A Journey by Advance Prior Knowledge

One of the underlying principles of dispensational premillenialism is that we have the ability through the large volume of end-times prophetic scriptures to figure out in advance most of the last-days scenario.  What this approach proposes to give us is static advance knowledge, in place of dynamic, in-the-moment faith.

A biblical journey of faith is obviously based on the concept of faith.  A journey of faith is a creation of the true and living God intended to produce the context of life events and circumstances to build a relationship.  This is a key element that validates and authenticates the God of the Bible as the one true God.  Uniquely crafted journeys of faith set up routes and outcomes within the context of relational trust and faith that reveal the true nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Person of the Holy Spirit.  Through ups and downs, good times and adversity, a personal relationship with God is developed that is beyond our human capacity to self-orchestrate.  A biblical journey of faith is beyond human imagination or invention, by purposeful design.

This is part of the massive gulf of divide between a new covenant revelation of God given directly to us (Jeremiah 31:31-34) through a God-composed and guided journey of faith, compared to man autonomously seeking to discover God through self-realization or a program of self-assigned good works.  This is central to our understanding of the upcoming end-times.

If the reality of a personal relationship with the living God is to take place, God has to fulfill His half of the relationship with something that is divinely above and outside of our ability to manufacture. God has to bring to the relationship His divine, originally creative higher ways.

But if we have our whole story upfront…if an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, or Paul in the Bible have the complete details of their stories ahead of time…then in-the-moment, risk-filled trust in God morphs instead into an entirely different kind of journey according to advance prior knowledge.  Having complete, advance prior knowledge renders a journey of faith horizontally conventional and flat.  If we can assemble the complete package of our upcoming life-script in advance, then our journey of faith following God shifts into a “paint-by-the-numbers” meritorious exercise of who can follow the script the best according to our own talents and abilities.

A journey-by-advance-knowledge homogenizes the divine components of a God-composed and orchestrated journey of faith down into a humanistic, self-energized, flat-line enterprise.  Only a biblical style journey of faith can insert the divine components of God’s higher ways in a timely and sequenced way that completes the union of our relationship with God.  A progressively unfolding revelation that sets up the uniquely biblical context of an adventure of faith is the norm in the inspired, innovative, and instructive narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.

The contemporary pretribulation rapture teaching misses a basic fundamental concept in this regard.  We walk by faith not sight because this is the route that produces a lasting and meaningful relationship with God.  A journey according to advance prior knowledge places us as captains at the helm of the voyage.  A journey according to static advance knowledge invites merit, pride, and self-performance back in as unwanted companions in our spiritual journey, which are the very components a God-crafted adventure of faith is designed to displace.  If we have all the information upfront, and can thereby maintain complete control over our lives, there is no room remaining in fully revealed upcoming life events and circumstances for God to personally step-in and dynamically present the unmistakable fingerprint of His foresight in our unique callings.

If the purpose of this present world is to set-up the environment for the discovery of enduring truths through a fact-finding mission best understood as a journey of faith into the partially unknown (because the higher ways of God are divine and not human), then a premature removal of the Christian church off the earth pretribulation is inconsistent with this biblical template.

Mark 12:35-37 reads: “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?  For David himself said, by the Holy Spirit, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.  David, therefore, himself calleth him Lord; and how is he then his son?  And the common people heard him gladly.”  Jesus left this question hanging for His audience to ponder, and did not go on to elaborate further.   Scripture records that Jesus spoke often to the people in parables (Matthew 13:34).

It is okay to admit “we don’t know” everything about end-times prophecies.  This is not a cop-out.  It is not a retreat from scholarship or genuine truth-seeking.  In light of the foregoing discussion, it is not theologically or historically accurate to say that if certain end-times prophecies are in the Bible that this implies in each and every case that God intended us to have perfect understanding of their meaning.  In some things we can only take our understanding so far.  We then leave it up to God, and walk the rest of the way by faith and trust.  Often it takes the actual events to unfold within the expanse of time to reveal truth, as patterned for us in the Bible, and as experienced in our own Christian lives.

A Partial Revelation 5

All of the truths and information about the upcoming end-times events are contained within the pages of the Bible that we hold in our hands and can study every day (excepting the upcoming Joel 2:28-29 dreams, visions, and prophecies).  Like the Jews of the first century leading up to the ministry of Jesus, the problem is that we do not yet fully understand the prophetic verses that point forward toward the future.

