As crazy as it may sound, all that comes next began with a salamander.
A friend of mine posted a verse of scripture on Facebook exalting God in some scriptural way that I can’t even remember. An atheist I didn’t not know responded to the post with a question to the effect of, if God could regenerate the tail of a salamander, why would he not want to regenerate a human’s limb? I didn’t respond immediately but God would not let this bazaar comment escape my memory. It ate at me every time I went on Facebook. I came back to it a week or so later and posted the I Am Second website testimony of Bethany Hamilton , the surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack. That was that. After all, she would have a great testimony of how to live without a limb and her story of how she relied on God’s help is inspirational to everyone, or so I thought. So much so, they made a movie out of it. She has a first-hand account of experiencing God, which readers of this will learn is what atheists require when debating God. Oh, how I misjudged hard-core atheism! That’s one of our first mistakes as Christians.
The atheist responded again on Facebook with another attack on God. I didn’t want to highjack the original post so, from there, a lengthy dialog ensued by Facebook messaging over the course of about four months. It was my first direct encounter with a person who hates God. I encounter people all the time who are indifferent towards God and some who believe that there are other ways to Heaven other than exclusively through Yahweh. Sure, I knew atheists existed but I had never really ran into someone who actually believes there is no God and has no problem blaspheming the almighty. It was a rude (pun intended) awakening but one Christians should try and understand.
For our purposes, we’ll just refer to this atheist as Mark, even though I’m sure he would not mind me directly attributing him. You see, he’s very proud to be an atheist. Through excerpts from the Facebook conversation, it will be clearly evident that Mark wears his atheism on his sleeve. He is not passive about his disbeliefs in the Bible. “I have read your one book a couple of times. I am not impressed,” he wrote. He shares his atheism with the same passion Christians should witness their faith. He goes out of his way to proclaim his atheism. He goes out of his way to make a villain of God. What he writes is detestable to Christians and it will sting. I found it detestable and it stung me. What resulted, though, from the Facebook conversation was an in-depth look at how scripture stands up to intense scrutiny.
Mark led me through portions of the Bible that most Christians avoid like Satan, himself, is going to jump out and attack if we try and study it intensely. He got me out of my holy huddle and made me face the Bible. Despite all of its passages of love, hope and joy, it isn’t an easy book to read from beginning to end. He made me look God in the eyes and ask him hard questions about harsh scripture. While what follows is ultimately a defense of God, it will not overly debate the validity of the scripture Mark refutes. It will be obvious that the scripture in these examples stands on its own without interpretation. God delivered surprisingly easy answers to Mark’s hard questions to hard scripture.
More to come…