 33 and 34, Jesus claims to be the “Bread of Life” or something similar.  This is only one of His many “I am” claims.

It should be clear that “eating and drinking” in this context is a metaphor for appropriating Him by faith.  He uses the expressions “come to Me,” “believe in Me,” and “eat My flesh and drink my blood” interchangeably (John 76:32-58).  Later, in the other gospels, He inaugurates the memorial supper in which the participants partake of actual bread and wine as a symbol.  But we can’t expect our interrogator to understand.  After all even Jesus’ disciples said, “This is a hard statement.  Who can understand it?” (John 6:60)

Now for the legitimate, though slanted, questions:

Question #3.  Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people in the Bible?

This is one of the most difficult questions for the person of faith.  I do not have all the answers, though I have attempted to deal with it in a previous post, VIOLENCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.

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

I would like to rephrase the question as “Why does the Bible seem to contradict much of modern scientific thinking?”

Again, I do not claim to have all of the answers, though I have attempted to deal with the questions in WHAT IS TRUTH? and OUR COUSIN THE FISHAPOD.

We also need to remember that the Bible was written to be read by “pre-scientific” readers.  It does not claim to be a book of science, though it is not “anti-scientific.”

Question #5.  Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery n the Bible?

I don’t find God at all a proponent of slavery in the Bible, even though there are laws concerning slavery in the Old Testament and exhortations concerning slavery in the New Testament. See RACE.

Now for the really tough ones, questions that still trouble me and other persons of faith.

Questions #2 and #6 are closely related.

Question #2.  Why are there so many starving people in our world?
Question #6.  Why do bad things happen to good people?

We see our world sometimes overcome with evil, both what we could call “moral evil” and what we could call “natural evil.”  The first refers to those evil acts that humans inflict on each other.  The latter refers to evils that seem to “just happen” – natural disasters, accidents.

The innocent suffer as much as the guilty.  Both moral and natural evils seem indiscriminate as to their victims.  We could look simply at the problem in #2, but there are other related problems.  An examination of the problem of starvation involves not just “natural evils,” as causes, but humankind’s cruelty to one another.

I have attempted to deal with these issues in a number of posts. See:
     THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE
     WHAT HAPPENED?
     GOOD GUYS AND BAD GUYS
     THE INFINITE ABYSS
     JOB, GOD AND SUFFERING -- 7 posts

The more I have thought and written on these topics, the more I realize that I don’t know, so I’m still working on this one and will be till Jesus takes me home.

Finally, Question #10.  Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians?

Well, first of all, we live in a fallen world and have to deal with sinners.  Sometimes the problems, such a divorce, are caused by non-Christians, but sometimes they are not.

Secondly, it is apparent that Christians still carry their old fallen mature, or as Paul calls it “our old man.”  It is too easy to “be conformed to this age” (Romans 12:2), which is why we are exhorted to “present our bodies to God” (Romans 12:1).

Christianity is a religion of rescue. God saves sinners.  And we come to Christ as we are.  It takes a while for change to take place.  But we should note that there are differences in the way Christians live.  There should be.

Back to the divorce question. Our questioner quotes Jesus’ saying (Matthew 19:6 – KJV) “What God has joined together let not man put asunder,” as though it were a guarantee that the marriage would last.  “God has sealed the deal,” he says.  But apparently he hasn’t read closely.  It is a command, not a promise.  The fact that Jesus commands not to “put asunder,” would seem to indicate that man is capable of doing so.

Conclusion

Perhaps I’ve wasted a bit too much time in attempting to answer questions which the questioner believes cannot be answered.  Perhaps not.  But I felt compelled to take the challenge.

However, our questioner’s solution to real problems by resorting to denial just smacks of intellectual dishonesty.  He hasn’t really answered his own questions.  He has rather chosen to take a leap of faith.

The atheist needs to deal with these and similar questions himself.  He needs to answer questions of purpose and meaning.  If he believes that the world in which he lives has no meaning, then questions of morality, such as he asks, make no sense in a world that just “is.”

