Why God? – Pt. 1

Hey TD!

In the spirit of the Ask Anything Tour we’ll be going to at UCLA tomorrow – where we’ll be experiencing a live public defense of the Christian faith – I’d like to share with you the ministry of Stand to Reason (STR), and its founder, Greg Koukl, a faithful stalwart of defending the Christian faith on the radio airwaves for decades.  He is a friend of TD and no stranger to us.

Their web site has a wealth of resources to help you with questions of your own faith, as well as how to think through and respond to others.  It’s one of the best out there. Check it out – Stand to Reason

In the meanwhile, here’s the first of a two part defense of the question, “Why God?” It’s long, but worth every bite, and will help you better understand why there’s no other option than God.

Enjoy! – Arthur

Why God? by Greg Koukl

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky famously noted that if God does not exist, then all is permitted. If there is no Lawmaker, there can be no Law—none of any consequence, at least—and if no Law, then no Evil, and if no Evil, then nothing properly forbidden.

Worse, if no God, then no Good, either. Since nothing can be required, nothing can be obeyed. And no Plan and no Purpose as well. As atheist Richard Dawkins bluntly admits, “no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”[1]

Grim tidings for mankind, if so. For many (including Dawkins), though, this is not sad news, but a happy discovery signaling limitless liberties. No God means no boundaries and no restrictions, and that’s the way they want it, at least when it comes to their own personal indulgences.

All this to say that the answer to the God question dictates one of two trajectories leading in opposite directions based on who is in charge—the creature or the Creator, the Potter or the clay.

All the big questions, then—issues of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny—and all the secondary concerns, too—issues of sex, gender, liberty, equality, bodily rights, etc.—eventually come down to one. Are we our own, or do we belong to Someone else? If there is a God, then, to borrow from Lewis, we are the tenants and He is the Landlord. If there is no God, then all is clay and nothing but clay.

Thus, the God question is the first question whose answer lays the foundation for answers to all the others. That foundational question comes in two steps for modern people: Does God exist? If so, is He good? For Christianity to make sense in the face of the social pushback and the spirit of this age, both issues need to be addressed.

And on this question the culture, for the most part, has come to the wrong conclusion. Either there is no God, or the God they fashion for themselves is so tame or so benign he is irrelevant to the affairs of men. Which is exactly how they want it.

Our task as disciples is to tell the truth and do so with confidence, intelligence, and grace. In these next two issues of Solid Ground, I am going to help you with that task. I’ll begin with a simple, but profound principle.

The Simplest Strategy

Let me offer you, in a nutshell, what I think is the easiest, most powerful way, strategically, to make your case for God. I have been using it a long time in a variety of ways, though it really came together for me quite by accident when my eldest daughter, then about eight years old, asked me an important question.

“Papa,” Annabeth asked, “how do we know God is true?” She was already a Christian, baptized at six, but was now trying to connect the dots, not regarding the “What?” but regarding the “Why?” “Why God?” was her question.

What do you say to a youngster who already believes in God but is not sure why belief in God is defensible? That was my challenge. And nothing technical would do, not at her age.

I thought for a moment how I could say something meaningful in a simple way. Then an idea crystalized in my mind. “Annabeth,” I said, “the reason we believe God is true is that God is the best explanation for the way things are.” The minute I said it I realized I had summed up in a single sentence a major thrust of how I had approached defending Christianity for decades.

So much of my effort in making the case for God and Jesus and the Bible and even critical elements of Christian morality hinges on what I take to be the common-sense fit between what Christianity claims about the world and the way the world actually is.

In a way, it provides a simple but profound principle for our thoughtful engagement with a culture increasingly skeptical of Christian claims and hostile towards Christians and the Christ they follow.

You might call the principle the explanatory power of Christian theism; that is, the important details of the Christian worldview make good sense of what we actually discover the world to be like. It turns out that the picture of reality the Bible presents fits the world as we discover it and resonates with our deepest intuitions about origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.

This “fit” is the classical definition of truth, by the way.[2] When a claim we make or belief we have matches the way the world actually is, then we say the claim or the belief is true. Aristotle put it plainly: Truth is when you say that it is, and it is, or when you say that it isn’t, and it isn’t. On the flip side, when one’s belief about reality does not match the world as it actually is, then we know the belief is false.

