Answering Quotes and Memes

Sometimes people post what they consider to be clever quotes that attack or question worldviews with which they don’t agree. (Sometimes these quotes are encapsulated in an image for a more impactful visual effect; this is commonly called a meme).

witty-quotes-about-life

This one’s pretty good!

Over at the blog “hessianwithteeth” there is a good example of this practice. In their article entitled “My Thoughts on a Few Quotes” they have delineated several examples of quotes that seem to inveigh against the Christian worldview, but they are eminently answerable. Because the Christian worldview is consistent with reality and internally coherent, these questions and those like them pose little challenge if one is willing to apply some careful thought.

Instead of trying to tackle each quote within the article, I will pick one and give simple and consistent answers.

“If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning the future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? Percy Bysshe Shelley

[HWT’s commentary] I like this quote because it asks some good questions. The Old Testament says many times that God should be feared, but many people believe in a benevolent God. If God has ultimate wisdom, then shouldn’t the future be set? Shouldn’t we know for sure if and when everything is going to end? Though I like the temple bit best. Are religious buildings necessary? If they aren’t, why treat them with any sort of deference?

Let’s take these one by one shall we?

Q: If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him?

A: An infinitely good God is infinitely just. We all have a sense of wrongdoing in our lives. We fear an infinetly good and just God because we realize we deserve punishment.

Q: If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning the future?

A: We have doubts because although God is infinitely wise, we are not. We can not see the end of the next minute much less the end of all time. Some of these answers are given through His revelation, but in general our lives are lived day to day in ignorance of what is coming next. We trust in Him to be with us through the trials and we fear because we lack perfect trust as a result of our fallen nature.

Q: If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with prayers?

A: First of all, God can not be fatigued, with prayers or otherwise. He desires our prayers, not because he does not know what we stand in need of, but because when we pray to Him it reminds us of where and how our needs are met. His answers to our prayers often differ from what we have asked for, and is always better for us. We don’t pray to change His mind but to change our own.

Q: If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him?

A: In the Old Testament under the Mosaic Law there was ONE tabernacle and then ONE temple, not “temples.” It was a physical place where the Israelites were told to go to make sacrifices to and worship God. This was part of setting Israel aside as a “peculiar people.” Under the New Testament, those old things have passed away. God dwells within the hearts His people in the form of the Holy Spirit, and our bodies are His temple. We serve Him through the way we live our lives and serve others. We meet in physical buildings as part of the church (the called out body of people) but the buildings have nothing to do with the actual worship service other than to provide physical shelter and comfort to those doing the worshiping.

HWT:  The Old Testament says many times that God should be feared, but many people believe in a benevolent God.

A: The covenant between Israel and God was contingent on their obedience to the Mosaic Law. God was clear with them about the blessings that they would receive for their obedience. and about the consequences of disobedience. Look at it this way: If you are driving down the freeway and are obeying the traffic laws and speed limit, and you see a police officer, you have respect for their authority but are not fearful of punishment. However when you are exceeding the speed limit and weaving in and out of traffic, you fearfully look out for the same officer because you know you are in the wrong.

HWT:  If God has ultimate wisdom, then shouldn’t the future be set? Shouldn’t we know for sure if and when everything is going to end?

A: He does, and it is. However He has not shared that information with us, so no, we shouldn’t know.

HWT: Though I like the temple bit best. Are religious buildings necessary? If they aren’t, why treat them with any sort of deference?

A. No, they are not necessary, except as used by the church as a place to meet. We should treat them with the same deference, for instance, as one would expect others to treat their home, because they are privately owned buildings and are another’s property.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

For another example of this tactic and a thoughtful response you can go to Andrew Crigler’s article entitled BILLY GOES BOOM- BECAUSE GOD KILLS THE INNOCENT (RIGHT?) He has other good articles on dealing with these types of situations as well.

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2 Comments

  1. I think you’re mistaking fear with respect. Should children fear their parents? 50 years ago people may have said yes, but now we know how psychologically damaging fear can be. There are better ways to get people to follow you than to make them fear you. And people who follow out of love and respect are more loyal than people who follow out of fear.
    I’d also argue that Christianity is inconsistent with reality and internally incoherent. For example, if God is seperate from us, not in or of the universe, how can he interact with us? To interact with us, God would need to have some presence in our universe. Merely stating that your worldview is consistant and coherent doesn’t prove that it is.

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    • HWT, thank you for your input.

      I’ll be honest with you HWT, I struggle with the concept of “fear the Lord” myself. I have actually studied this concept out and given it quite a bit of thought. Here’s what I’ve come up with that seems to reconcile it in my own mind, and also fit the narrative. As a small child, I loved my father, and thought he was the bee’s knees. I didn’t think there was anything he could not do. I also bragged on him to my friends and we would often have the “my dad can whip your dad” arguments.

      However, I also feared my father, in a reverential way, because even though I loved him I knew he was a stern man, and a man who kept his word. When he told me that if I were to do A the consequence would be B, that he would keep his word. The times when I actually did A, I knew that B was coming, as he had told me. He did not punish me unjustly, but he did teach me that there were consequences to my actions. He also praised on rewarded me for right actions.

      The Lord, who Jesus teaches us to refer to as “Our Father in heaven”, asks us to love him with that same kind of reverential fear. I think one of the consequences of today’s culture of easy divorce and broken families is that many children grow up without that natural connection to their earthly father, and this makes it a difficult concept to grasp in relation to their heavenly father.

      Again, thank you for taking time to add to the discussion and I look forward to further interaction.

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