To Friedrich Nietzsche’s mind, God isn’t a very clear communicator: How could an all-knowing and all-powerful God be good if he doesn’t make clear his intentions to his creatures but leaves them tormented by doubts and questions? Another atheist, N.R. Hanson, has claimed he could be convinced to believe in God if suddenly the world’s inhabitants were knocked to their knees by a “shattering thunderclap,” followed by swirling snow, blowing leaves, heaving earth, toppling buildings, and a Zeus-like figure declaring convincingly with a thundering voice, “I most certainly do exist.” Then there’s Bertrand Russell’s complaint of God, “You didn’t give us enough evidence
However, a God who is as obvious to us mortals as the nose on our face isn’t necessarily ideal. The Scriptures speak of a God who both hides and reveals. Jesus praises His Father: “You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants” (Mt. 11:25). Yes, the mere acknowledgment of God’s existence is a start, but even demons believe that much (Jas. 2:19). The relating triune God desires that we earnestly seek Him and His wisdom as “for hidden treasures” (Prov. 2:4)—with all our heart. All around us there are indicators of His presence and echoes of His voice, which are available to all people—whether of great intelligence or not. However, God honors human responsibility so greatly that He has configured His self-revelation to be accessible but non-coercive: He doesn’t compel or force belief—and love and worship—upon us. For whole-hearted seekers, God gives ample signposts of His grace and presence, but sufficient ambiguity for the half-hearted or the hard-hearted. He grants us breathing room to allow us to distance ourselves from God and resist His grace if we choose. The demands of Nietzsche and Hanson miss the point.
In a five-week online course with Reclaiming the Mind Ministries (Tuesdays, 8 May – 5 June, 9-11 PM EST), I’ll explore this and many other topics as we look at “A Christian Philosophy of Religion.” Philosophy means “the love of wisdom”—which isn’t merely an intellectual pursuit. As Scripture reminds us, a relationship with God is at the heart of wisdom: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10). In fact, “in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Wisdom is the skill of living rightly before God, and this involves thinking rightly about Him so that we can love Him more deeply and serve Him more effectively in this world.
In our course, we’ll follow the Christian narrative of God, Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Re–creation. We’ll explore the nature and attributes of the Triune God; reasons for believing in God; science and miracles; the problems of evil, original sin, and hell; the logic of the Incarnation and Atonement; religious pluralism, the uniqueness of Christ, and those who have never heard; the body-soul question; resurrection and immortality; faith, hope, and doubt. We’ll be using my forthcoming book Loving Wisdom: Christian Philosophy of Religion (Chalice Press) as basis of the lectures and discussion.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The Christian faith helps make the best sense of our world and human experience. I hope you’ll join us for the course to see more clearly how this is so.