Note the advantage to this “best explanation” strategy. There’s no need to dismissively deny the possibility of other options. We can give fair consideration to the alternatives. We’re not offering the only explanation, just the best one, all things considered.

Our confidence is based on a point I have made before, but it’s worth repeating since it’s such a powerful concept: Reality is on our side. My point with Annabeth was that Christianity explains reality best, that the existence of God makes sense of features of the world that, without Him, would be unlikely in the extreme. Other worldview stories do not fare well by this standard because certain obvious features of the world simply do not fit into their narrative, putting them on a collision course with reality.

So fix this fact first in your mind: God is the best explanation for the way things are. That is your starting point to answering the question, “Why God?” Now, two applications of this principle, one amazingly simple to grasp (and, therefore, quite persuasive, I think), the other more complex but incredibly powerful largely because it leverages the problem of evil in our favor.

Beginning at the Beginning

I was once asked during an audience Q&A to give some compelling evidence for the existence of God. “Can I ask you a few questions to get us rolling?” I said to the challenger. He nodded. “First, do you think things exist? Is the material universe real?”

“Yes, of course,” he answered.

“Good. Second question: Have the things in the universe always existed. Is the universe eternal?”

“No,” he said. “The universe came into being at the Big Bang.”

“Okay, I’m with you.[3] Now the final question: What caused the Big Bang?”

At this point he balked. “How do I know?” he said. “I’m no scientist.”

“Neither am I,” I admitted, “but there are really only two choices: something or no thing.[4] What do you think? Do you think something outside the natural universe caused it to come into being, or do you think it simply popped into existence with no cause, for no reason?”

At this point, the skeptic who prides himself on his use of reason finds himself in a rational box. Both the law of excluded middle (it can’t be neither option) and the law of non-contradiction (it can’t be both) oblige him to choose one of the only two logical possibilities available.

To admit that something outside the natural, physical, time-bound universe is its cause would be to contradict his naturalistic atheism. Yet, what thoughtful person would opt for the alternative? Even if he thinks it possible the universe popped into existence, uncaused, out of no thing, it’s clearly not the odds-on favorite.

Imagine a man’s wife asking where the new Mercedes Benz SL parked in their garage came from. I doubt she’d be satisfied if he told her, “Honey, it didn’t come from anywhere. It just popped into existence out of nothing. No problem. That’s how the universe began, you know.” Even ordinary folk untutored in physics realize that’s not going to wash.

Reason dictates we opt for the most reasonable alternative, and the something-from-no-thing option is not it. Indeed, it’s worse than magic. In magic, a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat. In this case, though, there’s no hat—and no magician. There’s just a rabbit (the universe, in our case) appearing out of nowhere.

You might recognize this line of thinking as the Kalam cosmological argument, an ancient defense of theism recently revitalized by philosopher William Lane Craig.[5] If you haven’t read his books, let me give you the short course.

You can construct a logically tight syllogism to make the case, but that’s not really necessary for the average person appealing to a common-sense notion like this. Here’s the simplified version: A Big Bang needs a big Banger. I think that pretty much covers it. Every effect requires a cause adequate to explain it. Pretty obvious.

Ironically, the night I was working out the details of this point in the lobby of a large hotel in Poland, there was a huge bang in the reception area. The gabby crowd in the lounge was immediately struck silent, everyone wondering the same thing: What was that?

Of course, they knew what is was. It was a big bang. The real question in their minds was, “What caused that?” Did something fall over? Did a firecracker go off? Did someone get shot?[6] I promise you one thing, though. No one in that hotel—regardless of religious or philosophic conviction—thought the explosion was uncaused. It never occurred to anyone that the bang banged itself.

Skeptics know this, too. Once at a dinner party a young man sitting across from me announced—somewhat belligerently—that he no longer believed in God. “It’s irrational,” he said. “There’s no evidence.”

In response, I raised my point about the Big Bang. “If you heard a knock on the front door over there across the room,” I said, “would you think the knock knocked itself, or would you conclude some one was doing the knocking and then get up and answer the door?”

