Is Jesus Really the Only Way to God/Part 2 | John Ankerberg Show

Is Jesus Really the Only Way to God/Part 2

By: Dr. John Weldon
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By: Dr. John Ankerberg with various Scholars; ©{{{copyright}}}
Introduction: The God Who Is There. What surprising results do we find when we ask non-Christians about God?

Ed. note: This article is based upon the transcript from programs produced by the John Ankerberg Show. Additional material has been added for this print version.

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Part I—Introduction: The God Who Is There

What surprising results do we find when we ask non-Christians about God?

In the world today there are only a dozen major religions. But there are literally thousands of minor religions—and thousands of different gods. The Westminster Confession of Faith declares that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. At the time it was written, few Westerners had any real doubts as to which God it referred to. Today it is a different story entirely. The sheer number of religions confuses people when it comes to truth claims. So is it possible to discover which concept of God is true and which religion is true? We think it is. Let’s begin by finding out what we can know at the intuitive level.

There is a particular fact that no one, not even the most diehard atheist, can logically deny. The vast majority of men and women throughout history have believed in God. It is probably also true that the majority of the greatest thinkers among humanity, including scientists, have believed in God.[1] In light of this, one might argue atheism is little more than an infected blemish on the face of history.[2]

If many of the greatest intellects of history have believed in God, then it seems a bit presumptuous for anyone to claim absolute assurance there is no God.[3] While this does not prove the Christian view of God, it does say a great deal about all skeptical views that characteristically reject theism and supernaturalism.

In God And, a disillusioned Catholic priest—Terrance A. Sweeney, president of Jesuit Media Associates in Los Angeles—set out to try and recover his faith. He interviewed 30 famous people and asked each of them three questions: “Who is God to you?”; “Who are you to God?”; and “How has your relationship changed?”[4]

This book illustrates the truth that virtually everybody believes in God at some level, regardless of what they may claim. The famous psychologist Carl Jung once observed that the “idea of an all-powerful divine being is present everywhere, if not consciously recognized, then unconsciously accepted. Therefore I consider it wiser to recognize the idea of God consciously; otherwise something else becomes god, as a rule something quite inappropriate and stupid.”[5]

Even if skeptics and others say that they aren’t certain of God’s existence or that they disbelieve in God, they still know He exists. One reason the Bible spends no time arguing for God’s existence is because it really isn’t necessary. In the material below we have provided sufficient examples from Sweeney’s book to illustrate our point. Collectively, they show the raw power of the intuitive knowledge of God, even when such knowledge is perverted into mysticism and pantheism.

Famous writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who describes himself as a rationalist, still believes in God. Even though he judges God’s performance as “quite heartless,” declaring we have “a lousy God,” he nevertheless says that he believes in “pretty much the Unitarian God, where spring is celebrated and where there is a feeling of something terribly important going on in the universe, something unified, an awareness of that”.[6] Actor Richard Chamberlain, known for his roles in “Shogun” and “The Thornbirds,” declares, “We are pieces of God.”[7] Star Trek producer Gene Roddenberry has said, “As nearly as I can concentrate on the question today, I believe I am God; certainly you are; I think we intelligent beings on this planet are all a piece of God, are becoming God.”[8] Actor Martin Sheen replies, in response to whether or not he prays, “Only when I get in trouble.” Asked where he directs the prayer he says,

It just goes. I feel like I’m making contact. I don’t feel that I’m talking to myself when I pray. I don’t think people who pray do, do they? If they’re really praying, they are in touch with Another, which I think is God, or part of God, or at least the presence of God in us.[9]

Noted movie director Frank Capra makes the following astute observation:

As I got into the creative business, then I realized that creativity and God were connected, directly connected. Whether you believe in God or not. You had to believe, if you believed in creativity, you had to believe in some creator. And if you believed in some crea-tor, where do you end up? You must go to that prime creator, which has set our universe in motion. Things are too ordered in the universe to be the result of chaos. There is no way you can get away from the fact that there’s got to be some sort of divine idea to the whole thing.[10]

Even novelist and screenplay writer of Exorcist fame, William Peter Blatty, speaks of his relationship with God in quite personal terms:

It’s very mysterious that one man, being of sound mind, can give his life for another. I think that kind of love, that kind of inherent goodness speaks very loudly for a good God. And so with all the problems, I personally have always felt that my relationship to God is that of a son who writes lots of letters. He never gets a letter back, but he keeps hearing reports from mutual friends of what his father is doing. And his father seems to be taking the attitude of “look, trust me, I’m taking care of you.” And I do trust him, I trust God very definitely. There have been so many personal interventions in my life.[11]

Frank Sullivan, Emeritus Professor and Thomas Moore Scholar at Loyola Marymount University, states what most people already know:

To me, proving the existence of God is not important because everybody believes in God no matter what they say…. When you look back over your life, carefully, you remember all kinds of moments when you felt God near you; when you felt that somehow or other you lucked out; when you got something you didn’t deserve.[12]

William Shoemaker, one of the greatest jockeys in the history of racing, confessed:

I must admit that I’m really not very religious. I do believe in God, but I don’t really follow it as well as I probably should. I’m not into it like some people, but I believe in God and sometimes in my life I have asked him to help me when I thought I really needed it. That’s happened to me many times, and I think he’s helped me. I think he’s been great to me. God’s been good to me in my career. I feel like he’s trying to look out for me, you know, maybe more so than the average guy.[13]

In an interview, former President George Bush recalled being shot down over the Pacific during World War II:

I was a 20-year-old kid; the other two men in the plane were dead, and flames all over us. Of course, I cried out to God to save me. I remember floating in that rubber raft in the middle of the ocean and yet… feeling that God was going to help somehow and that I was going to live.[14]

That God is good to all men is indeed the scriptural testimony. God desires that none should perish and that men should “love life and see good days” (1 Peter 3:10). God “gives to all men generously and without reproach” (James 1:5). In all past generations. God “did good [to you] and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and to do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12,13). Truly, “the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 33:5). “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made…. The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down…. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:8, 9, 13, 14, 16).

Of course, while God is good and loving, this is not necessarily true of men, and it is certainly not true of the devil and his demons. These are the source of most evil and suffering in the world.[15]

But in spite of the evil in the world, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” The testimony of everything in life and creation is a testimony to the existence of God, and to His power, majesty, and glory. Walt Whitman commented, “To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle. Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.”[16] Biologist Lewis Thomas once wrote about the fertilized egg:

The mere existence of that cell should be one of the greatest astonishments of the earth. People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell. If anyone does succeed in explaining it, within my lifetime, I will charter a skywriting airplane, maybe a whole fleet of them and send them aloft to write one great exclamation point after another, around the whole sky, until all my money runs out.[17]

Dr. Thomas is quite correct. The ovum is indeed a miracle. And if the DNA content of the human body were printed as chemical “letters,” and placed in a book, it would fill the Grand Canyon 50 times! But what about a single atom? A solitary atom—so small that 10,000 of them could be placed one on top of the other in the thickness of this piece of paper—has enough power in it to produce an atomic bomb! Nothing unusual here, either. The truth is there are literally thousands of “miracles” everywhere we look—and yet skeptics tell us confidently, “there is no God.”

This sense of wonder and the miraculous, in even ordinary things, also underscores that the intuitive knowledge of God is everywhere. Personal statements such as those cited above are repeated in various ways throughout Sweeney’s book—and could, certainly, be repeated six billion more times were we to interview everyone in the world. They clearly illustrate the truth of Romans 1 and 2 which declare that everyone intuitively knows God exists, everyone has a conscience, and everyone knows they are personally accountable to a divine Being. For example, the following Chinese belief in divine accountability is seen in every religion and culture in one manner or another: “A very old idea in Chinese philosophy holds that there are spirits, in both microcosm and macrocosm, that record one’s good and bad deeds.”[18]

Because the sense of responsibility to a higher power exists universally, at some level and in some way all men expect a future judgment. That is one reason the fear of death is also universal: “All their lives [men are] held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15).

Regardless, as far as we know, none of the statements in Sweeney’s book were, at that time, made by genuine Christians. When non-Christians, secular or religious, make statements about God that have varying degrees of truth in them, this certainly says something about what people know intuitively. But an interesting point is that even though people know that God has been good to them, they usually ignore Him. They know God exists (Romans 1:20), they “believe” in God, they realize God has been good to them—and yet they live their lives as if God doesn’t exist! Their “belief” in God is intuitive and self-serving, not genuine and biblical. As the esteemed philosopher Mortimer Adler recalled, prior to his own conversion to Christianity, “I simply did not wish to exercise a will to believe.”[19] Famous novelist Aldous Huxley wrote frankly that, “Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know. It is our will that decides how and upon which subjects we shall use our intelligence.”

