The First Apologists and Why They Still Matter

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Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, once said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Here it is, 2017 and his words still ring true. While modern Christians may face some challenges that are unique to our age, I’ve learned that a great many more are not. From the accusation that Christians are “intolerant haters” to the insult of being “ignorant” for “believing such foolishness”, many Christians are learning that the first and second century Church Fathers have already navigated similarly choppy waters and there is much we can learn from them.

An Introduction To The Past

A couple months back I was attending a lecture for the C. S. Lewis Institute’s Fellows Program where Dr. Tim McGrew was speaking on the topic of apologetics. He suggested that modern Christians would do well to study the early Church Fathers and learn from their example on how they engaged with the culture of their day because the parallels between now and then were stunning.

This intrigued me because as a self-proclaimed “history nerd”, it was the historicity of the eyewitness accounts found in the gospels that eventually led me to believe that the resurrection was the best explanation for those events. I committed my life to Christ and ultimately, started down the path to seek out more knowledge which plunged me into the world of apologetics.

Recently, Dr. McGrew suggested that I read a book called “Testimonies of Heathen and Christian Writers of the first two centuries” by Rev. Thomas Browne. The book is a simple collection of letters from Taticus to Tertullian and many in between. Reading the translated letters from both Christians and non-Christians in first two centuries has been a complete eye-opener!

Parallels found between what the Christians in the first two centuries faced and what we face today are striking. Which is why we need to begin to rediscover our roots and learn from the wisdom of the early Church Fathers.

A Few Key Similarities To Think About

Take for example the charge of being an “intolerant hater”. We may flinch at such an accusation, but when you read Tertullian (AD 200) you’ll find that the Christians in his day were also called, “haters of mankind.” Why? Because the early Church refused to worship the Roman gods which were thought to help hold the Roman Empire together. In response, Tertullian wrote in his apology that Christian teaching was the exact opposite:

“If we are commanded to love our enemies, whom have we to hate? If, when injured, we are forbidden to return evil for evil, lest we should be like our adversaries, whom can we hurt?”

Or how about the insistence that Christians are “stupid” or “foolish”? That’s not new, either. Celsus (AD 170) was one of the first non-Christians to write against Christianity. He took particular exception to what he believed was the ignorance of the early church:

“Some of them say, ‘Do not examine, but believe, and thy faith shall save thee:’ and, ‘ The wisdom of this world is evil, and the folly good.’ All wise men are excluded from the doctrine of their faith: they call to it only fools, and men of a servile spirit.”

Forget for a moment that Celsus seems to be misrepresenting Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 3:19 which states “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God”but if you take a moment you’ll see that it kind of reads like a comment you’d find on a YouTube page. Unfortunately, Celsus wasn’t alone in his mockery of the early church. Marcus Antoninus (AD 161) also wrote that Christians were, “…an obstinately-prejudiced, ignorant, and unphilosophical race of men”

However, Justin Martyr (AD 140) answered similar insults by gently pointing out that those who criticized Christianity as foolishness were themselves ignorant of its teachings:

“…they accuse us of madness, saying that we give the second place after the unchangeable God, the Creator of all things, to a man who was crucified: and this they do, being ignorant of the mystery which is in this matter.”

Even many arguments against Christianity aren’t unique to our era. Celsus also wrote of the discrepancies between the eyewitness accounts of the disciples as proof that they were false:

“To the sepulcher of Jesus there came two angels, as is said by some, or, as by others, one only.”

Yet, Origen (AD 248) answered the challenge set forth by Celsus, “He had observed that Matthew and Mark mention one only, Luke and John, two. But these things are easily reconciled.”

Spend any amount of time perusing skeptical blogs, books or YouTube channels and you’ll doubtlessly encounter similar arguments, misrepresentations or insults. While we may have the Internet, giving us access to a seemingly infinite amount of information, we are pitiably misinformed. Misinformation and sometimes, even prejudice toward Christian beliefs and teachings are just as alive now as they were during the first two centuries.

Debunked arguments and slanders continue to find new legs with new audiences due to access to the World Wide Web and the folks who insist on perpetuating them. Paraphrasing Dr. James White, “The internet has turned bad arguments into the Walking Dead. You shoot ‘em in the head, and they keep shuffling forward.”

