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Here’s my response to this week’s challenge:
I like the multiple choice tactic. Well done, ole chap!
I have some suggestions for future challenges.
1. “The New Testament claims in several places that the return of Christ would be soon, but it’s been 2000 years. Peter tries to nip this objection in the bud by claiming that ‘soon’ is different from God’s point of view than it is from ours. But if the new testament was talking about God’s point of view each time it said ‘soon,’ then none of those occasions are really communicating anything meaningful to the readers. After all, you could extend ‘soon’ indefinitely from God’s point of view, and if that were the case, then the new testament was highly misleading to its audience. They clearly expected the second coming to be ‘soon’ in the ordinary sense of the word, but that hasn’t happened. How much time must pass before we can say the ‘soon’ claim has been falsified? Or is it falsifiable at all?”
2. “Why do we need arguments to justify belief in God? Why do we need to debate whether it’s true or not? WE don’t debate whether the government exists. We don’t argue about whether the President exists. Why doesn’t God simply govern the universe? Why must he be hidden? Why does there have to be all this game-playing? Why can’t God deal with us more directly? Isn’t the natural conclusion that there is no God watching over us?”
3. “The early parts of the Bible makes some pretty lofty promises to Abraham and the nation of Israel. The Hebrews were supposed to be God’s special people, the land of Canaan was supposed to be theirs forever, and later it there are promises to always have a man on the throne of David. But none of Israel’s hopes have come to fruition. In fact, since the Babylonian exile in the 6th century B.C., Israel only enjoyed a brief period of sovereignty under the Hasmonian dynasty. From the 2nd century C.E., they’ve basically been in exile. The modern nation of Israel doesn’t resemble at all the nation established under Moses or David and Solomon. Most Jews today don’t even hold out hope of any kind of eschatological restoration. Clearly, God didn’t promise anything to the nation of Israel.”
4. “There are many places in the Old Tesatment indicating that the Mosaic law would last forever–even under the new covenant and the new world. For example, Ezekiel 36 predicts a restoration in which God will write the Law on the hearts of the Jews and bring them back to their land. Isaiah 66 seems to indicate that there will still be sacrifices, priests, and Sabbaths in the new earth. But Christianity did away with all that, so if Judaism is true, then Christianity cannot be true.”
Sam, thanks for these challenges. We’ll try to address a couple of them in future posts.
The first challenge seems especially relevant in light of the recent predictions. I’ve seen a lot of atheists recently offering that particular criticism.
Here’s a challenge I get a lot.
When explaining things about God and doctrine, it’s common for me to get philosophical and technical, or use certain arguments to support my views. Christians often times pull the “mystery” card on me when they disagree, saying that God is bigger than we can imagine and these arguments in some way diminish God by making him explicable. This might happen if I were to argue that God is temporal rather than “outside of time”, for example. I’d like to know how apologists respond to arguments like this.
I’ve had similar arguments with people have seem to have a problem with “putting God in a box.” They seem to think that God is ineffable, and as soon as you say something definite about God, you’re putting him in a box.
But the Bible has all kinds of things to say about God. If God truly is ineffable, then the Bible does not accurately represent him. If the Bible DOES accurately represent him, then God is NOT ineffable.
I would ask your friends for clarification. I’d ask, “Do you mean we can’t really know anything that’s true about God?” or “Do you mean that no description we could give at God can be accurate?” If they say, “yes,” then I’d ask, “Does that mean we’d be wrong to say that God has always existed, or that God is all-powerful, or that God is a trinity, or that God raised Jesus from the dead, or that God is honest, or that God knows the future, or that God requires moral behavior from us, etc?” If you can’t put into content in the word “God,” then what exactly are you worshipping? If you can’t say anything that’s true about God and that accurately describes him, then “God” is just a meaningless word.
Some people I’ve talked to have taken an all-or-nothing approach to understanding God. They think that because we can’t know EVERYTHING about God, that we can’t know ANYTHING about God. But that’s obvious nonsense. We can know whatever God chooses to reveal about himself. Is God incapable of revealing truths about himself? Doesn’t the Bible reveal the nature and character of God?
Bret you wrote “We’ll try to address a couple of them in future posts.” It has been many a moon and I see no attempts by you to address posters points. I sure hope you can get around to it soon. Thanks.