J. Boyd Nicholson

“IS GOD DEAD?” The words exploded on the front page of a well-known magazine. The screaming red letters on a solid black background seemed to divulge the extremities of confusion between which the minds of men are reeling.

God … dead! The blasphemous insinuations and blatant dogmatisms of the new theology are sloughed off as being incongruous by the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. To such, the very phraseology is senseless; it is a language of paradox. The immediate reaction is to set the whole mess aside with a sigh, a shake of the head, and a mumble about the “signs of the times.” But wait … just what about it?

Believers cannot escape the implications of secularism, if not in their own lives, in the lives of their children. The hour is upon us when we are being challenged to stand up and be counted. The problem is not whether God is alive, but rather why these religionists, writers, and students have cause to ask the question. What makes them wonder about whether there is a God or not?

We evangelicals say that they cannot find out God because they are dead in sins, and that they cannot see God because their minds have been blinded. We say that because they prefer their own way, they cannot find the way to God. This, of course, is true, all too true, but such assertions still seem somewhat less than adequate.

The ability of this godless ology is terrifying. It is not being aimed at the atheist, but like a flood it is in danger of oversweeping the minds of ordinary folk, folk who would never have accepted the doctrine of a godless beginning of matter and the origin of life. This perversion is aimed at persons who would not deny that God personally led Israel in the wilderness, persons who would never disbelieve that God had dealings with men of old. It is into the minds of the pious and humble that these noxious seeds of doubt are planted to bear bitter fruits of distress, and ultimately a denial of the God who lives today.

How does this kind of thinking develop? Certainly not in a flash of inspiration. It does not come like the bursting of a bomb, but like the falling of a tree in which years of disease and disintegration have wrought internal havoc.

The thing that becomes evident as one peruses the writings and quotations of authors who believe that God is dead, is the strange confusion of terms. They equate religion with Christianity, at least they use the words interchangeably. One man is quoted as being a “Christian atheist.” This simply is an impossible statement. Faith similarly is described as a hope, when we know from the Scriptures that hope is one of the realms in which faith operates. It is like saying the aeroplane is the air, when we know that the aeroplane functions in the realm of the air. The title God and the word church are used synonymously, and the failure of Christians is interpreted as the failure of God. When we see great minds struggling with the terms of doctrine, we realize again the relevancy of the words of the Master, “I thank Thee, O Father Lord of Heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matt. 11:25).

These non-theologians are looking around at the religious world and its empty pews. They are listening to the dull rote of man’s religious mumblings. They feel for even a feeble pulse in the frozen entremities of a system that has never really lived. They look out on a world erupting with the putrefying sores of man’s own wickedness. Then with a superiority bred of great intellectual attainment, they arrive at the conclusion that this is indeed death. Then, inexplicably, they fill out the death certificate showing the physician as the one who is dead. What stupidity punctures the balloon of man’s wisdom!

Now, however, the question is forced upon us. Is it enough for a believer to settle down, having diagnosed the condition of such as propound their dead-god theories? Is this all that is required of the born-again Christian, that he writes off the whole thing as nonsense, blasphemy, sings of the times? Certainly not! The multitudes whose minds are being assailed by this propaganda of hell are still loved by the living God. They are souls for whom the Lord died, and upon whom the Spirit of life seeks to work that they might be made alive forevermore.

How, then, are these to know that God lives on in this very day? Perhaps we can find the answer in the experience of a pagan idolatrous king of whom we read in the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar. This great king had set up his golden image on the plains of Dura to be worshipped. Three young men of Israel refused to bow before it. They were apprehended and brought before the king who asked, “Who is the God that shall deliver you?” God did deliver them, however, and afterward this king declared, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who… yielded their bodies that they might not serve nor worship any god except their own God… there is no other God … the High God” (Dan. 3:28-29; 4:2).

This idolatrous king was led to this confession as a direct result of the outward display of faith in those young men. The lesson seems obvious. If men and women today are to be led to confessions of faith in the living God, they must see the evidence of His life as it is lived by those who yield themselves to Him.

The Lord Himself gave us another clue; said He, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

In John 14:23, the Lord taught, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” He also said in verse 17, “The Spirit of Truth … He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” We thus learn that by a love that results in obedience, the believer can know what it is to be possessed by the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What the confused worldling is looking for is not better buildings, more professional music, convincing arguments, elaborate equipment, these he now has. In spite of his possessions, he still has questions about God. The answer to many of these is found in lives that obviously are animated by the pulse of Eternity. Such lives will bear testimony to the fact that He is never very far from anyone of us. He definitely lives in and through personalities that are completely yielded to Him. Thank God for the many who like the Apostle Paul can truthfully says, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).