Following The Map That Has Been Drawn For Us

We truly stand on the shoulders of giants. Most of the apologetic heavy lifting has already been done for us. There is so much that we can learn from the early church in how they not only approached apologetics but also in how they engaged and responded to a culture that was hostile to their beliefs. It’s a strange comfort to see the obstacles that we face today and know that those who have gone before us faced similar challenges and, despite the best arguments, insults and efforts of some, the Church remains.

So, shine up your apologetic shields and let the barbs and the arrows come from those who believe that they possess some sort of “new” argument that will “destroy” Christianity. As the Early Church shows us: they don’t.

 

Big Picture: Where am I Going?

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Last month I wrote a blog titled, “The More I Study Christianity, the Dumber I get.” In that piece I laid the foundation for this article. Last month, I took a bird’s eye view of how our perspective may not include the entirety of the situation. For example, when my toddler climbs the stairs, his confidence overshadows the fact that I have control of the situation. In fact, he won’t even know I’m there unless he slips. Only then will my grasp become apparent. But perspective is not the only piece of the puzzle.

A Comparative Story

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to take my kids to the pool. I have 4 kids (13, 11, 5, and 3) all at different levels in their ability to process information. Without telling the kids where we were going, I grabbed floaties, pool passes, sun screen, and towels. Instantly, 3 of the 4 knew we were headed swimming based on the floaties. The oldest two knew which pool because of the passes. But the littlest only knew we were leaving and she needed her dolls. All 4 kids had access to the same information, but they all processed it differently. In this regard, every kid was ‘correct’ in their assessment, but only 1 of them was ‘right’ in totality. But the story continues…

On the way to the pool, I decided to play a game with all the kids: Who can tell me which way to turn? Every stop sign we came to, each kid picked a direction and then celebrated the one who picked the way I went. Even though we go to the pool often (about 1-2/week), none of them had a full grasp on the route. To shake things up a little, sometimes I’d turn away from the shortest route to go out of the way. We may have taken a little extra time getting to the pool, but there was much joy in watching the baby’s eye light up when she picked the ‘right’ way. When all was said and done, it was the little two kids that picked the most ‘right’ turns.

The Comparison

I think we have a tendency to treat life the same way as the expedition I took with my kids. It is no wonder many of the best metaphors of life contain symbolisms of traveling and reaching a destination:

  • Life’s a journey, enjoy the ride – Nissan
  • Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes – Mary T. Lathrap (1895)
  • Every day is a winding road — Sheryl Crow
  • we are trekking a tumultuous, sobering path — @MsPackyetti, Huffington Post
  • Life is a highway; I want to ride it all night long – Tom Cochrane
  • Life’s a journey, not a destination – Lynn H. Hough, Theologian
  • Let us run with perseverance the race market out for us – Heb 12:1

We choose our path

and blaze a trail as we set out see what life lays before us. Like my kids, we gather the data available and set out towards a goal. Just like my kids, calling out lefts and rights, sometimes the turn brings us closer to the destination and other times it takes us out of the way. Of course, the only way to know if the turn is towards or away from the destination is to know where the destination is located.

In life, however, the destination isn’t always where we plan. Sometimes, while trying to achieve objective X, we find objective Y to be far more appealing or achievable. Sometimes, upon reaching our objective, we find it not to be as expected. I remember being well into my 20’s dreaming of winning the lottery. But the fate of the lucky few is often perilous. In one Reader’s Digest article, lottery winners share how they lost friends, still didn’t feel they had enough, wound up broke…or dead; winning the lottery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But can you really know where you’re going? Isn’t part of the excitement the mystery?

The Twist

Yes. It is. Mystery and chance are some of the greatest gifts of God. God, you say? Yeah…it’s biblical. Job 11:7, Can you discover the depths of God?; Daniel 2:28, However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries; Eph 3:4, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ; Matt 13:11, To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.; 1 Cor 2:7, but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; and so many more.

But science has another plan.

