THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS
Witnessing to the Agnostic
By Beth Hyduke
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Continued from Page One
The Bible uses the principle of cause and effect to make this exact same argument. Hebrews 3:4 says, "For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." If our universe is so complex and intricate in its structure, order, symmetry, and function that our best scientists don't even fully understand it, what are the chances that it all just came together in such an intricately ordered way? The Bible compares it to the possibility that a variety of scrap materials could randomly land in such a way as to result in a fully constructed, fully plumbed house. When you see a house, you know that someone built it even if you didn't witness them building it because of the apparent order and design and construction that went into it. It would be infinitely more ludicrous to look at the entire orderly universe and conclude it didn't have an architect and builder behind it than it would be to see a fully constructed house and conclude that it just happened to come together that way by a magical mixture of accident and time.
The law of cause and effect naturally flows right into the argument, not just for design, but for intelligent design. When we're talking about us human beings, we're not just talking about a material house of sticks and stones and mortar. Every human being is composed of immaterial elements you could never get from purely material building blocks. How would you expect intelligence to arise from non-intelligence? How would you expect to get moral capacity, extremely complex sensory abilities, and mental capabilities like thinking and reasoning from primordial ooze? You wouldn't. You'd only get those highly complex, personal capacities from a highly complex, personal Source-Origin. Psalm 94:8-10 says, "Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does He who fashioned the ear not hear? Does He who formed the eye not see? Does He who disciplines nations not punish? Does He who teaches mankind lack knowledge?" We live and have senses and a capacity to learn and think and act morally because God who sees and hears and thinks and reasons and judges designed us in His own image. We didn't accidentally spring from an impossible puddle of ooze, we were the deliberate, intentional creation of a Being who endows to us some of the abilities He Himself has and who placed us in a universe that irrefutably testifies to His existence (Romans 1).
These two progressive arguments — the law of cause and effect and the case for intelligent design — are extrabiblical, apologetic arguments that provide a starting place to reason with people who doubt or deny the existence of God. Of course, convincing an agnostic that God exists is just a first, tottering step towards the Gospel, but it is a monumental step for an agnostic or atheist as it opens the door to begin discussing who this God who exists, is.
At this point, evangelism will take a more regular and familiar shape, and the Gospel can be brought in to comment on the self-revelation of God in the Bible, as well as to offer cogent explanations for sin, evil, fallenness, guilt, and death, and finally to provide the ultimate resolution to the human dilemma in the form of God's gracious provision of forgiveness, reconciliation, and eternal life through Jesus Christ. A full (but simple) gospel presentation always includes these three facts in some form or fashion: 1) God is holy (1 Samuel 2:2; Isaiah 40:25; 57:15; Hosea 11:9; John 17:11; Revelation 4:8). 2) We are sinners, deserving and destined for death in hell (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5; Matthew 15:19; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:12; Romans 8:7-8; James 1:14-15). 3) Christ died so that he could take the place of sinners who put their trust in Him (Romans 5:6; Ephesians 1:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:5; Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 9:14, 28).
I would strongly recommend that you investigate the subject of apologetics in more detail than I can provide here within the constraints of a short article. Apologetics is a wide realm but there are many resources that can help you navigate and prepare yourself to use it in doing spiritual battle. See CARM's apologetics section for a great introduction.
Additionally, I recommend picking up a copy of CS Lewis' apologetic work Mere Christianity and Lee Strobel's investigative The Case for a Creator and The Case for Christ. These are all three highly useful tools to solidify why Christians believe what we believe, to refute nonsense propaganda that Christianity is an irrational belief system that is stuck in the Middle Ages, and to prepare you for confronting atheist, agnostic, and other unbelievers with logical, well-reasoned arguments. Lewis and Strobel, both former atheists, wrote these books to defend Christianity from its detractors and to provide consistent, progressive, and reasoned arguments for its validity and credibility.
Finally, as a general witnessing practice, it helps take a lot of pressure off us to remember that success in witnessing and ministry is not our burden to bear; it is only appointed to us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-15), and to leave the outcome to God, trusting that He will work His will in His way and in His time. As industrious at planting, and as nurturing at tending and watering as we can be, it's still God alone who is able to make seed take root in soil and grow (1 Corinthians 3:7). I have watched seeds in optimum, greenhouse conditions remain dormant and come to absolutely nothing, and I have seen seed in the poorest, most impoverished soil take root and flourish, and I have learned that God's hand is behind both the failed seed and the mature plant. Our job as Christians is simply to do our best sowing and watering, and leave the rest to God who is the best and wisest gardener.
Tags: Biblical-Truth | God-Father | Witnessing-Evangelism
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