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Verses Commonly Misunderstood, Mischaracterized, or Maligned It doesn’t happen often, but this time I was caught completely flatfooted, struck dumb by a challenge from a young Christian woman in Cairo.
In Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, four children, poking about in the back of an old wardrobe in the attic, stumble on another world filled with peculiar delights and strange enchantments. Did you ever tumble by accident into an ancient world? Something like that happened to me recently.
Lately I’ve been enjoying my nine-year-old Annabeth’s theological common sense. “Papa, why don’t atheists believe in God?” she asked. “Well, for a number of reasons,” I said. “Partly because they can’t see Him, so they don’t believe in Him.” “Can they see atoms?” she offered. “Good point. But I think they’d say that doesn’t count since they can still detect atoms with scientific instruments, something they can’t do with God. They won’t believe in anything they can’t measure scientifically.”
The billboards read: “No God? No Problem. Be Good for Goodness’ Sake,” and “Are You Good without God? Millions Are.” The point was clear: Morality in no way depends on belief in God. And why should it? Atheists can be good, too. New atheist Christopher Hitchens regularly challenged his religious opponents to suggest a single act of goodness they could perform that he, the atheist, could not accomplish with equal success.
The images are sadly familiar. Buildings ripped from their foundations. Corpses mingled with debris. Parents and friends grieving for lost loved ones. Flowers and candles and makeshift memorials. New Orleans, Newtown, New York, Littleton. In one sense tragedies like these will never be old news. And when new disasters inevitably arrive, the question on the lips of so many is an age old query: “Where was God?” One Wrong Answer
I never like the question, “Do you take the Bible literally?” It comes up with some frequency, and it deserves a response. But I think it’s an ambiguous—and, therefore, confusing—question, making it awkward to answer. Clearly, even those of us with a high view of Scripture don’t take everything literally. Jesus is the “door,” but He’s not made of wood. We are the “branches,” but we’re not sprouting leaves.
Three years ago I sat on a short bench in a small stone church on the outskirts of Oxford. In a tiny graveyard outside was a flat tombstone with the name “Clive Staples Lewis” etched into the granite. The pew my wife and I were sitting in was the same place C.S. Lewis occupied with his brother Warnie every Sunday morning for decades as they worshipped together at Trinity Church.
A Christian’s theology is minimally defined by two miraculous events. The first miracle no one ever saw, because it could not be seen except by God alone. The second miracle only a few saw, but multitudes have experienced. These miracles happened within days of each other in the middle of the Jewish month of Nissan, in the spring of 33 A.D. It was the week of Jesus’ passion. Best Christmas Verse You’ll Never Hear
Does the Bible teach that Christians are to listen for God's voice to guide their decisions? The keynote speaker’s list of spiritual qualifications was not lengthy. There were no references to his academic letters, theological acumen, skill at biblical living, or personal holiness. Instead, he was simply introduced as “a man who hears from God.” It was the ultimate sign of spiritual competency. The implication for the audience was clear. He listens to God; they should listen to him.
It seems like every time I turn around I hear of another prominent Christian thinker or theologian who has embraced Darwinism. It’s deeply disconcerting. In light of the stature of these Evangelical leaders, some people are going to ask, “What do they know that I don’t know? I thought this was a done deal. It’s either Darwin or God.”