It was so simple when I became a follower of Christ. No one presented irrefutable evidence of the existence of God. No one debated me until my arguments seemed farfetched and their defence of biblical content undeniable. I was not challenged by polished presentations or glossy publications. My faith today is not built on irrefutable evidence of God, well prepared arguments for the biblical way or high quality presentations of the truth. To put it simply, my faith has been and continues to be firmly placed in the redemptive power of the blood shed for me by Jesus my saviour.
The arguments for Christianity are far more compelling to the Christian.
I find myself more and more interested in the debates that take place between Christian apologists and members of other belief systems including those who proclaim there is nothing to believe in. To see what I believe backed by logic and scientific thinking convinces me that I am on the right track.
I wonder if it is the same for those who believe in a different god(s) or those who say there is no god? I wonder if they, when listening to the debate or pouring through the pages of arguments that favour their belief system, feel a sense of pride and confidence that they have it all figured out, that they have chosen the “right” side of the debate?
So this guy walked on the water…
I have never seen a debate that attempts to prove or disprove Jesus walking on water or turning water into wine. The numerous healing miracles as well as the restoration of those who were once controlled by demons are not the topics talked about by those who debate the existence of God and His incarnation. I have heard people who are considerably more educated than me debate the historical evidence of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection but you would think that in order to prove the validity of the Bible and Christianity, you would have to debate all the stories recorded in the Bible especially those outside of what we consider normal.
Maybe people aren’t looking for proof of the miraculous.
I have to admit, the more compelling the argument that supports my beliefs, the more apt I am to listen and become excited about my understanding of God. On the other hand, the more miraculous the story or experience, in other words the more unexplainable or unprovable the claim is from a scientific or logical point of view, the more apt I am to become excited about the God who is so far beyond my understanding. There is something about God exceeding my understanding that forces me to accept that I am His creation rather than Him being a creation of my imagination.
The danger of the explainable is its vulnerability to interpretation.
The laws of the Old Testament laid out in great detail a system of living. They were easy to explain and their origin easy to trace. It wasn’t long before the people replaced living in awe of the giver of these words and following His commands with finding a way to get around them. The miraculousness of the creator interacting with and guiding His creation was soon replaced by the desire to explain what they were told in a way that suited what they wanted to do.
The Pharisees and Sadducees debated their interpretation of the explainable.
They sought to prove their religious ideas, they pursued debate, they set out to win. The average person was more interested in the unexplainable miracles performed and the love based relationship with God revealed by Jesus. The good news of the gospel message was simple and miraculous:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 (NIV)
Those who sought proof and set out to debate missed out. Those who used education to explain the ways of God missed out on the unexplainable simplicity of His miraculous plan. We all have a hole that can only be filled by God. It is not filled by educated orators proving what they know but by humble people accepting that they do not fully know, can’t fully prove but can step out in faith and believe.
What have we done?
We have turned the simple gospel message into a debate about the provable even though we admit we follow the indescribable. We have taken the simple call of God and turned it into a quest for knowledge rather than the All-knowing. We have gone from simply trusting God’s power to trusting our debating skills. We have gone beyond the simple call of Jesus “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV) and made people weary and burdened by our wealth of knowledge rather than helping them rest in God’s power.
There is not enough proof to replace our need for faith so there will never be enough proof to convince someone else that they need to embrace that same faith – this is why the gospel message is so simple.
Note: I am not against apologetics, it is good to explore tangible evidence related to our faith. The problem arises when personal faith is replaced by apologetics and we present our faith as provable fact using apologetics.