The Problem of God: answering skeptics’ challenges to Christianity by Mark Clark
by Dan Rutherford
Our increasingly secular culture has moved faith to the margins of life. Mark Clark writes from the context
VILLAGE CHURCH Lead Pastor – Mark Cla
of a very secular part of our culture where the percentage of those who attend church has plummeted and those who declare they have ‘no religion’ has sky-rocketed.
It is in this context that the church he pastors, The Village in Surrey, has grown from a handful of people to several thousand in the past seven years.
Much of that growth has come from the conversion to Christ of those who are adults in their 20’s and 30’s. Mark relates a significant reason for this growth has been his focus on providing clear reasoned answers to questions about the Christian faith.
Clark gives an honest biographical sketch of his own journey to faith and some unvarnished details of his personal challenges. Various chapters reveal an attempt to address many major questions that arise in today’s discussion of Christian truth. Peppered with useful and authoritative quotes, he returns to the first chapter of Romans to say it is willful unbelief and not the facts themselves that keeps people from faith in Christ. Below are some highlights of his ten chapters which all begin with “The Problem of…”
“The Problem of God’s Existence”
Clark is aware of secular attempts to explain the difficult phenomenon of universal theism – the widespread belief in a god – and the extreme minority position of atheism. How are we to account for that from a strictly naturalistic position? Among the attempts to explain this reality, evolutionary biology is enlisted to offer some reason for why humans seem to believe there is a personal almighty being behind all of life. “The existence to such contrary-to-nature convictions is a very strong evidence for the existence of God… such is what it means to have the heart of God stitched into our beings” (p.47).
“The Problem of The Bible”
From his background in biblical studies, Clark is able to expose readers to the significant historical evidence and scholarship that shows many of the pop-culture ideas about the Bible for the unreasonable positions that they are. He explains the importance of context and content and the powerful record of accuracy from history and archeology. “Over the past two thousand years there have been countless opportunities to disprove the thousands of geographical and historical references in the Bible,… yet no one of them has ever been disproven” (p. 78).
“The Problem of Sex”
In a culture obsessed with sex, having clarity about the issues involved here and a positive way to speak about them is essential. Clark is honest and humorous is his discussion of sex. He exposes some of the bad teaching about sex that has been taught in churches and shows sex to be a wonderful part of God’s design for marriage. At the same time, he explains how sex in our culture has become meaningless and devalued. He offers some helpful pastoral insights in our understanding of sex. He concludes, “Sex is glorious indeed, but one of its glories is that it is not ultimate, but instead points away from itself, to the eternal delight of the soul we will have in heaven, … it points to the deep infinitely fulfilling, and final union we will have with Christ” (p.179).
“The Problem of Exclusivity”
Pluralism, as it is miss-construed in our society, is complete relativism. Speaking in terms of absolute truth, it is seen as the height of arrogance. To say that Jesus is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ to the exclusion of other religions, is tossed by many who are confident that all religions are the same and what matters most is our personal sincerity. This chapter helps to show that all ideas are not equal”.
I would have enjoyed more detail about God’s power in his personal challenges on his journey to faith, his struggle with Tourette’s and a broken family. Also, while his chapter on sex is excellent, I have found public discussions will invariably lead to issues about LGBT matters. Specific discussion of these would be of great service to those who seek to witness for Christ and those considering His claims.
The Problem of God is well written, referenced and presented. It shows a good grasp of key topics for those who desire to grow in their faith, honestly look at the Christian faith or those just looking for good answers.
Dan Rutherford has served as a pastor in Manitoba and BC. He is currently a director of marketing and business development in the aerospace industry.