Warren Christian Apologetics Center
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Articles - God

Articles concerning the existence of God.

Posts in God
WHO IS THE JEHOVAH OF THE OLD TESTAMENT?

There are a number of passages which indicate that Jehovah appeared to men (in some form) in the Old Testament (e.g., Genesis 18:1ff; etc.).   Yet, there are also numerous passages which say that no man has ever seen God (cf. John 1:18).  What are we to make of this phenomena?  Should we understand such passages to suggest that no man has ever seen the entire Godhead at one time?  Probably not, but this has been suggested.  Should we say that men did not see God Himself, but rather, only some shadowy manifestation of Him, or, some physical manifestation that is not to be identified with Him?  That this is not satisfactory will become apparent in a short time.  Some passages say that men saw Jehovah, and others just as clearly say that no man has seen the Lord.  How should we understand what appears to be a serious problem?

The Problem Stated

            Numerous passages indicate that no man has seen God at any time.  For instance, John says in John 1:18 (all Scripture references are from the American Standard Version, unless otherwise noted):  "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."  Scripture is clear to show that those who had seen the Christ had seen the Father (cf. John 10:30; 14:9; etc.).  But, the same Bible is just as clear to point out that the Father has not been seen by mortal man at any time.  In John 5:37, Jesus Himself said: “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.  Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.”   John says further, in 1 John 4:10-12, 14, 20:
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.   Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.   No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us: . . .  And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. . . .  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. 

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My Dad Knows God!

   There is the story of three little boys who, playing as backyard buddies, got into one of those “my Dad is better than your Dad” routines. One of the boys declared, “My Dad knows the mayor of our town!” The second boy responded by saying, “That’s nothing! My Dad knows the governor!” Then the third boy exclaimed: “That’s nothing! My Dad knows God!”

   There is no greater legacy a father can leave his children (son or daughter) than the memory of a father who has lived by faith in, and fear of, God. The Bible reports, “[A]nd the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God” (James 2:23; cf. Genesis 15:6). [All Scripture references are from the English Standard Version, ESV Text Edition 2011.] Surely Isaac was a rich son, because he was able to correctly recall that his father was “a friend of God.” Likewise, Jacob could rightfully say, “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed” (Genesis 31:42). What a legacy has been bequeathed when one can say, as Alexander Campbell reportedly said of his father, Thomas: “I never knew a man of whom it could be said with more assurance that he walked with God. . . . Whatsoever good I may have done under God, I owe it all to his paternal care and instruction, and especially his example.”

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An Agnostic Is Neither an Atheist Nor a Theist

Some Simple Definitions

Although these words have been defined with various shades of meaning by some thinkers, I wish to use some simple, brief definitions of three crucial terms: agnostic, atheist, and (Biblical) theist. An agnostic is a person who holds that there is not sufficient evidence available to man to warrant the deduction that men can know that God exists. (The agnostic holds that there is not evidence available so that man can answer either “yes” or “no” to the question as to whether God exists.) An atheist is one who claims that there is sufficient evidence available to man to warrant the deduction that men can know that God does not exist. A (Biblical) theist is one who holds that there is sufficient evidence available to men to warrant the deduction that men can know that God does exist. I am concerned in this article to show that while some men who espouse the basic agnostic viewpoint may classify themselves as theists, such a classification is unwarranted. To be an agnostic relative to, say, X is to hold that men cannot know X. In this article, I am concerned especially with agnosticism relative to the existence of God, the inspiration of the Bible, and the correct interpretation of the Bible.

 

“Kinds” of Agnosticism

Relative to the existence of God, there are at least two kinds of agnostics. The kind of agnostic who “leans toward” theism (such as Blaise Pascal) says that no one can know whether God exists but claims that “it is more reasonable” to believe that God does exist than that he does not. But the fact that this type of agnostic “leans toward” theism does not make him truly a (Biblical) theist. The other kind of agnostic is one who “leans toward” atheism (such as Bertrand Russell). This kind of agnostic holds that no one can know whether God exists, but he claims “that it is more reasonable” to believe that God does not exist than to believe that he does.

 

An Agnostic Is Neither an Atheist Nor a Theist

There are numerous philosophers who claim not that they know that God does not exist, but that there is not sufficient evidence available to men to enable anyone to know whether God does or does not exist. It is manifestly incorrect to refer to such men as atheists, and it is surely the case that at least most of them would resent anyone referring to them as atheists. There is a definite distinction made between being an atheist and being an agnostic. While we thus recognize the distinction between an agnostic and an atheist, we also must recognize that it is incorrect to refer to an agnostic as a (Biblical) theist. If a given person says that there is not sufficient evidence available to men for them to know whether God exists, even if he does claim that it is “more reasonable to believe” that God does exist than to believe that he does not exist, such a person is not a (Biblical) theist–he is an agnostic! This is the case simply because so long as one holds that the evidence available to man is not sufficient to warrant the deduction that men can know that God exists, even if they do say that it is “more reasonable” to believe that God exists than that he does not exist, then they are not theists but agnostics!