Science wants answers; science wants to be the revealer of the mysteries of life. Check out this perfect comparison of what I mean:

In a web article titled, “23 Things Science Can Tell Us about Life, the Universe, and Everything”, the author writes this point:

“3. What is love, hate, and emotion?
Scientists have largely answered this question already”

Does that sound like science has answered the question? It does to me. But look at the very next segment of the very same sentence, “but as with most neuroscience, the details remain fuzzy.” Wait, what? That doesn’t sound like an answer at all. Rather, that sounds like science is still making left/right turns working towards a goal it doesn’t know where it will lead. Like Alice in the rabbit hole, science takes a bite, a drink, a cup of tea, not knowing where anything will lead—and that’s ok. But the problem comes when this data is arrogantly shared as fact.

A simple Google search of ‘new atheist’ reveals:

The New Atheists are authors of early twenty-first century books promoting atheism. These authors include Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. ... A standard observation is that New Atheist authors exhibit an unusually high level of confidence in their views.
The New Atheists are authors of early twenty-first century books promoting atheism. These authors include Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. … A standard observation is that New Atheist authors exhibit an unusually high level of confidence in their views.

–Unusually high levels of confidence—

Irony…

I think the thing I find the most ironic about the new atheist, is their confidence in the process has become surpassed by their confidence in the outcome. Science does not have all the answers—it can’t. Science will never reveal the final answer because it doesn’t even know what it’s looking for.

Right now there are thousands of scientists all working diligently to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’. These scientists work tirelessly to find cures for cancer, improve agricultural output, create advanced weapons to both save and take lives, and learn more about our DNA, the universe and rocks. In many ways, each scientific discipline works harmoniously with the others to find uniformity and draw together better, clearer, answers. In other ways, they are all individualistic in their study—not knowing where, or what, answer they may find.

Science, therefore, can never answer every question because it doesn’t know where it’s going—and why should it? It’s a tool, a process, a methodology. Science is wonderful in that regard. But, if we are going to take every ‘answer’ from science as gospel, we are bound for destruction. Prov 14:12 & 16:25 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

There is nothing wrong with science. In many ways science has helped biblical understanding. Moreover, there is nothing wrong taking of scientific advancements. But it is no place for your hope; science is of no use in deciphering purpose and meaning. Because science has no clue where it is going. And, as the saying goes, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there – Lewis Carroll.


Authors Note:

This is part 2 of a series in which we must draw out our perspective in contrast to what is available to us. If anything I have written resonates with you, for good or bad, please leave a comment below. I’d love a chance to share my story with you and the dead end I found at the end of my own selfish pursuits. I’d love an opportunity to share how Jesus, personally, changed my life. Do you know him?

How to Understand Genesis with Dr. Fuz Rana of Reasons to Believe

From Ep. 65 of A Clear Lens Podcast

In this clip, special guest Dr. Fuz Rana of Reasons to Believe answers these questions:

  1. What is your view of the creation account in Genesis?
  2. Does Genesis 1 get the order of events wrong?
  3. Is the creation account in Genesis history or poetry?

Don’t forget to peruse our website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material you won’t find on our website! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

A Useful Guide to the Intersection of Christianity and Science

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The notion that science and religion are at odds has been a successful ideological talking point for decades. A 2015 Pew Research Center Survey shows that 59% of Americans still believe science and religion are in conflict with one another. More specifically, 40% of white evangelical Protestants say their personal beliefs conflict with science. This kind of thinking can only persist if folks do not develop their understanding of scientific concepts and how they intersect with Christian doctrine.

While there are materials available to set the record straight on this matter, none exist quite like the Dictionary of Christianity and Science. This book contains introductions, essays, and multiple view discussions from the likes of Darrell Bock, William Lane Craig, Stephen C. Meyer, and many more. Each entry in the dictionary provides a proper overview of key issues like adam and eve, logical positivism, and quantum physics.

Here is an excerpt from “Image of God” by Tremper Longman III:

Recent research has also seen the linguistic and conceptual connections between the description of humans as image bearers and the forbidden use of images to represent false deities or in some cases even God himself (as forbidden by the second commandment, Ex. 20:4-6). Indeed, the creation of images of God not only errs by violating God’s status as Creator, but also by violating the status of humans as the only divinely authorized image of God.

Each dictionary entry provides references and recommended readings for those that would like to go deeper with a particular issue. As a matter of fact, the entry for “Punctuated Equilibrium” contains 14 references to related scientific journals and books. So the reader has the ability to retain a broad understanding of a particular issue or dive down deep into the specifics of academic thought.

