Children Are the Ultimate Victims of Identity and Gender Politics

I Don’t Know

“What’s going on in a world where, when children are married off as brides, conscripted as soldiers or forced to work in sweatshops, we rise in condemnation. Yet those who beat their breasts about such violations of human dignity advocate as rights unrestricted access to abortion, physician assisted suicide and gender-reassignment surgery? What’s going on? Confusion. We are reaping the harvest of a generation’s long societal worship of the idol of personal autonomy.”

When children as young as three years old are given the choice of their gender, and subsequently undergo surgery to mutilate their genitals, we have truly descended into cultural madness. See the full article here: The Age of Consent in a New Age.

Reason #42 that Apologetics is Important: “Christian America” Don’t Know Much About Theology

cl_sport_musac_biannual_customer_feedback_survey_april2014In yet another vivid example of the spiritual state of America, a recent survey reveals that our countrymen are quite ambivalent and confused about the truth. Lifeway Research surveyed thousands of Americans about a variety of beliefs, including questions about the Bible, the Trinity, and salvation. To say that contradiction and confusion were revealed in the survey is an understatement. Even among evangelical Christians the level of theological confusion is disheartening.

All this points to the growing need for Christians to be trained to know and share the essentials of the Christian faith. Without such equipping, believers are left to twist in the wind of every cultural influence; and their witness is silenced as their beliefs become indistinguishable from other worldviews.

Apologetics has the power to revive interest in knowing the truth of the Christian faith thoroughly and with conviction. And it provides the foundation for an effective witness to the world. It is only through the knowledge of Christ that the fullness and riches of the gospel spill over into compelling evangelism.

Affirmations for Evangelism and Apologetics

positive-affirmation-quotes-for-lifeSometimes in the midst of an encounter with an unbeliever our confidence in the gospel that we felt even one hour before dissipates quickly. We suddenly doubt that our conversation partner really needs the gospel, or that the gospel makes sense, or that unbelief is contradictory and irrational, or a thousand other things.

To avoid the loss of clarity and courage I have found that prayerfully meditating on a few apologetic truths on a regular basis keeps the fear and doubt at bay. Here are twelve affirmations I keep posted on my office bulletin board to review as often as I can. They help me boldly commend and defend the truth, so I am ready for any encounter with someone who needs Christ. This list originated from a reading of Cornelius Van Til’s My Credo, written many years ago as a summary of his apologetic method.

  1. Every person I encounter has a knowledge of God implanted in his heart that he is suppressing. This knowledge is clear and obvious to him because God has made it plain.
  1. God pursues sinners every day by every means. Everything in nature and in life is revelatory of God and man’s need to be reconciled to him.
  1. The key to effective evangelism and apologetics is to ask questions to reveal the unbeliever’s belief system and his ways of suppressing the truth.
  1. God has called me to be an ambassador of reconciliation between God and sinners. I have been equipped by the Holy Spirit and my training to do this.
  1. I will find supreme delight in glorifying God through sharing Christ. The joy that I will experience by speaking up for the gospel will eclipse any fear or discomfort I feel in the apologetic encounter.
  1. The good news of Jesus Christ is the answer for and the greatest need of the unbeliever. If the unbeliever comes to salvation, they will be forever grateful I addressed their greatest need.
  1. The Holy Spirit is the active agent of regeneration and transformation as I share Christ and defend the Christian faith. In the apologetic encounter, I am joining the conversation already going on as the Holy Spirit is drawing the unbeliever to Christ.
  1. The Word of God is living and powerful to expose and dismantle false systems of belief and stubborn opposition to the truth. I will incorporate as much biblical truth as is strategic in any conversation.
  1. Because unbelievers worship false and counterfeit gods, they experience guilt, lack of peace and joy, hopelessness, fear of death, and meaninglessness, among other results of the Fall. I will contrast these experiences with what is found in Christ.

10. Because unbelievers cannot consistently find meaning and truth in their unbelief, they borrow ideas and concepts from Christianity. I need to identify and challenge that borrowed capital.

  1. I will not wander into vain discussions and speculation about unimportant matters. I will stay focused on proclaiming the wisdom and glory of Jesus Christ. I will seek to get them to consider the person and work of Christ, and to read the Bible.
  1. As much as the Holy Spirit is moving, and the unbeliever is willing, I will seek to lead the unbeliever to repentance and faith in Christ. No matter how far I get, however, I will consider any progress to be successful planting and watering of gospel seeds.

