#STRask: June 15, 2017

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Published on 06/15/2017

In 4 min. or less, Greg answers questions on extra-biblical sources, creation, and theism.


  • The Old Testament and New Testament quote from extra-biblical sources. In these cases, is the quoted part also inspired in the extra-biblical source?
  • If God does not need us for love since He is in perfect relationship with Himself, then why even create humans in the first place?
  • Isn’t theism basically the equivalent of howling at the moon?


Melinda: Hello there, I’m Melinda the Enforcer. I’m with Stand to Reason, and this is the #STRask podcast, and I’m here with Greg Koukl, who was just asking the eternal, unponderable question.

Greg Koukl: What was that? “Eternal, unponderable-”

Melinda: Who puts knots in these cords?

Greg Koukl: Oh, that. Okay, yeah. We’ve got these headset cords and there are knots in them. I cannot figure out who put knots in them. The same thing happens in mini-blinds.

Melinda: When they’re not moved during the week. Right.

Greg Koukl: Mini-blinds. We have them at home and there’s knots in them. It must be a mini-blind knot demon that puts these...I mean, who knows. In any event, I fixed the knot in the cord and in the mini-blind, and now we’re ready to go.

Melinda: Okay. Thank goodness. You managed to do one episode-

Greg Koukl: We’ve solved this unponderable, eternal question.

Melinda: You did manage to stumble through one episode with a knot in your headphone.

Greg Koukl: That’s right.

Melinda: I think you could survive-

Greg Koukl: I hadn’t noticed it.

Melinda: But it is...

Greg Koukl: Then it bothered me.

Melinda: Yeah, you do wonder about things, how they happen like that when they never get moved. It’s like my Christmas lights. Every year I put them away very carefully in the box, set the box in the garage, doesn’t get touched, pull them out the next year and they’re all tangled up. How does that happen? Earthquakes or something? I don’t know.

Greg Koukl: It’s the Christmas tree light demon.

Melinda: Perhaps.

Greg Koukl: He’s a cousin to the mini-blind cord demon.

Melinda: It’s a whole category of demons.

Greg Koukl: It’s just a whole category of them.

Melinda: Okay, well let’s get going on the real questions here. Send us your questions on Twitter using the hashtag STRask. I pose them to Greg and he’s on a timer. He’s got four minutes or less to answer. Okay, first question comes from @IamJeanRivera. Pretty clear Twitter handle. “The Old Testament and New Testament quote from extra-biblical sources. In these cases, is the quoted part in the extra-biblical source also inspired in that source?”

Greg Koukl: The ambiguity for me is the phrase “in that source.”

Melinda: Is the extra-biblical source...

Greg Koukl: Itself.

Melinda: At least that part that got quoted in the Bible, is that inspired in the extra-biblical source, too?

Greg Koukl: No, I wouldn’t say that. I don’t think you have secular sources that have little bits and pieces of divinely inspired scripture in them. I think what happens is when they get placed into the divinely inspired scripture, then it is divinely inspired. Just like I might lift a piece out of some other person’s writing to make a particular point in a piece I’m writing. That becomes my use of it with my authentication or verification on that when I use it in my own piece. It has a certain affirmation by me in my own piece that the piece, the citation, did not have as it existed in its original piece. There are things that, let’s just...

For example, Luke said that he constructs the account of the life of Jesus there by researching everything carefully. This means that he interviewed some people and probably the interviews are the source of some of the specific information. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are direct quotes that people gave him that he made note of and included those things in the narrative. Well, I don’t for a minute think that when the person made the citation or the quotation or said, “Here’s what happened,” that as they’re speaking this, this is the divine word of God. It only becomes so having that authority when Luke, the divinely inspired author, takes that and places that within the corpus of scripture, the Gospel of Luke, in this particular case. It becomes God’s word when God uses it for his purposes even though the words themselves originally had a different source. Maybe that’s the best way of putting it. I like that.

Melinda: Good. Glad you do. Hopefully Jean Rivera does.

Greg Koukl: Yes.

Melinda: Next question comes from @Alicezden. “If God does not need us for love since He is in a perfect relationship with Himself, then why even create humans in the first place?” A lot of times people say God was lonely so He created us to have somebody to love.

Greg Koukl: Yeah...

Melinda: There’s three persons in the Trinity. They weren’t lonely.

