God’s Hiddenness Is Intended to Provoke Us

Many of us have moments in our life when God’s presence and providence seem obvious, but there are also many times when God seems far away and “hidden”. In fact, the “hiddenness” of God is a common objection to His existence. As a skeptic, I often wondered why God didn’t make Himself known in a visible, tangible way. Why doesn’t God appear to us in a public setting to end all doubt about His existence? I’ve written about this objection, and I believe the answer lies in God’s desire to provoke us; His desire to elicit a true, loving response from His children. This goal of producing something beautiful (a genuine, well-intentioned, loving response), requires Him to hide from us.

Let me try to offer an analogy. Most of us, would be offended if someone described us with the colloquial term: “gold digger.” This expression is typically used to describe “women (predominantly young and attractive), meeting wealthy men in hope to get monetary gains and increase their social status.” When someone uses this term, it is nearly always as a pejorative; it’s not good to be a “gold digger”. Why is this the case? Because “gold diggers” are in relationships for the wrong reasons. Rather than truly loving the men whom they’ve married, they love the wealth, power and position these men can offer. If I were a wealthy, powerful, or famous man, I would be very careful when selecting a mate. I would hate to find myself asking questions like, “Would she want me if I was just another ‘average’ guy? Would she still love me as a person if I hadn’t overwhelmed her with my money and fame?” I bet powerful men occasionally wonder about such things.

God knows all of us can be similarly misguided in our affections, even when it comes to our love of Him. He also understands the degree to which He is “powerful, wealthy and famous,” and He doesn’t want us to be in a relationship with Him for the wrong reason. The Bible provides several examples of men and women who have been in the presence of God, only to realize His true power, majesty and glory. In fact, in every case, those who were exposed to God, even for only a moment, were overwhelmed:

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The Top 10 Cold-Case Christianity Broadcasts from 2016

Happy New Year (a bit early) and thanks again for a GREAT 2016! We are slowly growing the number of unique visitors to the ColdCaseChristianity.com website, and we met our goal of over one million unique visitors in 2016. Thanks for making us a regular part of your Internet experience.  We posted over 200 new articles, videos or podcasts on the website. I pray all these efforts have helped you become a better Christian Case Maker. I’d love to see you in person in 2017; we’ve created a new calendar on our homepage to make it easier to find an event in your area. Last year I had the privilege of speaking to over 50,000 people. I hope to meet you in 2017.I’d also like to thank the NRB Network for the continuing opportunity to host a weekly television show. Many of you have written to me to say you’ve learned a lot from our weekly 30-minute broadcast. Here, then, is our final top ten list for 2016, the Top 10 Cold-Case Christianity Broadcasts:

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The Top 10 Cold-Case Christianity Videos from 2016

It’s that time of year again: the time for “Top Ten” lists of one kind or another. In my last post I listed the top ten Cold-Case Christianity articles of 2016. This time around I’m offering the ten most popular videos hosted here on our website (and on our YouTube page where you can join 3,822 weekly subscribers who have viewed our videos 350,310 times). I’ve listed the videos in reverse order (for dramatic effect):

Cold-Case Christianity Video #10:
Why Christians Need to Understand the Nature of Circumstantial Evidence
How are these two forms of evidence used in criminal trials, and what can we learn from their use to help us make the case for Christianity?

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The Top 10 Cold-Case Christianity Articles from 2016

Thanks to all of you for another great year at ColdCaseChristianity.com. Our readership continues to grow as we have increased our unique monthly visitors by over 30% since January. This year I also spoke at over 50 events nationally (giving well over 200 talks), we increased our viewership on NRBtv with 40 new episodes, and conducted nearly 50 radio and television interviews. In addition to this, I had a modest role in God’s Not Dead 2, and Susie and I finished Cold-Case Christianity for Kids (and the accompanying Academy). In 2017, we’ll publish the final book in our Christian Case Making trilogy (Forensic Faith), and God’s Crime Scene for Kids will publish in October. I’ll also be working on a project with Sean McDowell and expect to speak at another 50-60 events. I’m already exhausted and we’re still a week away form 2017! So, in the interim, here are the 10 most popular articles from 2016:

The 10th Most Popular Article of 2016:
Can We Trust the Gospels, Even If They Were Transmitted Orally?
How early were the Gospels written, and how was the material transmitted prior to being documented by the gospel eyewitnesses?

The 9th Most Popular Article of 2016:
Jesus Is A Myth, Just Like President Kennedy
If we’re prepared to say Jesus is a myth just because he shares a few characteristics, we better be ready to say president John F. Kennedy was also a myth.

The 8th Most Popular Article of 2016:
Investigating Bart Ehrman’s Top Ten Troublesome Bible Verses
A look at Bart Ehrman’s list of troublesome verses in an effort to examine how they impact the reliability of the New Testament text.

The 7th Most Popular Article of 2016:
The Case for Christianity According to a 7th Grader
Special guest post by Annie Olson, a 7th grader who wrote this as her final paper in a rhetoric class.

The 6th Most Popular Article of 2016:
The Apostles Wrote the Gospels as Eyewitness Accounts
A straightforward reading of the Book of Acts reveals the apostles saw themselves as eyewitnesses.

The 5th Most Popular Article of 2016:
The Verse the Culture Misquotes Most Regularly in an Effort to Quiet Christians
Does Jesus' command in Matthew 7:1 prevent Christians from judging others? What did Jesus mean when he said, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged"?

