Someone may think that he or she can reason without Divine revelation. In fact, such claims are the norm. No one seems to want to think that human beings are dependent on God. This is a topic of great importance. It should be approached without emotion and with the covering of the Holy Spirit.
Not only Atheists, but Christians sometimes think that they can reason without Divine revelation. One such Christian tried to give the scripture by which he thinks that God gave is the ability to discern truth: “Sure, when the Bible tells us to give a defense, test prophecies, and, perhaps, follow the lead of Paul who debated with Greek thinkers on their turf in their terms.”
There’s no evidence of an absence of God’s leading in giving a defense, especially looking at the original language meaning of defense and the context of the verse. In fact, it seems as if we are to speak Christ Himself, the One Who lives within us. There’s no leaning on our own understanding when testing prophecies. There’s no implication that this is done with the fallen natural mind and the assumptions that it dreams up. There’s nothing that says that Paul wasn’t led by the Spirit and speaking by the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.
This particular conversation was centered on speculative theology. The main reason that any Christian would lean on his or her own understanding is defense of doctrines that are contrary to what God is saying. They find it beneficial to add to what God is saying or diminish what God is saying. So, they add assumptions and stories. They reason using speculation and conjecture. They divide brother against brother and sister against sister.
If you think that you can riddle out understanding with the human mind, can you give the Scripture by which you think that God gave us the ability to discern truth without receiving discernment from Him?
One of the most common debate tactics from both sides of the Creation-evolution debate is the fallacy of the ad ignorantiam question. For an Atheist who is depending on his or her own mind and knowledge of everything, the inability to answer a question is answered by, “science will find a way one day.” The inability to answer doesn’t disprove “evolutionism” or “no-Godism.” However, the inability to answer does mean that the Atheist ought to be a bit less dogmatic and open-minded to God. The Atheist who isn’t ready to come to Christ already knows that God exists and has made great effort to create a worldview the filters out God’s Voice because of the love for darkness rather than light.
For the person following Christ, it’s another matter. A person following Christ can say, “I don’t know.” The person following Christ hasn’t rationalized a reason to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. The Holy Spirit has revealed that the books of the Bible were selected by God the Holy Spirit moving through God’s people long ago. The Holy Spirit has been speaking to the Christ-follower through those Scriptures, and the Christ-follower isn’t reading dead letter. The Christ-follower is having an intimate, moment-by-moment experience with Christ.
I’ll add that the Christ-follower’s experience with Christ can’t be used to arm-wrestle the Atheist into submission, of course. However, apologetics is actually the flow of Jesus Christ through the follower of Christ to the unbeliever—or to the believer. When the follower of Christ is living and speaking, the testimony of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of prophecy. The unbeliever can receive this Spirit or not. If the Holy Spirit is rejected, Jesus Christ and the Father are being rejected. This is not a rejection of the Christ-follower.
Yet, all of this can be tested by the unbeliever if the unbeliever doesn’t refuse to look at the evidence. Whoever seeks Christ finds Christ. The believer can instruct the unbeliever in how to come to Christ. If the person is truly open-minded, that person will easily find Christ, and then they will know.
Faith is largely misunderstood. It’s thought to be a concept rather than reality. In fact, many Christians spend more time in make-believe faith than in real faith. Real faith is always initiated by God. The Holy Spirit reveals and teaches. If we are listening, God imparts His faith. God imparts His Divine certainty. This Divine certainty is absolute proof of the thing that God said.
Given the problem of the Münchausen trilemma, faith is the only way that anything can be known. Without faith, everything is opinion. If everything is opinion, then whoever has power is able to force others to bow to their opinions. Might makes right. This is why Secularists want control of educating other people’s children. They want to use power to enforce their opinions.
There are different kinds of belief.
People can make themselves believe in things. We call that make-believe. Some people use words like presupposition or assumption to describe this kind of belief. All logic must be based on some form of belief, either make-believe or real. For example, a person can make themselves believe in atheism, evolutionism, naturalism, materialism, or uniformitarianism–this is make-believe.
There is one type of belief that is different from the rest in that it is not human-generated but God-generated. This is the faith of God, and it only comes by hearing the utterance of God. No person can sincerely say that Jesus is Lord except by the faith of God, which is given by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told Pilate that everyone who is on the side of truth hears Him. Another time, He said that His sheep hear His voice. For a true Christ-follower, hearing Christ’s voice is a continuous stream of revelation of reality, that is, truth, and it leads to more developed spiritual senses and better discernment over time. Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart as they did when God brought His judgment on Israel.
There are indeed many gods, but only one true God. There are people who worship demons (earth spirits, Hindu gods, etc.). Humanists worship humanity. Some people only answer to themselves so they become their own gods. Others follow such gods as pleasure, possessions, education, or power. Some Christians, even very religious ones, actually become disconnected from Jesus by failing to listen to His voice and obey Him. The true God is exclusive. Whoever seeks Jesus does find Him, and Jesus approaches every person. Some harden their hearts against Him and refuse to hear His voice. They argue against Him and try every mental maneuver to avoid Him. With these, God turns them over to their own natural mind, which is reprobate, deceitful, and desperately wicked.
Secularists often attack Christians who believe what God is saying about Creation as He speaks through Scripture. The flimflam is that Secularists imply that the issue is the Bible versus observation and reason. This is a total lie. The difference has to do with how reason is used to interpret observation. We all have the same observations. We interpret observations differently because we reason differently. Secularists must, by definition, reason without Divine revelation. That leaves only two foundations for their thoughts: (1) bare assertions, and (2) smokescreens to hide bare assertions. Everyone who is following Christ is being led and taught by the Holy Spirit moment by moment–though we don’t always follow as we ought. In any case, those who are following allow the Holy Spirit to interpret observation (also Scripture, events, and everything else) and receive this as Divine revelation from God. The real issue is Divine revelation versus made-up stuff.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t each have a natural mind that is every bit as irrational as the mind of the Secularist. It means that we sometimes have the option of getting it right, but only when we’re submissive to the Holy Spirit. It also means that as we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and we begin to have a better ability to discern between the mind of Christ and our own minds.
Strangely, I sometimes get push-back from Christians on this issue. When Christians have many theologies that depend on this same type of Secularist thinking, those Christians will not want to acknowledge the Holy Spirit and His leading. To do so would put the Christian’s worldview in jeopardy. However, we would all do far better to lay all our theologies and perceptions at the foot of the Cross. We can then let God continually correct us and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. If we claim to already know all truth, we become very resistant to the Holy Spirit when He tries to teach us.
Actually, Jesus is true wisdom. There is a worldly wisdom, but it’s unreliable, unfair, biased, and based on vapor. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, God informs us that He has made Jesus to be our wisdom. He also tells us that righteousness, holiness, and redemption are what wisdom is. So, Jesus is our righteousness. There is no righteousness without Him. Of course, we all know that. He is the One we receive when we’re born again. His Spirit then guides us moment by moment. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, God’s grace does His works through us. The faith that we received when God gave the guidance is the key to entering into God’s grace and doing God’s works. So, Jesus is the righteousness. Righteousness brings us to holiness. Holiness is a change in what we are. It is being formed into the image and likeness of Christ. Jesus is the righteousness, and He is the holiness. Redemption is being set free from sin and the sinful nature. Jesus is our freedom. Until we knew Him, we were slaves to sin. We could try to be righteous, but we could only be self-righteous.