Why I Am (Still) a Christian
by Daniel J. Phillips

[This is written in response to a question in another forum. More than once, I've felt the need for something like this, but unfortunately time is an issue. But with writing as with starting a family once married, by the time you're really ready, it's too late! So I begin with a basic text, written as if I were answering the question in a conversation (i.e. it won't be fancy). Then I plan to fiddle compulsively, as I always do with my sermons. Finally, one day, it will be finished, or I will — whichever comes first!]

A Dab of Philosophy
FIRST: (ahem) a little philosophy. I have long been amazed at the posture of critics of Christianity. An example might be one fellow who recently said that his standard for "proof" demanded that Jesus personally appear to him, work some miracles, answer some questions, and then the deal would be done. I daresay many would sign on to this demand.

This proposed standard of proof involves many questions and problems, however, of which I will single out the fundamental matter of premise. While laid down under the pose of a strictly objective, clear-eyed, unbiased demand for proof, the demand itself — indeed, the entire worldview of the one issuing the demand — rests on unprovable premises. Let me elaborate, in non-technical language.

Premise? Presupposition? A premise is something proposed as the basis for something else. For my purposes here, "premise" is synonymous with the term presupposition. Not to put too fine a point on it, literally everything that everyone believes rests upon usually-unspoken premises or presuppositions. And here is one of the dirty little secrets about premises: they are by definition unprovable!

Does that sound as if everything is more complicated than it is? Not at all. Take me, right now, sitting here at my computer, writing. Or am I? Well, I assume so, I hope so. But I can't prove it to you, apart from an appeal to other fundamental premises.

We live with many such assumptions. Let's list just a few of my own unprovable presuppositions. The big one is that I exist, that I am actually here to do this typing. The second is that anything outside of me exists: the keyboard, the monitor... you. I assume that what I am seeing here on the screen corresponds to something in reality, and that you will see the same thing that I see when you look at these words. In other words, I assume the fundamental reliability of my senses, and I assume that we share a common experience.

And on and on.

Now, the splash-in-the-face surprising aspect of this is that none of this is provable, apart from an appeal to other premises! For instance, you say, "Well, I know that I exist: I can feel myself with my hands." There you go again, assuming that sensory data are real. In other words, just because you think you are feeling an object with your hands, you believe that it is actually there. "But I think, therefore I am!", you reply. Yes, you think you think; but is it you, or are you the dream of another, thinking that it thinks? Or of still another, dreaming that the first dreams that it thinks?

Then... we can't "know" anything, right? It may sound as if I am advocating all-out radical skepticism, which will end in a posture and life of meaninglessness and despair. Well, in truth I am... and I am not. What I am trying to establish at the outset is that the supposedly big, bad, bold "rational objections" that many make to Christian faith are actually shallow, unexamined, and ultimately self-destructive. "Ah yes, faith," they say sagely (meaning by that term "a tenaciously-held wild guess"). "You religious people are content to accept everything by faith. Well, not me. I am a Scientific man. I demand proof!"


You see, 9.999 times out of 10, when you so much as challenge these "Scientific" men to prove to you that they even exist to be argued with in the first place, they refuse even to try. That in itself is remarkable; one might suppose that the disdain they show for "faith" indicates that they have something vastly superior. But if they even try, they cannot prove something as basic as their own existence, without resorting to unprovable assumptions — that is, without faith. From the fundamental proposition of their own existence, to the existence of the external world, the whole fabric of their daily lives is a finely-woven web of faith in unprovable assumptions. Yet they live quite comfortably with these assumptions, all the while displaying contempt for others who, in contrast to themselves (or so they imagine), live by "faith."

They are stark-naked Emperors, absurdly faulting the masses about them for their supposed nudity.

Now, I do think that this fact should drive one to misery and despair, in itself. I do think that a person with no better basis than that should despair of finding any purpose or meaning in life. I think it should bother him, night and day. I think that every time he imagines that he touches what he thinks is his wife, or "holds" his "children," or "does" his "work," he should be plagued by the gnawing awareness that he has no basis for what he thinks he knows, and he has no way of assigning certain meaning or significance to any of it. I do think that all of his efforts, all of his relationships, should be stained by the overarching awareness that none of it means anything, it is all little better than a random stab in the dark.

