Many of us have moments in our life when God’s presence and providence seem obvious, but there are also many times when God seems far away and “hidden”. In fact, the “hiddenness” of God is a common objection to His existence. As a skeptic, I often wondered why God didn’t make Himself known in a visible, tangible way. Why doesn’t God appear to us in a public setting to end all doubt about His existence? I’ve written about this objection, and I believe the answer lies in God’s desire to provoke us; His desire to elicit a true, loving response from His children. This goal of producing something beautiful (a genuine, well-intentioned, loving response), requires Him to hide from us.
Let me try to offer an analogy. Most of us, would be offended if someone described us with the colloquial term: “gold digger.” This expression is typically used to describe “women (predominantly young and attractive), meeting wealthy men in hope to get monetary gains and increase their social status.” When someone uses this term, it is nearly always as a pejorative; it’s not good to be a “gold digger”. Why is this the case? Because “gold diggers” are in relationships for the wrong reasons. Rather than truly loving the men whom they’ve married, they love the wealth, power and position these men can offer. If I were a wealthy, powerful, or famous man, I would be very careful when selecting a mate. I would hate to find myself asking questions like, “Would she want me if I was just another ‘average’ guy? Would she still love me as a person if I hadn’t overwhelmed her with my money and fame?” I bet powerful men occasionally wonder about such things.
God knows all of us can be similarly misguided in our affections, even when it comes to our love of Him. He also understands the degree to which He is “powerful, wealthy and famous,” and He doesn’t want us to be in a relationship with Him for the wrong reason. The Bible provides several examples of men and women who have been in the presence of God, only to realize His true power, majesty and glory. In fact, in every case, those who were exposed to God, even for only a moment, were overwhelmed:
Jacob was also so stunned by his meeting with God that he was surprised he survived at all (Genesis 32:30)
Moses was so physically altered after meeting with God that the people were “afraid to come near him” (Exodus 34:29-30)
Samson’s parents were so terrified after meeting with God that they thought they would “surely die” (Judges 13:22)
Isaiah was so overcome by his meeting with God that he exclaimed, “Woe is me!” (Isaiah 6:5)
In each of these cases, the men and women who entered God’s presence were immediately aware of their status before Him. They were overwhelmed with awe and holy fear, exposed to the power and majesty of God Himself. They were immediately humbled and reverent. Who, when exposed to the direct presence of God, could react any differently?
If you’re a wealthy, famous or powerful man and you want to be sure your prospective bride isn’t simply enamored with your power and fame, you should probably approach her in some form of “disguise.” You might want to hide your fame and money long enough to court her without overwhelming her. If this kind of simple courtship results in a love affair, you’ll have more confidence your beloved genuinely loves you. Then, once she becomes your bride, you can safely reveal your identity, power, and position.
God could certainly overwhelm each of us with His power and fame. He could appear to us in the kind of tangible ways skeptics often request. But if God wants His children to love Him without being overwhelmed in this way, He would have to approach us in some form of “disguise.” He would have to hide his power and glory for a time. Christianity affirms this kind of effort, as Jesus Himself came to us in the form of lowly man, voluntarily accepting the limits of a human being and hiding the full capacity of his glory and power. Jesus continues to modestly court His bride, and as a result, those of us who love Him, do so genuinely. Someday God will expose us directly to His power and glory, confident that His bride, the Church, truly loves Him. God’s present hiddenness provokes us to a genuine form of love, and that has likely been His goal all along.
Happy New Year (a bit early) and thanks again for a GREAT 2016! We are slowly growing the number of unique visitors to the ColdCaseChristianity.com website, and we met our goal of over one million unique visitors in 2016. Thanks for making us a regular part of your Internet experience. We posted over 200 new articles, videos or podcasts on the website. I pray all these efforts have helped you become a better Christian Case Maker. I’d love to see you in person in 2017; we’ve created a new calendar on our homepage to make it easier to find an event in your area. Last year I had the privilege of speaking to over 50,000 people. I hope to meet you in 2017.I’d also like to thank the NRB Network for the continuing opportunity to host a weekly television show. Many of you have written to me to say you’ve learned a lot from our weekly 30-minute broadcast. Here, then, is our final top ten list for 2016, the Top 10 Cold-Case Christianity Broadcasts:
The 10th Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
The Problem of Evil: The Role of Eternity and Free Will (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast #57)
J. Warner Wallace examines the classic problem of evil and offers a cumulative case response. In this first of several related broadcasts, J. Warner examines the role eternity and free agency play in helping understand why an all-powerful, all-loving God would allow evil to exist in the universe. For more information about the cumulative case for the existence of God and the problem of evil, see J. Warner’s latest book, God’s Crime Scene.