He sniffed dismissively at my question, however, so I let the issue go. Half an hour later over desert, though, there was a loud knock on the front door (I’m not making this up). Startled, the atheist lifted his head in surprise. “Who’s that?” he blurted out.

I said, “No one.” The point was lost on him, of course. His next move, though, was telling: He got up and answered the door.

That night, this young, naive atheist had encountered reality. He knew a simple knock could not have knocked itself yet seemed completely willing to accept as reasonable that an entire universe simply popped into existence without rhyme, reason, or purpose.

Once Annabeth slammed the flat of her hand down on the table with a bang and said, “If I bang my hand down, then I am the one who banged it. So who banged the Big Bang?” She had nicely internalized the obvious point. Atheism has no resources to explain where the world came from. Christianity does because God is the best explanation for the way things are.

Evil, Our Ally

I’ll introduce the next reason for God with a question. What is the most frequently raised objection—and the most durable challenge—to the existence of the kind of good and powerful God Christians believe in? The answer: the problem of evil.

Here’s the twist, though. The existence of evil is psychologically daunting for theism, but it is not the rational problem most people think it is. Indeed, it’s an ally if you know how to leverage the problem of evil in your favor. The strategy depends for its force on two self-evident facts about the way the world is.

First, any thoughtful person, at any place on the planet, at any point in history, has known that something is terribly wrong—morally wrong—with the world. The thought “that ain’t right”—which is the basis for the complaint about evil and God—crosses our minds on a multitude of issues on a regular basis. Things aren’t just broken; they’re bad. They’re not the way they’re supposed to be.

Second, when we point the finger at the bad stuff, we aren’t simply saying we don’t like what’s happening or that we’d personally prefer things to be different. No. We mean we don’t like some things because we’re convinced they’re actually wrong, whether other people like them or not.

This second fact is the difference between moral relativism (“That’s not mything”) and moral objectivism (“That ain’t right, regardless”). In other words, for all their protestations, most people are common-sense moral objectivists at heart. Everyone knows that some things are deeply bad in themselves. Count on that.

Now, here’s how to show that really bad stuff is really good evidence for God.[7]

First, ask your skeptical friend for his assessment of something clearly morally grotesque. Mention Auschwitz, or a recent massacre reported in the news, or any striking instance of cruelty, wickedness, or inhumanity to man. If the standard examples don’t move him, suggest homophobia, bigotry, intolerance, global warming—whatever pushes his personal moral hot button. Chances are, he’s already provided examples for you himself.

Next, ask, When you say these things are evil (or bad, wrong, wicked, ain’t right, whatever), are you talking about the actions, or are you talking about yourself—your own private likes and dislikes? Again, you’re zeroing in here on the difference between moral objectivism and moral relativism.

Virtually every time—if they don’t have their philosophical guard up, artificially defending their relativistic turf—they’re going to tell you the truth. They’re convinced the actions are evil, regardless of personal opinion or cultural consensus. They think the evil is objective (even if they don’t use that word)—thus the problem of evil facing theists. If morality were reduced to mere subjective preferences, there’d be no complaint. The problem of evil is only a problem if there is real evil out there in the world.

Now here is the final question. Where does the standard come from that your friend is using to label some things wicked or wrong or morally vile in themselves, regardless of personal opinion, regardless of cultural conventions? What transcendent standard allows him make a legitimate judgment that some things are really, truly, transcendently bad?

At very best, the naturalist might be able to account for mind-dependentpersonal-preference morality—relativism, in other words. But make-me-up morality simply will not do here. If evil is merely a matter of subjectiveopinion, there’s no objective problem. What, then, has the skeptic been complaining about all this time when he cites evil against God?

I think you see the point. Put in a playful way, it makes no sense to say things are not the way they’re s’posed to be, unless there is a way they’re s’posed to be, and there can’t be a way they’re s’posed to be, without a “S’poser.” Translation: It’s going to be very difficult to make sense of transcendent moral law without a transcendent moral law giver—God, in other words.

The atheist is not going to get objective values (things that have intrinsicworth—worth in themselves) and objective duties or obligations (“Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt nots”) in a world consisting only of matter in motion. It can’t be done. Therefore, atheism can’t even make sense of the problem of evil.

This, of course, is the moral argument for God, put formally: If there is no God, there is no objective morality. But there is objective morality (as evidenced by the problem of evil). Therefore, God exists.