Why Worldview Training Is not Enough for Godliness or Apologetics

not enoughWhen most people who are familiar with apologetics hear the term, they think of worldviews. While the concept of worldview is important, teaching it does not guarantee that a) students will automatically grow deeper in their faith and resist unbelief, and b) that they will equipped to engage unbelievers effectively with the gospel. Stephen Altrogge hits the nail on the head in this article, A Solid Worldview Won’t Save My Kids.

I’ve seen too many of my childhood friends grow up to reject the biblical worldview that was so furiously drummed into them as children. I’ve seen too many people make choices that they know are in direct contradiction to the worldview they embraced for so many years. I’ve seen too many train wrecks to think that worldview alone is enough.

Read the whole thing!

What Jesus’ Temptation Teaches Us About Our Own

Now I have to ask you: If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did not presume to face the forces of evil in the world without a profound knowledge of the Bible in mind and heart, how could we try to face life any other way? It’s true that this takes a great deal of time and effort. Worship, daily reading, meditation and memorization, singing, listening to teaching—all of these are necessary to become as acquainted with the Scripture as we must be.
Tim Keller, Encounters with Jesus

Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil and Suffering, Part 4

suffering childrenA Christian Answer to the Problem of Evil and Suffering

The Christian answer to the problem of evil and suffering begins with God himself. When we have a proper view of God, the apparent problems begin to melt away.

God’s Nature

First, God is the standard for his actions—whatever he does defines concepts of justice, goodness, love, and mercy. Too many times the supposed problem of the justice of God begins when we mistakenly believe that there is some standard of justice that stands above God and to which God’s actions must conform. Such a view reflects the philosophy of the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato. In reality, however, God is ultimate and his character sets the standard for what justice is. We can’t do all that God does, because of our limited knowledge and creatureliness, but God can do as he pleases and whatever he does is just.

Second, some people believe that God needs to justify certain actions recorded in Scripture. However, Scripture makes it clear that God does not need to defend his actions to us. He does not defend himself for giving Adam a wife who led him into sin (Gen. 3:12), or when he tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22), or when Job wants answers for his apparent unjust suffering (Job 23:1-7; 31:35ff; 40:4-42:6). God is the sovereign Almighty Lord who does what he pleases (Psalm 115:3; 135:6; Eccl. 8:3) and owes no one an explanation (Rom. 9:19-21).

Third, as fallen, finite, and created beings we cannot understand the reasons of a perfect, infinite, and uncreated God (Ezek. 18:25). Like a two-year old can’t understand the reasons a parent insists on a necessary medical procedure for the child, so we do not have the capacity to understand all that God ordains in this world. To assume that God does not have a good reason for something he allows is to presume that because we do not understand God’s reasons, He could not possibly have any.

Finally, God is not obligated to show kindness or mercy to anyone, or to deliver anyone from human evil or suffering (Exod. 33:19). Sometimes there is an underlying assumption in objections to God’s existence that fallen humans deserve mercy and a trouble-free life. In reality, fallen human beings deserve nothing but God’s wrath. The fact that God allows anyone to live and experience good in this life is purely by his own benevolent kindness.

God’s Reasons

An even better Christian answer is that God may have a perfectly good reason for allowing evil and suffering that we cannot know or comprehend. The standard atheistic view assumes that God could not possibly have a good reason for allowing evil and suffering, yet cannot prove that assertion in any way. The Christian answer says that with man’s limited understanding, he cannot possibly know whether or not God has good reasons for allowing suffering.

The Christian response to the standard atheistic view might look like this:

  1. Premise 1: If God were all-powerful, he would be able to prevent evil.
  2. Premise 2: If God were all-good, he would desire to prevent evil.
  3. Premise 3: But there is evil.
  4. Premise 4: God may have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil that we don’t know about
  5. Conclusion: Therefore, God may allow evil for reasons we don’t know, and still be all-powerful, all-good

We understand this in real life. If you see a man standing over a child slicing open the child’s body with a sharp knife, you might assume that what he is doing is evil. But then if you see that the man is a doctor and is performing surgery, your view of the situation changes. You begin to see that the man is actually being good and merciful, even though he is causing pain to the child. In the same way, humans can only see the evil and suffering that God allows from a limited viewpoint. Only God knows the ultimate, eternal plan for evil and suffering that will end in good.

