Eight Christian Scholars Defend the Faith/Program 1

By: Dr. Walter Kaiser, Jr. , Dave Hunt, Dr. Anis Shorrosh, Dr. Robert Morey, Dr. John Weldon, Bill Cetnar, Joan Cetnar, Dr. Gleason Archer; ©1991
Does it make any difference if God exists or not? What difference would it make if He’s not there? I’d like to know the God of the Bible. How is that possible?” Tell them how.



Dr. John Ankerberg: We have eight professors and teachers that are on the hot seat tonight. And tonight we’re going to ask them some of the questions that skeptics ask Christians across the country. I’m going to start with Dr. Robert Morey tonight. Bob, when we talk about the existence of God, a lot of people fight that. Let’s turn the question around tonight and say, “Does it make any difference if God exists or not? What difference would it make if He’s not there?”

Dr. Robert Morey: Perhaps the best way to deal with this is to rephrase the question, if I have your permission; because the question is not simply, “What if any kind of God of any kind of description…?” If, for example, there existed a deistical kind of God who did not know of man’s existence or if he did, did not care for us and had not revealed to us himself or the truth, it wouldn’t make any difference anyway, because we would still be lost in relativism and subjectivism. So I’d like to ask this question: Would it make any difference if the infinite, personal God of the Bible who is concerned for man and has revealed Himself in Scripture and in Jesus Christ did not exist?
Ankerberg: Very good. Very good.
Morey: Thus, God is the One who is there and is not silent, for if God was simply there and was silent, we wouldn’t know anything anyway.
Ankerberg: Right.
Morey: Since God has revealed Himself, not just personally in terms of encounter but also through propositional truth as given in Scripture and in the Lord Jesus Christ, God is the origin of meaning. That means He is the source of truth, justice, morals, and ethics. This is the only way that we could ever know the difference between truth and error is we have this infinite reference point in God Himself. And we can say, “This is true and this is error;” “This is justice/this is injustice;” “This is moral/this is immoral;” “This is beauty/this is ugliness.” Without the biblical God who has revealed Himself to man, we would be hopelessly lost, and at this point, the humanists, the existentialists – be it Sartre, Flaubert, Camus – would say, “You’re right.” And the Christian and the humanist join at this point and say, “If there is no infinite, personal God who cares enough for us to reveal Himself to us, all is lost. There’s no meaning. No hope. No truth. There is nothing. It’s complete despair.”
Ankerberg: Yeah, and then life’s not worth living.
Morey: No, and that’s why Camus died supposedly in the car with the woman in one hand and the cocktail in the other, and Sartre began to talk about the absurdity of life. And you see, this is where suicide would enter in, because you can’t live that way.
Ankerberg: Right.
Morey: We have to live with morality even though we would claim as humanists we don’t believe in morality. That’s why Sartre had to betray the existential movement when he said that the war between France and Algiers was evil and it was bad. At that moment, the existential movement lost faith in him, because if life has no meaning, then you cannot say Hitler is wrong; you cannot say that child rape is wrong. You have no right to say anything to anybody about anything, and that leads to a complete breakdown of society.
Ankerberg: Okay. Turn it around and how do you know that God does exist?
Morey: Well, you can answer that in terms of your own personal experience, which is valid. You can also answer that in terms of, at this point we’re looking at in terms of philosophy or claims of truth. And you see, there are certain questions that, I don’t care what the philosophy is, they have to answer.
One, they have to answer the question of the existence of the universe. Something is here. I’m here at least; I don’t know if you know you are, but you are and I’m here. I’m not you and you’re not me. A philosophy or religion must answer the question, “Why is something here instead of not being here?”
Second, it’s not only the existence of the universe but the form of the universe. We can put a man on the moon. I can get in a plane and land at home and go visit my family. We are not living in a universe that is based upon the roll of the dice. So Einstein was asked, “How you know that the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant?” He said, “God doesn’t play dice.” How can you explain the form of the universe? You must have an explanation. The way it works.
Third, the uniqueness of man. Moral motions or morality. Do dogs have conventions to discuss whether or not they should be monogamous or promiscuous in their activities? In terms of art, do animals stand around in museums and admire art? Man is unique. He cannot be reduced to the machine. He cannot be reduced to the animal. A philosophy must explain that.