Your friend has one of two choices at this point. One, he can cling to his relativism and drop his objection about evil in the world. Surrendering that complaint, though, is going to be hard for him to do because he knows too much. Two, he can make the smart choice by salvaging his common-sense complaint about evil at the expense of his atheism, since no materialistic scheme can account for immaterial moral obligations. What he can’t do is have it both ways if he’s intellectually honest.[8]

Don’t let your friend miss the main point. The reality of evil in the world does not help the atheist. It hurts him.[9] Rather than being good evidence againstGod, evil in the world is one of the best arguments for God.

Here is the argument in a nutshell. The problem of evil is only a problem if evil is real. To say something is evil, though, is to make a moral judgment. Moral judgments require a moral standard—a moral law—and a moral law requires an author. If the standard is transcendent, then the law-giver must be, too.

There you go. If there’s a problem of evil (and there is), then God exists. He’s the best explanation for the way things are.

The Final Concern

You may not have noticed, but we’ve also answered another question without even trying.

The problem of evil doesn’t simply require perfect goodness in the abstract. It requires some One to be perfectly good. If there is Good (and there can’t be Evil without it), then there must be Someone perfectly good who embodies it.

Obligations are held between persons, and only a supreme Person can issue supreme commands. Without commands there can be neither compliance nor disobedience—no right or wrong for people, that is; no good or evil in human behavior. No sin, in other words. Yet human sin is precisely the problem at the bottom of the complaint about evil.

I realize we are now getting into uncomfortable territory, but there is no way around it. It is common these days to challenge the goodness of God since many don’t like the burden genuine goodness entails. Yet, if you’re following the thinking so far, if God is not perfectly Good, then nothing is good in any ultimate sense. It really is that simple.

The Good is grounded in God’s character, and obligations are grounded in commands that flow from His morally pure nature. It is the one alternative that makes sense of everything we’ve discovered so far about morality. All goodness finds its source in Him. There is no other answer.

A good God made the world a certain way, the way it’s supposed to be. Our fallen desires drive us towards a different end, but that’s been the difficulty from the start. God wants the good for us and we do not. The problem is with us, not God.

We cannot see into the future to know the consequences of our actions. God can. We do not know how things were meant to work, at least not completely. God does. With every command, He directs us towards wholeness, helping us be the way we’re supposed to be. We are the clay and He is the Potter. Only under His hand and under the protection of His laws can we be formed into something beautiful. As one has put it…

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold.
Sweeter also than honey, and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.[10]

Why God? First, because there’s no way to make sense of the entire world coming into being without a Being outside this world causing it to happen. The alternative is everything from no thing, which is just plain silly.

Second, if there is no God, then there is no good and no evil either, and we’re back to Dostoevsky and Dawkins again—all permitted, nothing required; no evil, no good; all blind, all pitiless, all indifferent. Without the Potter, everything is clay, and nothing but clay. Deep inside, though, each of us knows better.

There are other reasons we can be confident in God. Paul says He has made Himself evident both within—something we experience—and without—something we see (Rom. 1:19–20). Those two things will be the subject of the next Solid Ground.


[1] Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 133.

[2] Truth as correspondence to reality, or the correspondence view of truth. This, by the way, is the garden variety definition of truth. It’s what people almost always mean when they use the word, e.g., “Are you telling the truth?,” that is, “Is it so?”

[3] I realize the Big Bang is controversial for many Christians, but I think that’s partly because they don’t realize how nicely it fits our Story. Even if a particular Christian is not convinced of it, he can still leverage the skeptic’sbelief in the Big Bang to his own favor, as we shall see.

[4] I say “no thing” instead of “nothing” because of the habit of some to treat “nothing” like a kind of something. Odd, but it happens. Substituting “no thing” avoids that liability.

[5] E.g., William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, third edition (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008).

[6] As it turned out, an over-pumped tire inner tube had exploded.

[7] I discuss this move in detail in “God, Evolution, and Morality, Part 2” at str.org.

[8] It’s possible for naturalists to avoid this dilemma by taking no personal stand on morality while pointing to an apparent internal contradiction in theism, but I’ve almost never heard it put this way in actual conversations. Atheists usually launch their complaint by first affirming objective evil.