Examining the context in which this quotation occurs is instructive. Huxley was frank enough to confess that his desire to be free from the Christian God and morality was based more upon emotional considerations than rational ones:

For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: We could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever.

As Huxley wrote further,

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know. It is our will that decides how and upon which subjects we shall use our intelligence. Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless.[20]

But as Ravi Zacharias points out, the atrocities committed historically that are the logical consequences of the antitheistic position are far deeper and more severe than for those (inconsistently) committed in the name of Christianity:

Conveniently forgotten by those antagonistic to spiritual issues are the far more devastating consequences that have entailed when antitheism is wedded to political theory and social engineering. There is nothing in history to match the dire ends to which humanity can be led by following a political and social philosophy that consciously and absolutely excludes God….
One of the great blind spots of a philosophy that attempts to disavow God is its unwillingness to look into the face of the monster it has begotten and own up to being its creator….
[Indeed,] The infrastructure of our society has become mindless and senseless because the foundation upon which we have built cannot support any other kind of structure.[21]

Have you ever wondered why so many people speak in terms of being blessed, of being given gifts, etc., when they don’t believe in God? They accept the gifts, but it seems they rarely acknowledge God as the Giver. In a TV news report of an earlier interview (given on the day he died, October 10, 1985), Yul Brynner noted, “I’ve been blessed with this special gift. Who could ask for more in life?” In a 20/20 interview October 10, 1985, rock musician Bob Dylan commented, “I don’t have any faith in myself that I can do anything. I just pull it off. I’m amazed I can even do it.” The sense or intuitive perception that there is something good going on and something more involved than the life we know has been a constant theme in human discourse and activities throughout history. To cite a modern example, Sir John Eccles is one of the foremost brain scientists of this century, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine. He and his co-author write the following concerning the personal conclusions they draw from natural theology:

We think science has gone too far in breaking down man’s belief in his spiritual greatness and has given him the belief that he is merely an insignificant animal that has arisen by chance and necessity in an insignificant planet lost in the great cosmic immensity. The principal trouble with mankind today is that the intellectual leaders are too arrogant in their self-sufficiency. We must realize the great unknowns in the material makeup and operation of our brains, and the relationship of brain to mind, in our creative imagination and in the uniqueness of the psyche. When we think of these unknowns as well as the unknown of how we come to be in the first place, we should be much more humble. Mankind would be cured of its alienation if that message [of man’s spiritual significance] could be expressed with all the authority of scientists and philosophers as well as with the imaginative insights of artists. We pray that man may develop a transforming faith in the meaning and significance of this wonderful, even unbelievable, adventure given to each of us on this lovely and salubrious earth of ours…. In the context of natural theology we come to the belief that we are creatures with some supernatural meaning that is as yet ill defined. We cannot think more than that we are all part of some great design. Each of us can have the belief of acting in some unimaginable supernatural drama. We should give all we can in order to play our part in this life on earth.[22]

If anything may be concluded from the study of man, or human history, or life generally, it is that everyone intuitively knows that God exists, even the most brilliant among us. However, some readers may be thinking at this point that we really haven’t been fair to the convictions of atheists and other skeptics. After all, such people can sound very convincing when they claim they have never believed in God and are absolutely certain no God exists.