The 4th Most Popular Article of 2016:
Six Ways Christians Can Respond to the Growing Police Dilemma
In this article, I’d like to outline six things each of us, as citizens and Christians, can do to respond to the growing dilemma.

The 3rd Most Popular Article of 2016:
Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America
You might be surprised how often professors are prone to saying something self-refuting.

The 2nd Most Popular Article of 2016:
UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?
Some deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma.

The Most Popular Article of 2016:
Six Things That May Change the Way You Think About Police Officers
Here are six important things everyone should keep in mind (and prayer) when assessing the actions of police officers in our country.

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Rapid Response: “The Gospels Are Unreliable”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following claim: “Even if the events recorded in the Gospels came from eyewitness accounts, why should we trust what eyewitnesses tell us? Even modern-day witnesses are notoriously unreliable and are often wrong about what they claim to have seen. Why should we trust ancient eyewitness accounts?” How would you respond to such an objection? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

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Rapid Response: “You Can’t Be Certain About the Claims of Christianity”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following statement: “No one can be absolutely certain about ancient historical claims, and the Bible can’t be proven beyond a possible doubt. The claims of Christianity are dramatic and critical. If you want me to believe these kinds of claims you’d have to be able to prove them beyond any doubt.” How would you respond to such a statement? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

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Rapid Response: “The Gospels Have Been Altered”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following claim: “I can’t believe what the Gospels say because they were altered over the years.” How would you respond to such an objection? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

“I understand the objection, because that was one of my first doubts as a skeptic. I held two suspicions as a committed atheist (I didn’t examine the Gospels until I was in my thirties). First, I didn’t think the Gospels were written early in history, because they contained so many miraculous stories. I was a committed philosophical naturalist and I rejected miracles. So, I figured the Gospels must have been written late in history, after all the people who knew the truth about Jesus were already dead and gone. Secondly, even if the Gospels were written early, I suspected the supernatural elements were inserted later. I believed the earliest versions of the Gospel accounts were probably much less supernatural. Maybe, in the first versions of the story, Jesus was a simple guy who was a good teacher, but not a miracle worker. He didn't walk on water and didn't rise from the dead; all those elements, in my opinion, were inserted later.

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Why Making a Case for the Bible Is More Important Than Arguing About Politics

We’ve just experienced an unprecedentedly contentious and polarizing political season. Throughout this time, I’ve been tempted to enter the fray, especially on social media, where I’ve observed several heated exchanges between my friends and family members. I refrained from commenting or arguing about politics, however, and a few of my followers have asked why I’ve been so silent on the issues that seem to divide our nation. It’s not that I don’t have a view I would like to share, and it’s not that I feel incompetent to express my views. I simply understand the real battle: If everyone held an accurately informed Christian worldview, the number (and degree) of disputes over the issues facing our country would be dramatically reduced. In other words, if people took the Bible as seriously as they took their political positions, we’d probably agree on almost everything.

If you’re in disagreement with an unbelieving friend or family member, you shouldn’t be surprised. They probably reject the Bible (and what it teaches) altogether. If you’re in disagreement with a believing friend or family member, you also shouldn’t be surprised. They may not take their Bible any more seriously than an unbeliever. They may not be reading it, or might not be reading it seriously enough to develop an accurately informed Christian worldview. In either case, our disagreements are rooted in our view of the Bible; if we disagree, it’s because we either don’t understand or don’t accept what the Bible teaches.

That’s why I spend more time making the case for the reliability of the Bible to unbelievers, and the correct interpretation of the Bible to believers, than I do arguing about our respective social. Moral or political views. If my goal is agreement, it’s more important to address the cause of our disagreement than the disagreement itself. It all comes down to helping people understand why it’s important to take the Bible seriously:

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Rapid Response: “Evil Disproves the Existence of God”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone said, “If God is both all-loving and all-powerful, why does He allow evil things to happen? Doesn’t the mere presence of evil disprove the existence of God?” How would you respond to such a claim? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

“In criminal trials, evidence can either inculpate or exculpate a suspect. Inculpating evidence points toward a suspect’s involvement. Exculpating evidence, on the other hand, points away from the suspect’s involvement. So, the real question here is this: Does the presence of evil, either natural or moral evil, exculpate God as the best suspect for the creation of the universe? After all, if there's an all-powerful, all-loving God, why could He allow evil to exist? Either He's not all-powerful (so He can't stop it), or He's not all-loving (He doesn’t want to stop it), or presence of evil demonstrates that He doesn't exist at all.

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Rapid Response: “We Don’t Need God to Explain the Beginning of the Universe”

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone said, “Christians claim God created the universe, but modern science explains the origin of the universe. God is not needed to order to explain how the universe came into existence.” How would you respond to such a claim? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

“As a detective, I have a goal at every crime scene. It’s my job to explain how each piece of evidence appeared in the scene. Can I explain it from inside the room, or do I have to go outside the room for an explanation? Just as importantly, I must ask the question: ‘Why did the crime occur here in the first place?’ If we examine the universe like a crime scene, we have a similar responsibility. Can we explain the evidence in the cosmos by staying ‘inside the room’ of the natural universe, or must we go ‘outside the room’ for a better explanation? And just as importantly, we must ask a similar question about the ‘crime scene’ itself: ‘How did the universe come into being, and why is the evidence here in the first place?’

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