God, I Just Don’t Understand

“God, I really like some things about you but if I was honest, there are some things I see here that really don’t make sense.”

I have to be honest, this prayer has been mine on and off during my journey with God. I have especially struggled with some of the things I see God doing in the Old Testament. I’m not sure if any of these things have caused me to doubt God’s existence because I trust that He has a greater reason and that just because He doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. While this issue hasn’t caused me to struggle in my belief – it has caused me to struggle in my trust of God – in my faith. It has caused me to wrestle with the goodness of God and that has been quite disillusioning at times.

A few years ago when I was working at Biola, I set up a lunch appointment between one of my students who was an atheist and two Biola philosophy professors. I even got to tag along and watch as these two brilliant men gently sought to have an open and constructive dialogue with this young man. They sat down over lunch and this young man began to ask questions. He was very well read with some of the new atheist literature and you could tell he was very bright. I already knew this – I had met with him several times. Now in retrospect – from the perspective of an outside observer – it seemed to me that the professors handled the young man’s questions although it was reported to me later that the young man was bragging to his friends that he had stumped the philosophy profs. It didn’t look that way to me at all – however one could fairly accuse me of seeing what I wanted to see in this.

During the luncheon – the young man began to address evil and God’s goodness. They began to really and deeply wrestle with the philosophical questions. At one point though they really challenged the young man and asked him: “Joe (not his real name) – how does the fact that evil exists – or that God seems to do evil things in the Old testament – really disprove His existence? Or rather – does it just prove to us that you don’t like or understand the way He does things?  

This was a very powerful question for me; and it felt like a huge moment in the conversation. It seemed to me that Joe didn’t really have a compelling answer to this question. Since that luncheon that question has often stuck with me. I had a friend who heard an atheist speaker accuse God of being wasteful proclaiming that humanoids have existed on this planet for up to 150,000 years before we have records of them being fully realized humans. So what did God do with all the humanoids? The speaker accuses God of being incredibly wasteful in His plan – unless there was no God at all. But this is a big jump that one could make but it’s definitely not ironclad. If there were humanoids; (Which we still haven’t really found fossils for); then God would have a reason for how and why He dealt with them the way He did. How does this prove He doesn’t exist – but rather the speaker didn’t like the way it seems God does things? Unfortunately for my friend – this article opened the door for him to begin deeply questioning His belief in God and ultimately led him to abandon his trust in Jesus. When he shared this argument with me I was reminded of the two philosophy professors debating that brilliant young student in the Biola Burger Pit.

When we look at the questions leveled at God’s goodness; like we did last Sunday – this question is of vital importance. How does the fact that God doesn’t seem to make sense here – really disprove His existence – more than prove that you don’t like or understand the way He has done things?

In addition to this question has been recent scholarship – some of what I shared with you – that has been extremely helpful to fill in some of the blanks in this discussion and paint certain things in a different light. This is what has been so exciting for me – because as an inquisitive and skeptical man – I have found that the fact there are answers to these questions is something that frankly: feels good, like lifting a weight off my shoulders.  It also amazes me – deepens my worship and trust of God.

I’d like to direct you as I close this 2nd look to several resources. If you enjoyed last week’s sermon and want to go deeper – here are some links I’d like to invite you to check out. The scholar I’d like to direct you to is Paul Copan. This guy is a hero to me. Below are links to his website and a couple of his books.  There are other scholars out there but for now – I’d like to direct you to Paul because he has done a great deal addressing the questions that we brought up and discussed last Sunday.

http://www.paulcopan.com/articles/

http://www.amazon.com/God-Moral-Monster-Making-Testament/dp/0801072751/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392771995&sr=1-1&keywords=paul+copan

http://www.amazon.com/When-God-Goes-Starbucks-Apologetics/dp/080106743X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392772021&sr=1-3&keywords=paul+copan

Have a wonderful week everybody!

Pastor Ryan