Mark 15:29-30 records the amazing (in hindsight) failure of the people to comprehend the meaning of what Jesus had said prior to His crucifixion:

29  And they that passed by railed at him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days,

30  Save thyself, and come down from the cross.

Jesus was in the process of destroying the temple that was His body, at the precise moment these people were taunting Him, because they had no conception of what was happening.  They had no idea that when He referred to the destruction and rebuilding of the temple a few days previous to His crucifixion, that He was speaking about His own bodily death and resurrection.  The meaning of His words was locked up within an understanding of His fulfillment of age-old scriptures as the atoning Lamb of God sacrifice for sin.  It took people looking backward in hindsight, including the disciples, to get this right.  The same thing may be true in our day, as we attempt to look forward and figure out with precision the upcoming events of the last days.  We may not put all of the pieces perfectly together either as we attempt to construct a preview of end-of–time events.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 reads: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the earth.  In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.”  This important prophetic verse clearly applies to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Messiah and our Savior.  But it shows how mistaken we can be when we apply prophetic verses to the wrong time period.  Jesus did not “execute justice and righteousness in the earth” in the immediate political and social sense.  Jesus was crowned with thorns and crucified by the religious and civil authorities.

The timing of this verse is critical to its correct application.  This Jeremiah verse applies not to the first advent of Christ in the first century A.D., but to His second advent at the end of the ages.  How would anyone know this beforehand without further clarifying information?  We understand this verse today only through the benefit of hindsight.  Scholarly erudition before the actual events unfolded in first century Jerusalem tragically fell short of a clear understanding of these prophetic Jeremiah scriptures.

The themes contained within the biblical narrative stories of faith are not about worldly conventional pursuits of normalcy in full possession of all of the future facts upfront.  These narrative stories are risk-filled adventures into the partially unknown in tentative faith and trust in the competency and foresight of God, often in the middle of life-and-death circumstances balanced on the edge of a precipice.  The uniquely biblical “journey of faith” is a God-composed, divinely inspired enterprise aimed way above our individual self-interests involving self-sacrifice for the eventual good of others and ourselves beyond anything humans could or would invent.

It goes without saying that we are to study and become familiar with the end-times prophecies found in the Old Testament, in the gospels, in the epistles, and in the book of Revelation.  We are instructed by scripture to do this.  But we are also instructed by Jesus (Matthew 24:36-51, Mark 13:32-37, Luke 21:34-36), by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6), by James (James 5:7-7-8), by Peter (2 Peter 3:11-14,), by John (1 John 3:2-3, Revelation 1:3), and by Jude (Jude 21), to watch and to pray always until the coming of Jesus Christ.  In addition to studying and knowing the scriptures, this admonition to watch and pray gives a dynamic, fluid, flexible, in-the-moment element to our eventual fuller understanding of the upcoming end-times events.

In Luke 21:7, the disciples ask Jesus what everyone today wants to know: “when will these things be?” and “what sign will there be?” before these things happen.  Jesus does not answer these questions directly.  Instead, Jesus tells us what we actually need to know, and by doing so, He indirectly implies that the main Christian church will be on the earth for some of the tribulation period and the reign of the Antichrist.

“Take heed that ye be not deceived” (Luke 21:8), for example, has no special relevance or application to the uniqueness of the last days, unless the entire church is still on the earth.  There has always been some form of deception on earth threatening the Christian church starting from the first century onward.  This particular warning relates to the end-times, because Luke 21:8 above includes the statement by the false deceivers, claiming to be Christ, that: “the time draweth near.”  If the main church is raptured before this, who is Jesus addressing this critical statement to…some “left behind” group of tribulation saints?  The gravity and magnitude of this warning implies that it is intended for the worldwide Christian church, Gentile believers and Messianic Jews as a whole.

A Partial Revelation 4

The contention made by pretribulation proponents today that because the Bible is rich in prophetic content we should therefore be readily capable of accurately interpreting end-times prophecy ahead of time is in my opinion an over-reach of horizontally conventional thinking.  The notion that we can piece together all of end-times prophesies in a highly detailed sequential chain of events, fundamental to the pretribulation program, should at the very least be approached with some amount of healthy questioning based upon the brief arguments made above.

