Rejecting the Obvious Truth of the Gospel
Have I not written to you excellent things Of counsels and knowledge,That I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth,That you may answer words of truthTo those who send to you?-Proverbs 22:20-21
Lately, I have been considering the point and purpose of Christian apologetics. As a Christian, I felt persuaded to ‘defend the faith’ against the humanistic attacks of my friends at work. Our Thursday night Bible studies at church emphasized apologetic studies, and I devoured each teaching with great enthusiasm. I bought countless tapes from the back catalogue of Bible studies, and listened to them at home, and sometimes, to the great annoyance of my friends, at work. And of course, I prayed constantly for my dad who had converted to Mormonism, because he was deceived from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Romans 1:20-21
As I witnessed to friends and family, I was astonished how they could so easily reject the Truth. The Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was just so obvious and self-evident to any honest person that I felt they really were truly without excuse. Nature speaks to the reality of God. The Gospels speak of the work and teaching of Christ. The epistles describe our desperate separation from God, our hopelessness in sin, and our need for a Savior, who is found only in Jesus Christ. The entire Old Testament anticipates models, foretells and predicts the coming and future glory of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And most importantly, the Gospels describe in detail, the death and resurrection of our Lord, how the temple veil was torn, and how we can now have fellowship with God Almighty if we only choose to do so.
How anyone could stare this truth in the face and willfully reject it was beyond me. As a friend of mine once said, it is like watching Jesus Christ nailed to the cross before you, and spitting in his face.
Now that I am no longer a Christian, I am just as amazed that I felt this way about non-believers. I had always assumed that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was an axiom of reality, and that the whole of nature testified to that truth. It was unavoidable. It was self-evident. And because of that reality, sinful man was truly without excuse before a Holy and Just God.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat (Psalm 19:1-6).
This is what I believed about nonbelievers, and I know that most of my friends believed the same thing. People who rejected Christianity did so, not as a matter of logic, but as a matter of will. They refused to believe, even with the Truth staring them in the face. Thus, my pastor, and many other pastors could rightfully use the popular cliché, “God does not send people to Hell, people decide to go Hell and send themselves there!”
Or the even better, and more arrogant cliché, “How can a loving God not send people to Hell?”, which only makes sense, if we choose to reject a righteous God.
My question, then, is this: Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ at all obvious to you? Is it clear that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, and we are only rejecting that truth as a matter of will because we naturally hate all things of God? It is not at all obvious to me. I am open to it, and if it happened I have no choice but to accept it. But I personally see no good reason to believe any of it.
By saying this, am I choosing to go to hell on my own volition? I don’t think so. I am choosing nothing but what seems to make the most sense to me. I am not willfully rejecting anything.
Which brings me back to the question of apologetics. If Christians truly believe that the World, meaning all people of all non-Christian faiths and religions, are willfully rejecting the obvious truth of Jesus Christ, then what is the point of trying to formulate arguments and gather evidences to convince us otherwise? If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so self-evident that I can make a conscious decision to reject its truth, then apologetic arguments seem pointless. Why convince others of a truth that they already know?
Or does the salvation of souls sit squarely on the shoulders of the evangelist and apologist? Is God deciding who wins salvation based on how quick a debate team he has gathered into the Body of Christ? I used to think that I was just using apologetics with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to convict a person of their own sin. But again, this assumes that the sinner knows the truth deep down, and the apologetics are just used as a reminder that they must confront their sinful nature, and the Holy Spirit convicts and draws that person closer to the bosom of the Savior for forgiveness. I don’t see how a Christian apologist can avoid feeling tremendous pressure to win converts to Christ if the defense of the faith is their responsibility. You may give credit to the Holy Spirit, but ultimately, my salvation is in your hands. All you have to do is convince me.
So which is it? Is the truth of the Gospel obvious and my rejection of it willful disobedience? Or does eternal salvation come by trusting the apologist with the better argument and snappiest rhetoric? Neither choice makes much sense to me.
I guess this is why I weary of debate on this website. I never intended to debate when I started blogging about my apostasy in the first place, but sometimes it seems unavoidable in a forum like this. Grinding through apologetic arguments seem like running in a hamster wheel. Christian, if this is what you think of the nonbeliever, that the Mormon like my dad, or the Jehovah Witness, or the Muslim, or the Jew or the Atheist, or anybody else who does not share your Christian belief, is because they are consciously staring Truth in the face, spitting on the Cross of Jesus and pridefully following their own path, you are woefully mistaken. Thinking back on my own Christian life, I think this was the biggest misconception that I had toward non-believers. I have since learned that there are many, many reasons to believe, or not to believe, and it has nothing to do with willful rejection of Truth.