The Essentiality of Evidence in Christianity by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


 The Essentiality of Evidence in Christianity

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Though “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” is mind-boggling, and though “His judgments and His ways” are “unsearchable” and “past finding out” (Romans 11:33; Deuteronomy 29:29), and even though finite man will never fully be able to wrap his mind around a holy, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, nevertheless, God has consistently dealt with mankind in rational ways providing the evidence needed for a reasonable faith. Consider, for example, how God has always ensured that enough evidence was available for honest, truth-seekers to know that He exists (cf. Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 7:7-8). Paul wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, emp. added). Since the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been able to clearly see how “the things that are made” testify on behalf of a powerful, invisible Creator. As the psalmist proclaimed: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth. And their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). The reason why “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1, emp. added), is because God has always given man adequate evidence for His existence. Sadly, the foolish person dismisses the evidence.

When the prophet Samuel addressed the nation of Israel at Saul’s coronation, he did not merely deliver an emotionally based speech. He commanded them, saying, “[S]tand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:7, emp. added). Similarly, Isaiah wrote: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’” (Isaiah 1:18, emp. added). Consider also the stark contrast between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In hopes of getting the attention of the bogus god Baal, these emotionally charged, pretend prophets “leaped about the altar,” “cried aloud,” and “cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them” (1 Kings 18:26,28)—all for naught. Elijah, on the other hand, had a rational faith that was grounded in the Word of God. He said to God, “I have done all these things at Your Word” (1 Kings 18:36, emp. added). His personal faith, as well as the message of faith that He preached, were rooted and grounded in the Heavenly revealed, rational Word of Almighty God. Biblical faith, after all, “comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

This same kind of rational, evidence-based faith and preaching can be found in the New Testament. Consider the actions and teachings of Jesus. He could have merely announced to the world that He was the Messiah. He could have only told people that He was the Son of God. He could have expected everyone simply to believe His claims that He was Heaven-sent, and never given His contemporaries any proof for His deity. However, even though there were occasions when Jesus chose not to offer additional proof of His deity (because of the hard-heartedness of many of His hearers; e.g., Mark 8:11-12), Jesus understood the essentiality of evidence. During His earthly ministry, He repeatedly gave ample proof of His deity. He noted how John the Baptizer bore witness on His behalf (John 5:33). He said, “[T]he Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me” (John 5:36, emp. added; cf. John 1:32-33; Matthew 3:16-17). He spoke of how “the Scriptures…testify of Me” (John 5:39, emp. added), and specifically noted how “Moses…wrote about Me” (John 5:46, emp. added). He also noted how His miraculous works bore witness to His deity (John 5:36). Jesus performed many miracles that demonstrated His power over nature, disease, demons, and death. He understood that His own verbal testimony alone would not convince anyone in a court of law (John 5:31; cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). Thus, at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem He told the unbelieving Jews, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, emp. added). Sadly, His foolish, stubborn enemies repeatedly rejected the irrefutable evidence that Jesus presented on His behalf.

Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus presented for His divinity was His miraculous resurrection. He could have risen from the dead and never appeared to anyone on Earth. He could have departed from the tomb and allowed speculation to run wild. Christianity could have begun on the back of uncertainty and mysticism. Instead, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). He appeared alive to Mary Magdalene, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the apostles, to James, and to over 500 disciples at once, most of whom were still living and could be questioned several years later when Paul, who also witnessed the risen Savior, wrote 1 Corinthians (15:5-8). Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3, emp. added), because He is the Head of a reasonable religion. The excitement, energy, and courage that early disciples manifested was grounded in the rock-solid proofs of Jesus’ resurrection (among other things, e.g., fulfilled prophecies). The emotional, energetic, evangelistic faith of 21st-century Christians must likewise be rooted firm and deep in evidence.

Jesus was not the only New Testament figure who demonstrated the necessity of a knowledge-based faith. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John packed their gospel accounts with confirmation of Jesus being the Christ. Consider just the beginnings of these four books. Matthew began his account of the Gospel by genealogically proving that Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham and David (Matthew 1:1-17). He then noted how Jesus was born of a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:18-25). Mark began “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) by quoting Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Mark proved propheticallythat John the Baptizer was “the voice of the one crying in the wilderness,” and Jesus was “the LORD” (1:3). Luke also opened his account of the Good News with an appeal to evidence, knowledge, and understanding.

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (1:1-4).

Then there is John’s gospel account, which, from beginning to end, is packed with proof that Jesus is the miracle-working Son of God (1:3: 2:1-11; 20:30-31; 21:25). In fact, the stated purpose of his record of the various miracles of Christ (and there were many others John did not mention) was so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:30-31). If biblical faith is merely “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” which is one definition Merriam-Webster (on-line) gives for the word “faith” (2011), then why did John and the synoptic writers spend so much time offering proof for Who Jesus is? Answer: Because the truthful, reasonable facts of God, His Word, and His Son are the foundation of real faith (John 8:31-32; 17:17; Romans 10:17).

When the apostle Paul stood before Festus and King Agrippa, he spoke of those things “which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23-24). However, as Paul “made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’” (26:24). How did Paul respond? Did he answer with a mere emotional appeal? Did he welcome the idea of an unreasonable, unverifiable Gospel? Not at all. Paul humbly, but confidently, replied: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).


Sadly, most accountable people in the world will never accept the mountain of evidence for Christianity and become Christians (Matthew 7:13-14). But, those of us who choose to put our faith in God, Jesus, and His Word, can do so because “the truth” can be known (John 8:32), rightly obeyed (Romans 6:17; 10:12-13), and logically defended (1 Peter 3:15).


The Despair of Atheism by Kyle Butt, M.Div.



