Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” In order to know God we must believe that he is real and that requires faith. I’ve already written a concise explanation of this passage and the concept on faith in my article Integrated Theology: Faith. It is foundational in believing in God.
Circular Reasoning and the Existence of God
There is a sort of circular reasoning when it comes to discussing the existence of God. We have a lot of general revelation surrounding us that speaks to a creator, but it is not definitive nor an authority to defend the existence of the Almighty. The only authority we have in knowing God is found in His Word. No one can know God apart from His Book. Yet, before anyone can trust the validity of the Book, they have to believe in God. Hence the circular reasoning.
I already addressed on Monday the importance of having a clear understanding of truth and a systematic approach for determining it. It is with this reasoning we can develop an argument for a character of God. In no way is this argument full-proof. I’ve developed it out of many conversations I have had with non-Christians, but it is not enough to convince someone to believe. That requires faith. Still, it is a valuable tool that we can use in polite conversation with non-Christians.
Do You Believe in God?
Most people will say yes to this question, even if it’s only to be polite. The reality is, there are more and more people who are turning to atheism every day. This is unique to our society today. A hundred years ago, it was not such a foreign notion to believe in the existence of God. It doesn’t mean that they are more depraved because they don’t believe in God, but it does pose unique challenges.
Regardless, the statistics still suggest that the average American still believes in the existence of God. But that doesn’t mean that they really believe in God; they may just be spiritual. A comedian once said, “When girls tell me they’re not religions but they’re spiritual, I tell them I’m not honest but they’re interesting.” The reality of where most Americans are today is that they have a distant idea about God, but when they are put to the test, the God that they believe in is more of a pet or lucky charm than a sovereign ruler.
What Would You Image A God Would Be Like?
It’s generally not a good idea to ask questions in an intellectual discussion about a persons imagination of reality. Yet, I have found this helpful to pinpoint where many people draw their conclusions. Ultimately, their imagination will describe a weak, submissive, compassionate God, not unlike a grandparent in a nursing home.
This is a good place to define the character of God. As I said before, this is a rather relative argument because you’re not discussing the existence of God based on the same authority. That is why it is so important to really have a personal relationship with God. If you aren’t cultivating your relationship with God, then you’re not going to have much more to share with the non-Christian that they haven’t already suggested. Your testimony is the most powerful witnessing tool that you have.
What Does the Character of God Require from Him?
I like to explain the argument that if God isn’t sovereign then he isn’t really a God at all. God has to be above my imagination. I don’t want to believe in a God that is weak and submissive to me. What good would it serve me to believe in a God that answered to my beckoning and will?
In a free society, the average person doesn’t want to be told what to think or how to act. As a result, they don’t want to imagine a God who is over their thoughts or actions. But this should not diminish our gospel message. By our testimony, we can show them the pleasure and joy there is in being accountable to a loving God. God wants our life to be so much better than the foolish consequences we find ourselves in by our wayward actions. We can demonstrate, by our testimony, the reality of a life devoted to God. That speaks volumes and is far more effective than any other evangelistic tactic I’ve ever seen.
Remember, your testimony is something that no one can argue with. Being both salt and light requires us to be in the presence of unbelievers (salt) and showing forth the joy and passion of living for Christ (light). But salt and light can be ineffective, especially when the salt has lost it’s purity and the light is obscured. Because our testimonies are so important, we must strive to seek God by faith.
On Saturday we’ll look at another aspect of this circular reasoning and show how the argument of God leads into a defense of the Bible.