And then last, a philosophy must explain why humanism has utterly failed to ever come up with anything. Man starting from himself, by himself, trying to understand and interpret everything around him has ended in the collapse of relativism in which everything is relative. There are no absolutes. There are no lines. And as a result, we have the death of love, of hope, of meaning, of significance. And I submit, the humanists know they’ve come to the end of the line and there’s only one option left. Meaning is not in the world of ideas, is what Plato claimed. Meaning is not in the object, as Aristotle said. Meaning is not simply in the mind, as Kant claimed. Meaning, according to humanism, is nowhere except one place that’s left they won’t try: God. And they say, “We will not have this man to rule over us!” [Luke 19:14]
Ankerberg: Alright, Dr. Kaiser, flesh that out a little bit for me. Talk about how in the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, that God talks about Himself as being the living, personal, loving God.
Dr. Walter Kaiser: Well, John, I think that the Old Testament and the New Testament as a matter of fact, 14 times in both, so it’s a high score on this issue, used the phrase, “living God.” And it’s not just a claim. There’s more than the claim. There’s the fact that is there, too, as well. For example, when David went out against Goliath he said to Goliath – picking up five stones, you recall – he said as he wound up his arm with that stone in his slingshot, he said, “I come to you in the name of the living God.” [1 Sam. 17:45] And he released that stone. That was a thought that had never penetrated Goliath before. I think it made quite an impression on him, as a matter of fact, as I recall. So I think that that is one of the evidences in terms of, here’s a little boy coming out against a 9-foot giant and he claims that what he is demonstrating in the life is a demonstration of the power of the living God. In 1 Thessalonians 1 Paul says that, “You turned from idols to serve the true and living God.” [1 Thess. 1:9] He said, “You people are living proof. What has happened in your life is a real illustration of this.” [1 Thess. 1:7-9] So the evidences experiential, the evidences logically, the evidences historically are beginning to mount up to show that the claim that He is Living God, I think, is legitimate and just.
And then, of course, Jesus also walks into history and says bluntly in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.” And not only that, but you get the reaction from the crowd because there can be some interpretation there. You say, “Well, that may not really have meant that.” But, watch the Jewish audience. They go for stones. And when they go for stones, that’s a great illustration that they think that He thought that He was claiming He was from God. [John 10:30-33] And I think it’s clear, and the evidence that He gives is: “Three days I’ll be in the grave, and on the third day I’ll come back again.” [Mark 8:31] And the fact that there’s an empty tomb, I think, sets the case for the Living God. He’s not an idea; He’s not a philosophy; He is Person, living Person.
Ankerberg: Dr. Gleason Archer, I keep reading in Time and Newsweek, every once in a while they’re quoting some scholar that says: Well, really in the Old Testament you have a God of hate and in the New Testament you have the God of love. Is that true?
Dr. Gleason Archer: No. It’s a grave misunderstanding. There are more expressions concerning the grace of God, the lovingkindness of God – the Hebrew term chesed particularly being used at this point – than you even have in the New Testament. Every act of God is an expression of His love. The Ten Commandments is a declaration of liberation, not simply from Egyptian slavery, but the slavery of lostness and meaninglessness to which the world is condemned if they do not know the Lord. And so, in all love He planned creation and He planned for our salvation through the sacrifice of His dear Son.
Ankerberg: Let’s go down and compare the God of the Bible with other gods that are out there today. Let’s take Shirley MacLaine’s god, Mormonism, Scientology, Worldwide Church of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Islam. That ought to keep their attention for a few minutes here. Dr. Morey, start us off. Compare the God of the Bible with the god that Shirley MacLaine is promoting today.
Morey: Well, let me take one step backward for a moment. Humanistic thought which attempts to create a God is always trapped between two extremes. They say God is infinite and non-personal, so it becomes likened unto electricity or “the Force,” “Karma” or some kind of basic principle, the yin and the yang. Or they say God is personal but He’s finite, and He ends up Zeus, Jupiter, Isis or the revival of the Scandinavian deities or the worship of the Egyptian deities and Elizabeth Clare Prophet or whatever it is.
When we deal with the New Age Movement and Shirley MacLaine, we are dealing actually with religious atheism. They say, “There is no personal God who is personal and infinite, who has revealed Himself in Scripture and in Jesus Christ; we deny the existence of the Christian God.” Well, then what’s left? The world. But we don’t want to give up the word god, because that’s a religious term. So we’ll simply say the word God encompasses all that is. “I’m God. You’re God. We’re all God.” But not in the sense that the flesh is God, but again, if God is mind and all is God then all is mind. And there is a tendency to deny the existence of evil; to deny the existence of pain and suffering.
So on the television series when she stood there at the ocean and she watched the waves and she put out her arms. Do you remember what she said? “I am God.” Now, she didn’t mean she alone as a personal goddess, but she wanted us all to chant, “We are the only God.” And see, what I said at that moment to my wife and I looked at Shirley, I said, “Shirley, walk on. You see those waves? Walk on, honey. Walk on. Let’s see you go. Right on.” There was one other who knew He was God and He walked on those waters.