[9] See “Evil as Evidence for God” at str.org for a more thorough discussion of why citing evil in favor of atheism is self-defeating.

[10] Ps. 19:7–11.

How Do We Make Disciples of All Nations if We’re Not Gifted in Apologetics or Evangelism?

Hey TD!

Each year at our church we have a missions conference, encouraging and exhorting us to consider going overseas to be a missionary and to “do missions.”  This weekend was no different.  Some leave these weekends feeling challenged and called to make plans to do just that.  Others, on the other hand, feel a conflict within, like they are being slighted as Christians if they don’t go.  Some feel uncomfortable when a missionary comes to speak because they feel that they are made to feel guilty and less of a Christian than overseas missionaries are.

“Some feel uncomfortable when a missionary comes to speak because they feel that they are made to feel guilty and less of a Christian than overseas missionaries are.”

I want to remind you that it is your obedience to what you know God is asking of you that is the key to all of this.  It’s not about going overseas or not.  It’s about obeying Him, being who He wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do, doing it how He wants you to do it and where He wants you to do it.  And that is different for each person.  It’s not a matter of what geographical state you are in as much as it is a matter of what spiritual and mental state you are in – a state of wanting what you want and living for that, or a state of wanting what He wants and living for that.

“It’s not a matter of what geographical state you are in as much as it is a matter of what spiritual and mental state you are in …”

The truth is that Christ’s followers are missionaries everywhere, all the time.  For those who are Christ’s, heaven is your real home, and anywhere on planet earth is a foreign place to you – whether you’re in the SGV or in China.  And we need to live like that, doing missions everywhere, all the time.  If you are doing that, you are a certified, bona fide missionary.  It’s not the location of your body; rather, it’s the location of your heart.  But that heart will be willing to stay or go wherever the Lord wants.

And that’s what our friend, Greg Koukl (Stand to Reason), in today’s video above is focused on – figuring out a way to represent the Lord well wherever you are, even if apologetics or evangelism is not your particular gifting or bent.  I hope it is helpful to you.

Watch and then work with your small group leader to help you figure out how to obey the call. – Arthur


Arguing is Good

Hey TD!

As Christians, we need to be very clear about what they stand for and stand against, and why.  One thing is for sure … we need to stand.  The Christian faith is a faith of standing; and how we stand is often just as important as what we stand for.  They go hand in hand. However, what I find is that some Christians are so concerned with how they come across, that they really aren’t standing for much.  At the same time, some Christians are so into “the truth” or “the gospel,” that they seem to lack graciousness in communicating their message effectively and appropriately.

Well, if we are going to be effective ambassadors for Christ, we are going to have to acknowledge that arguing is good and essential – but the right kind of arguing; the arguing that is done in spirit and in truth. So, here’s a reminder from our friend, Greg Koukl, of Stand to Reason (www.str.org), of the necessity of arguing well.  Enjoy! I look forward to arguing with you at TD this Friday! – Arthur

Arguing is Good by Greg Koukl

Some Christians shy away from apologetics because they think arguing is contentious.  Actually, properly done, arguing is the way we arrive at the truth. And has nothing to do with being argumentative.

A lot of people shy away from apologetics because they think it entails arguing, and arguing is a problem. But I want to make a distinction between arguing and quarreling. I think quarreling is a problem but not arguing. Think of what Jesus said. We are to love our Lord with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength; our whole heart, MIND, soul, and strength. We are to use our minds well in learning about God and loving Him. God has given us some tools that allow us to do that.

I’m here in my workshop, and I have lots of tools that I use for very specific things. What is the tool that God has given us to find out what is true so that we can love Him well with our minds? Well, that tool is reason and reason is employed in a very particular way. It is used to help us to find out and assess, in our environments and in our world, what is true and what is false and, consequently, live better as a result—especially as followers of Christ.

Using reason, though, is not a solitary venture. We use other people in the process. We depend on others to reflect on things with us, bounce things off of, engage—maybe even with those with different opinions about things. And this is where arguing comes in. Arguing is the ability to take opposing sides in a principled way, to knock things around, to figure out which side is true or more closely approximates the truth, and that is a God-given tool. It’s important that we employ it and, if we employ it well, we’ll be able to love God better with our minds—but only if we are willing to engage.

