In Part 1 of this essay, I hoped to make the argument that trying to “prove” how “reasonable” Christianity was, would only prove to be a fool’s errand. Yes, of course, Christianity is reasonable as the God of the Bible is the source of all reason. But trying to prove it is reasonable - using reason as the tool - is self-defeating circularity. The presupposition of reason is what must be demanded in the first place!
At the Root of Unreasonableness
You see, when dealing with an unbeliever, it doesn’t matter how far down the rabbit hole of rationality you go. Reason, in the hands of an unbeliever, is a beast that is never satisfied. Just when you think you have them dead to rights on philosophy, science, or history, the standard will be changed or the unbeliever just will not care. Because the problem for the unbeliever is not actually a lack of evidence, knowledge, or reason. It is spiritual rebellion.
- This is often considered a win in Christian apologetic circles. Gary Habermas extracts concession after concession from famous atheist Antony Flew. Flew later admitted that he was no longer an atheist. Did he become a saved Christian? No, only a mere theist, having come to believe that an “Aristotelian God” almost certainly exists. I’m sure the God of the Bible appreciates the ringing endorsement.
- A Jewish rabbi, Pinchas Lapide, studied the resurrection in great detail. He “believes Jesus rose from the dead, but does not believe he is the Messiah.” So you can “prove” the resurrection and still lose the debate? Sounds like the terms of the debate need to change.
- This debate with William Lane Craig and Sean Carroll spent hours talking about the science and models of the universe’s beginning. Jesus was never mentioned. The Gospel of sin and forgiveness was ignored. And all that the audience was left with was disagreement among two very smart men about whether the universe began or not. This is a classic example of trying to find common ground so future arguments can be made. But no common ground could be found even in the science.
- One debate between Dave Farina and James Tour descended into complete chaos. This was the same kind of debate as the former, with the exception that the science focused on the smallest building blocks of life rather than the meta nature of the universe. Again, perhaps the hope was to hit rock bottom regrading the science and build up to deism/theism/Christianity from there. But they could not even agree on the science…again.
I wonder why? It’s almost as if the unbeliever has a prior commitment that he must hang onto for dear life, that God must not, cannot, does not exist and, therefore, he is not bound to His Laws.
In the end, we must confess that there are ineffable or unknowable aspects of our precious faith. We know the mind of God insofar as He has revealed himself to us. But do Christians believe he has revealed himself in totality? Of course not! So there will be things far beyond our possibility of understanding. And that’s okay.
Likewise, we can attest that miracles have taken place without embarrassment. Creation itself is the greatest of all miracles! But we don’t understand their mechanics. That’s okay, too. That doesn’t mean we have to hang our head in shame. Miracles are “rational” in a world that God created from nothing. It is creation that is not rational in a naturalistic (i.e. Godless) world.
In other words, Christians should not be embarrassed about claims of stupendous miracles, but unbelievers should be embarrassed that they cannot account for creation itself.
Reason Needs Faith to be Reasonable
Faith itself is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the believer. 1 Corinthians 12:3b: “…no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, there is no amount of evidence that can change the mind of an unbeliever. Likewise, hardened skeptics will stop being impressed by their preferred evidence if and when the Spirit changes their heart.
So my faith is “reasonable” because the God who exists and has revealed Himself is the author of everything, including reason. But my faith is unreasonable by the world’s standards. For the world, apart from God, has no standards. There can’t be in a random, materialistic, nihilistic world, which is what the unbeliever is left with. If only someone has modeled for us a way to get to the heart of the matter: the faulty, absurd, presuppositional commitments too which naturalists are obligated.
And hey, if someone is willing to hold on to an absurd position, you shake the dust off and move on. Not that I don’t highly encourage as much interaction with unbelievers as possible, and I am you know, very pro-evangelism. But there does come a point where the impasse is pointed out and perhaps we go our separate ways. I am not willing to reduce God to “mere” rationality to win points.
The unbeliever cannot account for the world they live in. They live on the borrowed capital of the Christian. Christians need to stop pandering or coming across as embarrassed about the supernatural reality of our faith. If mere reason sufficed, it would have by now. In the meantime, there is a cost to fighting the unbeliever on their turf instead of forcing them onto ours.
Photo Credit- Church of the Mordern Deist