“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6)
In the 2009 Oxford debate between the atheist paleontologist Richard Dawkins and the Christian mathematician John Lennox, both PhD scientists and Oxford college professors, entitled Has Science Buried God?…Richard Dawkins makes the statement that in comparison to the exquisite grandeur of the universe, the idea that God would become a human person and then be crucified and resurrected from the dead, is petty, trivial, local, earthbound, small-minded, and unworthy of the universe…combining some other descriptive terms Dawkins used from their earlier 2008 debate in Alabama.
The biblical account of the virgin birth, turning water into wine, walking on water, the substitutionary atoning sacrifice on the cross for human sin, and being raised three days later from the dead…to the thinking of Richard Dawkins this is not only incredulous as to the facts, but is also beneath the dignity of the creator god of the universe, if it could be shown scientifically that there is one.
John Lennox gives the brilliant response, in my opinion, that if he could do an MRI scan of the brain of Richard Dawkins, the purely mechanical and materialistic nature of the imaging data generated from a brain scan, would not extend to the point of revealing any information as to who Dawkins is as a person…as a unique personality.
The material molecules of the mind/brain of Richard Dawkins will not tell us what he thinks, what he believes, what he loves, his sense of humor, the qualities he admires in other people, and what are the innermost dreams and aspirations that motivate the course of his life.
An MRI brain scan will not give us any information about the core values of a person, being limited in the scope of its investigative reach.
John Lennox then looks directly across at Richard Dawkins and offers the insightful comment: “I can only get to know you if you tell me about yourself”…a truism that every person on the planet can understand and relate to.
This gives us a definitive start to answering the question of why God would become a human person, why He would enter into human history, and why He would introduce Himself to the world “in the flesh” as a personal someone rather than as an impersonal something…rather thanas a mere abstract concept to follow (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7, 53:5-6; Jn. 3:14-21, 9:39-41, 15:22-25).
We can learn through scientific investigation all about the physical aspects of the natural world, that give us a very good and full picture of the technical competence of the Intelligent Designer God as a craftsman…but this cannot reveal to us who God is as an individually unique person…as a personality.
The theme of this essay is that the biblical narrative stories of faith record God’s signature way of introducing Himself to people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Peter, and Paul…and down through the centuries to the world at large…but especially through the life and ministry of the Son of God Jesus Christ.
God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, for Christian disciples today are the precisely fine-tuned and highly specified contexts of life events and circumstances in which we can individually get to know God on a personal level (Jn. 14:9)…the divinely authorized method of proper introduction through which God can tell us about Himself.
We can get to know God, as our experienced, competent, and personal Tour-Guide in life, through the events and circumstances of a journey of faith, because Jesus Christ the Son of God actualized in His own life a journey of faith to perfection…going out ahead of us along this dynamic, living way of faith and trust in God, thereby qualifying Himself for all eternity to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6), for all human beings.
Jesus goes before us in a journey of faith in a human body…exemplifying how perfect God-sovereignty operates in a human life…so that He could justifiably ask us also to “pick up our cross” (Mk. 8:34-35) and follow Him along this same route of committed faith and trust in Him to show us the way in our own life-scripts…to make the difficult transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty that is the unique hallmark of biblical faith.
Jesus Christ steps into a risked-filled journey of faith, becoming incarnated into a human body (Isa. 9:6; Lk. 1:35), putting everything on-the-line so that He could qualify as the sinless, blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice through the cross at Calvary, amidst the most adverse and perilous challenges (Isa. 53; Lk. 22:42).
The life of Jesus leading up to the sacrifice on the cross, of divinely perfect moral character and truth, must be acceptable to God the Father to the degree that Jesus could then justifiably be worthy to be resurrected from the dead…being three days in a rock covered tomb in the city of Jerusalem…death being something never previously experienced by one of the three members of the Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ the divinely perfect Son of God offering Himself in our place, for our offences, justifiably enables Jesus to extend to us an unconditional pardon in that He has paid in full the penalty that ultimate justice demands in a Godly universe of truth and right living.
This is why God became a person through the incarnation of the Son of God Jesus Christ…through the virgin Mary giving birth to her first-born child Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem…accompanied by Joseph her new husband, the inns in the city all being full, beginning an extraordinary story of divine character blended with radical humility throughout the life of Jesus extending all the way to Calvary, that no human literary genius could or would ever invent as fiction.
What will be repeated a few other places in different essays in this book, is that the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross covers the sins past, present, and future for believers.
When I became a born-again Christian at age 18 in 1970…I was not instantly transformed into a morally perfect person…of being incapable of making mistakes, poor decisions, or exhibiting less than perfect character from that time onward.
For the Christian disciples after Pentecost recorded in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit descended upon each of them in the form of tongues of fire, they also were not instantly transformed into morally perfect people.
The package of salvation through Jesus Christ creates a new life of discipleship that does not include moral perfection.
But what turns the world upside-down once we see and understand this in the biblical narrative stories of faith and in our journeys of faith today…is that God is able to shape and channel our imperfect nature into the best imaginable vehicle to venture out into this broken world to investigate the knowledge of good and evil…through a journey of faith having the impunity of a full advance pardon upfront, removing the risk of losing our salvation as a result of our poor performances along the way…of falling at times far short of perfection in our thoughts, actions, and exercise of faith.