Greg Koukl: Well, I talk about this in “The Story of Reality”, and yes, it’s clear. God did not need us. He’s not contingent. He doesn’t need anything. He’s fully satisfied in Himself. Where it comes to the issue of love, without the Trinity, He would not be a loving God by nature. He would have to create in order to show love. Okay? The fact that there is a Trinity is an explanation for us, or a grounding, of how God could be loving by nature in Himself. Okay?

Then why did he create? I think a simple way of looking at it is that God created out of the abundance of His love. That is, He wanted to share. He didn’t need to share, but He wanted to share the abundance of His love outside the bounds of the Trinity, of the three persons loving each other from eternity past. There’s an overflow, so to speak, that God can share with others. From the abundance of His goodness, He desired to share happiness, is the way I put it in “The Story of Reality” - His kind of happiness, which is grounded morally, happiness based in goodness. He wanted to share His kind of happiness with others. So, He made creatures that had the capability of experiencing that kind of happiness because they have the capability of experiencing the kind of goodness that makes God happy. God is perfectly happy because He’s perfectly good, so I think the two are tied together.

This has ramifications for other questions, free will and the problem of evil, et cetera. But I think this is a simple way of putting it. God doesn’t create out of need. He creates out of desire to share the super-abundance of His love. According to the kind intention of His will, is the way Paul writes in Ephesians Chapter 1.

Melinda: Next question comes from a critic on Twitter. “Isn’t theism basically the equivalent of howling at the moon?”

Greg Koukl: Well, the question I would have is, exactly in what way do you think it is the equivalent of howling at the moon? Theism is a conviction that there is one God. Howling at the moon is a...I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s something dogs do. I guess it’s an emotional reaction to something. I mean, why do dogs howl at moon? Maybe because they just feel a certain way and they make noise because of that feeling. Is a belief in God the same as having a feeling that causes you to make noise? I mean, I’m just trying to clarify as best I can what this person might be getting at and trying to read it most charitably.

Melinda: I was going to say, in a lot of cases with critics on Twitter, it’s not worth trying to spend too much time because they’re just basically ridiculing Christianity. I don’t...there’s a literal...

Greg Koukl: Yeah, that sounds like a ridicule so I’m just going to...

Melinda: “Theism is just kind of pointless. It’s superstition. It’s just wishful thinking. It’s’s not true.”

Greg Koukl: Well, howling at the moon’s not superstition, it might be pointless in a certain sense, but the question is whether there’s good reason to take theism seriously as an idea.

Melinda: That’s the real question.

Greg Koukl: There are good reasons to take theism seriously. Now, what’s curious about this kind of response is it’s just, like you said, it is just a kind of crude dismissal instead of trying to address the ideas themselves. Like why is something here rather than nothing, okay? If the universe isn’t eternal, it came into being at some point in the past. What was the cause of that event? You might want to say, well, there is no cause to it, but of course that’s a rather bizarre claim. That something like the universe could be an uncaused event when in our experience no events are uncaused. Our belief that there was Himself an uncaused cause seems to fit reason, not be against it, so I don’t know how that’s like howling at the moon. Or design or a whole host of things, morality, these are all ways of arguing for the existence of God. Now, somebody might think those arguments aren’t adequate. Well, they’re free, then, to show their inadequacies, but saying, “Isn’t it just like howling at the moon?” doesn’t show any inadequacy except in the imagination of the questioner.

Melinda: Okay. Thank you very much. That’s a short episode. Sorry. You did even less than four minutes each.

Greg Koukl: I did, each one.

Melinda: Good for you.

Greg Koukl: Less than three minutes.

Melinda: You don’t get to save the time up for the future.

Greg Koukl: I can’t, huh?

Melinda: Tell them about your conference in Kentucky on Saturday, the 17th, which is coming up in a couple days.

Greg Koukl: Yeah, I’ll be doing an apologetics conference pretty much all day with Sean McDowell, love working with Sean, he’s a great guy. We’ve known each other for many years. He’s a fabulous speaker and he is a great follower of Christ and a very gracious individual. There’s a lot that we all can learn from him. I’ll sit through his sessions and take notes because I learn from him as well. I’ll be talking about being an ambassador for Christ in general, and then I’ll be doing a session on the Colombo Tactic in particular later in the afternoon towards the end of the conference, I think. We’ll also have a Q&A sessions that will help the people. I’m looking forward to seeing folks in Louisville, right?

Melinda: Right. They can learn about the details of the conference by going to I’m Melinda the Enforcer with Greg Koukl for Stand to Reason.