The best current projection of upcoming events can only be partially accurate because all of the end-times information is not in yet.  Human intellect combined with an assessment of current events can only take us so far at this point in time.  As frustrating as this may be to human intellectual pride and hubris, we still need to exercise faith regarding our full understanding of upcoming biblical end-times prophecies.  We will need Holy Spirit revelation according to the Joel 2:28-29 verses to illuminate more fully the whole end-times picture.  We will need Spirit-filled Christians having the gift of prophecy to contribute additional details according to God’s will and timing, with a “thus sayeth the Lord” quality of authority to back up their pronouncements, over and above mere human intellectual, scholarly opinion.

In Revelation 10:4, God actually instructs John to “Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.”  This clearly indicates that God is not telling us absolutely everything through the current biblical end-times prophetic revelation.

During the preceding decades 10 A.D. and 20 A.D. leading up to the start of the ministry of Jesus Christ, there were many Jews living in Israel who had difficulty reconciling the two prevalent views of the coming Messiah as presented in the Old Testament.  Some verses portrayed a political king who would free the nation of Israel from its enemies (Isaiah 11:10-12; Jeremiah 23:5-8; Ezekiel 37:21-28), and some prophetic verses portrayed the Messiah as someone who would suffer (Isaiah 53).  Combined within a single advent, these two views seemed on the surface to be in contradiction.  They needed the actual events to occur to clarify their meaning.

Some Jews, as they listened to John the Baptist preach by the river Jordan, said to themselves that something momentous was in the making, and that they would wait and see how events would unfold.  Yet no one anticipated that God Himself, through His Son Jesus Christ, would sacrifice His human body through Roman crucifixion as atonement for our sins.  This took everyone by surprise.  This is why Jesus lightly criticized the two disciples on the road to Emmaus by saying “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.  Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).

In hindsight, all of the Old Testament “types” and prophecies made perfect sense in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Even the brutally honest and pride humbling thought of God having to sacrifice Himself on our account, through His crucifixion for our sins, only made clear sense looking back in hindsight.  The sheer blindness of self-inflated pride would have prevented mankind from seeing beforehand our great need for God’s help.

If those Jews, pondering these events as they unfolded, kept an open mind and open heart, God eventually revealed the full truth about the nature and person of the Messiah.  Not only did people like the apostles and disciples come to finally understand the events of the cross and the resurrection (in hindsight), but people like Nicodemus the Pharisee and Joseph of Arimathaea also were probably rewarded with full salvation faith (although not recorded in scripture) after the resurrection of Jesus.  These two men, like many in Israel, partially grasped the importance of the life of Jesus of Nazareth in-the-moment, as evidenced by their timely and inspired procurement of His body from the cross and the subsequent preparation of an honorable burial for Jesus.  Thousands of people were converted to faith in Jesus at Pentecost (Acts 2:41), after the crucifixion and resurrection.

A Partial Revelation 3

The resurrected Jesus could have walked down the main streets of Jerusalem and right into the Temple, removing any doubt as to His true identity and nature.  But that would have upset the delicate balance between the virtue of faith…and the freedom to remain in unbelief.  It would be giving away too much information.

The finely balanced spiritual equation of repentance, faith, and righteousness within the context of this broken world does not always include a full revelation of all pertinent information upfront (Exodus 4:1-17; 1 Corinthians 13:12).

Absolutely no one ahead of time understood the upcoming resurrection of Jesus …which was to occur three days after His crucifixion.

Luke 22:49 records the disciples asking Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane whether they should “smite with the sword” to defend Him.  Peter weeps bitterly after failing to stand by Jesus at His trial.  The disciples scatter for their lives after the arrest of Jesus, not realizing their temporary situation was secure until the disposition of Jesus of Nazareth was finally decided.

The religious leaders think that by killing Jesus they will be rid of Him and His movement.

Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus wrap the dead body of Jesus in linen strips according to the Jewish custom for permanent burial.  The women come to the tomb early Sunday morning to anoint the body of Jesus with spices for permanent burial.

The disciples initially reject the first reports of the resurrection of Jesus.  The two men walking with the resurrected Jesus toward the town of Emmaus are sad… because they still do not have any idea that Jesus through the cross and the resurrection has purchased for them their eternal salvation…that very day.

