Thursday, January 04, 2018

Ten questions Christians must answer!

I ran across a village atheist website with "Ten Questions a Christian Must Answer". At last count it had about 1250 comments. 

I'm going to ignore most of the questions because I've answered them or questions like them before. These are cliche questions. But there's one question I'll single out. Indeed, I've seen two variations on the same question:

How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Jesus is all-powerful and timeless, but if you pray for Jesus to appear, nothing happens. You have to create a weird rationalization to deal with this discrepancy.

How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you? Jesus could appear to you, but he doesn’t. He appeared to Paul after he died, so it’s not like he hasn’t done it before. He could appear to give you advice for a tough decision, give you comfort in person like a friend would, or just assure you that he really exists. 

i) I explain the fact that Jesus never appeared to me because I never asked him to appear to me.

ii) In addition, Jesus never promised to appear to every Christian, so there's no expectation that he will appear to every Christian. 

iii) Moreover, I don't view Jesus as a genie whom I can summon to do my bidding. 

iv) As far as decision-making, that doesn't require private revelation. Throughout Scripture, you have people making decisions because God providentially orchestrated events in a certain way or implanted subliminal suggestions. So I can do God's will without even thinking about it. 

And even at the level of private revelation, that doesn't require a dominical vision. What about an audible voice or revelatory dream? To demand a personal audience with Jesus is an arbitrary stipulation, even if we grant the general principle. 

v) There are many well-documented reports of Jesus appearing to people, viz.,

Another example is Bishop Hugh Montefiore, who converted from Judaism to Christianity due to a dominical vision.

To say Jesus doesn't appear to people because he doesn't exist backfires, considering the many reported examples to the contrary. There's no dearth of evidence.

And if an atheist discounts these reports as tall tales or hallucinations, then his challenge was duplicitous. If, when you call his bluff, he says it doesn't matter, then he was arguing in bad faith all along.

vi) From what I've read, reports of Jesus appearing to people typically involve situations where they didn't ask or expect Jesus to appear to them. It wasn't in response to prayer, but an unsolicited visitation. 

vii) Furthermore, when Jesus appears to people, it may be to summon them to a life of costly discipleship. So there's a tradeoff. A grueling vocation in exchange for the vision. I don't envy St. Paul's life. 

ix) I'm not vouching for any particular report. I'm just responding to the atheist on his own grounds. I don't presume that every reported dominical apparition is legit. I can't assign percentages. But I do think that if you have enough reports by prima facie credible witnesses, that makes it likely that some reports are true. 

x) Likewise, I don't need to personally experience something to know it's true. Secondhand information suffices for most of what we know. Why carve out an ad hoc exception in this instance?


  1. I saw this also. What I have found on this site are atheists who just want to trip up Christians while not willing to defend their atheism.

  2. Well reasoned responses, Steve!

  3. Fine responses, Steve.

    The question has more flaws than Canary Wharf Building. It is on a par with, 'Why won't God heal amputees?'!

    If this were not the age of the internet the absurd 'New Atheist' movement would long have been dead and buried. Indeed, the shrubs would be overflowing as its mourners and their children would also have long passed.

    1. I know who you are talking about (the "Why Won't God Heal Amputees guy"). On his site, he said that God wants people who work on Sunday to die.

    2. That's the original source. But it was picked up by another village atheist (Bob Seidensticker) on his blog.