I think, too, that this realization should affect such a person's approach to Christianity. For he should realize that when he belittles Christian believers as relying on "faith," it is actually he who relies upon faith throughout the course of each day. In fact, as I shall explain, he should realize that, while the Christian actually has a fixed, immutable, transcendent basis for what he believes, it is he who has none.

Therefore, the non-Christian should be far more open to hear the case for Christ than he is. Indeed, he should be desperate to hear it. He should demand that Christians and churches do away with the games and frippery, and should get down to the serious business of telling him what he so needs to hear. He should be far more humble than he is in evaluating that case. He should be far more interested in finding a way to have a basis for purpose and meaning in his life, purpose and meaning which he currently lacks and which he cannot provide for himself.

Then how can we know anything? As a Christian, I do think we can know, and can know that we know. I think there's more to Hebrews 11:1 than some assume: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (all Biblical citations are from the New King James Version, unless noted). Indeed faith is the substance and evidence, and it is so in all of life, not just in "religious" matters.

What I propose in general is very simple: adopt a premise, and work it out. See if it is borne out by the facts that it would predict. (Of course, that in itself presupposes a certain law of correspondence, but [A] as I said, we cannot think, reason, or predicate anything about anything without premises, and [B] as a Christian, I have a basis for doing that — on which more later.)

Rather than expand on this at great length, I am going to illustrate it by cutting directly to the question on the table, which is:

Why Am I (Still) a Christian?
In short, I am (still) a Christian because I (still) believe that Jesus is Lord, God, and sole Savior, and that the Bible is the Word of God.

That was "in short." In long, I could approach this a number of ways. I shall center it on Jesus. But before doing that, let me sketch out my approach. I propose that we take the premise (Jesus is Lord, God, and sole Savior, and the Bible is the Word of God), and see how it "fits" — see whether the phenomena of life and history fall as would be predicted by the premise. If they do, we may regard the premise as confirmed; if they do not, the premise falls apart under its own weight.

Jesus is Lord, God, and sole Savior. Whoever we are, whatever we may claim to believe, we must somehow deal with Jesus. The historical approaches of radical skepticism have long-since been decimated by the spade of the archaeologist, among other scientific disciplines (which is why "The Jesus Seminar" is such a reverse-anachronism; see my How to Make Your Very Own Jesus). It is at least safe to say that Jesus existed, and that we have records of His life and teachings which give every evidence of being first-generation productions, and which must be taken seriously.

Trying as I am to be brief and focused, let me just lay it out that the only Jesus of whom we have any knowledge at all — and, happily, the very Jesus of whom we have a great deal of knowledge — claimed bluntly and in so many words to be Lord, God, and sole Savior. Let me break this down, with some tersely-stated evidence.

Jesus claimed to be Lord. Jesus said, "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am" (John 13:13). He said, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). While it is true that the significance of the Greek word kurios ("lord") had some range to it, it meantat least the person in charge, the person with authority. At most, the term was also used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament as a name of God. As Jesus used it, clearly He meant that He saw Himself as someone to whom absolute obedience was owed. In itself, it was a striking term to for an itinerant, unlettered peasant-preacher to apply to himself.

Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus said that it was the Father's will "that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him" (John 5:23). In saying "just as," Jesus demanded to be worshiped equally with God the Father. The Jews caught on right away that Jesus was "making Himself equal with God" by the things He said (v. 18). Much as there has been a trend to try to lower Jesus to the level of simple Jewish sage, no traveling Shlomo HumbleTeacherHead would ever be caught saying the he deserved to be worshiped as God.

Yet this is precisely what Jesus did claim.

Jesus affirmed and proved that He had God's ability to forgive sins on earth (Luke 5:24). He claimed to be one in essence with God (John 10:30). He said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58), which the Jews instantly recognized as a claim to Deity (v. 59). Finally, when Thomas looked Jesus in the eye and said directly to Him "My Lord and my God!", Jesus did not respond by rebuking his exuberance, nor correcting his blasphemy; no, Jesus commended Thomas for calling Him Lord and God. In fact, He remarked that it had seemed to take a lot to bring him to the affirmation of something Jesus apparently thought to be fairly obvious (John 20:28, 29).