And now you see, with the humanists and the New Agers and the Shirley MacLaines, I always say this, “If I’m God and you’re God, why should I pay you $400 to go lie on a rug for you to tell me that? If I’m God, you pay me $400.”
Ankerberg: Alright, Dave, tackle the fact that today we’ve got commercials on television that the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City is producing where first off you start off with Jesus and the Bible and then they switch over into the Book of Mormon and they say that, “Yeah, you believe the Bible. But the fact is, Jesus gave us this other revelation, too.” Let’s talk about their concept of God.
Dave Hunt: Let me pick it up from where he left off, you know. If He’s God and I’m God, that would explain why the world is in a mess!
Morey: The positive and the negative. Yin and Yang.
Hunt: That wouldn’t offer any hope. And I don’t want to trust in Shirley MacLaine as God, you know; we’ve got to have somebody bigger than that. But that’s literally the Mormon God. The Mormon God is a man who was a sinner on another planet who had to be redeemed by another Jesus, who died, and then went on and he’s evolved and evolved and he finally became a white magician, the master of the forces. He didn’t create the universe. The Mormon God is not the Creator of all that is.
The Mormon God is not the only God. The Mormon God, in fact, has a God over him. When Jesus prayed to “Our Father who art in heaven,” He’s got a grandfather in heaven, too, and a great-grandfather and a great-great-grandfather. In fact, the Mormons have more gods than the Hindus. The Hindus only have about 330 million. This thing has been going on forever with the Mormons. Not only that, but there are goddesses. You know, there’s not only a father in heaven, there’s a mother in heaven. And in fact the Mormon God has to be a polygamist to become a God.
And the incredible thing about the Mormon Gods is that when they have babies, the babies don’t have bodies. But you have to have a body to be a God. And that’s why the Mormons have big families and the worst thing you can do is have birth control because all these spirits are up there, including Jesus, waiting to get into bodies down here. So the spirit beings, the children of the Gods who are spirits, have to come to this earth and get human bodies in order to go through this trial period to turn around and come back and becomes Gods. And the Mormon God came with his physical body and had sex with Mary, so Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin. And this was the body that was prepared for Jesus who was a spirit up there waiting to come down. He wasn’t God who became a man, He was a spirit coming down to become a man in order to get back to become a God who is the half brother of Satan.
And I could go on and on. This is not the God of the Bible. In fact, Brigham Young said this, that it’s dishonest for Mormon missionaries to come on your doorstep and say that they worship the same God that you do and they’re just another Christian denomination. Brigham Young said, “The Christian God is the Mormon’s devil.” Okay? That’s literally what they believe. They do not have the God of the Bible at all.
Ankerberg: Bob?
Morey: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a perfect example of that other swing: finite, personal deities, gods and goddesses. They’re not infinite. They don’t know the future. They have a beginning. They have an end. As a matter of fact in the book, Battle of the Gods, I go through the Greek gods who lived on Mount Olympus which is virtually revived under Mormon theology. So you have the crude, old, pagan polytheism revived under Mormonism and you have the suave pantheism of Hinduism through the New Age and Shirley MacLaine. So God is either infinite but not personal, but if he’s personal, he’s finite; where the genius of Christianity alone: He’s infinite and personal at the same time.
Ankerberg: Very good. Dr. John Weldon, today we have a lot of television commercials with L. Ron Hubbard’s book being promoted, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. And what is the Scientologist’s view of God?
Dr. John Weldon: The Scientologist basically takes a view of God that is drawn from Hinduism and Eastern religion. In essence, they believe that all individuals are what they term thetans, and that is omnipotent spirit beings that have somehow gotten trapped in what they call the MEST universe, the Matter-Energy-Space-Time universe, and they have forgotten that they’re really Gods. And so the goal of Scientology auditing is to enable a person to realize that he’s really a God and to break free from the body. They get involved in developing psychic powers and out of the body experiences and this is designed to prove to them that they really are this potentially omnipotent God that they’ve forgotten about. And so in some ways it’s very similar to Mormonism and other religions.
Ankerberg: Okay, skip over to Garner Ted Armstrong and Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God. They have a television program on all across the country. What’s their concept of God?
