I just recently watched a session where Frank Turrek, an evangelical Christian apologist and author, responded to an atheist student on the issue of how anyone can worship God considering “the many atrocities” that he has done in the Bible. The video can be watched here. Now there were a few things that I found amazing, and wanted to identify, and why a Reformed response and polemic would have avoided some of the most fundamental issues brought up here:
Considering the typical Arminianism and Finneyism of modern-day Evangelicalism, the atheist student constantly appealed to man’s supposed “free will.” Her reasoning was that God would be horrible if he really gave “free will” and then ended up punishing people. Now, Frank Turrek did not correct her in any way but simply let her get away with the proposition. What was disturbing about this is that man’s sinfulness even though used to respond to her assertion, not once was the issue of man’s enslaved will brought up. The Reformed polemic against her response would have been more effective, here’s why:
1. Even though it is true as Turrek mentions, men were evil. However, man’s total and willful rebellion against God is what makes the narrative of Genesis and the Ark really interesting. We find that EVERYONE was guilty of evil, and this is the exact Scriptural slant elsewhere (Genesis 6:5-9). What one notices is that Noah was not chosen as a vessel for God’s grace based on his decision to follow God, but purely based on the premise of God’s divine grace/favour. God spared some, namely Noah and his family freely because of his grace. Man hated and rejected God, including Noah, but God showed Noah grace.
2. Turrek defends his belief in God solely based on the evidence, which I find amazing. This is probably why many in the Reformed tradition have not found a purely classical and evidential approach to Apologetics very appeasing. I am not bashing this methodology, all I am saying is that it has its limits. Presuppositional apologetics does not fall into the trap of bidding man autonomy, when in fact all know that God exists and they simply suppress the truth in knowledge.
3. The Holiness of God is another thing which I think needed to be pressed forth, Turrek interacted more based on atheistic presupposition which was what was most disturbing. He allowed many points to fall, I am not now saying his response was inadequate but I believe he could have avoided many of the points, which the atheist thought was “spot on.”
Bidding unbelievers autonomy about free will and morality in the way that Turrek did was what I believe undermines many of the non-Reformed Evangelical world. We cannot assume that believing in God is a option, the existence of God is not something we simply assume, it is something we KNOW.