More than once I’ve seen skeptics say that if God was real, apologetics would be unnecessary. If God is really all-powerful, all-wise, and all-good, then he ought to be able to communicate his message clearly to all. He shouldn’t need fallible humans to come in and set the record straight.
If you think about it, this is just the ‘hiddenness of God’ objection in another skin. And from a Biblical perspective, it just isn’t true.
God has needed apologists even when he is obvious
For starters, in some sense, God has needed apologists from the very beginning. Think about it for a second. According to the first few chapters of Genesis, God made himself abundantly clear to Adam and Eve. They had no doubts about his existence. But the serpent came in and introduced suspicions regarding God’s character and his word. (Genesis 3:1-5)
While the serpent was tempting Eve, Adam failed to step up and give a defense against the lies that were coming at her. In a way, they both neglected to offer an apologetic against Satan’s misconstrual of the truth even though they had plenty of reasons to believe in God.
Fast-forward to Moses’ day. God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage with ten plagues, and he parted the Red Sea for them. Then on top of that, God came down in his power and glory on Mt. Sinai to give them the Law. But shortly after Moses left them for a little while, they built and worshiped a golden calf and broke the very first commandment God gave them!
Moses had to remind Israel of how stupid their sin was and defend God’s Law. And later, when they refused to go into the land that God promised them, Caleb had to give a defense as to why rebelling against the Lord would be a dumb thing to do. (Numbers 14:6-9) He did this because Israel started questioning God’s character, stating that they were brought out into the wilderness to die. (Num 14:3)
Let’s fast-forward once more. Jesus came and performed all kinds of signs and miracles. John the Baptist, who earlier heralded his coming, began to have doubts while in prison. Jesus lovingly reminded John of his miracles and how he was fulfilling the messianic prophecies. (Luke 7:18-28)
The point is that even in the face of abundant evidence, people can still harbor doubts. They can still call into question God’s character and motives. So from a Biblical standpoint, it’s simply not true that God doesn’t need apologists. The evidence can be as plain as day, and people can still willingly question God’s motives or even hold onto distrustful doubts.
Plus, I’ve heard from multiple skeptics that even if the God of the Bible were obvious, they would refuse to worship him. For example, in a debate with Dr. Justin Bass, atheist activist and author Dan Barker said “Even if Jesus did exist, even if I agreed with [Dr. Bass] 100%, yep, he rose from the dead, yep, there’s a God, yep, I don’t deny any of that, does not mean that he is my Lord. If he did exist…I will go happily to hell. It would be worse of a hell for me to bow down before a Lord…regardless of the legend and historicity issue…Even if I agreed 100%, I would still reject that Being as a Lord of my life because I’m better than that…I cannot accept Jesus as Lord…You’re much more free to live and enjoy your life unshackled from the demands…” [Is Jesus Lord? Bible and Beer Consortium Debate, Ft Worth, Tx, 2015]
Atheists like Barker often will say that God’s immoral for allowing pain and suffering. Or they’ll say God is evil for the judgment of the Canaanites, or for threatening people with hellfire. Clearing up these misrepresentations of God’s character is one of the big reasons apologetics exists.
Studying apologetics can make you a better person
Finally, I think that God likes the whole idea of apologetics. After all, he did command it. (1 Peter 3:15) Practicing apologetics refines a person’s character. If you love someone, you want to help them from not believing lies, and if you love God, you’ll want to defend his honor. Plus, learning apologetics helps a person to be able to think logically and critically, become a life-long learner, improve their communication skills, and a whole host of other benefits. These are all good skills that a good God would want for us to have.
Therefore, this ‘if God were real, he wouldn’t need apologists’ objection doesn’t carry weight.
Erik is a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s a former freelance baseball writer and the co-owner of a vintage and handmade decor business with his wife, Dawn. He is passionate about the intersection of apologetics and evangelism.