EVANS MILLS — I was not available to attend the April 25 debate that Jerry Moore and the Rev. Mahlon Smith held on the existence of God. However, I do have some thoughts to share concerning this topic of discussion.
From my perspective, I believe we are again living in a time frame in which the truth of the Bible, especially in equating the person of Jesus Christ with God, is considered naïve thinking. Why is this? Well, perhaps because Jesus not only claimed to be one with God and spoke of his resurrection from the dead but believed in demonology and eschatology.
Man was overwhelmed by a God-opposing force from which he could not free himself. To many modern-thinking people, these claims are preposterous! These concepts need to be replaced.
Why? Well, a key reason might be, as evidenced at different times through our human history, the view of the nature of man. Is man by nature good or evil? Plato and Aristotle both agreed that the nature of man is essentially good.
At another time in history, the impact of Charles Darwin and his book “On the Origin of the Species” presented the thought that man is ever developing (from an amoeba stage), progressing and improving. This work also presented a positive anthropology.
The French Enlightenment of the 19th century said the same as one read the works of Voltaire, Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Religion for them had no meaning.
Man did not need a God much less a God who presented himself as a Saviour. All man needed was a good moral example to follow.
In the 1950s, the foremost theologian of his time, Rudolf Bultmann, introduced something called “demythologizing.”
In essence, he proposed that to believe in the Biblical view of spirits and demons is contrary to contemporary thinking. To believe that man’s nature is basically sinful and evil and in need of redemption is unacceptable to the thinking of modern man. Consequently, scripture is not absolute truth but only valuable in what one can take from it that is agreeable to current thinking and is politically correct.
The “God Is Dead” movement of the 1960s basically said that man is so advanced and quite capable of taking care of himself. Therefore, there is no need for a belief in a higher power called God.
Much of modern man’s thinking today continues in this tradition. But human history has proven that left on his own, man takes two steps forward and three steps backward!
Final thought for now: The anthropology of man presented in the Bible points to a condition that every man and woman cannot contend with on his or her own. It is a disease of origin because of the truth revealed in Genesis chapters 2 and 3. This disease can blind one intellectually and obviously spiritually to the truth “that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The result is that man sees no need for redemption and a loving God that sent His only begotten Son (John 3:16). This condition prevents one from seeing God in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.
How do I know there is a God? Because I need a salvation that only God can produce for me!
The Rev. Steve Nagler of Evans Mills is a chaplain at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility. An ordained minister with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, he previously served as a chaplain in U.S. Army from 1985 to 2005.