All of this, even though Jesus told people ahead of time that He would rise from the dead (Mark 9:31-32; Matthew 27:63).  People at the time missed the upcoming resurrection of Jesus because they were stuck in horizontally conventional thinking.

Consider the Apostle Paul as he travels toward Jerusalem for the last time.

Paul is surrounded by Spirit-filled men, even the acknowledged Jerusalem prophet Agabus…all beseeching Paul not to proceed forward into the personal threat he faces at Jerusalem.

After the tumult in Jerusalem, as Paul sits in the prison at Caesarea, these same Spirit-filled Christian companions could have said to Paul in hindsight “we told you so.”

Yet only God could see that He was changing the ministry of Paul from a church planting evangelist to a writer of the final four “prison” epistles, within a quiet time for reflection and under the physical protection afforded a prisoner of the Roman Empire.

Everyone missed this ahead of time as God worked out His higher purposes in the midst of incredibly tight circumstances that characterize the narrow gate for a person following Jesus Christ in faith and without care for their own personal safety (Acts 21:13).

A Partial Revelation 2

A second component of this idea of purposely incomplete prophetic revelation is the good wisdom of God in not revealing all of the fine details of His plans to the opposition upfront.  Telling Lucifer and the other fallen angels all of God’s strategic plans ahead of time, within the end-of-time prophetic scriptures contained in the Bible would be counterproductive in the extreme.  This interpretation is consistent with the approach that God has taken with all Bible prophecy.  Some element of hindsight is usually involved in putting all of the prophetic pieces of the puzzle together after-the-fact.  Once the fulfillment of a particular biblical prophecy has been locked into historical place by the occurrence of the actual events themselves in time, then the opportunity for spiritual opposition to fully anticipate the prophecy ahead of time and possibly adversely alter the God-intended outcome has safely passed.

For example, the Psalms 22 prophecies regarding the crucifixion were just vague and obscure enough so that the religious rulers in Jerusalem did not connect them in advance to Jesus of Nazareth, yet precise and specific enough to be clear in hindsight.  Psalms 22:16 reads: “…they pierced my hands and my feet.”  If God had given away more detailed information in this prophecy, such as the shape of a wooden cross, the use of five to seven inch long metal spikes, and the piercing of the hands and feet as a slow and tortuous method of execution causing weakness through blood loss leading eventually to asphyxiation, then everyone would have been forewarned centuries beforehand of the divine intention hidden within this prophecy, through the well-known and widespread practice of Roman crucifixion.

The question can be asked, what would be the motivation for God to give away too much overly specific information in this prophecy?  God would then have had to come up with another means for sacrificial atonement other than the cross of Christ, for mankind’s sins.  Jesus Christ shed His blood while hanging on a wooden cross in sin atonement as the sacrificial Lamb of God after the ancient pattern of the blood atonement given by God to the Levitical priesthood.  Too much information given away in Psalm 22:16 would have tipped-off the religious and civil authorities ahead of time, and spoiled Roman crucifixion as God’s totally unanticipated and unexpected method for Christ’s substitutional atonement.  God reveals just the right amount of information in Psalms 22:16 to accomplish His purposes.  One of the true marvels of Psalm twenty-two is that David heard God’s voice accurately, and got the wording of each of these critical prophecies just right.

Micah 5:2 reads: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”  Hosea 11:1 reads: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”  Isaiah 11:1 reads: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”  The Apostle Matthew included in his gospel that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1), returned to Israel from Egypt as a small child (Matthew 2:15), and grew up in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23).  Matthew obtained this information from only three probable first-hand sources…Mary the mother of Jesus, or Jesus Himself after His resurrection, or James the half-brother of Jesus.

The chief priests and Pharisees prided themselves in knowing the prophetic scriptures pertaining to the Messiah, as witnessed by their indignant response to Nicodemus who had suggested to his colleagues that they give Jesus a fair-minded hearing: “…Art thou also of Galilee?  Search, and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” (John 7:52).  Yet, all these priests and Pharisees had to do to resolve this question of the birthplace of Jesus was to simply ask Mary the mother of Jesus, or to ask Jesus Himself.  They did not ask this direct question because they had already made up their minds that Jesus was an unsuitable candidate according to their preconceived idea of what the promised Messiah would be like.