The Despair of Atheism

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

An implication is an idea that follows logically from a set of facts which are plainly stated. The concept of an implication is clearly seen in math. Take the Pythagorean Theorem, which says that for a right triangle the sum of the two shorter sides squared equals the longest side (the hypotenuse) squared—A2 + B2 = C2. So, if one short side is 3 and the other is 4, then we can know exactly what the longest side is, even though it is not stated or written down—it is 5. An implication is not less of a fact than what is stated or “seen.” It is just as factual, only not stated. Another clear example of an implication is seen in the famous syllogism: All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Knowing those two explicit facts, what else can be known? If a person is thinking logically and correctly, then he or she can know a third piece of information that is included in the premises but not written down: therefore, Socrates is mortal.

All beliefs have implications. They may be difficult to uncover and piece together, but they are there and follow inescapably. If a person is rational and honest, there is no denying an implication. In light of that fact, what implications follow from the belief that there is no God? Many of these implications have been fleshed out in other places.1 This article will deal with only one: The concept of atheism implies that human life does not have any objective meaning. If atheism is true, then human life is meaningless.

At first glance, it may seem that the burden is to prove that atheism implies meaningless. That is not the case, since that task has already been done eloquently by many of those in the atheistic community. Leading atheists do not deny that their belief implies meaninglessness. On the contrary, they openly admit the implication, and spend the bulk of their discussions trying to incorporate the implication of meaninglessness into a “fulfilled” human life. Thus, instead of proving the implication, we will simply cite several unbelievers who have done so, and then proceed to show that it is impossible to live a fulfilled human life without the concept of objective meaning. Humans have been designed to understand that life has real meaning and purpose. When these concepts are denied, those who take time to consider the loss recognize that something is amiss. Humans intuitively know their lives have purpose. To deny that truth forces them into a state of cognitive dissonance of the worst kind. The only conceivable outcome of knowing that humans should (and do) have an objective purpose in their lives, while denying the fact, is a state of despair.

Atheism Implies that Life is Meaningless

A brief look at the writings of unbelievers reveals that meaninglessness naturally follows from the concept of atheism. Atheistic philosopher Alex Rosenberg penned a book titled The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions. Harper’s magazine reviewed the book, saying: “Rosenberg is admirably frank about the implications of scientism [atheism—KB].” The back cover of the book quotes from the New York Times Book Review: “The work of a well-informed and imaginative philosopher.” At the beginning of the book, Rosenberg declared: “This book aims to provide the correct answers to most of the persistent questions…. Given what we know from the sciences, the answers are all pretty obvious….” He then provided a list of questions with his concise “pretty obvious” answers following each question:

  • Is there a God? No.
  • What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.
  • What is the purpose of the Universe? There is none.
  • What is the meaning of life? Ditto.
  • Why am I here? Just dumb luck.
  • Does prayer work? Of course not.
  • Is there a soul? Are you kidding?
  • Is there free will? Not a chance!
  • What happens when we die? Everything pretty much goes on as before, except us.
  • What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There is no moral difference between them.
  • Why should I be moral? Because it makes you feel better than being immoral.
  • Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes.
  • What is love, and how can I find it? Love is the solution to a strategic interaction problem. Don’t look for it; it will find you when you need it.
  • Does history have any meaning or purpose? It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing.
  • Does the human past have any lessons for our future? Fewer and fewer, if it ever had any to begin with.2

Graham Lawton, Executive Editor of New Scientist magazine, penned a brief article titled, “What is the Meaning of Life?” He began with his blunt, one line answer: “The harsh answer is ‘it has none.’” He went on to say: “Your life may feel like a big deal to you, but it’s actually a random blip of matter and energy in an uncaring and impersonal universe.”3 Stephen J. Gould, one of the most recognized evolutionary paleontologists of the 20th century, wrote about atheism’s meaninglessness with his customary flair: “We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher answer’—but none exists.4

Philosopher and self-professed atheist, Thomas Nagel, teaches and writes extensively on atheism’s implication of meaninglessness. In his brief book What Does it All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy, he stated:  “If you think about the whole thing, there seems to be no point to it at all. Looking at it from the outside, it wouldn’t matter if you had never existed. And after you have gone out of existence, it won’t matter that you did exist.”5 Eminent atheistic author, debater, and spokesperson Richard Dawkins boldly said: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”6 Edward O. Wilson quipped that “no species, ours included, possesses a purpose beyond the imperatives created by its genetic history.”7

The late William Provine, atheistic professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the distinguished Cornell University, stated: “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.”8

The existential philosopher Albert Camus, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, struggled greatly with atheism’s lack of meaning and purpose. So great was his contemplation of it, he declared, “I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions.”9 Camus then championed the idea of the “absurd” man. He used a very specific meaning for the word “absurd.” In his writing, the concept of the absurd is the recognition and acceptance that life has no meaning, rhyme, or reason. He says of the absurd man: “He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.”10 His whole book begins with the premise that atheism denies any meaning to the world, and proceeds to flesh out how a person can keep from committing suicide once he arrives at universal meaninglessness. Thus, he begins the book, saying: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”11 And later in the book he concludes, about his entire book, discussion, and life: “Let me repeat. None of all this has any real meaning.”12

Creating Our Own Meaning?

