A couple of years ago, I had the joy of reading the book God and the
Astronomers by Doctor Robert Jastrow. The book is a fantastic exploration of astronomy, and how it forces us to look away from ourselves and find something bigger; but, he isn’t just speaking about the stars. Doctor Jastrow means something bigger than that. Much bigger. Though he is himself an agnostic, he is referring to God. In a moment of candid transparency, Jastrow remarked,
At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. (see note 1).
In this brief remark, Doctor Jastrow has hit upon something that has echoed in the depths of the human heart since our very inception: we are created for more. There is more to the world than meets the eye, so to speak. Mysteries of human purpose will always remain elusive to the naturalist. That is where theology steps in. Good theology pulls back the veil over “what is,” and connects us to the “what should be.” That is to say, good theology exposes the heart and mind to their greatest longing: transcendence. But the key word to bear in mind here is the word “good.” Not all theology is good. Not every idea man has conceived of God is correct, nor is every doctrine true to life experience. The mind naturally requires reason and evidence if it is to allow the heart to make informed choices. So when I say good theology, I mean theology that is Biblical, robust, and reasonable. True to life, and cutting to the soul.
If you have been kind enough to read this far, you may be wondering what this has to do with apologetics, or mission, or outreach at all. The fact is: it matters a great deal. It has been my experience that there are two types, two brands, of unbeliever. The one rejects religion, Christianity in particular, because of some pain he has felt. His emotional wounds, or the wounds and pains of this evil world have caused him to question the legitimacy of believing in a God who claims to love us. The other rejects Christianity for a different reason. He has studied the issues and has chosen to reject the faith on the grounds that one particular doctrine or another is illogical. Seeing the perceived contradiction of faith, he has embraced atheism. Notice that I said, “perceived contradiction.” Most people who reject the incarnation, or the virgin birth, or whatever doctrine, do not do so because they understand the subtle but important nuances of Orthodox teaching on them very well. Usually, they fail to understand the doctrine in an Orthodox manner. They grasp part of it, but not all of it, and so fall to the same error as many heretics from centuries past. People reject what they do not understand. Period.
That is why I am writing this article (and many to come). The church needs to wake up the need of the culture we live in. People are hungry for truth. But these same people have failed to understand the logical nature of the faith. They wait in darkness for someone to show them the light. We need to engage the unbeliever with truth: evidential and coherent truth. I believe that happens on two fronts. First, robust demonstrations of the evidences of Christian faith. How do we know God exists? What evidence exists for the resurrection? Second, by engaging a horribly confused culture with clear, logical, and relevant demonstrations of Biblical orthodoxy. If they reject a doctrine they do not understand, then what they need is an explanation, not someone to slip them an invitation to church and pray that works. So I hope and pray that you join me. Join me in developing clear convictions regarding truth. Dig into deep arenas of Christian doctrine. Find out what you believe and why. Both the What and the Why matter if we are going to impact a world for Christ. Walk with me as we explore historic doctrines and how to defend them. And, as always, may God guide you into all truth.
1. Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 2nd ed. (n.p.: W.W Norton and Company, n.d.), 107.