If Romans 1 brings up homosexuality as a sin, carried over from the Old Testament laws, how come eating crawfish isn’t anymore? Why do some laws still apply and others don’t and which ones?
How come God ordered Israel to kill different nations, purge Canaan from all the inhabitants, and yet say that killing is a sin?
Doesn’t God encourage the breaking of His laws sometimes – like when David ate the bread from the temple? If there are exceptions, can we say that His laws are absolute?
It doesn’t seem like the thief on the cross trusted in Jesus as Lord the way we require it today; so why did he get to go to heaven? And if he got in, how can we insist that people must receive the gospel to go to heaven?
There are good answers to all these questions, I’m sure. But when you get them all asked in the span of an hour and a half, there’s one word for how you feel. Dizzy.
Some thoughts from tonight’s Doubt Night.
1. Churched, religious, moral people have a completely different set of obstacles to faith in Jesus than unchurched, irreligious, immoral people. They can be just as lost. But the hurdles are different. The questions at Doubt Night range from philosophical ones that you’d hear on UPenn’s campus to straight up Bible questions that you’d expect in a church basement. The folks at Doubt Night know the Bible. They quote obscure stories from the Old Testament. Yet, instead of this knowledge producing faith, this knowledge is a real obstacle from faith. I don’t know if that makes sense. Like for a churched person who has been told that Christian faith is true their whole life (yet they have not experienced it on their own), the apparent “contradictions” in the Bible pose a real problem. And instead of being encouraged to face these obstacles head on, they’ve only heard Christianese answers like “believe it cause the Bible says so” or “God can do whatever He wants” and so their doubt only grows. I know many of these questions have been asked by people before – there’s nothing new under the sun – but till they get answered, they will continue to be an obstacle to the credibility of the Scriptures and thus the credibility of the Gospel.
2. Having said all that, I know still that the major obstacle to faith in the Gospel is not the answer to some peculiar Bible trivia. I’m not trying to reduce the significance of these questions. The role of the law and its continuity/discontinuity across the Old and New Covenant is a massive topic. People much smarter than me have written tomes on it. But at the end of the day, when you boil it all down, people are not refusing to bow to the Lordship of Jesus because they don’t know why God ordered Israel not to cook a goat in it’s mother’s milk. Ultimately, there are deeper reasons for unbelief. Of course it’s sin. It’s hardness of heart. It’s unregenerate hearts needing grace. But the challenge will be seeking to apply God’s Word and God’s Gospel and God’s truth to those underlying obstacles.
3. Can you reason someone into faith in Jesus? If you answer the question about David and the showbread, there will be a question about Joshua killing the Canaanites. If you answer that, there will be a question about the nature of the theif on the cross’ faith. If you answer that, there will be a question as to how every kind of animal was on Noah’s ark without killing each other. There’s always another question. So the challenge is how do you approach this. Where do you start? You want to try to establish the broad credibility of the Scriptures and then tackle the peripheral problematic passages. But if you’re not a Christian, you don’t work off the assumption that the Bible is credible. And so the obscure passages are where you start and they seem to stand in the way of accepting the credibility of the Bible. So then do you spend your time addressing each Bible question? And if you do – will the questions ever stop? Will you ever have answered all the questions so that a person will finally say, “Ok, now I believe it. This book makes sense. I believe in Jesus.” I know it doesn’t work that way. I don’t think it does. So then, my original question – can you ever reason a person into faith. If not, should we be doing something else at Doubt Night than letting people ask the questions that they’re struggling with to do something more “worthwhile.” That doesn’t seem right either. Dizzy.
4. I am utterly, completely, absolutely, totally unable to save anyone! Salvation belongs to the Lord. These nights have only grown my desperation for God to do the work of salvation. Only God can open blind eyes. Only the Spirit can make the Gospel make sense. Only He can change it from foolishness to the wisdom of God. Only God can change the human heart. Only God. Only God. Only God.