If there is no God, then the implication that life ultimately has no real meaning cannot be denied. Knowing, however, that humans have an innate sense that their lives have meaning and need to have a purpose, atheism is burdened with the unenviable task of manufacturing meaning with no raw materials, whipping it into existence out of thin air. How does this work? One approach put forward by leading unbelievers is that we simply create our own, individual meaning in our lives. When asked about the meaning of life, Alom Shaha, author of The Young Atheist’s Handbook, stated:

Yes, of course I know that life is ultimately without meaning or purpose, but the trick is not to wake up every morning and feel that way. Cognitive dissonance? Embrace it. Create a sense of meaning and purpose by doing something useful with your life (I teach), being creative—I don’t mean that in a poncey hipster way, I mean make a curry, build some bookshelves, write a poem. And most importantly, find people you like and love and spend lots of time with them. I regularly have people over for dinner, throw parties for no other reason than I just want to spend time surrounded by the people I love. And if you’re really stuck, eat rice and dal. Physically filling yourself with the food you love really does fill the emptiness you may feel inside.13

Biology professor, author, and lecturer Jerry Coyne states: “What people cannot abide is the conviction that the Universe and life are pointless. Which is what really, science is telling us. Pointless in the sense that there is no externally imposed purpose or point in the Universe. As atheists, this is something that is manifestly true to us. We make our own meaning and purpose.”14

Dr. Pete Etchells, lecturer and science writer, expounded on the idea of creating our own meaning when he said:

Whenever I get involved in conversations about the meaning of life, and where everything’s headed, I can’t help but feel that there’s an underlying assumption that because these are “big” questions, they necessarily need big answers. There aren’t any, though. We’re not here for a universal purpose, and there is no grand plan, no matter how tempting it is to believe it. But that’s absolutely fine, because it means that if there aren’t any big answers, the little ones are all the more important. So every day, I take my dog for a walk in the field near my house. Sometimes I get to see a pretty sunset, but usually it’s either bucketing down and I get soaked, or cold, or the field is full of mud and bugs and dog [poop], and it’s a pain to navigate through. Whatever the situation, though, my dog has the most ridiculous fun ever, and being a part of that little moment of joy is what it’s all about.15

So, the answer to the meaning of life is make curry, build a bookshelf, or wander through a muddy field full of dog poop and watch your dog have fun? The problem with this “create-your-own-meaning” approach is twofold. First, it refuses to take the word “meaning” seriously. It is a semantic game in which the word can be applied to anything. Meaning “for you” might be watching your dog run, “for me” it might be watching paint dry, “for him” it might be watching grass grow, etc. Just because an activity may bring momentary tranquility or pleasure to a person does not endow it with any objective meaning. A person’s arbitrary attachment of the word “meaning” to something does not somehow create meaning in any real sense—not for that person or for others. Abraham Lincoln once sagely quipped: “How many legs does a calf have if you call its tail a leg? Four. Just because you call a tail a leg does not make it so.” Attaching the words “meaning” and “purpose” to a bowl of shrimp and grits or a sushi roll will never be sufficient to answer the “most urgent question” of life.

The second insurmountable problem for this approach of creating meaning is that those who propound it intentionally hide the dark truth that necessarily follows. They often paint a picture of self-created meaning in rosy terms of a tranquil couple viewing a sunset, a man walking his beloved dog, or a parent running and laughing with a child. What they are forced to omit, if they want to keep up the ruse, is that self-created “meaning” can manifest itself through any behavior, including genocide, serial killing, torture, terminal drug addiction, overdose, etc. Using the proponents’ own logic, a man could just as easily say he finds meaning in killing other people’s dogs in the park as in watching his own pet frolic playfully. As Sommers and Rosenberg accurately stated:

Darwinism thus puts the capstone on a process which since Newton’s time has driven teleology to the explanatory sideline. In short it has made Darwinians into metaphysical Nihilists denying that there is any meaning or purpose to the universe, its contents and its cosmic history. But in making Darwinians into metaphysical nihilists, the solvent algorithm should have made them into ethical nihilists too. For intrinsic values and obligations make sense only against a backdrop of purposes, goals, and ends which are not merely instrumental. But the Darwinian philosophers have shied away from this implication.16

If human existence has no real meaning, then neither do moral or ethical ideas. We may like to think that humans would adhere to some type of generally accepted guidelines, but we would have no grounds to insist that they do. I may “create my own meaning” by reading a book to a child, while another person may contend that they find meaning in killing their parents and cannibalism. There is no rational grounds upon which a person could argue that reading a book to a child is more meaningful than murder and cannibalism. After all, as Camus said, “Let me repeat. None of all this has any real meaning.” As philosopher John-Paul Sartre declared: “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist.”17 The create-your-own-meaning approach fails miserably.

Life Has No Meaning, But Just Act Like It Does?

Many unbelievers recognize that we cannot create meaning just by saying we have. They see the failure of attempts to infuse meaning where there is, or can be, none. Their approach is simple: Admit that life is meaningless in every sense, but live like there is a meaning. Dr. Loyal Rue is a strong proponent of what he calls a noble lie. Based on a naturalistic framework, he writes, “The universe is blind and aimless…. The universe is dead and void of meaning…. The universe just is.”18 He admits that, from a naturalistic standpoint, meaninglessness “is not something that one can argue away by showing that it results from fallacious thinking.... It is logically and empirically secure.”19 How does Dr. Rue suggest that humans approach meaninglessness? He concedes that we cannot live fulfilled lives with the truth before us. He proposes that we adopt a lie, a noble lie, that the Universe has real meaning, even though (according to atheism) it does not. His stated thesis is “to oppose a monstrous truth [meaninglessness—KB] with a noble lie.”20 Why does Dr. Rue insist we adopt this lie? Because, he says, “without such lies, we cannot live.”21 [One wonders why, in the face of life’s meaninglessness, Rue suggests a noble lie? If there is no objective meaning, purpose, or morality, would it not be just as acceptable to adopt an ignoble lie? According to Rue’s view, what would be wrong with telling yourself that the more people you kill, the more meaning your life has, or the more money you steal, the more meaningful you are? After all, if we simply make up lies to make ourselves feel better, a lie is a lie—and any lie will do.]