Again, these prophecies regarding the origin of Jesus Christ, authenticating His claim to be the Messiah, were just vague and obscure enough so that the religious rulers did not connect them to Jesus of Nazareth, yet precise and specific enough to be crystal clear in hindsight as given to us by Matthew.  God did not foretell through a singular, composite verse in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and come out of Egypt and be called a Nazarene (as Matthew interpreted the prophet Isaiah’s 11:1 verse).  God did not combine these three verses together neatly in one location in the sacred text for the convenience and illumination of the readers.  Thus combined they would have unmistakably pointed to Jesus of Nazareth as the only possible Messiah.  God kept these verses separated in the Old Testament, so as to be purposely obscure to the religious leaders in Jerusalem in the first century, yet crystal clear in hindsight when put together after-the-fact by Matthew.

A Partial Revelation 1

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions;  And, also, upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.”   (Joel 2:28-29)

A biblically accurate starting premise in approaching the study of end-of-time prophetic future events is to recognize that God has purposely kept some portion of the information incomplete and obscure.  A thoughtful Bible student can approach this admittedly difficult subject of end-times prophecy with the beginning assumption that no person has it all figured out to the last detail, because no one can figure it all out, by God’s purposeful intention.

Even as Jesus is explaining in clear language His upcoming crucifixion and resurrection to the disciples, as fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecies, Jesus knows they are not completely getting it.  Yet there is no record in the gospels of Jesus going back over this critical subject repeatedly four or five times, until the disciples understand perfectly.  Jesus knows it will all make sense later in hindsight.  An argument can be made that the crucifixion itself is a product of the Pharisees and scribes tragically misreading the messianic prophecies as a direct result of faulty living, adversely fulfilling the very prophecies they thought they completely understood upfront.  If the messianic prophecies were crystal clear no one would have made the tragic mistake of crucifying Jesus of Nazareth.

God indeed has everything in the last-days planned out to the smallest detail.  But by not revealing all of it for the present time, God keeps us engaged and in a state of watchfulness.  Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is always the underlying theme behind all of the works of God, including the subject of end-times prophecy in the Bible.  The amount and specificity of information that God reveals in scripture is always a function of what He is attempting to accomplish in dividing truth from error for us through real-life experiences in the present-moment.  Some of the end-times biblical prophecies will only become clear after all of the events are over.

Commonsense Christian Apologetics

My apologies for the long length of this post…this one is just under 3,000 words.  The usual length of my posts I like to keep around 300-800 words.  I thought you might like this piece in its entirety.

This is the introduction to my new book God Didn’t Create Robots: Commonsense Christian Apologetics…which I just completed revising…and is available on Amazon and Kindle in about a week.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”                                                                    (Heb. 11:6)

I once had a lively discussion with a borderline agnostic/atheist who said that he did not dismiss the idea that God existed…but that he needed more objective, foolproof evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible and Christianity.

In pondering our talk afterwards, I thought of all of the evidences that are out there in the observable world…easily accessible through commonsense contemplation…that in the hands of a skilled litigator in a courtroom…for example…would not only convince most jurors of the existence of God…but also of the divine origin of the Bible and its message.

In better hands than mine (except when I have the anointing of the Holy Spirit like Peter before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:8-12 or Philip in Acts 8:26-40…which can be experienced by all Spirit-born Christians for sharing our faith in Jesus Christ)…there are dozens of very persuasive arguments for the existence of God…many of which are the obvious “miracles” we experience and see all around us…that we accept as “normal” and take totally for granted.

A few of these obvious evidences might be the miracle of sexuality…or digestion…or our respiratory system…our constant heartbeat…or our balanced and symmetrical locomotion and motor skills…all of which shout-out for design rather than random chance assemblage.

Another obvious, commonsense evidence for the existence of an intelligent designer God is the universal cuteness of any infant—a human toddler, a lion cub, a Labrador puppy, young ducks swimming after their mother in a pond…totally inexplicable and unnecessary under a Darwinian naturalistic framework…having no survival-of-the-fittest value.

Certainly the mystery of human speech and the natural inclination of youngsters to acquire, understand, and accurately differentiate subtle concepts in language and communication…at a phenomenal rate of speed…is a reality far too complex and functionally coherent to be lightly accepted as the result of gradual descent with modification…rather than ingenious, conscious design at a brilliantly creative level.