Taking Evil Seriously

Ultimately only the Christian worldview validates that suffering is genuine, yet not meaningless. Unlike worldviews that deny evil and suffering, the Bible fully acknowledges that such things truly exist. Further, the universal human longing to find meaning in suffering is fulfilled only in the Christian faith. Evil and suffering do have a purpose, and they are guided and limited by the all-powerful God of the Bible. Some worldviews, especially those that believe in the evolutionary progress of man tend to minimize evil so they can claim that the world is evolving into paradise.

God does not stand aloof from evil and suffering. Instead, he enters the creaturely experience by taking on humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus experiences every kind of trial and temptation that can be experienced by human beings, yet without sinning (Heb. 4:14-16). He willingly subjected himself to the frustration and sorrow of life in a sin-cursed world, and grieved it passionately. God grieves over evil and suffering (John 11:35). In order to make sure that evil and suffering would not be the final chapter of the story of creation, God himself experienced the greatest suffering in order to ensure an end to suffering. Jesus suffered the ultimate evil and pain by taking our hell on the cross in order to offer redemption and rescue from sin and the curse.

Hope for Deliverance from Evil and Suffering

Ultimately only the Christian worldview has grounds to call evil what it is, to see evil as destructive and awful as it really is, and to provide hope for future judgment on those who perpetrate evil. The Bible tells us that God hates evil and has nothing to do with it (Hab. 1:12; Jam. 1:13-17). Evil is the enemy of God and all he has made. When God brings all things to an end, the devil, Death and Hell are cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10, 14). This speaks of the absolute end of death, evil, and suffering.

Non-Christian views minimize evil, fail to recognize it as such, or are unable to give distinctions between good and evil. The Christian worldview sees evil in all its complexity. First, evil is individual—there is evil in each individual. Second, evil is collective—societies can do evil, such as Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and China, or the murderous tyranny of ISIS in the Middle East. Finally, evil is structural—such as international sex slavery or government corruption. Christianity has a thorough view of evil that considers any failure to keep God’s commands as sinful, rebellious, and mutinous.

The Christian worldview, however, provides a decisive answer for good and evil. God ultimately overcame evil by the death of his Son, Jesus, who conquered the consequences of sin and death by his resurrection (John 16:33). He makes it possible for us to overcome evil by copying his example (Rom. 12:17-21; John 11:25). By Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross we are now victorious over sin and already enjoying the benefit (1 John 2:13-14; 4:4; 5:4).


The very difficult challenge of the problem of evil and suffering in the world is turned into a positive argument for the Christian God once we see the biblical answer to this objection in all its richness and complexity. Apart from the Christian faith, there is no meaning and purpose in suffering. Human evil will go unpunished and most people in the world are destined for a lifetime of hopeless victimization at the hands of others and cruel nature.

In the Christian worldview, however, we have answer, meaning, purpose, and most importantly, a loving, sovereign God who guides all things for his own glory and the good of his children. Rather than this objection being an insurmountable wall, it is a doorway into fruitful evangelistic and apologetic conversations.

Answering Objections About the Problem of Evil and Suffering, Part 3

good and evilNon-Christian Answers to the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Several other attempts have been made to address evil and suffering in our world.

  1. Non-Reality of Evil View—Some Eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, deny that evil and suffering are any more than an illusion. By denying that evil and suffering are real, they attempt to avoid any dilemma between the deities in charge of the world and the way the world is. The problem for this view, however, is that the experience of suffering is universal and undeniable. Additionally, these same Eastern religions seek to end oppression and alleviate the very suffering that they deny exists. This is clearly self-refuting.
  2. Weakness of God View—This view argues that God does not overcome all evil because he cannot, even though he wants to. The advantage of this approach is that God cannot be held responsible for what happens in the world. The disadvantage is that it eliminates any possibility of God finally overcoming evil. If God cannot do anything to stop evil now, we should not assume that he can ever do anything to end evil. God becomes impotent to deliver us from the endless cycle of suffering.
  3. Free Will View—This view argues that man has free will, and therefore, God has nothing to do with evil because he cannot interfere without impinging on man’s free will. The advantage of this view is that God is not responsible for human acts of evil. The disadvantages are numerous. First, suffering still happens through natural disasters, illness, and the general brokenness of the world. Second, this view puts shackles on God’s ability to act, because man’s freedom becomes primary. If God cannot impinge on man’s free will, how do we know he can fulfill his promises? Third, Scripture repeatedly speaks of God determining our free choices (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23, 4:27; Rom. 9). Any way you look at it, this view fails to answer the tough questions.
  4. “Christian” Fatalism—This view simply says, “God is in control, and therefore you cannot avoid suffering. Don’t let it get you upset. Just stoically accept it, because all things work together for good. So, actually it’s a blessing. It’s nothing to cry over.” The obvious problem with this view is that it distorts the sovereignty of God and eliminates genuine emotion, contra the biblical affirmation of grief and crying out to God.

