The Cross and proofs for the existence of God

crucifixion_BRUEGHEL_JanThe Crucifixion - Jan Bruegel the Elder, 1595

Recently Rick Warren debated prominent atheist Sam Harris for Newsweek magazine. In Australia the Age reported that Allan Meyer from the Careforce church debated atheist Dr John Perkins on Palm Sunday before a sell-out audience of one thousand. Rick Warren and Allan Meyer are two of the best communicators I've heard. No doubt they both made a strong defense of the faith.

But how defendable is the Christian faith on philosophical grounds? Not very, says New Testament scholar, CK Barrett. The problem is the Cross.

The Cross questions all conventional philosophical arguments, including the traditional Christian arguments, for the existence of God.

The philosophical problem of verification is a real one, and the Cross means that God refuses to verify himself, to come down from the Cross and so prove his case.

It contradicts the cosmological and the teleological proof, for there is no event so disorderly, non that runs more plainly contrary to the notion of purpose in the ordering of the universe.

It is the contradiction of the moral argument too. . . .

It is not easy to believe in God. That is why Christian thought about God does not begin with Plato and Aristotle, with the consideration of creation (cosmology) or the consideration of history (teleology), but with the preaching of the Cross.

It is in the obedience of Jesus that God is known, in the suffering of Jesus that God is glorified. Every other god is an idol. . . .

We can never be content with a god who wound up this watch of a universe and left it to tick. We need a God who wrestles with rebellion and overcomes resistance with love, a God who speaks to us from outside ourselves, so remote that we can confuse him with the thunder, yet speaks in language that we can understand, because we see him in one who would rather be the friend of sinners and die than give them up and live.

CK Barrett, Jesus and the Word and Other Essays (Princeton Theological Monograph Series ; 41), 159-60.

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