Read Part 3

Notes

  1. See, e.g., Henry Morris, Men of Science, Men of Faith (Santee, CA: Creation-Life, 1990). Cf., Phillip E. Johnson, Reason in the Balance: The Case Against NATURALISM in Science, Law & Education.
  2. Given the harmful consequences of nontheism historically, documented in texts like Ravi Zacharias’ Can Man Live Without God?, atheism and similar views are not just blemishes on the face of history but cancers within its body.
  3. E.g., Roy Abraham Varghese, The Intellectuals Speak Out About God (Dallas: Lewis & Stanley, 1984); Kelly James-Clark (ed.), Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of Eleven Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993); Henry Margenau and Roy Abraham Varghese, eds., Cosmos, Bios, Theos: Scientists Reflect on Science, God and the Origin of the Universe, Life and Homo Sapiens (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1992).
  4. Terrance A. Sweeney, God And (Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, 1985)
  5. Carl Jung (H. G. and C. F. Baynes, translators), Two Essays in Analytical Psychology (NY: Dodd Mead, 1928), p. 73, cited in Rollo May, The Art of Counseling (NY: Abingdon, 1957), p. 217.
  6. Sweeney, pp. 86-87.
  7. Ibid., p. 200.
  8. Ibid., p. 11.
  9. Ibid., p. 23.
  10. Ibid., p. 34.
  11. Ibid., p. 45.
  12. Ibid., pp. 126-127.
  13. Ibid., p. 150.
  14. Interview by Doug Wead, “George Bush: Where Does He Stand?,” Christian Herald, June 1986, p. 14.
  15. Whenever there are problems or tragedies in life and God is not “kind and good,” so to speak, when we see famines or crime or evil governments or natural disasters, we should never suspect God’s goodness (See John Wenham, The Goodness of God; C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain). These things usually result from a fallen natural order, our sin, the devil, or the folly of men, not from God. For example, either the greed and stupidity of men cause calamities such as famines in Communist and socialist regimes, or the evil done by dictators, drug runners, etc., destroys thousands or millions of lives. Sometimes evil reaches such proportions God is forced by His own righteousness to send judgment in various forms through weather calamities, economic hardships, etc. Of course, natural and social disasters are not always the direct judgment of God, but if God did not uphold His own holiness and punish evil, things would be far worse than they are. As it is, God is much more merciful and longsuffering than we deserve and far more merciful and longsuffering to evil men than most of us would be. Further, the Bible tells us all men intuitively know God is good despite the evil in the world (e.g., Rom 1:18-21; 2:14-16; 3:4-6). If God were truly evil, there would be no hope and the conditions of life and our sense of things would be quite different. This is why we never ask, “Why is there so much good in the world?” It’s always, “Why is there so much evil in the world?” We know that evil is the aberration in a universe whose Ruler is good and righteous. And in fact, the evil that exists is not as prevalent as suggested by our instantaneous, worldwide media reporting and, regardless, it could be much worse were it not for God’s restraining hand (2 Thess. 2:6-7) and His common grace. On the other hand, things generally are much worse than they need to be because our culture rejects moral absolutes and our children are raised in an environment of relativism that can justify almost any behavior.
  16. Quotations from the 1987 Rainbow calendar, (Allen, TX: Argus Communications), Product #14850.
  17. Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail (NY: Viking Press, 1979), pp. 155-157.
  18. Taoist priest and scholar Kenneth Cohen, “Chi, the Breath of Life,” Yoga Journal, March/April, 1986, p. 37.
  19. Adler, in Clark (ed.). Philosophers Who Believe, p. 209, emphasis added.
  20. Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means, (London: Chatto & Windus, 1946), pp. 270,273, emphasis added.
  21. Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God? (Dallas: Word, 1994), XVII, 21,22.
  22. Sir John Eccles and Daniel N. Robinson, The Wonder of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind (Boston: Shambhala/New Science Library, 1985), pp. 178-179.

Dr. John Weldon

Dr. John Weldon

Dr. John Weldon (born February 6, 1948) went to be with the Lord on August 30, 2014 following a long-time battle with cancer. John served for more than 20 years as a researcher for The John Ankerberg Show. During his tenure, he authored or coauthored more than 100 books, including the best-selling Facts On Series of books that has sold more than 2.5 million copies in 16 languages. His final book, published in July 2014 with Harvest House Publishers (coauthored with John Ankerberg), is especially fitting. How to Know You’re Going to Heaven offers a biblical and personal look at the way God has provided salvation through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12) and the confidence the believer can have of eternity with Him in heaven (1 John 5:13). John’s life and work have touched countless others seeking to grow spiritually and better understand the Bible. His friends describe him as genuine, humble, and passionate to share the hope of eternal life with everyone he met. His work will continue through his many books, his online writings at The John Ankerberg Show website (JAshow.org), as well as through the many people John has personally influenced through his ministry.
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