Thomas Nagel touched on this avoidance approach when he wrote:

Even if life as a whole is meaningless, perhaps that’s nothing to worry about. Perhaps we can recognize it and just go on as before. The trick is to keep your eyes on what’s in front of you…. Some people find this attitude perfectly satisfying. Others find it depressing, though unavoidable. Part of the problem is that some of us have an incurable tendency to take ourselves seriously. We want to matter to ourselves “from the outside.” If our lives as a whole seem pointless, then a part of us is dissatisfied…. Life may be not only meaningless but absurd.22

Notice that Nagel realizes that if you take your life “seriously” then it just won’t do to think about the meaninglessness of it all. What does he suggest? “The trick is to keep your eyes on what’s in front of you.” In other words, do not think about it. Act like it is not there. Ignore the lack of purpose and meaning. Atheism prides itself on rationality, enlightenment, and intellectual honesty. And yet denial, avoidance, and deceit must lie at the heart of unbelief in order for humans to be truly satisfied and live productive lives.

American film director, writer, actor, and comedian, Woody Allen, understands the problem he and his fellow atheists struggle to face. He stated:

This is my perspective and has always been my perspective on life. I have a very grim, pessimistic view of it. I always have since I was a little boy; it hasn’t gotten worse with age or anything. I do feel that it’s a grim, painful, nightmarish, meaningless experience and that the only way that you can be happy is if you tell yourself some lies and deceive yourself. But I am not the first person to say this or even the most articulate person. It was said by Nietzsche, it was said by Freud, it was said by Eugene O’Neill. One must have one’s delusions to live. If you look at life too honestly and clearly, life becomes unbearable because it’s a pretty grim enterprise, you will admit.23

In another interview, he said:

Then after a while, you start to realize, I’m taking the big picture here, that eventually you die and eventually the Sun burns out and the Earth is gone and eventually all stars and all the planets and the entire Universe goes, disappears and nothing is left at all. Nothing of Shakespeare’s or Beethoven. All gone. Michelangelo, all gone. And you think to yourself. It is a lot of noise and sound and fury. And where’s it going? It’s not going any place…. You know it just seems like a big, meaningless thing. You can’t actually live your life like that. Because if you do, you just sit there. Why do anything? Why get up in the morning and do anything?24

Allen, Nagel, Rue, and others are forced to admit that a meaningless, hopeless, purposeless Universe incapacitates the most optimistic unbelievers. Were they to attempt to put into practice a course of action consistent with their belief, then they would not even get up in the morning. In fact, there would be no real reason to do anything—ever. That is why Camus recognized the fact that the only real question to answer in such a world is why would a person want to stay alive at all?

Nothing left but Despair

What is left in a world where meaninglessness reigns supreme, but its human inhabitants are wired to need meaning in their lives? As Lawrence Krauss so brazenly reminds his readers and listeners: “And by the way, that’s the second of the two things I wanted to remind you of. The first is that you’re insignificant. And the second, the future is miserable.25 French humanist, Voltaire, encapsulated this recognition of misery in his “Poem on the Lisbon Disaster,” in which he wrote: “What is the verdict of the vastest mind? Silence: the book of fate is closed to us. Man is a stranger to his own research; He knows not whence he comes, nor whither goes. Tormented atoms in a bed of mud, devoured by death, a mockery of fate.”26

So, humans are “insignificant,” “miserable,” “tormented atoms in a bed of mud.” Yet, atheism is not finished painting humanity’s sad plight with the pale colors of despair. Peter Atkins opined: “We are children of chaos, and the deep structure of change is decay. At root, there is only corruption, and the unstemmable tide of chaos. Gone is purpose; all that is left is direction. This is the bleakness we have to accept as we peer deeply and dispassionately into the heart of the Universe.”27

Albert Camus quoted Kirkegaard, who said: “If man had no eternal consciousness…what would life be but despair?” Camus then wrote: “This cry is not likely to stop the absurd man. Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable. If in order to elude the anxious question: ‘What would life be?’ one must, like the donkey, feed on the roses of illusion, then the absurd mind, rather than resigning itself to falsehood, prefers to adopt fearlessly Kierkegaard’s reply: ‘despair.’”28 Bertrand Russell bemoaned: “Brief and powerless is Man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness....”29

Into this chaos of bleakness, meaninglessness, insignificance, torment, and despair, Christianity offers a hope that can anchor the soul (Hebrews 6:19) and a truth that does not need a “noble lie” to make it palatable. Christianity provides the only system that can give humanity a reason to get up in the morning and live life to the fullest.

A Response to Atheism’s Despair

Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the founder of the American Atheist organization. She lived a life in complete rebellion against her God. Her rabid atheism prodded her to attack the idea of God whenever she could. But her atheism could not bring her joy, only a forlorn heart of desperation. When her personal belongings were auctioned, it was discovered that on six different pages of her writings was the heartbreaking cry: “Somebody, somewhere, love me!”30 The greatest tragedy of atheism is that it strips the world of everything meaningful, including real love.

Atheist Dan Barker admitted that, according to atheism, “In the end of the cosmos it’s not going to matter. You and I are like ants or rats or like pieces of broccoli, really, in the big picture...there is no value to our species...we are no different than a piece of broccoli in the cosmic sense.”31 As we have seen, according to atheism, humans are nothing more than matter in motion, “tormented atoms in a bed of mud.” Our actions will not determine where we spend eternity. And any “feeling” that one person may have for another person can only be “skin deep.” It can only be a product of the physical brain. As much as atheists try to discuss love, hope, honor, or any of the elevated human virtues, they cannot explain how such can exist in a world without God.

Sadly, just like O’Hair, there is a world full of people who want someone to love them, but they refuse to recognize that there is Someone Who does. Their Creator, God, loves them so much that He came to die on the cross for them. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, gave His life to prove His love for humanity and to show humans that they are not cosmic accidents, but intentionally designed persons who have a meaning and purpose in life. And He gave His life so that those humans who choose to obey Him can live eternally in heaven. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

But God’s love has a limit. He will not force anyone to believe in Him. He loves each person enough to let us all freely choose whether or not to believe in and obey Him. And our choice will determine our eternal destiny. Moses once wrote to the Israelites: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). The failure to choose the right beliefs and actions in this life has real consequences. These are not imagined consequences that have to be endowed with meaning by subjective, arbitrary feelings. On the contrary, the consequences are objectively real.

