I am the Lord; there’s no other. I form light and create darkness, make prosperity and create doom. I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isaiah 45: 6b-7 (CEB)
Yesterday, Jon Steingard, lead singer for the Christian Contemporary Music band, Hawk Nelson, shared with the world that he no longer believes in God. This follows the “coming out” of one of the young writers for Hillsong music, who made the same “confession” last year. Years ago now, a member of Five Iron Frenzy left the band for the same reason. After the Hillsong bombshell, John Cooper, lead singer of SKILLET made a careful, thoughtful response, which I will not repeat here. In all three cases the loss of faith came down to failing to answer the question: If God is all-powerful, and all-loving, then why is there so much evil in the world? The conclusion is that since there is evil, there must not be God. I addressed this question at some length in my last blog post, so I will not repeat it here. But I have a couple of observations regarding the recent disclosure.
I am not Jon’s judge. But I firmly believe he has One. As a Christian, I believe that he (along with everyone else) will stand before a Holy Judge (“He will come again to judge the living and the dead”) and will give an account for his public testimony and then his public recanting of his faith in Jesus Christ. So, if I were sitting with Jon over a pint or a latte, as I have with students over the years, I would have some questions to explore with him on his new-found lack. Here are a few of the questions I would try to walk through with him.
Have you carefully reviewed the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? Have you come across counter evidence that has led you to now believe that Jesus did not rise from the dead as a historical fact?
See…here’s the thing. I am convinced that asking about evil to determine the truth of God’s existence (and sovereignty) approaches the issue the wrong way around. Here’s what I mean. There is a large amount of evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. I have listed this information in my presentation on The Resurrection, but I refer the reader to “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”, and “The Case for Christ”, both of which were an important part of my research. Evil in the world has nothing to say about the historicity of Christ’s resurrection…but… The Resurrection of Jesus has much to say about the existence of God. Do you see? The issue is much more fruitfully presented: Since there is very good evidence that Jesus rose from the dead, and that therefore, clearly, God exists and is both loving and powerful, what are we to make of evil in the world?
Are you aware of the discovery by an atheist microbiologist that the DNA molecule cannot form by random chance? Have you thought through the implications that the foundational building block of life is engineered, designed, created?
There is actually quite a bit of scientific evidence in multiple fields that point to “intelligent design” – a creator.
Have you had the opportunity to read the work of great Christian thinkers who have thoroughly delved into this difficult question from a Christian perspective and answered the concerns you raise at some length? Wouldn’t that be worth your time?
C. S. Lewis; Ravi Zacharias; John Lennox all have works on this very question. I find one point by C. S. Lewis particularly helpful. If the neo-atheist is correct; thought itself is merely a combination of electrical and chemical stimuli in the brain. If reasoning is not reliable because we are essentially talking animals controlled and determined by our genetic code, without free-will and without mind to exercise it, why would you bother making an argument that is random electrical and chemical stimuli and expect me to accept that it is true? According to you I don’t have the power to accept or reject. It’s all determined. So why bother writing your book?
Share the application of this on the rest of your life as you have now “discovered” that you are an “accident of the universe” and that your life, all life, is without meaning or purpose or value. How will that “knowledge” shape your life moving forward?
For instance, along with meaning and purpose and value, we lose love. Love also is supposedly just a different combination of electrical and chemical stimuli. It’s not real. A world with no love, and no hope?
I don’t know Jon Steingard. I don’t know if he has worked through all of this information in careful consideration of the position that he is now taking that will affect not only his spiritual eternity, but the spiritual eternity of so many others who have followed his mission to make Christ known for two decades. But if not, why not? I am in no position to put these questions to him. But his band members are. They have shared with him, as have many other Christian artists, that they love him unconditionally. Well and good; so they should. But “live and let die” is not a loving position.
I don’t know what to make of the verse I opened with. That is why I chose it. I don’t know how to explain that God said God brings catastrophe. Now, in the original context, God was sharing to Isaiah to pass along to God’s people that mythology is wrong. There are not a group of gods battling it out for dominance. God needed God’s people to know that God is real, and all-powerful. No one is competing for honor or glory. But that’s as far as I have gotten. There are other passages of The Bible that I don’t understand.
An interviewer asked Mark Twain if he was bothered by the verses in The Bible that were hard to understand. He responded, “Actually, I am much more bothered by the verses that are quite clear.” So I teach the relatively simple principle that when we don’t understand, we should always fall back on what we do understand. God is – because Jesus rose from the dead; and, we have very good evidence for that; it is not blind faith. And, God is Love – because Jesus died on the cross for us; God the Son felt that we were worth it. With the rest we do our best.