That’s why arguing is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing, if done properly. Not quarreling but disputing with others on issues of truth—bringing evidence into play—so that we can discover what our world is really like—now that honors God.

Forced to Be Parents?

Hey TD!

One argument commonly given by those who are pro-abortion is that without abortion, people would be forced to become parents; something that no one should be forced to be, if they don’t want to or aren’t ready for that.

Our friend, Greg Koukl, responds fairly and truthfully in this video below:

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13

“Christianese” and Monotonous Prayers

Hey TD!

In writing on “Christianese” worship and living last week in “Let’s Stop the ‘Christianese’!”, I came across a helpful, practical article by our friend, Greg Koukl, from Stand to Reason on “A Solution to Monotonous Prayers”; in other words, “Christianese” prayers; prayers with no weight, meaning, power, or access to God.

Keep working at making your Christian lives fresh, real, and dwell-able by God.  Hope this helps!

A Solution to Monotonous Prayers” by Greg Koukl

Prayer is hard. There’s no getting around it. I know there must be saints who find it easy, but I don’t know any.

Part of the problem is monotony.  How do we avoid, as one person put it, saying the same old things about the same old things?  Recently, though, I’ve discovered an approach that has helped me immensely, and I want to pass it on to you.

In the past when I spent time with God, I’d start with prayer, then read my Bible. Now, I reverse the order and combine the two into one. I start with God’s Word, then let the words in the passage guide my prayers.  There are three different ways to “pray Scripture” that I have used.  Each is easy to employ.

Here’s the first: Pray the prayers of the Bible as if they were your own.  For years, I prayed for my family using Paul’s wonderful prayer to the Colossians found in Col. 1:9b-12.  At first I had to turn to the passage each time, but soon I knew it by heart.  Here is how I paraphrased Paul’s words for my own girls:

Lord, I pray that they may be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that they would walk in a manner worthy of You, Lord, to please You in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in their knowledge of You.  Strengthen them with all power according to Your glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience, joyously giving thanks to You, Lord.

Profound, satisfying, simple.

There are lots of prayers like this in the Bible and they’re perfect for those closest to you: children, spouse, friends, disciples.  Some are short, like 2 Thess. 3:16 (“May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance”) or  Ps. 19:14 (“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer”). Others are longer, but exceedingly rich, like Eph. 3:16-19, Eph. 1:17-19a, and Phil. 1:9-11.

Guard against repeating these prayers mechanically, taking the life out of them.  Rather, pray the words slowly, with meaning, putting your own emotion into them.

Choose a passage and write the verse on a 3×5 card if you like, though soon you won’t need the reminder.  The words will be hidden in your heart, faithful friends ready to serve you at any moment.  Consider Col. 2:2-3, 1 Thess. 3:12-13 or 5:23, 2 Thess. 2:16-17, or Heb. 13:20-21 (also a wonderful benediction to conclude a church service).

Second, pray the content of a passage.  Pick a Psalm or a New Testament chapter and read through it slowly, talking to God about its meaning in context.  Don’t get creative; just stick with the flow of thought.  Reflect carefully on the theology as you converse with God and apply it through prayer. Pray the words, express wonder, give thanks, offer praise, confess shortcomings, ask questions.

Often you can make the whole passage your prayer.  I frequently pray Ps. 51, using David’s words as my own confession.  Sometimes at night I’ll lie in bed, slowly and silently praying the 23rd Psalm as I drift off to sleep, thinking about its wonderful truth.  The Lord is my Shepherd.  He restores my soul. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

Finally, read through Scripture praying about whatever thoughts come to mind that are triggered by the passage, even if they have nothing to do with the text’s intended meaning.  This is the method Donald Whitney develops in his wonderful little book, Praying the Bible.  “This isn’t reading something into the text,” he writes, but rather “using the language of the text to speak to God about what has come into your mind.”  When, for example, you read Ps. 23, you might think of others who need special shepherding from the Lord or need their souls restored.  Pray for them.

These three ways of praying Scripture are incredibly simple, and have the added bonus of taking passages you visit frequently and binding them to your heart forever.  I still pray most of the same things I used to pray for (my “list”), but I pray for them differently, often incorporating my standard requests into my scriptural prayers.