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THE ABSOLUTE OF GOD AND MORAL VALUE

In 1943, following his historic BBC radio talks of 1941-42, C. S. Lewis published an essay titled, “The Poison of Subjectivism.” Lewis wrote: “Until modern times, no thinker of the first rank ever doubted that our judgements of value were rational judgements or that what they discovered was objective.” However, as Lewis goes on to explain, today’s modern view is that when someone says a thing is good he is merely expressing his feelings about it. By “judgements of value” Lewis meant moral judgments about right and wrong. He called this “practical reason” and said if we “grant that our practical reason is really reason and that its fundamental imperatives are . . . absolute . . . then unconditional allegiance to them is the duty of man. So is absolute allegiance to God. And these two allegiances must, somehow, be the same.”

Absolute moral judgment goes hand in hand with the absolute reality of God. And, the absolute reality of God goes hand in hand with absolute moral judgment. Without absolute moral judgment there is no absolute truth. Without absolute truth there is no absolute moral judgment.

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Everybody Has Got Religion

Recently I was told of a college student whose view of life accepted anything except religion, which I assumed, of course, included Christianity. His position is a classic example of our culture that has lost touch with reality, one that T. S. Eliot declared over half a century ago had “left God, not for other gods, but for no god at all.”

   This is the product of the philosophy of Existentialism which infected the nineteenth and twentieth century world and morphed into Post-modernism in the twenty-first. This philosophy essentially views reality not as created by a Supreme mind, but as a mindless, physical accident. The only reality for the true Existentialist is whatever the individual mind perceives.

   In the extreme, understanding of life does not even come from the “thinking” self, but from the “felling and/or acting” self. Such a philosophy casts off anything that controls one’s own behavior; thus, it is imperative to reject the idea of a Transcendent Moral Authority.

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PROFESSING SKEPTICISM BEFORE COLLEGE

For the first time in its 382 year history, Harvard University’s next graduating class (2019) has more professed atheists and agnostics than professed Christians. Nearly forty percent (37.9%) of the 2019 class have openly claimed to be atheistic or agnostic.

The Original Rules and Precepts observed at Harvard included “Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ . . . and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning” (Federer, America’s God and Country , pp. 280-81). The original Harvard motto, which will be 375 years old this coming December 27, is Veritas, which is Latin for Truth. In 1650, the motto was changed to “In Christi Gloriam,” meaning “For the Glory of Christ.” In 1692, the Harvard motto became “Veritas pro Christo et Ecclesiae, ” which means “Truth for Christ and the Church.” In time, Harvard continued down a path into deep secularization. Veritas exclusively became the one word motto to the exclusion of any of the former references to God or Jesus Christ, who the original rules and precepts of Harvard had described as “the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”

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Atheism—Our Greatest Foe—And How to Deal with It

SOME INTRODUCTORY MATTERS

  1.  The problem and its importance. In Romans 1:18-20, Paul made clear that the “everlasting power and divinity” of God “are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made.” He further explained that, as a consequence of rejecting that evidence, even though the rejecters professed themselves to be wise, they actually “became fools” and began to worship what had been created rather than the Creator (Romans 1:21-23). In greater detail Paul then explained the consequences of rejecting God. In the remaining verses of the first chapter of Romans, three times Paul says that God “gave them up.” (1) He “gave them up . . . unto uncleanness” (1:24). (2) He “gave them up unto vile passions” (1:26). (3) He “gave them up unto a reprobate mind” (1:28). A careful study of Romans 1:18-32 will enlighten the student as to the terrible consequences of rejecting God. As we survey the situation in our own world, we can see the same results (moral and spiritual degeneration) from the same action (rejection of God).

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THE ULTIMATE CAUSE OF THE MORAL MESS IN AMERICA

While having lunch with a university professor who has taught biblical texts and topics, philosophy, apologetics, and other related subjects for at least parts of four decades, I asked, “What is the major difference you see in today’s students (especially in Millennials) from the students you taught in the early years of your career?” Without hesitation he replied, “Today, especially in Millennials, there is the loss of conviction that there is absolute truth.”

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What The Heathen Understood About Divinity

In Jeremiah 10:2 God warned His people with regard to the heathen. God’s covenant people were not to allow themselves to be corrupted by outsiders who either did not recognize the One true God or who lived as though they did not. And the history of Israel in Old Testament times reveals how the thinking of the heathen at times indeed did corrupt the thinking and practice of the Jews.

But have you ever given thought to the fact that in spite of the ignorance of and the distortion of and the misapplication of ideas exhibited by the heathen, that they did at times reveal “some” correct understanding, which understanding is significant?

Let us list a few of these points

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A Nation's Greatest Strength

The book of Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament, was written about the downfall of a nation (Edom). The same things that led to Edom’s fall will lead to the downfall of any nation. For the Edomites, we find no record of God. They claimed no allegiance to a god of any kind.

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