El McMeen considers how Jesus would respond to an atheists accusation: "Why should I believe in a God? A good God, if he exists, wouldn't cause or allow babies to get cancer."

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A: "I believe-but help my unbelief."

Jesus: "Take me to the baby."

We believers know what the rest of the story would be.

When I reflected on this conversation that I seemed to be having with the Holy Spirit at 2am, I indeed did find some comfort. Notice how different this imaginary conversation is from the types of discussions with atheists that we have, which can get very esoteric and, in effect, constitute guessing-games on the mind of God in how He interacts with mankind on particular issues and in particular situations.

I agree to stand corrected, but nowhere in the New Testament have I found a passage where Jesus commands believers to have discussions with unbelievers of the sort usual in formal debates with atheists. In my view, He hasn't forbad or condemned it; no, not at all! Please hear my heart on this. I admire the level of discussions in those debates, but I also do not feel guilty when I choose not to interact in the same way all the time (although I do at some times).

Jesus has explicitly called us as believers (empowered by the Holy Spirit) to make disciples of nations through being witnesses of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 28:18-20) In Peter's words, we are called to "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:15, KJV)

Our "hope" flows not from our cleverness (praise God!), but from the existence and grace of God, the incarnation, the person of Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, the provision of the wonderful Holy Spirit for our comfort, counsel, and empowerment, and Jesus's declaration that He is returning in judgment and for His people. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.