Intellectual Excuses

The rejection of Christ is often not so much of the "mind," but of the "will"; not so much "I can't," but "I won't."

I [McDowell] have met many people with intellectual excuses, but few with intellectual problems (however, I have met some).

Excuses can cover a multitude of reasons. I greatly respect a man who has taken time to investigate the claims of Christ and concludes he just can't believe. I have a rapport with a man who knows why he doesn't believe (factually and historically), for I know why I believe (factually and historically). This gives us a common ground (though different conclusions). I have found that most people reject Christ for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Ignorance - Romans 1:18-23 (often self-imposed), Matthew 22:29
  2. Pride - John 5:40-44
  3. Moral Problem - John 3:19-20

I was counseling a person who was fed up with Christianity because she believed it was not historical and there was just nothing to it factually. She had convinced everyone that she had searched and found profound intellectual problems as the result of her university studies. One after another would try to persuade her intellectually and to answer her many accusations.

I listened and then asked several questions. Within 30 minutes she admitted she had fooled everyone and that she developed these intellectual doubts in order to excuse her moral life.

One needs to answer the basic problem or real question and not the surface detour that often manifests itself.

A student in a New England university said he had an intellectual problem with Christianity and just could not therefore accept Christ as Savior. "Why can't you believe?" I asked. He replied, "The New Testament is not reliable." I then asked, "If I demonstrate to you that the New Testament is one of the most reliable pieces of literature of antiquity, will you believe?" He retorted, "NO!" "You don't have a problem with your mind, but with your will," I answered.

A graduate student at the same university, after a lecture on "The Resurrection: Hoax or History?", was bombarding me with questions intermingled with accusations (later I found out he did it to most Christian speakers). Finally, after 45 minutes of dialogue, I asked him, "If I prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ was raised from the dead and is the Son of God, will you consider Him?" The immediate and emphatic reply was, "NO!"

Michael Green cites Aldous Huxley, the atheist, who has destroyed the beliefs of many and has been hailed as a great intellect. Huxley admits his own biases (Ends and Means, pp.270 ff.) when he says:

Bertrand Russell is an example of an intelligent atheist who did not give careful examination to the evidence of Christianity. In his essay, Why I Am Not a Christian, it is obvious that he has not even considered the evidence of and for the resurrection of Jesus and, by his remarks, it is doubtful as to whether he has even glanced at the New Testament. It seems incongruous that a man would not deal with the resurrection in great detail since it is the foundation of Christianity.

John 7:17 assures one:

If any man comes to the claims of Jesus Christ wanting to know if they are true, willing to follow His teachings if they are true, he will know. But one cannot come unwilling to accept and expect to find out.

Pascal, the French philosopher, writes:

Source: Evidence Demands a Verdict, p10-11
Josh McDowell -- ISBN 0-918956-46-3


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