The Denial of the Wrong God

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1 Peter 1:8
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible…”

Have you (Christian) ever come up against this challenge?

“I don’t believe in God, because I’ve never seen Him.”

This statement makes a category error. A category error is a semantic or ontological error in which things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category. In other words, for one to say that they do not believe in God BECAUSE they have never seen God, is to deny a god of their own making. It’s the creation of a false god. It’s an averment about a visible god. 

But, the Bible says that God is invisible:

1 Timothy 1:17
“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

John 1:18
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.”

However, even though God is described as invisible, the Bible says that God’s attributes are CLEARLY SEEN, through the things that are made. Therefore, even though God Himself is invisible, we are still without excuse:

Romans 1:18-22
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”

This common challenge, “I don’t believe in God, because I’ve never seen Him,” is completely bogus. It’s a straw man. A straw man is a misrepresentation of something. For a straw man to be successful, it requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original thing being misrepresented. When we (Christians) fail to stop such assertions the moment that they are proclaimed, we are then allowing God to be described in a manner that is not in line with scripture. That is a big mistake. Our first response should be correction, not a tolerance of the attempted straw man by allowing the assertion to take hold. 

I came across a great example of how to handle this scenario. It was offered by someone quoting Pastor Tim Keller in a Facebook thread:

“This is a case Tim Keller makes. Like him or not, he brings up a brilliant point:

‘Whenever a nonbeliever makes a claim about God you must ask where they got that claim from. For example, “I can’t see God, therefore God doesn’t exist” assumes that God is a being who can be seen, but where did we ever get that notion? Zoom in on the God revealed in Holy Writ and we learn that He is invisible, immortal, and His reasons are perfectly sufficient for Him and for those who long for His appearance.'”

We (Christians) must be careful to not allow the unbeliever to make improper assertions about God and who He is. We must also be careful to not open the door and let in the unbeliever’s attempt of excuse. Our job is to expose them to the reality of who they are in comparison to Christ, who Christ is, and what He did. It is not our job to debate their straw man assertions. 

John 20:29
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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5 thoughts on “The Denial of the Wrong God”

  1. Yep, although they personally have not seen Him; that does not mean He has not been seen. “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,….” (Col 2:9) Shouldn’t that be evidence enough?

    Jesus said to him (Thomas), “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (Jn 20:29).

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