We are not ultimately like broccoli or rats. Our decisions really matter, for now and for eternity. Those who refuse to acknowledge God can have no hope for an afterlife or joy in death, only despair. Agnostic Bart Ehrman, who once claimed to be a Christian, wrote: “The fear of death gripped me for years, and there are still moments when I wake up at night in a cold sweat.32 The Bible explains that Christ came to defeat death, and “release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15). The only solution to the fear of death and the deep, abiding despair that stems from atheism is to seek God and His will. Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s cry, “Somebody, somewhere, love me!” echoes across the world from millions of voices who are trying to find love and hope apart from God. The irony of it all is that they have shut their ears to the voice of God, Who through His Son, calls from the cross, “I love you.” Instead of the bleak, tormented, useless, meaningless, purposeless, pitiless, miserable despair that atheism demands, let us turn our faces to the true light, hope, joy, and love that our Creator provides.33


1 Kyle Butt (2008), “The Implications of Atheism (Parts 1 & 2),” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=911.

2 Alex Rosenberg (2011), The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions (New York: W.W. Norton), p. 3, emp. added.

3 Graham Lawton (2016), “What is the Meaning of Life?” New Scientist, 231[3089]:33, September 3, emp. added.

4 Stephen Gould (1988), “The Meaning of Life,” Life Magazine, December, https://www.maryellenmark.com/text/magazines/life/905W-000-037.html

5 Thomas Nagel (1987), What Does It All Mean? A Brief Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press), p. 96.

6 Richard Dawkins (1995), “God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, 273[5]:85, November, emp. added.

7 Edward O. Wilson (1978), On Human Nature (Harvard University Press), http://staff.washington.edu/lynnhank/Wilson.html.

8 William Provine (1998), “Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life,” http://eeb.bio.utk.edu/darwin/DarwinDayProvineAddress.htm, emp. added.

9 Albert Camus (1983), The Myth of Sisyphus, ed. Justin O’Brien (New York: Vintage), p. 4.

10 Ibid., p. 28.

11 Ibid., p. 3.

12 Ibid., p. 117.

13 As quoted in Tom Chivers’ article, “I Asked Atheists How They Find Meaning in a Purposeless Universe,” BuzzFeed, https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomchivers/when-i-was-a-child-i-spake-as-a-child, emp. added.

14 Jerry Coyne (2012), “The Odd Couple: Why Science and Religion Shouldn’t Cohabitate,” Speech to Glasgow Skeptics, December 21, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wCIa_OQ-2s&noredirect=1, emp. added.

15 As quoted in Chivers, emp. added.

16 Tamler Sommers and Alex Rosenberg (2003), “Darwin’s Nihilistic Idea: Evolution and the Meanlessness of Life,” Biology and Philosophy, 18:653-658.

17 Jean-Paul Sartre (1989), “Existentialism is Humanism,” in Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, ed. Walter Kaufman, trans. Philip Mairet (Meridian Publishing Company), http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm.

18 Loyal Rue (1994), By Grace and Guile: The Role of Deception in Natural History and Human Affairs (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press), p. 3.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 As quoted in William Lane Craig, “The Absurdity of Life Without God,” Reasonable Faith, https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/the-absurdity-of-life-without-god.

22 Nagel, pp. 100-101.

24 Woody Allen, YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MsuqvLIttk.

25 Quote from Lawrence Krauss as quoted in Austin Brown’s The Case for Utter Hopelessness: Why Atheism Leads to Unyielding Despair (2017), (Self Published), emp. added.

26 “Poem on the Lisbon Disaster” in Joseph McCabe (1912), Toleration and Other Essays by Voltaire (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons), http://people.whitman.edu/~iversojr/Candide/lisbon.htm, emp. added.

27 Peter Atkins (1984), The Second Law (New York: Scientific American), p. 200.

28 Camus, p. 40, emp. added.

29 Bertrand Russell (1910), “Free Man’s Worship,” https://users.drew.edu/jlenz/br-free-mans-worship.html, emp. added.

30 As quoted in an article by Chuck Colson (1999), “The Real Madelyn Murray O’Hair,” http://www.breakpoint.org/1999/06/the-atheists-god/.

31 Quoted from his debate with Paul Monata, July 10, 2006, posted on the radio program “The Infidel Guy,” https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzBGd8nA3jj_N181TGI0MDB6YUE/view.

32 Bart Ehrman (2008), God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer (New York: HarperOne), p. 127.

33 See Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (no date), Receiving the Gift of Salvation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Suggested Resources

The Design's in the Details by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.



The Design's in the Details

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

 Michael J. Behe (1996), Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press), hardbound, 307 pages, $25.00.

Hailed by some as a coup for the cause of creation, this eagerly-awaited book does not disappoint. Michael Behe, associate professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, unabashedly argues a case for intelligent design in life. Others have tackled this same argument, but Behe breaks new ground in having his book printed by a division of a major publishing company (Simon & Schuster).

Behe presents three major points. First, he argues that evolution has to go further in explaining the origin of complete structures or organs. Currently, evolutionary speculations involve nothing more than arranging or rearranging a stockpile of preexisting components. Perhaps, following the most vociferous opponents of design such as Richard Dawkins, evolutionists could argue that the nerve cell, retina, cornea, and other parts of the eye came together accidentally. They may even offer a seemingly persuasive scenario whereby this occurred in gradual, successive steps. But this is woefully inadequate, Behe argues.