So, how should a Christian deal with the problem of evil and suffering? Are there any answers to this seeming contradiction?

In the next post we will begin to present a Christian view.

Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil and Suffering, Part 2


The Problem Stated

Those who see an irreconcilable conflict between an all-powerful, all-loving God and evil and suffering in the world do so with several arguments. Some ask the thought-provoking question, “Couldn’t God have made a world in which evil and suffering don’t exist?” This is a troubling question, because the answer is certainly, “Yes.” As we will see later, this doesn’t mean that God is unjust, but this question does have a strong emotional impact.

Others argue, “I would never hurt my children needlessly, so why does God? If God is not even better than me, why should I worship him?” This is an argument by analogy. By comparing human parenting to the Creator God’s relation to the world, these people use a well-known experience to a deeply spiritual and philosophical problem. Certainly, a parent-child relationship ought to be marked by gentleness, kindness, and protection from harm. If God cannot even live up to basic human expectations, how can he be worshiped?

A more complete objection to God in the face of evil and suffering is the one proposed by 18th century Scottish philosopher, David Hume, whose argument has served as the standard atheistic objection to the existence of God. Hume argued:

  1. Premise 1: If God were all-powerful, he would be able to prevent evil.
  2. Premise 2: If God were all-good, he would desire to prevent evil.
  3. Conclusion: So if God were all-powerful and all-good, there would be no evil.
  4. Premise 3: But there is evil.
  5. Conclusion: Therefore there is no all-powerful, all-good God.

Hume’s argument can be very convincing at first glance. Many people have been swayed by it because it seems like air-tight logic. It also reflects the heart struggle of many people who have grappled with the very painful experience of suffering, either at the hands of wicked people, or in the brokenness of life in this world.

So, how do we contend with this argument? There are several ways to answer this challenge.

Challenging the Assumptions Behind Hume’s Argument

One thing that must be done when evaluating any argument is something we have covered several times in this study—challenge the presuppositions. In other words, we must examine the assumptions behind an argument to see if they are, in fact, true and sound. Several elements of this argument should be scrutinized.

  1. It is assumed that suffering is necessarily bad. Without stating why suffering is necessarily bad or a sign of disorder in the world, this argument assumes it. However, as we have seen in previous lessons, if the naturalistic worldview is true, suffering is a natural part of an evolutionary world, and shouldn’t be considered “bad.”

  2. It is assumed that people are basically good and innocent so that suffering is somehow unfair. The assumption here is that suffering violates an obligation by God to make life in this world only good. This is based on the assumption that man is basically good, worthy, and deserving, and therefore God is obligated to give us a life devoid of suffering.

  3. It is assumed that evil and suffering cannot result in good that will make it worthwhile. In combination with point #1, suffering is necessarily bad, and no amount of suffering can be good, regardless of what good might come out of suffering. At the same time, the unbeliever who uses this argument probably acknowledges the principle of suffering that results in good in other areas of life—an athlete who suffers pain and hardship in training to become good at her sport, someone who says no to spending and lives frugally so he can save money to buy a house, and so on.

  4. BUT, it is also assumed that at there is a distinction between good and evil. In addition to the first three assumptions, there are ethical and spiritual assumptions in this argument. By calling something evil, Hume is assuming that there is good that stands in contrast to evil.

  5. There is a standard by which to judge between good and evil. To distinguish a good act from an evil one, there must exist some kind of moral law that tells us the difference between good and evil, otherwise each person could decide for himself, and there would be no moral difference between kissing someone and killing them. Yet, most rational people intuitively know that there is a moral difference between the two acts. Whatever the standard is that differentiates good acts from evil ones, it must be objective and timeless to avoid relativism, which itself is a justification for the worst kinds of evil.

  6. The standard can be known and ought to compel people. If the standard that discerns good from evil has any usefulness, it must be knowable by people and ought to carry and ethical obligation for them to obey it. If the standard is not known, it is useless. If it is merely a suggestion and does not have the power to demand compliance, with punishment for non-compliance, it has no purpose. Acknowledging evil, therefore, assumes that there is a moral good that beings ought to follow.