Jesus claimed to be the sole Savior. Jesus said the He had come to give His very soul as the ransom-price in exchange for many (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). Jesus further said, "if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). He said, "he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). And, most arrestingly, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). In

The very least one must say about these claims is that they are extraordinary. But one must make one more all-important observation: these claims are either true, or they are false. And their truth or falsity literally makes all the difference in the world.

I must say, too, that I have no patience with modern desperate attempts to deconstruct and reconstruct Jesus, to "save" Him, as it were, from Himself. He has been denatured, unleaded, and decaffeinated to the level of a wandering sage or rabbi. Indeed, listening to these modern fairy tales, one wonders what all the fuss ever was about!

Just three options: not two, not four — three. But indeed, the real Jesus did claim to be Lord, God, and sole Savior. A man who makes these claims is not a good teacher, a wandering sage, a rabbi, a philosopher — if the claims are false. No, indeed.

We have only three options, in dealing with Jesus' claims. To be specific, if they were false, we have two choices. Either Jesus Himself knew the claims to be false, or He imagined them to be true. If Jesus knew the claims to be false, He was a contemptible, horrid liar on a level which leaves Bill Clinton looking like an Eagle Scout by contrast. Or even a darker subset suggests itself, as it is the Devil's yearning to be thought equal to God. If however Jesus falsely thought the claims to be true, then He was an utter lunatic, hopelessly insane, and certainly in a position to "teach" no one anything.

The only other option is that Jesus believed the claims, and in reality they were (and are) true. In that case, Jesus was and is Lord, God, and the sole Savior — and we had better deal with it. (Alert readers will recognize my debt here, gladly acknowledged, to C. S. Lewis, in a passage that made a deep impression on me while still a non-Christian [see Mere Christianity (Macmillan: 1960), pp. 55, 56].)

Does it fit? Now comes the time to test Jesus' claims about Himself, to see if the phenomena are as would be predicted by accepting the premise that Jesus is Lord, God and sole Savior.

If Jesus were in reality God incarnate, we would expect that He would have a remarkable life, from start to... well, from the start. And so He did.

Fulfilled prophecy. Now, this Jesus as depicted in the historical documents was truly a remarkable individual in every way. His life is presented, particularly in the Jewish-oriented account of Matthew, as embodying a constellation of fulfilled prophecies. This phenomenon extends from His ancestry (Matthew 1:1-18), to His manner of conception and birth (Matthew 1:19-23), to His place of birth (Matthew 2:1-6), the circumstances of His childhood (Matthew 2:13-15), the character of His home-town (Matthew 22, 23), the character of His ministry (Matthew 12:16-21), the mode of His entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-5), and the necessity and manner of His betrayal (Matthew 27:1-10) and death (Matthew 26:54).

This brief listing only scratches the surface of fulfillment of prophecy in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew lists many others, as do other New Testament writers. More could easily be added to what these writers single out.

Now, the odds against this alone are simply staggering. The very idea that conservatively dozens of prophecies uttered over the course of more than a millennium should converge so specifically on one Man is, on the premise of randomness and chaos, unthinkable. In fact, it has been calculated that the odds of just eight prophecies being randomly fulfilled in one man are:

1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000
That jaw-dropping number may be illustrated in this way: if you were to take 1017 silver dollars and lay them over the state of Texas, it would cover the entire state over two feet deep. Mark one silver dollar, throw it back in, and stir the entire mass thoroughly. Then blindfold G. W. Bush and tell him to pick up that very silver dollar on the first try!

President Bush's chances of first-try success would be the same as the odds of just eight prophecies being fulfilled in the life of one man (cf. Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict [Here's Life Publishers: 1979], p. 167).

Now of course, the fact is that in Jesus were fulfilled far more than eight prophecies. And two aspects in particular are striking to me about these prophecies.

First, their scope and complexity. The source-prophecies are not found in one book, one passage, one tract. No, they were made over the course of probably thousands of years, recorded in documents spanning a full millennium at least. I speak of course of the Torah, the Old Testament, which both hints at and points directly to Jesus Christ in hundreds or even thousands of ways. These ways extend from the "let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" in Genesis 1:26 (emphases added), to the woman's conquering Seed in Genesis 3:15 (fifteenth century BC), to the dying and resurrected Servant of Yahweh in Isaiah 52:13—53:12 (eighth century BC), to Yahweh Himself coming, preceded by His messenger, in Malachi 3 and 4 (fifth century BC). Yet there is an inward and building coherence to these prophecies, "clues," and prefigurements. As a result, when Jesus steps out on the stage, it is less the nature of a shock than the perfect climax to a building crescendo.