Following the title motif, the author likens the eye to a kind of black box, and its components to a series of smaller black boxes. A “black box” is a term drawn from the world of modern machines. It is something very complicated that an average mechanic will not touch. He will unplug it, send it away to the factory for repair, and replace it, but he will never open it up to fix anything inside. Someone could go to an airplane, for example, remove the black boxes, put them together with some fresh aluminum sheets and parts from other airplanes, and create a whole “new” design. But he will get nowhere without those preexisting, highly complicated black boxes. When special kinds of scientists—people such as biochemists—open up the black boxes of molecular machines, blood coagulation, and the metabolic pathway (to mention some of Behe’s favorite examples), they fail to find still smaller black boxes. At some point they run into “irreducible complexity”—a single system which, if any part were removed or crippled, would cease to perform its obvious function. But Behe does not merely throw down the gauntlet and walk away. He devotes considerable space to describing the irreducible complexity of the preceding examples, and shows the difficulty in explaining these systems by any sort of blind, unthinking, natural process.

In the second part of the book, Behe takes an unusual approach. He starts out by trying to find the evolutionists’ explanations for any complex biochemical system. A comprehensive search in a seemingly promising source, the Journal of Molecular Evolution, turns up very few attempts to explain the evolution of such systems. Some papers offer very imaginative, or very simplistic, solutions, but none offers a detailed Darwinian model. Behe broadens his search to other likely journals and textbooks, with the same result. He concludes that molecular evolution has not published and, therefore, it should perish.

Finally, Behe tries to establish that the search for intelligent design is possible without ruining science. He eliminates a couple of non-Darwinian, but naturalistic, proposals, and concludes that intelligent design is the only explanation for the irreducible complexity he observes. But the author also draws a distinction between the claims for design or evolution, and scientific proof for such claims. Presumably, Behe would expect to find many examples of design throughout nature, but he urges fellow scientists to look at each organism, part of an organism, or intricate system within the living world, on a case-by-case basis.

Overall, the book is very well-written and presented. Technical descriptions not crucial to the argument are set aside in specially-marked sections, and Behe (with some good editors, no doubt) has done a good job at writing on as popular a level as possible. The author does not hide his belief in God, but a few brief, sporadic comments indicate a desire to distance himself from young-Earth creationism. Perhaps these were intended to make the book more marketable, but they were unnecessary because Behe’s arguments stand without any reference to the age issue. Nonetheless, everyone should catch this glimpse of a design argument for the new millennium.

[For a somewhat objective critique of Darwin's Black Box by an evolutionist, with responses, see The Boston Review. For further reactions from evolutionists (especially ultra-Darwinists), see the (unofficial) Richard Dawkins site.]

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Jesus Condemned And Mocked (15:2-20)



Jesus Condemned And Mocked (15:2-20)


1. As mentioned previously, Jesus faced two trials prior to His execution...
   a. The ecclesiastical trial, in three stages
      1) The preliminary hearing before Annas - cf. Jn 18:12-14,19-24
      2) The midnight trial before Caiaphas and the council - Mk 14:53-65
      3) The morning consultation of the council - Mk 15:1
   b. The civil trial, also in three stages
      1) Before Pilate, the Roman governor - Mk 15:2-5
      2) Before Herod, the tetrarch over Galilee - cf. Lk 23:6-12
      3) Before Pilate again - Mk 15:6-15

2. We turn our attention to events related to the civil trial as found in Mark’s gospel...
   a. Jesus before Pilate - Mk 15:2-15
   b. Jesus mocked by Roman soldiers - Mk 15:16-20

[Beginning with Mk 15:2, let’s direct our attention to the details of
the trial, starting with...]


      1. Pontius Pilate, the 5th Roman governor of Judea (26-36 A.D.)- Mk 15:2
      2. Often harsh, Jewish sources charge him with greed and cruelty  cf. Lk 13:1

      1. Who had plotted to kill Jesus, and sent to arrest Him - Mk 14:1,43
      2. Who had tried Jesus at the home of Caiaphas - Mk 14:53
      3. Who had delivered Jesus to Pilate - Mk 15:1-3

      1. The prisoner released in Jesus’ stead - Mk 15:6-15
      2. A rebel guilty of murder, and a robber - Mk 15:7; cf. Jn 18:40

      1. A crowd who had gathered to ask for the release of a prisoner - Mk 15:8
      2. Prompted by the chief priests to clamor for Barabbas instead of Jesus - Mk 15:11
      3. Eventually crying out, "Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!" - Mk 15:13-14

      1. Who mocked Jesus (see below) - Mk 15:16-20
      2. Who ultimately crucified Him - Mk 15:20

[With such a review of those present during the civil trial before
Pilate, let’s now consider...]


      1. He perverts the nation - Lk 23:2
      2. He forbids to pay taxes to Caesar - Lk 23:2; yet cf. Lk 20:22-25
      3. He claims to be Christ, a King - Lk 23:2
      4. He stirs up the people, teaching throughout Judea and Galilee - Lk 23:5

      1. Who asked Jesus, "Are You the King of the Jews?" - Mk 15:2
         a. To which Jesus admitted - Mk 15:2
         b. Though His kingdom was spiritual - cf. Jn 18:36-38
      2. Who marveled at Jesus’ silence regarding the other charges - Mk 15:3-5
      3. Who ascertained that it was envy that motivated the chief priests - Mk 15:10
      4. Who did not think Jesus was guilty of death - Mk 15:14; cf. Lk 23:13-15
      5. Whose wife wanted him to release Jesus - cf. Mt 27:19
      6. Who finally sought to gratify the crowd, to avoid a tumult - Mk 15:15; Mt 27:24

[Though Pilate considered Jesus innocent, pressured by the crowd he
initiated actions that would lead to the crucifixion.  Such actions
included terrible abuse, which we will now survey...]