In sports…our incredible facility to be able to play professional ice hockey in the NHL…to run back the opening kick-off 100 yards for a touchdown in college football…to hit a 95 mph fastball 400 feet over the left-field fence for a homerun in baseball…to play tennis, pin-pong, badminton, volleyball, run track, run a marathon, complete the Tour de France, surf the North Shore in Hawaii, and score a goal in World Cup soccer…these are physical acuities that are so advanced, so complex, so finely tuned, and so functionally integrated…that to ascribe these to gradualistic, random chance, trial-and-error processes as asserted in the theory of Darwinian evolution…when we see and observe nothing incrementally progressive and transitional in a major, creative sense anywhere in the natural world currently or in the course of natural history…seems on its face to be beyond nonsensical.

Certainly, the existence of the moral framework that permeates all of the social interactions between people…which we take totally for granted… needs explanation…such things as romantic love, friendship, loyalty, bravery, humor, forgiveness, standing up for the right thing even when it costs us something, giving value to other people through respect…and the flip-side—lying, cheating, prejudice, selfishness, injustice, and evil…all of which in the hands of a skilled debater could be plausibly argued to be far beyond the creative naturalistic reach of material particles and energy…given that particles and energy demonstrate no capacity for creating complex and functionally integrated systems or concepts.

Add to this the mind-boggling Age of Information explosion of the last two or three decades…in which intelligence has been linked to the origin of information wherever we find complex and functionally integrated systems in human creations…in computer software codes, literary books of every genre, inventions of every type…which corresponds to the information-rich realities we find in the natural world such as the Big Bang, the Anthropic Principle, the Cambrian Explosion, DNA code, and the body-plan architectures and lifestyle habits of every living creature…to name only a few examples.

Curiously, in the area of the fine arts…we see the unavoidable necessity of the inclusion of the overcoming of evil…fundamental within the storyline fabric of movies, theater plays, and books…coming from a modern popular culture that otherwise avoids the acknowledgment of the concept of biblical sin.  How can the existence and complexity of evil…sliced-and-diced in every which way in enumerable storyline settings and conditions…of unending fascination and interest to the human psyche…how can this be the product of mere material particles and energy according to the philosophical worldview of naturalism?

As a non-scholar layman in the areas of theology and biblical studies…along with millions of other common Christians around the world simply following Jesus within their journeys of faith…I sense that the centuries old paradigm conflict between philosophical atheism and Christianity is at a balanced apex…at a tipping-point where the evidences for theism may now begin…if it has not already…to surpass the now archaic logic and arguments against supernaturalism and the miraculous in the Bible.

The Big Bang philosophically opened wide the door for intelligent agency…introducing in the first split-seconds of creation all of the natural laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics… along with time itself…and all of the material particles in the right quantities and proportions to produce the universe we now observe today…out of nothing…sometime around 14 billion years ago.

If an independent agent God can do this at the beginning of the universe…then the philosophical objection by skeptics that God cannot introduce creative life and “miracles” into the natural world…incorrectly viewed by some as a “closed system” up until a few decades ago…is now debunked by the discoveries of science through the identification of massive amounts of complex and functionally integrated systems of information…everywhere we look in the living and non-living natural world.

The concept of an independent agent…God…injecting vast amounts of complex information into our world utilizing creative foresight…such as the DNA code…the unimaginably brilliant folding of amino acids into proteins…and the body-plan architectural information stored somewhere in the embryonic development structure of the living cell that builds cells and tells them their unique function and location in the dividing and expanding embryo…is very similar to our own use of accumulated information and premeditated creative foresight in the planned and premeditated assembly of houses, automobiles, airplanes, laptop computers, and pharmaceutical medicines.

In this book, I attempt to add some commonsense Christian apologetic arguments into the ongoing debate.  Some such topics are:

First, is there a persuasive rationale to explain the humility of Jesus…outside of the standard and perfectly valid explanation that this is simply part of the divine character of God?

Is there an ingenious, underlying theme within the humility of Jesus that transcends the imagination of human literary invention…and at the same time serves as inspiration for Christians?