Weldon: The Armstrong religion is, again, similar to Mormonism although slightly different. They also teach that we can become God. As a matter of fact, in the publication of the Worldwide Church of God, Is There a Trinity?, they state that Satan is the one who has promoted the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to try and deceive people into thinking that there’s only three members of the Godhead and that this is a great lie because eventually there will be a great expansion of the Godhead. Armstrongism teaches that currently there are only two members of the Godhead. They deny the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit. The two members of the Godhead are the Father and the Son. But potentially every good member of the Armstrong religion believes that he will one day be God himself.
Ankerberg: Okay. Bill and Joan Cetnar, you actually were Jehovah’s Witnesses for many, many years. You worked at the Watchtower Headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. You answered questions for the Jehovah’s Witnesses and then you left. What is the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ concept of God? Bill, let’s start with you.
Bill Cetnar: Well, they say that God Jehovah is only the Father. They stick to the Father alone as God. They call him “Jehovah.” That’s a word that needs some… Well, you understand that. You use Yahweh anyway, but it’s an error resulting from Christians combining the consonants of YHWH with the vowels Adonai. That’s from the Britannica Encyclopedia. They do not believe that Jesus is God. He’s the Son of God. They do not believe the Holy Spirit is any power or any force of any kind. They’re sadly mistaken.
Joan Cetnar: John, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past under Rutherford taught in their publications that Jehovah was out on the constellation Pleiades. And even today, their God is not omnipresent nor omniscient. He needs his angels to get around to do his knowing and his seeing for him. That’s not the God of the Bible.
Ankerberg: Alright, Bob?
Morey: Again, personal and finite, not infinite and personal. All the cults, all false religions end up on one side or the other. They can’t accept the reality of both. So you have a finite Jehovah, who doesn’t know the future, who’s not omnipresent, etc. And no matter which of the cults you go to, in the end it is not infinite and personal, it’s one or the other.
Ankerberg: Okay. Dr. Anis Shorrosh, you’re an Arab Palestinian. And coming from the Middle East surrounded by Islam, what is Islam’s view of God?
Dr. Anis Shorrosh: When you compare Allah, which is the Arabic word for God, with the Arab Christian’s view of God, it is the same word, Allah. Originally, Eli means “one God,” Allah – “the God.” When you look deeper into the meaning of it, you discover they have 99 names called excellent names for God. But the truth is, the Muslims don’t know what the name of God is. There is no such name as Yahweh. What’s missing in Islam also is the fact that, whereas we have our understanding of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that’s totally missing.
And if you read the Qur’an you emerge with the discovery that although each Sura except one out of the 114 that comprise the Qur’an begins with “In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful” that the fact is, this great God does not have the ability to demonstrate his love because, number one, God is never mentioned, as in the Bible, God is love. Number two, as Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven,” God as a Heavenly Father is never mentioned in the Qur’an. And third, God as Spirit, although we read in the Qur’an that God states in the Qur’an, “We have given Jesus or supported him with a Holy Spirit,” it never says the concept of God being Spirit Himself. Jesus, dealing with the Samaritan woman as you remember said that “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” That is missing there.
Now, here is a most remarkable thing. If you try to understand the God of the Qur’an you emerge with the fact that God is a mighty general marching through the earth with sword in hand saying, “Submit to me, you boys, girls, men and women, or else! I want you to be my slaves.” In the Bible we emerge with the discovery that God is a loving Father who is pleading with boys and girls, with men and women, wanting them to become His children, His boys and girls, His sons and daughters, through the redemptive work of Calvary.
And please remember, this is practically the most damaging thing. There is no assurance of salvation in the God of the Qur’an. There is no room for redemption. There is no example of Calvary. Missing totally. And to me, the most marvelous thing is, I find in Jesus Christ an assurance of forgiveness of my sins now, right now. Secondly, I find in Jesus Christ assurance of eternal life now – by trusting Him as One who died for my sins, took my place, atoned for my sins. Because in the final analysis, the Qur’an teaches you that: Do all the work you can. Fulfill all the five pillars of Islam. And still you have no assurance. God has the prerogative to send you to hell no matter what you’ve done. See?
Ankerberg: Okay. Walter, for people that have listened and they say, “You know, I’d like to know the God of the Bible. How is that possible?” Tell them how.
Kaiser: The God of the Bible needs to be known through Jesus Christ. The answer is, He was here, Charlie. He was here, Lucy. He came to our kind of earth, touched down, walked here on our planet, and people said, “Prove it. If you’re from God, prove it.” And He said, “I will. I’ll come back again from the dead.” And He did. That’s the Easter story. And because He did, you ought to check it out.
Ankerberg: Very good. Join us next week. In Part 2 we’re going to take a look at the questions about the Bible. How do we know that the Bible is true and it actually came from God? Please join us then.

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