Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Revisiting the Bahnsen - Stein Debate

I was relistening today to the 1985 debate between Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Stein on the thesis, "Does God Exist", while pulling wire and sweating profusely. Working alone and having your mp3 player loaded with tons of great stuff to make you think is a great blessing of the Lord. Once Again, I am truly amazed that the issue is even brought up. The Scriptures are clear that men know there is a God (Rom. 1). These things are plain and evident to them. God's glory and handiwork are revealed in His creation. But, sinful men suppress that truth. They hold it down in unrighteousness. Dr. Stein was no exception and I thought that Dr. Bahnsen was incredibly respectful and yet when it came time for closing statements he did not flinch in delivering Dr. Stein the truth concerning his own rebellion against the God of the Scriptures. Both men have died since that debate and now they both know for a fact which one actually won the debate. In case you are interested you can catch download the mp3s, at least for right now at DebateGod.com.

When Dr. Bahnsen used this as evidence for God, Dr. Stein simply said he couldn't do so. When he then threw in the transcendental argument, you really have to wonder what Dr Stein was thinking at that moment, because it truly seems that he did not see that one coming and had never heard of such an argument. I really do become amazed at the depths that men will go to suppress the simple truth that there is a God. Whether they choose to believe in the God of the Bible or the god of Islam or whatever religion you can name. The fact is there is a God who created. When we walk into a elegantly built facility with computers, lighting, air-conditioning, carpeting and fancy trim throughout, do we think that those things sprang from nature? Do we immediately think, "What amazing things have come from mother earth!"? No. We might marvel at certain things and ask the question, "Who made this?" or "Who came up with this idea?" or "The person who made that has incredible talent". I do believe that the things around us, including ourselves and the incredible intricacies of the human body demonstrate that there is a God. From there we must understand exactly what God is like and who is the true God. I believe we can move on to the more difficult things, when man first acknowledges the existence of God.

However, I am equally amazed at believers who use this line of thinking to bolster their claim of the free-will of man in salvation. The argument goes something like this: "If men will respond to the light God gives them (creation), then He will give them more light (the gospel)". This came up in a discussion with a friend. This particular friend proceeded to tell me that there will be people in heaven who have never heard the gospel, but do believe God. They proceeded to inform me that Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him as righteousness. I responded with yes it was. But that's not all, what did he believe God about was my reply. Did he simply believe God was and that was it? No. He believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. This person responded with a clear denial that there was a gospel back then. Since I was in the process of teaching through Genesis in church, I gently reminded this person that Abraham did have the gospel preached to them. Galatians 3:8-9 say very clearly, "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." This person proceeded to not proceed but was clearly upset that I had pointed this out to them.

I say that to say this. No one can be saved be a recognition of God as Creator. There are many people who do not hold the truth concerning the Creator as far down as some. However, the fact that we acknowledge that there is a Creator and that His wondrous works declare His glory, does not save us. It can only damn us. It can only cause us to see that we are responsible before Him for all our thoughts, words, and deeds, but it cannot save us. Only Christ can save us and the method for which He brings deliverance to the sinful stone cold heart of man is through the simple and foolish (from the world's point of view) method of preaching the gospel. We must be wise and knowledgable as Christians, but we must also be simple. We must be those who do not allow our attention to be drawn to good things, and end up forfeiting those simple and wonderful truths concerning Christ and His gospel. May God grant us perseverance in the proclamation of the saving gospel til our dying day or until Christ returns for us. Amen.

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