Does God Exist? And What Does Sin Have To Do With It?

In Saturday’s debate, held at Biola University (and co-sponsored by the students and Biola’s Apologetics Department), between Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig, I found it interesting that, as near as I recall, the only time the word sin (actually “sinner”) came up, our atheist proponent, Mr. Hitchens, used it (and even then, in my notes I may have used the word, not he, to indicate what he was describing).

I believe the occurrence came in his rebuttal. Essentially he said that the Christian belief is extraordinarily contradictory. On one hand we believe that we are so despicable and wayward, in fact that we are sinners in need of God to rescue us by dying a painful, bloody death. On the other hand, we believe that this same God designed this incredibly vast and complex universe over billions of years just for us. In short, that prideful position stands in stark contrast to the Man-as-worm view.

Well, bravo! He got it. There is a contradictory chasm between the two views. And if Mr. Hitchens would follow that train of thought, he’d get to the truth.

His primary focus, it would seem is that religion is bad for society. He points to things like the Crusades and the Inquisition, to religious terrorist bombers.

The truth is, sin is bad for society. And Satan, who Mr. Hitchens undoubtedly also does not believe in, masquerades as an angel of light. How Satan must love to see people fight and kill in the name of God, or in the name of their religion.

Did God initiate any of this? Someone might immediately point to places in the Old Testament where God’s people were commanded to annihilate other nations. But that’s missing the point. Sin was already in the world, and God didn’t bring it.

I’m sure the concept of sin is something Mr. Hitchens has a hard time with since he doesn’t want to be accountable to a higher being, since he doesn’t want a “celestial dictator” telling him what to do.

But there’s the problem. This blatant rejection of God’s authority is the problem, and the wars and brutality and inhumanity Mr. Hitchens cites are the symptoms, regardless if the people involved claim to be religious or not. I don’t care if a “Protestant” terrorist or an Islamic terrorist explodes a bomb. At the heart, both are sinners acting sinfully, in need of a Savior.

The Protestant can claim he knows the Savior, but his actions say otherwise. The societal “Does God exist?” debate is muddied by the existence of false religions and false teaching within Christianity.

During the cross examination phase of the formal debate, Mr. Hitchens asked Dr. Craig if he thought there were false religions. He said yes, Then Mr. Hitchens asked if he thought there were any false Christian denominations. Unfortunately, after answering yes, Dr. Craig hedged when asked which ones. He turned the question to doctrines he disagreed with. Instead he could have stood up for the truth and named heresy. If he didn’t want to say Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses or health-and-wealthers, he could have said something like any who add or detract from the inerrant, authoritative Word of God.

A missed opportunity. I think it’s time Christians separate from pseudo-Christians. Instead, because a social agenda seems to have dominated our goals in the last few decades, it seems like we are more apt to pander to anyone with morals like ours.

The fact is, morality doesn’t win us points in Heaven. We are no closer to reconciliation with God if we go to church or live a monogamous, heterosexual lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think having a relationship with God will effect our behavior and certainly our lifestyle. But we must not give the impression that abiding by a list of do‘s and don’t‘s increases our standing with God and makes us more acceptable.

I think that’s what the people who go to war in the name of religion are all about. They think their standing up for “the cause” earns them special consideration. It is false.

But because one form of religion is false, a thinking person should not conclude that God does not exist. Sin accounts for it. So does man’s pride. Which, by the way, seems to also be at the heart of anyone saying he wants to be emancipated from a “celestial dictatorship.”

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9 Comments

  1. […] culpa: The devil didn’t actually make me do it. I was just reading this post, the second half of which I pretty much agree with. I have some disagreements with much of the […]

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  2. Hi! Thanks for this post. You inspired me to write my own post on sin & stuff. I actually wound up disagreeing with some of what you said here, but your post was thought-provoking for me, so thanks again. We may not be of one mind on everything, but I think we agree on the major points – our theology doesn’t save: Jesus does.