The 9th Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
Rapid Responses to Difficult Questions - Part 1 (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #76)
J. Warner Wallace provides a short, conversational response to two questions (or objections) related to Christianity. J. Warner responds to the question, “Who created God?” and the claim, “I can’t believe in God because I have too many unanswered questions.”
The 8th Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
Audience Question and Answer Session - Part 2 (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #75)
J. Warner Wallace takes questions from an audience at a Fearless Faith seminar (he is accompanied by Frank Turek and Mike Adams). Together they answer: Can a Christian lose their salvation? How do we respond to people who believe in conspiracy theories as they apply to the Church? Can evolution explain objective morality? How do you start a conversation about the Gospel with your atheist friend? What can Christian students do when they are mistreated by biased professors? Does God control the future or do we have the freedom to change it?
The 7th Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
Why Would A Good God Allow Evil? - Part 2 (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #73)
J. Warner Wallace completes his talk on the problem of evil. Are there good reasons why an all-powerful, all-loving God would allow his creation to suffer, or does evil demonstrate that God doesn’t exist?
The 6th Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
Audience Question and Answer Session - Part 1 (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #74)
J. Warner Wallace takes questions from an audience at a Fearless Faith seminar (he is accompanied by Frank Turek and Mike Adams). Together they answer: How do you deal with people who don’t want to hear about God? How do we interact with people in our current culture? If God created the universe, who created God? You say there are only three reasons behind any sin, but aren’t there more? How do we know that we can rely on the documents we cite to demonstrate the reliability of the Bible? How do you know when you’re wasting your time sharing the gospel with someone (i.e. you’re “casting your pearls before swine”)? My professor said that people in this area only believe in Christianity because they were raised that way; how am I supposed to respond to that?
The 5th Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions? (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast #56)
J. Warner Wallace examines the way in which Jesus is described by the world’s other religious systems. What role does Jesus play in these belief systems and how is He characterized? If Jesus is venerated or described accurately by these world religions, shouldn’t seekers examine Christianity as their primary focus?
The 4th Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
Interview with Lee Strobel - Part 1 (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #70)
J. Warner Wallace is interviewed by Lee Strobel and describes the investigative template he used to investigate the reliability of the New Testament Gospels. Can we have confidence the Gospels are telling us the truth about Jesus? How can we be sure?
The 3rd Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
Why Would A Good God Allow Evil? - Part 1 (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #72)
J. Warner Wallace begins to tackle the problem of evil. Why would an all-powerful, all-loving God allow evil t occur in His creation? Does the existence of evil eliminate God as a reasonable explanation for other evidence in the universe?
The 2nd Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
A Key Reason Skeptics Reject the Resurrection (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #61)
J. Warner Wallace examines the case for the Resurrection of Jesus using “abductive reasoning" to determine the most reasonable explanation for the first century evidence described in the New Testament. Is the Resurrection reasonable, and if so, what keeps everyone from accepting the claims of the Biblical authors? J. Warner offers a key reason skeptics reject the Resurrection of Jesus.
The Most Popular Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast of 2016:
Is There Any Evidence for Jesus Outside the Bible? (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast #55)
J. Warner Wallace describes the ancient non-Christian evidence for the life of Jesus. What would we know about Jesus if we lost every possible Christian document (including the New Testament and writings of the Church Fathers)? What would the earliest unfriendly Greek, Roman, Syrian and Jewish historical documents tell us about Jesus?
There you have it: the 10 most popular broadcasts of 2016. If you’ve missed some of the content here at ColdCaseChristianity.com, now is the time to catch up. Enjoy!
It’s that time of year again: the time for “Top Ten” lists of one kind or another. In my last post I listed the top ten Cold-Case Christianity articles of 2016. This time around I’m offering the ten most popular videos hosted here on our website (and on our YouTube page where you can join 3,822 weekly subscribers who have viewed our videos 350,310 times). I’ve listed the videos in reverse order (for dramatic effect):
Cold-Case Christianity Video #10:
Why Christians Need to Understand the Nature of Circumstantial Evidence
How are these two forms of evidence used in criminal trials, and what can we learn from their use to help us make the case for Christianity?
Cold-Case Christianity Video #9:
How Eternity Changes the Problem of Evil
Evil is always measured and evaluated in the context of one’s life and experience, but what if our understanding and definition of life is inaccurate?
