Updated: May 25, 2022
There are many ministries in the modern Church that focus strongly on showing through logic and sound argument either the existence of God, the validity of His Word, or both. I must admit that this resonates with the way that my mind works. After all, if we can unerringly show, by simple force of logical argument, the reality of who God is, the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, and the God-ordained, transformative role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who would choose not to come to salvation?
While in college, I thought about building an online community as an outreach to intellectual nonbelievers. It was going to be a place where atheists and believers could each work on a logical progression statement, a manifesto, if you will, that began with only a few identified presuppositions and progressed logically all the way to ultimate reality. Each side could critique the statement of the other side (with classy, non-inflammatory language, of course) with the intent that, given enough time and enough understandings of logical fallacies and with a deep desire to find actual, real, unadulterated truth, the Truth of God would eventually be shown to the atheists and they would turn to Jesus. We would use the force of man’s logic to come to a full faith in Jesus Christ. It was going to work!
Interestingly, Scripture shows a different reality. 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 says, "Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." Biblically speaking, man’s wisdom is not completely worthless, but its validity is limited. Notice: “…the world through its wisdom did not come to know God…” According to the Bible, using man’s words and man’s logic doesn’t inexorably lead to God. The Creator has ordained that salvation comes through a message preached that is foolishness to the world, and my naive passion ignored the stubborn reality of sin-filled human wills that resist the lordship of our Creator.
So, does that mean that we should eschew apologetics and reasoned arguments? Of course not! God gave us a brain, and we ought to use it for His glory! However, good arguments do not automatically guarantee repentance of a soul. The Proverb stating, “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” is a Proverb, a short, easily remembered statement designed to instill wisdom. Never are we assured that those we love will absolutely turn to Christ. Only God knows who will and who will not ultimately come to salvation. What we CAN do is share God’s Word with them in such a way that they see what God has done for them in the Gospel and what selfishness they must give up to follow Him. Taught by Scripture, whatever decision they make will be a clear-headed one: neither a sin-filled, rebellious life that results in Christ saying, “Depart from me, I never knew you,” nor a legalistic, graceless terror of constant judgment.
People thus informed may still choose Christ or reject Him, but they will do it without ignorance.