    Blessings!

    Robaigh

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  3. I think I agree with Hitchens on one point: religion is bad for society. Religion is a term which is used to describe nearly any spiritual inclination. However, being “religious” means virtually nothing to do with truth because people are religious in their atheism, their devotion to abortion, their worship of celebrities, their following of fanatics. Religion and religiosity comprise all kinds of wayward practices and belief systems. Society embraces all kinds of falsehoods and practices them religiously resulting in dangerous conduct.
    And as Becky noted: sin is at the root of it all.

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  4. I hear where you’re coming from Nicole, and I don’t disagree. The only thing I’d add to that is that it works the same way for us Christians. We’re sinners, too, and it’s dangerous to draw a line in the sand, saying, “Over here are the good guys, but over there are the bad guys.” Considering Jesus’ ministry and those with whom he associated, which side of the line do you reckon he’d be standing on?

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  5. Just to let you know, Robaigh, I do not consider myself better than anyone. The Blood of the Lamb is the ONLY thing which has redeemed me and given me worth: anything of any value in me is due to the God of the universe. Apart from Him, I can do nothing.

    And Christians who are racists, who think the government is their source of provision and covet the wealth of others, who practice evil and justify it, who fail to see personal sin as it truly is: their “religion” has brought shame to our faith but not to Jesus. None of us can escape our humanity, but we can achieve life from Jesus Christ because of what He took upon Himself on our behalf.

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  6. Sorry! Didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I was just expanding the point.

    Happy Holy Week,

    Robaigh

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  7. Robaigh, thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. I read your post, and I’m happy you found something here that provoked thought, especially about sin and salvation.

    In rereading my post to understand your points of criticism, I realize I was very sketchy about my position regarding Satan and sin. I certainly do not adhere to a “the devil made me do it” belief system. Man stands as a responsible agent before God, condemned because of our sin nature that locks us into doing sinful acts. I did not mean to intimate, by bringing up Satan, anything else.

    Rather, I was trying to explain why some groups that call themselves “Christian” are, in fact false. Satan masquerades as an angel of light, so it is logical to suspect he would camouflage false teaching to look convincingly Christian.

    So as I see it, the “Christian churches” that preach what Paul referred to as “another gospel” are more apt to lead people away from the truth than the churches that openly worship Satan.

    I suspect we’d have a good debate about the inerrancy of the Bible, though. I’m wondering why you believe in Jesus’s resurrection and not Satan’s visit to Eve when both are told in the same Scripture.

    Becky

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  8. Considering Jesus’ ministry and those with whom he associated, which side of the line do you reckon he’d be standing on?

    Oh, in regards to this issue, I think there is an odd half-truth going around portions of Christendom. It’s the idea that Jesus was the friends of sinners, that today He’d be hanging out with prostitutes and drug dealers.

    The truth is, sin separates us from God. Any of us. All of us. Wall Street crooks. Pick pockets. Adulterers. Porn addicts. Gossips. Bullies. And hypocrites.

    The people Jesus was spending time with were his followers, some of whom had once been tax collectors (Matthew, Zaccheus) and terrorists (Simon the zealot) and some religious leaders (Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea).

    To suggest that He would hang out with unrepentant people, whether they are religious or irreligious is missing the point. Sin of any kind creates a chasm that separates us from God. Coming to Jesus is the only way to deal with sin, of any kind.

    The problem with the majority of the Pharisees wasn’t that they were religious; it was that they weren’t repentant.

    And if any repent, well, that’s us coming to Jesus’s side, isn’t it.

    Becky

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  9. I agree with you about his call to repent (to all the folks you mentioned above). He came to heal the sick, not the well, right? I think that he would not only hang out with prostitutes and drug dealers, but also that he calls us to reach out to them and give them the same message he gave us. “Change your mind. You’re not a slave to this stuff anymore.”

    Gotta run,

    Happy Easter!

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