      1. By the instructions of Pilate - Mk 15:15; Jn 19:1
      2. This involved being "tied to a post and beaten with a leather
         whip that was interwoven with pieces of bone and metal, which
         tore through skin and tissue, often exposing bones and
         intestines. In many cases, the flogging itself was fatal." - ESVSB

      1. By soldiers who led Jesus to the hall called Praetorium - Mk 15:16
      2. Who clothed Him with purple and a twisted crown of thorns on
         His head - Mk 15:17
      3. Who saluted Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" - Mk 15:18
      4. Who struck Him on the head with a reed - Mk 15:19
      5. Who spat on Him - Mk 15:19
      6. Who mockingly worshiped Him - Mk 15:19
      7. Who stripped Him and put back on Him His clothes - Mk 15:20


1. Again, the barbarous injustice at Jesus’ trials is evident...
   a. The false charges and physical abuse
   b. A cowardly governor acquiescing to a manipulated crowd

2. But lest we forget, this was in keeping with God’s Divine Providence...
   a. Which Jesus acknowledged in His predictions and prayers - Mk 8:31-33; 14:36
   b. Which Peter proclaimed in his first sermon on Pentecost - Ac 2:22-24

All in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 53:4-12).  Shall we not
respond accordingly...? - Ac 8:30-38  
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Getting to the Heart of the Jovan Belcher Tragedy by Ken Weliever, The Preacherman



Getting to the Heart of the Jovan Belcher Tragedy

JovanBelcher“WHY?” was the single-word lead headline in the Sports page of Sunday’s Kansas City Star.  This past week-end the Kansas City community was rocked by the murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher, a starting linebacker on the Chief’s football team. 

If the story has eluded you, Belcher fatally shot his girl-friend Kasandra Perkins, while his mother and 3-month old daughter, were in the next room.  He then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, thanked his Coach, Romeo Crennel, and General Manager, Scott Pioli, for all they had done for him.  Turned. Walked away. Then ended his life.

Teammates, coaches, family, friends and sports writers have all expressed their disbelief. Clearly those closest to him are shaken. Repeatedly this story has been described as shocking.  Senseless.   And tragic.

Predictably many have rushed to assume answers or assign blame.  Respected sportscaster, Bob Costas, used the occasion at half-time on Sunday Night Football to call for more gun control. There has been reports of possible brain damage.  Prescription drug misuse.  Alcohol abuse.  And a domestic argument that spun out of control.

One thing we do know is that we will never know.  Not for sure.  The Bible says, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? (1 Cor 2:11).  And there are few answers that will satisfy us.

I do not wish to be insensitive.  Generalize on specifics. Or play amateur psychiatrist.  Nor is it my prerogative to pass judgment.  Because each situation is different and unique.  Many of us have been touched by family, friends or brethren who have ended their own lives.  It is painful.  Perplexing.  And traumatic.  Innocent people are hurt.  Family. Friends.  Neighbors.  In this case, Crennel and Pioli’s life will never be the same.  As well as Belcher’s teammates.  And what about an innocent and orphaned three-month old baby girl?

But I am reminded of these facts about man’s nature as the Creator made him.  We are ultimately responsible to God for our own actions (2 Cor 5:10).  To blame guns, football, or head injuries, side-steps the cold, hard fact that this man committed a crime on another person as well as himself.

Furthermore, the heart of a person is more important than their actions.  By all accounts Jovan Belcher distinguished himself in college, earning his B.A. in 3 ½ years while starting in all 45 games.  For the Kansas City Chiefs, Belcher had started in 59 consecutive games since his signing in 2009.  He was active in the community.  And he was respected by those who knew him as a hard worker.  Enthusiastic.  Just an “all around good guy.”

Yet, there was something wrong.  Terribly wrong.  The prophet Jeremiah was right when he wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? “ (Jer 17:9).  Unchecked, unguarded and unprotected, the heart can ponder evil thoughts. Devise devious plans.  Act upon unimaginable impulses.

And so the wise man warns us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov 4:23, NIV).

I also was struck by the comments of starting Quarterback, Brady Quinn, who played the best game of his professional career Sunday and led the Chief’s to an emotional and improbable victory over the Carolina Panthers.  In the post game interview he reflected, “The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people. I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what I could have done differently.”  Then Quinn asked two thought-provoking questions: “When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?”

Indeed.  Suppose we all should work a little harder at obeying Galatians 6:2? “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

And one last thought.  This comes from a very well written column by Sam Mellinger in Sunday’s KC Star.  “Those of us left to grapple with what’s occurred should hug our children a little tighter today. Be more considerate of our spouses. And confront the cold reality that dysfunction gone unchecked can ruin lives.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

The "Not" in the Devil's Tale by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