Second, how many were beyond His control. One might try to argue that Jesus arranged for the donkeys (though even that had a touch of the supernatural) on which He entered Jerusalem, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9 (cf. Matthew 21:1ff.). But no one could sanely argue that Jesus (if only a poseur) could pick the people, the tribe, and the precise bloodline into which He was born, let alone arrange that His mother be a virgin, and that He be born precisely in Bethlehem, moved as an infant to Egypt, and grow up in a despised village such as Nazareth. Yet all of these were in fulfillment of prophecy or prophetic foreshadowing (cf. respectively Genesis 12:3b; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; 49:8-10; 2 Samuel 7:14; Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Hosea 11:1; Isaiah 53:2). Nor could a mere man have controlled precisely the manner of His death (cf. Psalm 22, especially vv. 14-18), burial (Isaiah 53:9), and resurrection and ascension to the Father's right hand (Isaiah 53:8-12). Yet these, and many other details, occurred in fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

Jesus Himself affirms the confirmatory nature of prophecy, to the point where He upbraided His contemporaries for not reading the clear signs. He said, "Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:3b). Further, Jesus posed this conundrum to His Jewish critics: "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 6:46, 47).

Again, after His resurrection, Jesus reproved the slow-wittedness of the men on the road to Emmaus for not having already understood about Jesus' death and resurrection on the basis of the Old Testament alone, with these words: "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" (Luke 24:25, 26). Then we read, "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (v. 27). Similarly, when He met with the apostles later, Jesus told them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (v. 44).

Of course anyone can "explain" anything by chalking absolutely everything up to chance and contingency. Chance is indeed a bottomless pit into which the most stubborn and inconvenient fact, argument, or line of evidence can be thrown with finality. Beware, however: this one is a growing pit, it is a hungry chasm. You may feel momentary relief today at throwing in this intricate mosaic of fulfilled prophecy; but tomorrow, the same pit will inexorably claim every last detail of your life, leaving you with nothing but a nightmare pastiche, a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces can never fit together.

Intuitively, most honest thinkers would know (as illustrated above) that the "odds" of such a mosaic as this as it were laying itself out randomly are statistically nil. The "odds" are zero. Contingency aside, however, and laid on the premise of the truth of Jesus' claims, the phenomena fit like a glove. In other words, what we see in fulfilled prophecy is exactly what one could expect to see if Jesus were Lord, God, and sole Savior.

Miraculous conception, life, death, and beyond! And one might expect that the life of one who is Lord, God and sole Savior would be studded with elements of the miraculous. Even in our Biblically illiterate day, where Jeopardy's brainiacs fail to answer the most basic Bible question, I cling to the hope that this aspect of Jesus' life is still at least somewhat known.

The constellation of miracles begins even before Jesus' birth, when a virgin conceived Him. That was a supernatural event. His mother and step-father are both visited by angels. Another supernatural event. The birth itself is attended with announcements from Heaven by angels. Another.

But it is in His manhood that the miraculous really breaks out in the life of Jesus. He is the original "real article" of which all modern-day charlatans are pallid and impotent counterfeits. Think about it. The miracles Jesus worked were in all settings, indoors and outdoors, at all hours of the day and night, and in plain view of thousands. They were done before sympathetic audiences, neutral audiences, hostile audiences. They involved instant cures of chronic conditions, restoring of sight to the congenitally blind, straightening warped and impotent limbs, and even raising the dead. It is worth noting that Jesus' own enemies never denied His miracles! Instead, they acknowledged them, but scrambled for dark (and wildly improbable) "explanations" for them and for tactics to counter them (cf. Matthew 12:24; John 11:47).

