By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
Imagine God revealed that everybody knows that He exists and is without excuse for believing in him. If God himself told you this, would you believe it? Any professing Christian would not hesitate to believe this if God Himself revealed it to them, right? Of course, if God knows all things then He would be in a position to know that all men have a knowledge of Him as God. Now suppose God revealed to you that all men know him and are without excuse, but your atheist neighbor swears by his mother that he does not know that God exists: Who would you then believe, God or your atheist neighbor who swears by his mother that he hasn’t a clue as to whether God exists or not? If you think this is a silly scenario, then I would submit that you have not read your Bible clearly enough.
The Bible comes to us as God’s Word, and as such is equivalent to God clearly revealing Himself to us. As the Bible states, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God has spoken in the 66 books of the Bible. Furthermore, God has told us that all men know Him and are without excuse. Consider the following passage, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they KNEW GOD, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21).
If it is the case that God has revealed to us that “All men know him and are without excuse”, then why do we believe the unbeliever over God, when he says, “I don’t see evidence for your God?” If it is the case that “all men know God, but they suppress the truth about Him in their unrighteousness”, is such a person truly in need of evidence? What evidence could we give to such a person of the God who declares that he already has sufficient evidence? What evidence could we give of the God who says that “all men already know Him?” It would seem that the issue with the unbeliever is not that he needs evidence of a God he does not know exists. Rather, it needs to be exposed that the unbeliever knows the very God that he denies with his mouth. Evidence, therefore, does not play the role of adding a few more marbles of knowledge so as to conclude that God exists, but rather, they act as tools to uncover the suppressed knowledge of the God they know exists, but is sinfully suppressing.
As defenders of the Christian faith, we are presented with a dilemma: Believe what God says about the unbeliever or believe what the unbeliever says about himself. As people committed to the Word of God and its truth, we do not want to engage in apologetics in a way that is inconsistent with what the Bible says about the apologetic situation and about what the unbeliever already knows with regards to God and what He has made known to all men such that they are without excuse. The truth is, we are defending a God who has declared that “all men knows” He exists. Our job as the apologist is to expose this fact by demonstrating that the unbeliever is necessarily relying upon notions that only make sense if the Bible were true. We in essence want to show that the profession of the mouth of the unbeliever is inconsistent with what he believes in his heart. His actions are inconsistent with his practice.
This can be demonstrated in any number of ways throughout the course of the apologetic encounter. For instance, when speaking with an atheist, we should ask that given a completely random world of chance without goal or purpose, why do they appeal to laws of regularity? Can an atheist understanding of “laws” even make sense? If the world is random, chance, and purposeless, how can one appeal to universal laws of thought, absolute moral truths, and principles of science? Often times when pressed, the unbeliever will respond thusly, “Laws are not universal, they are mere descriptions of the regularities of what we observe and have tested with science.” O.k. let us take the laws of logic. Are the laws of logic (which govern proper thinking), are these laws mere descriptions? If they are merely descriptions of how people think, are these laws universal in their truth and application? If not, what prevents me from inventing my own laws of logic which contradict yours? If they are universally true and applicable, then how does one get universal conceptual laws in a world where atheism is true? Atheists as well as all unbelievers will argue against the God they know exists, and they demonstrate this fact by borrowing the tools that can only be accounted for by the very God they are rejecting.
All of this to say, apologetics at the end of the day boils down to reading your Bible and believing what God says about the apologetic situation and exposing the knowledge of God that all men already have but are suppressing. Of course, more can be hashed out with regards to what has been said thus far, but it is clear that as a provocative yet biblically true statement, this will definitely make your apologetic encounter quite interesting if we begin with: “God exists, and you know it!” The rest of the work is exposing the borrowed capital of the unbeliever demonstrating that without the God he knows exists, one could make sense out of anything at all.