The bloody 20th century saw more Christian and Jewish martyrs die for their faith than did any other century. In Mexico and Germany, in Sudan and Soviet Russia, in Korea and Poland, Christians and Jews died by the millions because they believed in God. This modern martyrdom occurred because men followed ideologies which believed men were greater than God in shaping the world. The masterminds of these bloodbaths assumed the world could be perfected to suit their ideologies.
One cannot know the history of the last century without recognizing the stark reality of black evil.
This evil that touched every corner of the globe is a starting point for David Limbaugh’s journey to faith. In his new book — Jesus on Trial (Regnery, 2014) — Limbaugh provides a lawyer’s brief on the certainty of God.
The book is a turnkey exploration of faith for those who doubt, and those who don’t. Limbaugh argues for God’s existence. It is sequenced with the precision of a lawyer building a case based not just on faith in God, but on evidence, experience and facts.
Of course faith will always ultimately remain just that, faith. But Limbaugh reaches across thousands of years of human history to argue on behalf of God’s existence.
Evil appears as Exhibit Number One.
To many, the violent sufferings of the last hundred years must mean there is no loving God who would allow so much suffering and pain.
Limbaugh contrasts the religious view “with the humanist’s view of the perfectibility of mankind. The humanist worldview, whether consciously or not, presupposes that man can be his own god — he has the ability to remake and perfect himself over time. But as the last century has shown, these godless ideas have led to totalitarian regimes that enslave and murder millions. Even if you deny that godlessness has led to this depravity, you will still have a difficult time making the case that mankind is on a linear path to enlightenment.”
The “sheer extensiveness and pervasiveness of evil in the world,” for Limbaugh, reinforces belief more quickly than anything else.
On the other extreme of Limbaugh’s evidentiary quiver are those impossible moments. Implausible events become the still, small voice that reinforces that the universe is ordered. Limbaugh retells the improbable story of Joseph, Jacob’s son:
His sovereign plan to nurture and preserve the emerging Hebrew nation is consummated in spite of and sometimes because of the sinful actions of certain people, including Joseph’s brothers. . . . had Jacob not doted on Joseph in the presence of his brothers, they would not have become jealous and hateful toward him. Had the brothers not harbored such hatred, they would not have plotted against him. Had the Ishmaelites not been on the road to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers probably would have killed him instead of selling him into slavery in Egypt. Had the cupbearer not been imprisoned with Joseph, he would not have been impressed by Joseph’s dream-inspiring gift. Had the cupbearer chosen to ‘remember’ Joseph when the cupbearer was released, Joseph may have been released from prison and would not have been available to interpret pharaoh’s dreams later. . . .the entire nation of Israel would likely have died in its incipiency.
I even omit Limbaugh’s more complete series of improbable events surrounding Joseph for the purposes of space! Limbaugh notes that the human and divine perception of evil come together in the wisdom of Joseph and the future nation of Israel.
But impossible randomness isn’t confined to scripture. He recounts the story of Hien Pham, a Vietnamese Christian jailed by the Communists for his faith in God, a recurring theme since 1917. After years of Communist propaganda attacks on his faith, Pham began to doubt. He was assigned to latrine duty immediately after his doubts emerged. There, he discovered toilet paper with writing on it in English — writing which turned out to be the Bible. The Communists leaders in camp were using toilet paper with Bible quotes. On it, he found Romans 8, which states, in part:
If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . neither death nor life, neither angles nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God.
At his lowest moment, Pham found this scripture in the most improbable and degrading of places, and he wept. C.S. Lewis might refer to it as being “surprised by joy.”
Naturally, Limbaugh notes, some will scoff at this as mere coincidence. Others know there are no coincidences.
Limbaugh’s book also provides useful histories for those doubting the textual validity of scripture. He traces the textual history of both Jewish and Christian texts, placing them in a sequence that establishes their theological heft.
Limbaugh catalogs the central tenets of Christianity as well as the interlocking narratives of Judaism.
Ultimately, though, faith will be just that, faith. Limbaugh’s latest book is a methodical, delightful and interesting read for someone seeking to escape doubt. It is written for the non-believer as well as the believer looking to exercise the intellectual muscles of their faith. It also gives the reader a sense of the powerful attraction that so many were willing to die for in the last hundred years.