Simply put, let Scripture guide your conversation with God.  Pray 1) the prayers of Scripture, 2) the content of Scripture, or 3) your thoughts as you read Scripture.  Start right away and you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.



TD Outing – “reTHINK” Apologetics Student Conference (9/25 – 9/26)


Hey TD!

As we shared last Friday, TD will be heading down to Orange County next weekend (Sept. 25-26) to help provoke each other and our peers to “rethink their worldview, recapture the truth, and then reengage the world for the cause of Christ.”  It’s going to be very valuable for you personally and for your effectiveness in fulfilling your calling as an ambassador of Christ to your world.

We had a great time of learning and sharpening last year, and look forward to honing our understanding and skills once again.

This is the last weekend to sign up to go with TD and to get the TD deal (we’ll pay half your tuition!!).  So, don’t delay!  Bring your $20 and sign up with Sandra at TD on Friday or before Sunday School this Sunday.  Hope you can join us!

Here’s the link to all the details:

reThink Student Apologetics Conference web site

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us.” 2Cor. 5:20

Are the Red Letters More Important?


Hey TD,

Does your Bible contain red letters highlighting Jesus’ own words in the New Testament?  Most do, but some don’t.  Those that don’t are that way for a reason.  Here’s a recent thought from our friend, radio apologist and author, Greg Koukl, from Stand to Reason, about this, about how to use and NOT use the red letters in our evangelism and apologetics.  Something to think about. – Arthur

Are the Red Letters More Important?

Twice recently I’ve noticed people making a theological point based on what Jesus, allegedly, did not say. In both instances I have the same questions: So what? Why should it matter what Jesus did not say?

I have three points in mind with these questions. They have to do with a tactical maneuver, a misstep in thinking, and a misunderstanding about the Bible that so-called “red letter” Christians seem to fall into.

First, notice the tactic being employed here: appeal to authority. The person making the comment is trying to bolster her point of view by enlisting Jesus as her ally, as a person whose views must be reckoned with.

Now, on this point I completely agree. What’s odd, though, is that this appeal is often made by people who seem completely unconcerned with Jesus’ opinion until it appears He sides with them. This looks suspiciously like special pleading. If, for example, Jesus had condemned the behavior in question, would that make a difference to the challenger? If not, then why bring Jesus into the discussion at all?

So, first I want to point out that if Jesus’ opinion on any one issue matters, maybe we should take His counsel on other things for the same reason.

For example, even if we have no record of Jesus’ thoughts on, say homosexuality, did He weigh in on the closely related issue of marriage? He did, it turns out: From the beginning, God designed, endorsed, and intended marriage and sex (“one flesh”) solely for long term, monogamous, heterosexual unions (Matt. 19:4-5). Shouldn’t this teaching of Jesus’ have a legitimate bearing on the debate, if His opinion really matters?

Now to the logical misstep. Nothing meaningful can be concluded from Jesus’ reticence on any issue because it’s a mistake to assume Christ must favor whatever He doesn’t explicitly condemn.

There’s a deeper theological concern here regarding Scripture, especially when the “Jesus never said anything about that” comment comes from a Christian. The mistake is thinking that the verses in red letters (the actual words of Jesus) have more authority than the rest of the Bible.

Our doctrine of Scripture entails that all the holy writings are “God breathed” (called verbal plenary inspiration). Therefore, Jesus’ words have no more authority than Jude’s, and Paul’s words have no less authority than Christ’s. In fact, since Jesus is God—the same God who inspired all of Scripture—in a very real sense, Titus’s words and Paul’s words are Jesus’ words.

Since the same doctrine supporting Jesus’ words endorses every other biblical writer, singling out Jesus as a special authority undermines the doctrine of inspiration for all of Scripture. Consequently, Jesus’ own words fall under the cloud, especially since He wrote nothing Himself, but entrusted that task to His followers.

No, nothing helpful follows from Jesus’ apparent silence on any issue. Don’t make this mistake yourself. And don’t let others slip it by you, either. Simply say, “Jesus never said anything about that? So what? Let’s look at what the Bible does say.”

Thoughtfully yours,

Greg Koukl