Of course, all comes to its acme in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. No event from ancient times is better-attested than the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. The contemporary equivalent of "experts" verified His death (Mark 15:44, 45; John 19:34). He was buried in a tomb, a stone was rolled over the mouth, the grave was sealed and guarded. Yet early Sunday morning, Jesus arose from the dead. He appeared to many people (once again) in all sorts of places and at all times of day. Sometimes He appeared to one person (John 20:11ff.; Acts 9), sometimes to two (Luke 24:13ff.), and at least once to over five hundred at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:6; note there too that these were still giving testimony of the facts decades later). People touched Him (Matthew 28:9), talked with Him (John 20), and ate with Him (Luke 24:39-43).

So convinced were the many eye-witnesses of Jesus' bodily resurrection that they were utterly transformed. See them all, before His mock-trial and crucifixion, fleeing and hiding like cockroaches (cf. Mark 15:50) One was in such a hurry that he forgot his clothes (v. 51). That's what I call "scared."

Yet now look again and see them, to a man, willing to suffer and die for the proposition that Jesus is the living Lord of life. Watch Peter. See him over here, on the eve of Jesus' betrayal, cowering before handmaidens and cursing and swearing to God he'd never laid eyes on Jesus (Mark 14:66-72). But look at him now, standing before the same murderous Council that had condemned Jesus, and flatly refusing to stop preaching Jesus publicly as risen Lord (Acts 5). What event intervened to account for this transformation? The bodily resurrection of Jesus.

The same transformation happened to each of the other apostles of Jesus, most of whom reportedly did die for their testimony to that event. (The case and evidence for Jesus' resurrection are laid out well and readably in Josh McDowell's The Resurrection Factor [Here's Life Publishers: 1981], which I recommend.)

Nor can we divorce Jesus' resurrection from His life and teachings, as if it were a chance occurrence without connection or signification. It was, as I have shown, prophesied in the Old Testament concerning Messiah. Jesus Himself specifically predicted it, often and to the extreme consternation of His students (cf. Matthew 16:21ff., etc.). It was an event with a context.

Think of it this way: suppose that there is a God, and that He is not as Jesus says that He is. Further suppose that Jesus was not who He claimed to be. That being the case, what would God have had to do, when Jesus died, to nullify and demolish all of Jesus' claims and teachings? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! He simply could have let Jesus lie in the grave and decompose, like every other corpse in the history of the race.

But when God raised Jesus from the grave, He confirmed everything Jesus taught, claimed, and stood for. This shows the sense of Paul's eye-catching words, that "we [apostles] are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised" (1 Corinthians 15:15, New American Standard Bible, emphases added). It also shows the sense of Paul saying that Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4).

All this explains why Jesus affirmed the confirmatory nature of His miraculous works. He said that "the works which the Father has given Me to finish — the very works that I do — bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me" (John 5:36b). Further, "The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me" (John 10:25b). In fact, Jesus went so far as to say, "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him" (John 10:37, 38).

The testimony of Jesus' mighty works was indeed so eloquent that He could say, "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father" (John 15:24).

So, when John the Baptist asked from prison whether Christ was indeed the Coming One, Jesus (who had just performed a mass of miraculous deeds) simply told John's messengers, "answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me'" (Luke 7:22, 23). The mighty works of Jesus bear confirmatory witness.

The Claims of Jesus: Summarized and Applied
Jesus, then, claimed to be Lord, God, and sole Savior. A man who makes these claims falsely is a liar or a lunatic. A man who makes these claims truthfully is, indeed, Lord, God, and sole Savior.

The truthfulness of Jesus' claims was tested briefly to see if one finds the results that fit such a claim, if it was accompanied by sufficient confirmatory phenomena. Indeed one does: Jesus' life was a tapestry of fulfilled prophecy and miraculous elements, culminating in His physical resurrection from the dead. None of this goes well with our labeling Jesus as a liar or a lunatic. All of it fits very well His being Lord, God, and sole Savior.

This being the case, a number of other related truths are also confirmed. This One who is Lord, God and Savior affirmed the divine authority and inerrant inspiration of the Old Testament retrospectively, and of the New Testament prospectively. He did this of no other body of writing or teaching. This means that the Bible is affirmed — by God incarnate! — to be the Word of God, a proposition which itself is rife with implications for literally every aspect of one's world-view.