  7. Finally, it is assumed that there is meaning to the events in the world and to the suffering of people. In other words, Hume’s objection to God assumes that there should not be contradictions in the world and that things should make sense. However, apart from God, there is no reason to assume that the world should make sense. If naturalism is true, the universe is guided by chance—random, blind, unthinking forces—and we should not expect there to be meaning, which only comes about in an intelligent universe.

It is clear, then, that this seemingly convincing argument against the existence of God is full of assumptions about the world that it cannot prove. It demands an explanation from God when it cannot even explain itself.

Hume’s argument is a philosophical one that is clearly flawed, yet it has the virtue of taking evil seriously. There are other approaches to evil and suffering that come from religion and philosophy that try to do away with either evil and suffering or the nature of God as all-powerful and all-loving. We will explore these in the next post.


Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil and Suffering

Losing_faithOne of the most difficult objections to the Christian faith to answer is the question of how there can be a good, loving, powerful God when there is so much evil and suffering in the world. The challenge with this objection is that unbelievers borrow Christian views of the brokenness of the world and deep, human depravity, while simultaneously rejecting the God who tells us how those things came to be and acted so that these two things would be overcome. The sense of justice and desire for mercy and restoration that so many unbelievers long for shows that intuitively we know the world is not as it should be. Only Christianity can provide an answer for these deep questions that keep so many from believing.

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan is asking his brother Alyosha how he can believe in a good God when he has seen and heard of so much suffering in 19th century Russia. The description of human suffering is realistic and should cause us grief just to read it.

There was a little girl of five who was hated by her father and mother, most worthy and respectable people, of good education and breeding…This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture by those cultivated parents. They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her for no reason till her body was one bruise. Then, they went to greater refinements of cruelty- shut her up all night in the cold and frost in a privy, and because she didn’t ask to be taken up at night (as though a child of five sleeping its angelic, sound sleep could be trained to wake and ask), they smeared her face and filled her mouth with excrement, and it was her mother, her mother did this. And that mother could sleep, hearing the poor child’s groans!

Can you understand why a little creature, who can’t even understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and humble novice? Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child’s prayer to dear, kind God’!

What can a Christian say to those who question or deny the existence of a loving, powerful God in light of the magnitude of evil and suffering in this world? This series of posts will provide some answers to this difficult apologetics question.

Affirm That This World is Under a Curse

When unbelievers raise the objection to God’s existence because of evil and suffering in the world, they are asking good questions, for two reasons. First, by taking the problem of evil and suffering seriously, they are expressing the inner longing that each person has to reconcile his beliefs with the way the world is. Most people don’t want to be irrational. They want the world and their beliefs to be consistent with each other. Therefore, when unbelievers raise this question they are balking at a perceived contradiction. They clearly see that the world is unjust, cruel, and disappointing. To believe that a God exists who could fix these problems, but does not, would be a contradiction in their minds.

Second, when unbelievers raise this objection to Christians, they have already dismissed many of the other belief systems and religions. As will be explained a little later, many worldviews cannot account for evil and suffering, so they deny that such things exist. On the contrary, Christianity tells the story of how evil and suffering entered the perfect world God created. It takes serious the reality of evil in the human heart and the brokenness of the world because of the curse of sin.

The problem of evil and suffering, therefore, is a very real problem. And it is a Christian problem. No other religion affirms that God is all-powerful and all-good, and that heinous evil resides in the human heart, and suffering marks the natural world. People who deny that God is all-powerful or all-good don’t have to give account for evil and suffering in the world, because either their god can’t do anything about evil and suffering, or is indifferent to them. Those who deny the reality of evil, or who believe that people are basically good, or who deny that suffering is anything more than an illusion also do not need to answer this objection. No, the problem of evil and suffering is a distinctly Christian problem.

In addition, because of technologies such as the internet, cell phone cameras, and social media, people living today are more aware than ever before of the heinous nature of human acts of evil and the global scale of suffering. Both of these are staggering when considered in their raw reality and totality. For all of human history until the last few decades, evil and suffering outside our immediate locales, our town or region, has seemed distant. Reports of such beyond our immediate context took days or weeks to reach us, and had to be described by word of mouth or print media. Today however, we are eyewitnesses, almost immediately, of some of the worst suffering and atrocities around the world, and in high definition.

For a Christian trying to proclaim an all-powerful, all-loving God, these vivid displays of evil and suffering can seem an insurmountable objection to the Christian faith. How can we legitimately tell of such a God when these terrible situations seem to testify against Him?

In the next post we will look at the standard atheistic argument against the existence of God and see how it relates to this problem of evil and suffering.