God imputes to us through Jesus Christ…by grace through faith…the righteousness that we lack, so that we can embark on a God-guided and sanctioned journey of discovery into the knowledge of good and evil, through a mission-plan that also provides service to others.
God covering my sins past, present, and future allows me to enter into a risk-filled journey of faith following Jesus Christ…with the confidence that this imperfect nature I inhabit creates the context for me to explore the knowledge of good and evil…in exactly the way God intended two-thousand years ago through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:15-8:1-4).
This is a brilliant biblical concept that serves as the solid foundation upon which to confidently build an unshakable worldview (Mt. 7:24-27; Rom. 35-39).
In Matthew 5:6 in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not say blessed are the morally perfect, but blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.
A person who has attained moral perfection does not hunger and thirst after righteousness. They already are righteous.
The timeless quality of God’s creative ingenuity is exhibited here in crafting a program of salvation by grace through faith…to anticipate ahead of time the insightful use of imperfect human character, redeemed and forgiven through faith in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as the very means to be the remedy and the antidote to the otherwise destructive sin in our lives…to brilliantly flip imperfection into an investigative vehicle of exploration.
That the cross and the resurrection allows us to step into individualized journeys of faith research programs into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…with impunity and without the risk of condemnation (Rom. 8:1)…being justified by faith in Christ…this falls on the opposite end of the spectrum-line of ultimate purpose and meaningful foresight from Richard Dawkins’ characterization of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of the divine Son of God Jesus Christ…of being “petty” and therefore not worth serious consideration.
A personal Jesus Christ is accessible
In the New Testament gospels, Jesus reveals Himself to us in terms we can understand, at a level we can comprehend, because we are persons and Jesus became a person…a human being like us.
Jesus becoming a man puts the Son of God in a form we can relate to…and creates the opportunity to get to know Him on a personal, more intimate basis, which on the surface would be something that would and should seem to be out of reach.
We can read the biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington, and we can learn details and facts about them, but we can never get to know them on a first-hand, personal basis from a book.
Jesus Christ raised from the dead enables us to know God on a personal basis today…and for all eternity…because He is alive and reachable today in the Spirit.
This is the eternally accessible part of God…that Jesus is telling His disciples about in John 16:7: “Nevertheless I tell you; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Holy Spirit will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
Jesus here is telling His disciples that the time has come for them to make the transition to getting to know God through His Holy Spirit, which will soon become the universal experience for all New Covenant Christian believers…being guided into all truth (Jn. 16:13) through a journey of faith…building a personal relationship with the living God that is not possible to have with the now dead and buried Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, or George Washington.
A mere biography about an inaccessible and non-relatable God will not produce an intimate personal relationship.
What is also important here is that the pettiness to Richard Dawkins of Jesus Christ the Son of God becoming an insignificant human person on the same level like the rest of us…in comparison to the vast grandeur of the universe…actually highlights a personal trait about the character of God that could not be demonstrated any other way.
Through the life of Jesus Christ, God is telling us something that is immensely important about Himself…as to who He is as a person…that is astounding in its sword-edge splitting assessment of empathy contained within humility.
The current group of New Atheists in this 21st-century who write books critical of God and faith…and debate Christians in public forums over these issues…universally display a form of arrogance that is a product of their atheistic worldview, a worldview possessing the humanistic allowance of built-in self-forgiveness, of having no recognition of sin as a fault, of experiencing no regret leading to repentance before God…in short, of exhibiting self-righteousness, of having an over-inflated self-opinion.
Of course philosophical materialists would “naturally” prefer atheism as their worldview…but not for the high-minded intellectual reasons they put forward…but instead because this allows them to interpret their imperfection of character as a product of Darwinian progressive evolution, thereby producing no fault on their part, and no introspective cause for regret.
Interpreted this way, human sin is conveniently cloaked within a naturalistic imperfection of flawed character…to be theoretically remedied in the distant future through the continued Darwinian progression of random mutation and natural selection.
This philosophically short-circuits entrance into a God-composed journey of faith life-script designed to utilize our imperfect character as the lens through which to understand good and evil…starting with faith that produces humility that generates empathy, the ingredients needed to unravel the knowledge of good and evil, the very same attributes the humble worldly status of Jesus actualizes into reality in the four New Testament gospels.
If our brains/minds are merely the product of random and undirected natural processes…how much more ongoing discord, chaos, and warfare do we need to experience before the atheistic version of mutation/selection works its hypothetical magic…to perfect for human beings in the future a more fully developed adaptation to our moral environment?
The biblical concept of God becoming a human being in the person of Jesus Christ…to be the blemish-free Passover Lamb of God atonement for sin, opening up a new and living way into the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil without the risk of jeopardizing our eternal salvation, while still being morally imperfect but hungering and thirsting after righteousness…is immeasurably superior in terms of truth, hope, and purpose…to the random and undirected, survival-of-the-fittest program of Darwinian evolution.
 John Lennox and Richard Dawkins: Has Science Buried God debate at Oxford 2009, hosted by the Fixed Point Foundation, on You Tube.