Is the concept of respect…the giving of value to another person…the central issue at play behind the purpose of the creation of this world and our participation in it?

Does the humility component of the life-script of Jesus Christ divide out and expose the destructive element of rebellious self-sovereignty…resulting in the utter rejection and non-valuing of the Son of God Jesus…in a way that forever identifies the moral downside of: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6)…as demonstrated through the cross of Calvary (Jn. 15:18-25)?

Second, how would anyone other than God compose a life-script for a perfect Person Jesus Christ that gets Him to the cross?  Is this idea too farfetched and innovative…as to fall clearly outside of human literary imagination…and therefore be divine in its origin?

What aspects of the human character would be identified with pinpoint accuracy in this life-script composition…that would infuriate conventional thinking to such a degree in first-century Israel…that would get a perfect Person Jesus all the way to the cross…and not to mere house arrest, exile, or censure?

Third, how could anyone other than God compose a life-script complex enough for Jesus Christ the Son of God…that results in a broken heart on the cross (blood and water coming out of His pierced side…John 19:34)?

How do you break the heart of God…as invented literary fiction…without at the same time violating the very thing that worldly conventional normalcy and thinking detests the most…the acknowledging of the existence of human sin and self-centeredness… absorbed by Jesus on the cross…as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin?

Fourth, where does the delicate balance of belief and unbelief come from?  Why isn’t this balance overwhelmed in favor of one direction or the other?

Fifth, what explains the odd existence of the two main contrasting worldviews…self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty…for human beings alone?  This clearly does not originate from nature.  Lions display only one lifestyle habit…there are not two different competing approaches to being a lion.  The same goes for every living creature in nature.  For every living creature each lifestyle habit is distinctly unique…but uniform throughout that creature type…for lions, cheetahs, leopards, tigers, elephants, giraffes, alligators, and zebras, for example.

Yet humans have two optional worldviews to freely choose from…self-sovereignty or God-sovereignty…both radically different in the course and purpose of our lives.  The complexity of the differences that divide these two worldviews is far beyond any plausible explanation of their origin by way of the naturalistic, gradual trial-and-error evolution of material particles and energy as asserted in the theory of Darwinism.

Coming back to my discussion with the agnostic/atheist man insisting on objective, visual, foolproof evidence for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity…for Christians…the answer to this issue is both easy and difficult.

If Jesus a few days after the resurrection walked down the middle of main street and right into the temple in Jerusalem…then like doubting Thomas all of the common people along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes could examine his wounds and observe His resurrected new body…and accept as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Son of God.

But accepting the visual evidence…producing absolute knowledge like two plus two equals four…or the existence of the noonday sun…accepting the evidence that Jesus is the divine Son of God is not the same as being willing to follow Him.  The Pharisees and scribes would have looked at the resurrected Jesus…talked with Him…examined His healed wounds…and then said: “Great…good for you…but we still choose not to follow you.”

Absolute knowledge by visual, empirical observation does not alleviate…does not displace…does not remove…self-sovereignty.  Jesus walking into the temple in Jerusalem after His resurrection…offering absolute proof of His divinity in rising from the dead…does not equate to everyone freely choosing to make Him Lord and Master of their lives.

After the resurrection…revealing Himself to the Pharisees and scribes would not have produced biblical faith…defined as willingly allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways…as ancient in Jewish history as the calling of Abraham to leave Haran and go to Canaan…as basic to Judaism as it gets…and fundamental to the Christian concept of picking up our cross to follow Jesus.

A person does not have to be a scholar to see in the Bible and to experience first-hand…that God initially takes people having hidden potential…yet at the start are broken, lost, and aimless in life (Mt. 9:10-13)…and through the divinely supportive respect and acceptance over time of salvation, redemption, and the life-altering insertion of a God-composed adventure of faith…turns them into something better that they could not have previously imagined.

This is one of the main themes of the Bible.  Some people will accept God’s lead and follow Him into their destinies…others will push God away and follow their own course.

This in itself should be a telling argument against the random-chance naturalism of self-sovereign worldly conventional thinking…by virtue of the sheer inexplicability of the origin of the concept of biblical faith and its persistent longevity.  Naturalism, if true should produce one monotonous, homogeneous human mindset…one lifestyle habit per creature type…like the rest of the living world.