Cold-Case Christianity Video #8:
Can We Examine the Universe Like A Crime Scene?
Can all the evidence in the universe be explained from causes "inside" the universe? If not, what does this tell us about the nature of the "external" cause?
Cold-Case Christianity Video #7:
Why We Know the Story of Jesus Isn't A Legend
How can we be sure that the story of Jesus wasn’t changed over time?
Cold-Case Christianity Video #6:
Why Christian Parents Need to Send Their Students to Summit Worldview Conference
Now, more than ever, young Christians need to attend Summit Worldview Conference in Manitou Springs Colorado.
Cold-Case Christianity Video #5:
Did Jesus Really Die on the Cross?
Did Jesus really die, or was he just unconscious? Did he resurrect or was he simply resuscitated?
Cold-Case Christianity Video #4:
Why It's Important for Every Christian to Be A Christian Case Maker
All of us need to be better Christian Case Makers, especially if we have kids.
Cold-Case Christianity Video #3:
How Free Agency Helps Answer the Problem of Evil
If God is loving, wouldn’t He create a world in which love is possible? And wouldn’t such a world require free agency?
Cold-Case Christianity Video #2:
How the Definition of Love Helps Answer the Problem of Evil
If God is loving, why would He allow bad things to happen to the people He loves? Does the definition of love help answer this question?
Cold-Case Christianity Video #1:
How Do You Determine If Someone Is Willing to Hear About Jesus?
What do we do when someone appears to be antagonistic to the message of the Gospel?
There you have it! On Friday I’ll post the top ten Cold-Case Christianity Podcast/Broadcasts for 2016. Enjoy these ten videos in the meantime…
Thanks to all of you for another great year at ColdCaseChristianity.com. Our readership continues to grow as we have increased our unique monthly visitors by over 30% since January. This year I also spoke at over 50 events nationally (giving well over 200 talks), we increased our viewership on NRBtv with 40 new episodes, and conducted nearly 50 radio and television interviews. In addition to this, I had a modest role in God’s Not Dead 2, and Susie and I finished Cold-Case Christianity for Kids (and the accompanying Academy). In 2017, we’ll publish the final book in our Christian Case Making trilogy (Forensic Faith), and God’s Crime Scene for Kids will publish in October. I’ll also be working on a project with Sean McDowell and expect to speak at another 50-60 events. I’m already exhausted and we’re still a week away form 2017! So, in the interim, here are the 10 most popular articles from 2016:
The 10th Most Popular Article of 2016:
Can We Trust the Gospels, Even If They Were Transmitted Orally?
How early were the Gospels written, and how was the material transmitted prior to being documented by the gospel eyewitnesses?
The 9th Most Popular Article of 2016:
Jesus Is A Myth, Just Like President Kennedy
If we’re prepared to say Jesus is a myth just because he shares a few characteristics, we better be ready to say president John F. Kennedy was also a myth.
The 8th Most Popular Article of 2016:
Investigating Bart Ehrman’s Top Ten Troublesome Bible Verses
A look at Bart Ehrman’s list of troublesome verses in an effort to examine how they impact the reliability of the New Testament text.
The 7th Most Popular Article of 2016:
The Case for Christianity According to a 7th Grader
Special guest post by Annie Olson, a 7th grader who wrote this as her final paper in a rhetoric class.
The 6th Most Popular Article of 2016:
The Apostles Wrote the Gospels as Eyewitness Accounts
A straightforward reading of the Book of Acts reveals the apostles saw themselves as eyewitnesses.
The 5th Most Popular Article of 2016:
The Verse the Culture Misquotes Most Regularly in an Effort to Quiet Christians
Does Jesus' command in Matthew 7:1 prevent Christians from judging others? What did Jesus mean when he said, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged"?
The 4th Most Popular Article of 2016:
Six Ways Christians Can Respond to the Growing Police Dilemma
In this article, I’d like to outline six things each of us, as citizens and Christians, can do to respond to the growing dilemma.
The 3rd Most Popular Article of 2016:
Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America
You might be surprised how often professors are prone to saying something self-refuting.
The 2nd Most Popular Article of 2016:
UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?
Some deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma.
The Most Popular Article of 2016:
Six Things That May Change the Way You Think About Police Officers
Here are six important things everyone should keep in mind (and prayer) when assessing the actions of police officers in our country.
There you have it: the 10 most popular articles written in 2016. This week as we reflect on the past year, we’ll be posting the most popular articles, videos and podcasts. If you’ve missed some of the content here at ColdCaseChristianity.com, now is the time to catch up. Enjoy!