Christians need a faith that is seeking to understand the reality that God has made. As a body of believers in Christ we don’t benefit from shunning study in the area of science; rather we miss an opportunity to know God through His creation. Because the two issues of science and Christianity are so robust in their development, Dictionary of Christianity and Science is uniquely provides useful materials on the intersection of these two important systems.

Worldview Analysis: Pansexual Homoromantic?

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On our latest Worldview Analysis segment of A Clear Lens Podcast, Gene Gosewehr discusses with Nate Sala the worldview implications of saying that you’re pansexual homoromantic.

Don’t forget to peruse our brand new look at the ACL website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material you won’t find on our website! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

Podcast 65: Who Was Adam? with Dr. Fuz Rana of Reasons to Believe

On today’s episode, Nate and Gene play a Genesis trivia game, analyze a television clip from ABC’s The View on being a “pansexual homorantic”, and they welcome biochemist and apologist Dr. Fuz Rana (of Reasons to Believe) on the show to discuss his recent book: Who Was Adam? A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Humanity

Don’t forget to answer the question Gene asks at the very end of the show for your chance to win a free copy of Dr. Rana’s book: Who Was Adam?

Take a moment to peruse our brand new look at the ACL website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material you won’t find on our website! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

Ep. 65: Who Was Adam? with Dr. Fuz Rana of Reasons to Believe

To download the episode, right-click here.

or follow us on Twitter!

 

 

*Bumper and soundtrack score by bensound.com

Worldview Analysis: Castlevania

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Based on the popular video game series, Castlevania is Netflix’s latest foray into the fantasy world with original content.  Far from a lighthearted fantasy show, however, Castlevania breaches many topics of religious and sociopolitical importance.  How does its approach compare with Christianity?

Worldview Analysis: The Planet of the Apes

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Photo credit: http://hdqwalls.com/war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-wallpaper

The new Planet of the Apes saga (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes) is rich with storytelling excellence and cinematic beauty. Perhaps the greatest question Apes forces us to ask is “Who are we as humans?” Since the outcome of the saga is obvious (the apes take over the planet), the question can then be more focused: “What could bring humanity to its end?” The franchise is thus the storytellers’ interpretation of who we are, what’s wrong with us and whether redemption is possible.

What is Humanity?

The portrait of humanity in the saga is a naturalistic one. The apes’ growth in intelligence is equated with the development of personhood (or even the formation of a soul). This is a presupposition of naturalism, which assumes that who we are as humans is merely based on our ability to operate within higher brain functions than the rest of the animal kingdom.

Our humanhood, then, is best seen when we use intelligence for the betterment of our species (and by extension the world as a whole since our enhanced intelligence allows us to logically conclude that our own survival is contingent on taking care of the world wherein we live). What happens in Rise is the transgression of this responsibility; we usurp the natural order by seeking the prosperity of our own kind above that of the lower species, and so we must face the consequences (the virus), which brings either death (as we see in Dawn) or the degeneration of our intelligence (as we see in War). Our humanity is lost because we misused it, and so the apes become the new “humanity.” 

What these films effectively do is illustrate the belief that humans are just intelligent animals because if apes can naturally become humans via intelligence, then there is no basis on which humans can be raised to an intrinsic, image-of-God status.

The Dying of the Light

But even with the presence of naturalism, the films grasp, perhaps unintentionally, at genuine transcendence because, with the human race slowly dying off, they create a vacuum for redemption. And this, I believe, is part of what makes Rise, Dawn and War so compelling. The fading of the light has a way of making us heed it, and yearn for it to stay, and so we long for humanity to be redeemed and remade (even if it means incarnating humanity in the apes). As we watch The Planet of the Apes we long for a final redemption because we’re led to believe it won’t come. As glimpses of goodness are sprinkled throughout the films only to be subsequently eclipsed by brutality, we realize what is truly important in life.

What we see developing throughout the three films is a prominent Biblical concept: total depravity. Humans created the intelligent apes and fight against the outcome of such a transgression (the virus that kills the majority of humanity), so the remaining survivors unleash their own brutality in desperation, becoming more like animals. Caesar even admits that his own kind is “just like [humans]” in their depravity, implying the infectious nature of sin.