The complexity of the information content, the innovative originality of the main concepts, and the utter crash and collision with worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…makes a compelling commonsense apologetic case for the divine origin of the journeys of faith recorded in the Bible…above and beyond humanistic literary invention.

This is the contribution to the marketplace of ideas I would like to introduce in this book…moving the argument for the truthfulness of the Bible farther down the road for the Christian and the skeptic alike.

Finally, if we have a conflict or an issue with some colleague at work…and we discuss this with a friend who thinks well of us…that friend will give us the supportive benefit of the doubt upon hearing the details.

But a person who is a friend, yet who may not think as highly of us, may automatically take the side of the other person in the dispute…upon hearing the details…and begin to question our handling of the situation…in a knee-jerk, critical fashion…not giving us the benefit of the doubt.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are filled with people giving God the benefit of the doubt in their adventures of faith.

Every positive person of faith in the Bible has a personal relationship with God that has the universal element of giving God the benefit of the doubt…even amidst difficult and challenging events, and the negative direction of outward appearances.

Biblical characters that immediately come to mind in this regard are Abraham going to Canaan (Heb. 11:8), Joseph in Pharaoh’s prison hanging on to the promise of his two earlier dreams received years before in Canaan (Gen. 37:7, 9), and Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:11, 4:20).

Jeremiah has a continual, ongoing dialogue with God about the stubborn unbelief of the Jerusalem leaders.  Elijah complains bitterly to God about the overwhelming pushback and resistance he is encountering in his calling as a prophet in apostate Israel under the rule of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.

Other notable people who gave God the benefit of the doubt through difficult challenge are Joshua, Samuel, David, Job, Ruth, Hannah, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and all of the minor prophets…to name only a few in the Old Testament.

The Psalms in the Old Testament are filled with people having a personal relationship and dialogue with God…giving God the benefit of the doubt to come through for them in the middle of challenging difficulties.

People of faith in the New Testament actually spent time physically with Jesus the Son of God (Jn. 1:14)…and gave Him the benefit of the doubt amidst pushback and resistance to His message and ministry…of deadly intensity (Jn. 11:8, 16).

This idea of the people of faith giving God the benefit of the doubt during the course of their journeys of faith…giving to God the value and worth…that putting trust and faith in another person entails…has enormous commonsense, apologetic value as an argument for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.

This has apologetic value by virtue of its existence as evidence of a relationship…evidence that would not hold water for a moment…if it was not in fact true.

As a secondary, subtle element in the plotlines of every biblical narrative story of faith…giving God the benefit of the doubt is not something that can be fabricated or faked into fictionalized relationships…certainly not into the unconventional relationships between people and God.

This element is integrally baked into every biblical adventure of faith…and cannot be homogenized out without damaging the story.

This component of giving God the benefit of the doubt is a powerful clue that these relationships…these stories of faith…are real.

A moral concept as subtle yet as powerful as this could not be the product of collusion on the part of the 40 different authors spanning 1,500 years in the writing of the Bible…universally giving God the benefit of the doubt from Genesis through Revelation…from beginning to end…without the slightest hint of progressive evolution or creative development in the portrayal of biblical faith.

The life-stories of Abraham through Paul in the Bible…all depicting biblical faith having this common element of giving God the benefit of the doubt…as religious fiction invented by human writers inspired out of the narrow realm of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking alone…as an explanation for their origin…is nonsensical.

Like the massive infusion of creative information that entered into the natural world to form the complex living creatures during the Cambrian Explosion of 530 million years ago…inexplicable as a materialistic or naturalistic event…the correct answer to the question of the origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith is that they are a divine creation of God.

The complex and functionally coherent information that enters into the human experience…suddenly and instantly in the form of a God-composed adventure of faith…starting with Abraham…is the action of an independent agent God…providing commonsense apologetic evidence for both His existence…and for the truth of the Bible.

Mechanical robots cannot fathom the concept of respect.  Neither can robots plumb the depths of giving someone the supportive benefit of the doubt of placing faith, trust, and dignity in another person…extending the gift of value, worth, and validation to that person.

Our analytical capacity for moral reasoning…wrapped within our physical living body having all of the marvelous abilities and talents we possess…may be the single-most, top-tier apologetic evidence for the existence of God…easily accessible to commonsense contemplation.