See also DAWKINS’ GOD DELUSION, PARTS 1-8.

9 comments:

Karen said...

I continue to be incredibly thankful for your blog and your thoughts!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sort of disappointed in your response to question 1. Just because you don't think it's a worthy question, to just sort of blow it off is insensitive. Those people with missing limbs have serious issues with a God the Bible claims is all powerful. I'm sadden you chose to write sarcastically. I/m thinking you missed an opportunity to help explain a very real question. Just for wit.

Bill Ball said...

Anonymous:

Thank you for your comments.

I'm sorry that my answer to question #1 seemed sarcastic or "just for wit." I did not intend it to be sarcastic, though I believe that the questions were asked in a sarcastic manner. (Watch the video.) I was, I will admit, a bit terse.

I have never dealt with someone with a severed limb, though I have personally ministered to a number of people with chronic and/or terminal illnesses. I have not seen any miractouly healed but I have seen people calmly accept their afflictions and trust God to comfort them.

The New Testament, as well as experience, teaches us that suffering is inevitable, in fact can draw us closer to God.

I have found that one of the biggest hindrances to faith personal peace is the belief that God will perform a miracle (or that science will find a cure).

Lisa S said...

Miracles don't convert. Only the Holy spirit can convert. In response to the amputee question...there is opposition in all things. It all started when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden and had to work to til the ground and work for their survival. If God didn't think the person could handle the situation, he probably would have cured them or healed them to avoid the amputation. We have to humble ourselves and come unto Christ in order to learn His will for us. this is where we have free will to chose our path and attitudes about our situation.

Bill Ball said...

Lisa -- That is so true! Thank you so much for your comments.

Robert Dozier said...

enjoyed your post, so I would like to assist:

1. Why won't God heal amputees? While some animals such as lizards have the ability to regrow a tail, this does not mean God won't heal. The healing is not necessarily in the regrowth, but in the healing of the spirit. Physical healing of the sick is a promise for the true church - read about it in James.

7. Why didn't Jesus' miracles leave behind evidence? My friend, consider the tomb is empty. What more evidence do you need?

8. Why hasn't Jesus appeared to you? After his ascension, he promised to leave behind the person of the Holy Spirit. That person is making appearences.

9. Eat my body, drink my blood - remember Jesus was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. In this context, Jesus is the nourishment of the spirit.

3. Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people? I propose they are not innocent, but guilty. "The wages of sin is death."

4. Is the Bible anti-science? I presume you mean are there repeatable experiments in the Bible, or is there scientific proof against the claims in the Bible? While the Bible is not a science text book, such miracles as turning water into wine, or the baskets of fish stories - seem implausible. But they are not meant to be repeatable experiments, but designed to encourage your faith. In this they are repeatable, as they have done for millions or billions of people over the centuries.

5. Slavery - God used it as a punishment, not as a fan.

Divorce and bad things - what can I say, except everyone needs healing in their spirit. Hope you can count your regrets on one hand, and count your blessings in the stars.

Carla said...

what happened to all of the souls that lived and died before jesus? wa just wondering.....are they just shit out of luck?

Bill Ball said...

Carla -- Good question. Briefly, the answer is no. I'll try to post a fuller answer in a few days. I'm out of pocket right now.

Christian and Macee said...

The last question is easy to explain if you ask me. They're simply not following what a Christian marriage is and should be. You can call yourself a Christian, go to church, say you live the Christian lifestyle, and still not be living in Christ, doing what you should be doing. A Christian marriage is sacred, and if you follow God's instructions correctly, marriage is practically foolproof. The problem today is people have too much pride and they give up after the fall out of being 'in-love'. Worse yet they get married just by simply being 'in love'. I just recently got married to my husband and yes I am in love with him but I did not marry him just because of that. That would be insane. Marriage is more than two people in love. It is two people coming together to join as one under God. You made vows and especially as a Christian you should respect and honor them. I don't mean sound rude or anything but this is a topic that I have a strong opinion on.

Anyway, I am very happy I found your blog. You are a very wise man and I am very grateful that you can help bring me understanding. Thank you.