The saga provides a parable of what our world is without Christ (animalism). Without a transcendent leader to save humanity from its own destruction, the tribalistic theme presents salvation as only possible in the context of one’s own community (but only if nature doesn’t destroy them first). There is nothing to bring apes and humans together in peace. Strong leaders may maintain a relative amount of peace within one’s own tribe for a time, but nothing good seems to last because evil, from within or without, will eventually bring destruction. There remains a need for an ultimate savior in the Apes franchise. All we find in Caesar is a humanistic hero, one who can supposedly attain transcendent virtues without supernatural help. 

But the Christian viewer shouldn’t give up hope. As John the Baptist provided the groundwork for Jesus’ ministry (Matt. 3:1-12), so these films can provide groundwork for the good news by establishing the bad news (the need for repentance; 3:2). Furthering this point, Director Matt Reeves says that Caesar is meant to be seen as a Moses figure. What did Moses do? He pointed to Christ (Deut. 18:15-22). He was the greatest leader for the Jewish people (34:10-12), and like Caesar, he wasn’t perfect (Num. 20:12). 

The audience is supposed to connect with Caesar because of his humanity (it’s crazy how a computer-generated ape can be so relatable). Yes, naturalism is present with animals becoming humans, but transcendence (albeit its humanistic basis) is also at work in how we see the humanity work itself into Caesar’s emotions and actions. He grapples with the tensions of morality like we do, and so we vicariously participate in his journey.

What makes his journey truly captivating is the way he seeks the higher, more vulnerable and sacrificial path. It’s in his character to desire mercy, forgiveness, and goodness.

So this begs the question: why do Caesar’s character traits matter to us? Do they serve a purpose that humanism or naturalism can’t provide? What the storytellers are doing is saying, “YES! Caesar is the hero we ought to follow and seek to emulate.” They do this by simply presenting him as the “good guy,” the one we are supposed to root for.

Since the worldview of the storytellers determines what sort of character traits are superior and/or virtuous, what can we conclude if Caesar desires, achieves and finds rest in the higher path? 

Conclusion: Almost Christian

The Planet of the Apes reinforces two Biblical truths about humanity:

1.) Humans are fallen.

2.) Humans seek transcendence (that they have fallen from).

What this saga doesn’t do is provide a way to attain transcendent salvation (but who really expected it to?). It has a humanistic view in how Caesar “pulls himself up to a higher purpose” without the need for God, but that’s no reason to throw it out as anti-God propaganda. Indeed, it shows the need for grace. Perhaps seeing humanity incarnated into Caesar invites us to imagine and hope that we do, in fact, serve a true, transcendent purpose, even when we fall short of perfection. For falling short of perfection, and knowing it, is exactly what the Gospel speaks to (Rom. 3:23-24)! 

We can relate to Caesar’s inability to be perfect and, hopefully, realize that we are in need of Someone greater than ourselves, and for that reason I have a hard time ignoring the message that Apes has to offer.

Excursus: The Christian Imagery in War for the Planet of the Apes

The overt expressions of Christianity (the “alpha and omega” is also used in one the original films, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, for the name of an atomic bomb) by the Colonel and his army in War may lead some to associate their villainy with Christianity. It is clearly a misuse of genuine Christian imagery. This motif of corrupted religion is so common in movies I can’t imagine the manipulation of Christianity in War to make any impact in the minds of audiences regarding the legitimacy of the worldview.

Still, it must be mentioned that the Colonel abandoned the main army to pursue his own agenda as a rogue combatant (like Koba in Dawn). He could even be considered mad, since he claimed saving humanity requires sacrificing one’s own humanity. He speaks with sound logic as he explains his worldview to Caesar, illustrating what G.K. Chesterton said about madness: “a mad man is not someone who has lost his reason but someone who has lost everything but his reason.”

So any Christian imagery the colonel uses must be seen through the lens of this alleged madness. St. Augustine said one “cannot judge a philosophy by its misuse.” To then associate the authentic Christian worldview with the Colonel is to do just that. One may even surmise that the misuse of religion in this film (and the many others) demonstrates a link between madness and religion. That may be true, but the same can be said for any worldview or philosophy. It’s the individual who holds the belief system, not the system itself, that makes one mad.

Does God’s Will Make Prayer Meaningless?

God's Will and Prayer Door Path Choice

For Christians, prayer can be an inexplicable paradox.