And it is here that all the other confirmatory evidences fit. If the Bible were true, one would expect it to have been remarkably preserved through the ages unlike any other ancient book — and indeed it has been. One would expect to find evidences in archaeology of the historical framework of the historical narratives in the Testaments — and indeed one does. One would expect to find confirmations in history and human experience of the truths of God — and indeed one does. One would anticipate that the Bible, though written over a period of a millennium and a half by dozens of different writers of varying age, background, temperament, and walks of life, would exhibit a marvelous unity and coherence — and so it does. One would expect to find the fulfillment of many of the hundreds of specific prophecies given in both Testaments — and indeed one does. (I hope the reader understands that each of these propositions would require a separate book fully to explore; my intent here, as I've said, is conversational, and not to exhaust either the subject or the reader!)

Back to the Big Question
Now, since I am having a conversation with you rather than writing a book, let me come back to the Big Question. Why am I still a Christian?

I am a Christian because only the fundamental proposition that Jesus is Lord, God and sole Savior, and (therefore) the Bible is the Word of God makes sense of the phenomena related above. Further, I still believe — after over a quarter-century of joys and despair, of victories and dark betrayals, of hope and disappointment as a Christian — because only that fundamental premise makes sense of the world around and within me. I rest my thinking and understanding, not on random guesswork nor blind assertions, but on the premise of God's authority. Having done so, I find that premise confirmed again and again, in innumerable ways.

This is in accord with the premise laid down by the wise man: "The fear of Yahweh is the chief point of knowledge; Wisdom and discipline, dense people belittle" (Proverbs 1:7, my translation). The Hebrew word re'shith, translated here "chief point," also bears the meaning "beginning," "principle," "starting-point." The idea of the term is that of "axiom" or "premise." Therefore, the "fear of Yahweh," that mind-set of acknowledging the Godhood of God and humbly bowing before Him in one's reasoning and deciding, is the missing premise. If one's thinking does not begin with the God of Scripture, it must logically end in chaos and despair.

And so my thinking, morally, spiritually and otherwise, is (so far as I am able) directly grounded on the authority of God Himself, as He has spoken in Jesus Christ and in the Bible. So how do I know that I exist? Because God says I do, and addresses me as His child. Why can I trust my senses, barring mind-altering drugs, injuries, or illnesses? Because God made my eyes, my ears, my body (cf. Psalm 94:9; 139:14-16, etc.). Why do I trust such "laws" as that of correspondence and non-contradiction? Because I see them affirmed by God in Scripture, indeed as reflecting the nature of God and His own thinking (cf. e.g. for the former, Deuteronomy 1:31, etc.; Luke 7:22; for the latter, Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; 1 John 5:12).

One might say, "You cite God as your authority; I want more proof." Think about it, though. If there were a standard of proof greater than God, then that standard, and not God, would be God! "The fear of Yahweh" is not merely the conclusion of wisdom and knowledge; it is the starting-point of wisdom and knowledge, the template without which all is chaos.

And so, it is the nature of the case that God is, as He must be, His own sufficient authority. Only God can attest to God. The role of evidence must be confirmatory in nature, bearing out the truth of the premise. The alternative, as I showed above, is blind assertion on no basis whatever, yielding no confidence nor pattern whatever. And this is where the great bulk of our fellow-citizens live. It is why our society, founded by men who did premise their thinking on the divine viewpoint, is now adrift and serially deteriorating before our eyes. As Scripture predicts: "Without revelation a people runs wild; But the people keeping the Law, happy is it" (Proverbs 29:18, my translation).

And so, while I as your average Joe Sixty-six-book-Bible Christian observe my peers cluelessly stabbing and guessing and asserting about, making it up as they go, blindly wandering with bold confidence utterly unsuited to the total baselessness of their position, I thank God for a firm foundation. I rest on and boast in the authority of God for the worldview I hold; I bear no credit whatever for it.

And that is why I commend it to you. I, who am an inveterate screw-up in countless ways, could never invent anything worth holding to myself, let alone commending to others. But Jesus — ah, that is an entirely different story!

Jesus said:

"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

"But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

(Matthew 7:24-29, emphases added)


Copyright © 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2012 by Daniel J. Phillips; All Rights Reserved

For more information about our need to believe in Jesus Christ, and it means, please see my paper:
How Can I Know God?

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