The "Not" in the Devil's Tale

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Someone coined the title of this article many years ago. They were referring, of course, to the incident recorded in Genesis chapter three where Satan coaxed Eve into eating the forbidden fruit by assuring her that if she were to do so, she would become like God (3:5). Though God had previously informed her through her husband that “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (2:17), Satan boldly disputed such a directive by inserting the word “not” in the very same statement: “You will not surely die” (3:4, emp. added). He took precisely the same sentence that God Himself had uttered, and simply inserted the three-letter word “not.”
Contemplate the gall of Satan. Ponder the absolute audacity of the devil in his willingness to pervert the Word of God by the simple insertion of such a small, seemingly insignificant word. Yet that simple three-letter insertion into the sentence articulated by God completely reversed the truth of the matter. It made it appear as if the truth was the exact opposite of what God had actually said. It countermanded God’s Word on the matter and set in its place a falsehood that was in diametric opposition to God’s will.
Besides the devil, who would dare to do such a dastardly deed? Surely not those who claim to be Christians! Surely not preachers and teachers of the Bible! Surely, only those who deny the Bible, who reject it as uninspired and a mere concoction of humans, would so tamper with God’s Word as to negate a positive, unambiguous declaration of Scripture. Yet God did warn that even from among Christians would arise those who would distort, deny, and push aside His instructions. Jesus Himself warned: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Peter agreed: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…” (2 Peter 2:1). John added his voice of caution: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Paul claimed that even from among church officials, some would rise up and speak misleading things (Acts 20:30).
In view of these forthright words of warning and anticipation, one cannot help but be utterly amazed, even shocked, that so many who claim to be Christian have rejected the God-ordained role of water baptism in His redemptive scheme. The “faith only” perspective that was expounded during the Protestant Reformation, and has since permeated Christendom, displaced water baptism from its divinely assigned position. Rather than being the line of demarcation between the sinner and the saint, as the New Testament everywhere affirms, baptism has been relegated to an after-the-fact symbol—a post-conversion “outward expression” of the forgiveness previously achieved at the point of faith.
Though many New Testament verses expound the proper role of water immersion as intended by God, thereby weaving a consistent and harmonious picture throughout inspired Writ (e.g., Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38,41; 8:12,13,16,36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:5; 5:26; Colossians 2:12; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22), one is sufficient to demonstrate the absurd lengths to which so many theologians have gone to discount the biblical treatment of baptism: 1 Peter 3:21. In this verse, Peter announced very simply: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us” (KJV, emp. added). The ASV words it: “which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism.” The NKJV has it: “There is also now an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism.” The NASB words it: “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you.”
What have the majority of commentators, theologians, and church authorities done with this verse? They have danced, twisted, and turned in every direction to evade the unambiguous import of the verse. Since they previously embraced a false theory of salvation—i.e., salvation by “faith alone” without any further acts of obedience on the part of the believer—they have had to engage in hermeneutical gymnastics and exegetical hocus-pocus to avoid the force of these verses that pinpoint the place of water baptism. In short, they have been pressured into doing precisely what Satan did in his discourse with Eve. They have had to take a very straightforward, unmistakable statement by the apostle Peter and insert the same three-letter word that Satan himself inserted: “not.” “Baptism doth also now not save us;” “There is also now an antitype which now does not save us, namely baptism;” “And corresponding to that, baptism now does not save you.” The gall and unmitigated audacity that accompanies such tampering with Scripture will surely be shown in eternity to be no different from the ploy of Satan himself.

In Appreciation of Our Elders by Sandra F. Cobble



In Appreciation of Our Elders

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor..." (1 Timothy 5:17). All too often we are inclined to think of the work of our elders as that of managing the money and of exercising oversight in matters of doctrine. These matters are extremely important. But oversight of the Lord's flock (1 Peter 5:2) includes much more than this. And since much of the labor of our elders is unseen except to those directly involved, it is seldom fully appreciated.

Much indeed has been written by very knowledgeable brethren about the responsibilities and work of our elders. But let us look at it from another perspective. Let us look at it from the perspective of one who has been the recipient of their love and oversight.

Following my baptism into Christ four years ago, I was closely questioned by our elders. This was done in privacy, and it was done in love. I was the widow of a denominational minister. Neither the elders nor the congregation had known me. The elders were exercising their God-given authority to see that no false doctrine be spread among the flock. This could not have been an easy task for them. I was a new babe in Christ. They had no way of knowing that I already believed in and respected their authority. Suppose I had resented their questions? Would I have drifted away from the true faith and been lost? Yet suppose I had come into the fold and then began spreading false doctrine? Would others have been lost? Think about it!

About a year ago a driver under the influence of alcohol hit the back of my motor scooter and I was thrown to the pavement. Besides suffering head and chest injuries and numerous broken bones, my spinal cord was severed, leaving me permanently paralyzed. The local hospital called our minister. Knowing I had no family, he called our elders. Within minutes three of our five elders were at the hospital. Of the other two, one was in a meeting and the other was out of town. They took care of all the details that ordinarily a family member would have had to handle.

Following my admission to a major hospital, one of the elders who is retired was selected to look out for my welfare. At the suggestion of the elders, I granted him power of attorney so that he could handle my personal affairs and also the mountain of paperwork involved in a major hospitalization of long duration. Since neither the driver nor I had adequate insurance, state and federal assistance was necessary. If one of your immediate family were in that situation, would you know what to do or where to go? Would YOU willingly take on that responsibility for another member of our Lord's family? They did!

Have you ever agonized over placing a family member in a nursing home, wondering what type of facility would be best for that person? Our elders accepted that responsibility for me. The easier way would have been to place me in a facility close to home and to have visited me occasionally. But they did not settle for the easy way. They examined all the options and selected that which seemed to best fit my needs, even though it was forty-five miles from home.

Since they were wise enough to select one with an outstanding physical therapy department, I now look forward to returning to independent living. Yet even the decisions regarding that return have not been easy ones for our elders. How do you tell someone who has their heart set on returning to their hometown that it is not yet in their best interest? How would you handle their heartbreak? Would you know what to do or what to say? Neither did they. Yet they handled the situation with love, understanding and patience.

But as important and difficult as looking after my physical well-being was, they had an even more important and difficult task to handle. They had to watch for my soul! Suppose I had become bitter and turned away from God? Or suppose I had become so depressed that I would not respond to therapy? Had I done so, would I have missed the mark that God had set for me? Would I have been lost? Think about it!

Our elders are selected according to Scriptural standards. Those standards are high. But our elders are only human. They have only human knowledge. They do make mistakes. Many times they do not know what to do. Yet on their shoulders rests the heaviest responsibility in this world -- the oversight of the flock of God. And possibly most of that oversight is not known except to those directly involved. Let us do as the Scriptures teach us and count our elders who rule well the flock of God worthy of double honor. TELL your elders that you love them! TEll THEM that you appreciate their labor!

Sandra F. Cobble

Published in The Old Paths Archive