The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
These days I occasionally visit christianpost.com to read about current events and opinions on their blogs. As the name implies this is a news site from a conservative, Christian and Biblical foundation discussing politics, economics, the arts and technology, cultural and family issues. It allows comments to be posted on pretty much every article and blog, which can showcase quite lively discussions.
There is something that has intrigued me though as I read, and have myself indulged in these posts. The hot-button topics like homosexuality and things of the Scripture seem to generate the most lively and lengthy debates. But it surprised me that on a publication called The Christian Post, which is obviously open in its Christian orientation, that quite a few critics of the faith participate at length in these discussions. I wouldn’t discourage such participation and I think it is profitable that anyone can feel comfortable enough to come to such a publication to read and write. Its just that it seems so futile to read articles concerning some states passing laws legalizing same-sex-marriage and arguing vociferously with the Christians who hold the position that homosexuality is wrong. I can understand the desire to post one’s views, but the discussion becomes labored and heated and is never resolved. As one contributor questioned, why are you even on this site since you know it’s Christian orientation?
One article concerned the topic of the literal historicity of Adam and Eve and there were the usual opinions on all sides of the debate. But one critic really needed an answer to the obvious question concerning God condoning incest if Adam and Eve were really the only two parents in the beginning. I finally took up the pen to reply, because first, it was a legitimate question, and second, ignoring legitimate questions is never a valid method to win an argument. But I prefaced my answer in saying that he was not going to like my reply, that I was seemingly offering an artful dodge to the whole issue. And it is true, there are answers for many of the arguments thrown against Christians and the Bible. It is just that these answers will not satisfy the opposition. The answers will just not make sense. And sometimes we just have to honestly admit there are no answers to some questions. At least not on this side of the veil.
Probably the greatest debater spiritual things was the Apostle Paul. Never known to shrink from a good argument, Paul had the training and intellect to face the wisest of philosophers. The most striking example is his discussion with the men on Mars Hill, the cradle of the wise in Corinth, Greece. As Luke writes in Acts these people loved nothing more than to gather and discuss any new idea. And Christianity sure filled that bill. But Paul wasn’t a neophyte when he talked with them. When Paul debated with people in the towns on his constant journeys he knew that he could make his presentation to those who had the most obvious need and willingness to hear. He could accept any legitimate questions and could answer in the wisdom given to him. But he wouldn’t argue merely for the sake of arguing. He knew when to stop. He knew how to pause and let those who had legitimate interests and questions come back for an additional round of discussions. He knew that it was not only futile to argue with someone who couldn’t grasp the concepts proposed, but that it was counterproductive and destructive to browbeat an audience into submission, and that could cause some who might otherwise reflect more instead reject completely.
When one is filled with the Spirit it is truly a delight to be able to open up and share what God has done for you and for all the world. There is no better feeling of satisfaction. But to devolve into verbal jousting can be a painful experience. I recall an experience I had in the back of a college classroom at Eastern Michigan University discussing some Biblical matter with a few non-believers. I grew a bit more heated and enthusiastic than was necessary and didn’t see that the next class was starting to fill up. Soon I realized the conversation was not appearing to look like one that I could be proud of and ended the discussion. I was not going to convince them and they were not going to convince me.
And frankly, there are many times no matter what you say you will not seem to make any sense to the opposition. And the honest answers will not at all be understood. To be understood, one must have ears to hear. And without the ears to hear no amount of wisdom is going to help comprehension. And frankly, Christianity is just nonsense to the unbeliever. That’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing . . .” We will appear as idiots, and so they will call us. I understand this perfectly because I was in this position at one time. Before that pivotal event in 1976 I could not begin to comprehend what Christ rising from the dead really meant. Because one must have eyes to see. And that is a gift from God. Like Paul in Damascus, “there fell from his eyes something like scales” ( Acts 9:18), and he saw, he finally understood who Jesus really was. No wonder he was so driven from that moment on to tell as many as he could that Jesus is alive, He is real, and He wants to enter a personal relation ship with mankind.
But we have to accept that there will be things we can’t answer because we don’t have all the information and it is not productive to appear like we know everything. How did Johah survive being swallowed by the fish? How could Adam and Eve be the sole parents of all humanity? How did God bury Moses when he died on Mount Nebo? There are so many questions. We just don’t have the complete picture. There are some things God has kept secret. But He has revealed enough to us to be able to satisfy all our requirements. And He has given us the gifts of intellect to evaluate our environment to see how many things work. But concerning the secret things, we just have to realize we can’t know everything God knows. Our heads would explode!
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]