Thank you for your handwritten letters. They remind me of my childhood days when we used to read the letters from our grandparents at Christmas. I am pleased to read them. I like the idea of being productive by eliminating the distractions of social media! Kudos on your progress, man! Hope you, Dana, Steven, and Trevor are all good. I’m sorry about my delayed response to your letters. We were away for an early vacation and our phones and laptops were submitted.
With regard to your first letter, you have many genuine questions. All of those questions do not come from mood alteration. They are in fact existential questions which are quite sobering. Let me address all those questions now:
- Question of God’s tendency to become a tyrant and the authority of God’s Word.
Max, God is not just all-powerful. That would make a being very dangerous. Good news! He is all-good and all-wise too. He not only knows the what, when, where and how but, He has a why for His actions. The Bible tells that His anger lasts, but for a moment and His favour, for a lifetime. He is the Father and not a tyrant. Secondly, the Bible is not some ancient document like Homer or Plato’s book. When submitted to the tests of historiography, the Bible proves to be the most accurate of all other historical documents. I would encourage you to read: The Evidence That Demands Verdict, by Josh McDowell. In that book, he covers a full chapter on the validity of the Bible. Not just that! The Bible is a living book! I challenge you to read the book of John. Read one chapter a day. Read it with a quest for truth. While you read, pray in this manner – “God, if you exist, please reveal yourself to me.”
- Your question: Why doesn’t God prove His existence by putting an absolute end to all the suffering on a cosmic and personal level?
First of all, pain and suffering are real and very ugly. But they are not God’s plan. When God made the world, He made it perfect. He gave only one law to Adam and Eve. The disobedience of the first humans led to where we are today. Ever since the fall of the first humans, mankind is marred by sin. Sin colors everything! Its effect is writ large from our DNA to social structures. From families to governments, its influence can be felt. From classrooms to courts of law, its power is evident. Recently, I saw a helpless person suffering from a severe mental illness. Their family is in terrible pain. I questioned God on this! You see Eric, not just atheists, but even we struggle with these questions! However, all of this suffering cannot be seen as a problem, rather as symptoms. The root cause of all these symptoms is sin. Sin ruins everything. God cannot look at sin, just like you cannot look at your son becoming a gangster and travellingon the road to delinquency.
However, Eric, your question of pain and suffering is made invalid due to atheism. You say that suffering is evil or unfair. By using the concept of evil or unfairness, you assume that there is something that is good or fair. But where do you get the concept of good and bad from? God is the maker of the moral law. If you exclude Him, you must exclude moral law and the concept of good and bad for the sake of consistency. Moral law cannot jump from out of nowhere! There has to be a source for it. The moment you declare God’s non-existence, you actually pull out the foundation on which you build your question of good and evil!
Eric, I am sympathetic towards your situation. I know what you mean by the fear of being ostracised by friends and colleagues. When I became a Christian, that’s exactly what happened with me. But I promise you that I enjoyed greater peace during all of that. I received a new and large family in which I was loved. God never promises that walking with Him is a road decorated with roses and lilies. In fact, Jesus gave a disclaimer in Matthew 16:24 — “If anyone would follow me, let him deny himself.” He also said in Mark 13:13 that people will hate you and ostracize you because of His name. Eric, God may not make it easy for you! He has done His part on the cross of Jesus. He has sealed the evidence of His existence by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now the ball lies in your court and you must do all that you can to go where the evidence points and submit to the truth.
Concerning the very many bad examples set by a few professing Christians, let me just say that Christianity is not to be critiqued by Christians, but by Christ. He is the standard. It would be unfair of a girl to file a divorce because the siblings of her husband are not as good as him.The value of her marriage doesn’t depend on the husband’s relatives, but on the husband! Or, think of a student rejecting a Guru because a small number of students turned out to be bad. The Guru’s credibility doesn’t come from a few good or bad students but by his own teaching and life.
Finally Eric, I, along with my friends, tested Christianity both directly and vicariously and I’ve found Christianity as invincible. I hope that this letter is comforting to your heart and engaging for your mind. I look forward to receiving more of your handwritten letters. I never imagined that we would become pen pals.
Yours in His Service,