I’m sure it’s even worse for nonbelievers. I found a question about prayer by “Snakeystew” (SS) in the Reasonable Faith Forums. Even though this was posted back in 2009, none of the answers in the thread were satisfying to me. Here’s my attempt in answering the challenge.

The Fate of Twins and Prayer

Our friend SS begins with a story:

“Two men are lying in the hospital, both with the same disease and both with the same amount of time left to live. Being twins, these two men are prayed for by the same loved ones with the same amount of feeling and sincerity. One of the men survives and makes a full recovery. The other man dies in abject pain and misery.

Straight away a question comes to mind: Why did God answer the prayer with regards to one of the men but ignore the prayer for the other man?”

SS explains that the usual Christian response is that it wasn’t God’s will for both twins to recover. SS is clearly not satisfied with that response:

“But here is the problem with the standard answer: It makes prayer completely redundant. You pray to God to save your mother from her debilitating illness. You could pray all day, every day for the next million years but if it isn’t God’s will then it’ll never happen – regardless to your efforts. If on the other hand it is God’s will, then it would happen regardless to ever praying for it to happen. If it’s God’s will that your mother survives, that her time to go to heaven has not yet come, then she’ll survive.”

Is SS right? Does God’s will make prayer meaningless?

Why God Says No

First, let’s examine the biblical data on why God doesn’t answer certain prayers. I’m sure there are more reasons in Scripture, but these are a good start. (For more on the topic of unanswered prayer, view my blog here).

1. We Ask with Wrong Motives

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).

2. We Ask in Doubt

“The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6b-7).

3. We are Living in Sin

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

4. We Love Something More than God

“These men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them?” (Ezekiel 14:3).

5. We Aren’t Remaining in Jesus

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).

And probably to the disappointment of SS:

6. We Don’t Pray According to God’s Will

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

The group that prayed for each of the twins wouldn’t fall into categories 1-5 since prayers for one twin were answered. This leaves the reality that SS wanted to avoid: it must not have been God’s will for both twins to survive. That’s hard to swallow, I get it.

But this doesn’t mean that prayer is pointless altogether.

Prayer Makes A Difference

For the sake of argument, let’s say that prayer doesn’t have any impact on the thing we are asking God to do. Nevertheless, it still has an impact on the person praying. It allows the believer to grow closer to God, to learn about what God desires from him, and so on.

However, my main rebuttal to SS is this: prayer still makes a difference.

My personal view is that God does certain things precisely because we ask Him. In other words, certain things wouldn’t happen if we didn’t pray for them. For example, it could be the case that both twins would’ve died if the group didn’t pray for either of them. We just don’t know.

Scripture has plenty of stories where prayer made a significant difference in this world. Here are two of my favorites.

1. Hezekiah

Hezekiah was a king of Judah who became very sick with a terminal illness. The prophet Isaiah came to him and said, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover” (Isaiah 38:1).

So Hezekiah realized his fate and got his house in order. Not exactly. Instead, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and begged God for more time on earth. God’s response: “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:6). Prayer makes a difference.

2. Moses

The Israelites pushed God too far this time. While Moses was in God’s presence, the Israelites were worshipping a golden calf of their own creation. God told Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you” (Exodus 32:9).

So Moses realized their fate and left God alone. Not exactly. Instead, Moses begged God to spare His people. God’s response: “The Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people” (32:14). Prayer makes a difference.

In the end, God’s will doesn’t make prayer meaningless because prayer changes us and makes a real difference in this world. Even though we aren’t in a position to know why God doesn’t answer certain prayers, followers of Christ trust that God ultimately knows best. If you are still out there SS, I hope this helps and know that I’m sincerely praying for you.

Losing God in Apologetics

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A Tale of Four Brothers

There were four brothers, Losty, Lerner, Lustelot, and Lover, who each had unique experiences with marriage. Losty was trapped in a marriage of disillusionment; he constantly doubted whether he married the right woman because she never seemed to fulfill his needs, and the more he thought about it, the more he imagined there to be someone better out there. But he stuck with his wife, performing the duties of a “good husband” while always yearning for greener pastures.

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Atheism is the Burger King of Worldviews

The more and more I examine atheism, the more and more the inconsistencies surface, the more and more atheists continue to ‘have it their way’ is the more and more I foresee the demise of the worldview.