An Interview with Dr. John Lennox
I'm Shane Morris. Thanks for listening to the breakpoint. Podcast where is God in a corona virus world? That's the question. Oxford mathematician and Christian apologist. John Lennox asks his wonderful new book by the same title. Today on breakpoint podcast. Dr Lennox talks with John Stonestreet about his motivation for writing. This book which was to explain the Christian View of God's love in the midst of suffering in a way that will encourage believers but will also give skeptics as Dr Lennox says something to sink their teeth into as you hear we're making Dr Lennox's book available at breakpoint Dot Org Slash Lennox that's breakpoint dot org slash L. E. N. N. O. X. it's ideal for anyone. Struggling intellectually feel logically or even physically and emotionally during this corona virus. Crisis here are John Stonestreet and Dr John Lennox? Well welcome to the breakpoint podcast. I am thrilled to have a conversation with Dr John. Lennox today as I said on a recent breakpoint commentary. I think Dr Lennox wins the award for writing for being able to turn around a necessary needed and helpful book. The fastest perhaps in all of human history. The Doctor Lennox of course is the professor of mathematics at Oxford University. He's a renowned speaker internationally on issues of apologetic science the interface of science philosophy and religion and all kinds of other issues and Dr Lennox seized a moment. Important moment to tackle the latest edition of Christianity's oldest question. Why does God let bad things happen? And the book is titled Where Is God in Corona Virus World? It's published by the Good Book Company and we'll tell you how to get it throughout the program here today Dr Lennox. It's good to see your face from across the pond. Well thank you very much. I really honored they on something that emanates from the cul SOM foundation. So thanks for inviting me. Well it's an honor and you were such a big hit at our wilberforce weekend last year. When I saw this book come out. I thought this is the sort of thing that our people need. And what I really appreciate is not you're tackling that question and tackling it well but you're doing it in a way that believers can read and be helped by but also believers can give this book to skeptical friends or just questioning kids or or or people like that. That's right that's been really life's motivation for me to try to explain Christianity clearly enough so the believers will be encouraged but also so that skeptics may find something to get their teeth into and I'm very glad to hear you say that it seems to have achieved a little of both anyway. Well listen the publisher. Good company has been terrific and I was able to read through it and was one of those you know sit down re through it and the only thing that would take a whole lot of time is just having to stop and reflect on the terrific way. You're taking us through this question now. Dr Lennox made many people know. You've debated some of the great atheist in history or at least in in recent history. Let's put it that way. I don't know if I'd put them in the classic category but this book is is not so much a although it includes some of those answers it seems like you're trying to really deal with the fear and the anxiety and the pain which is different than kind of the philosophical skepticism. Isn't it yeah? I think they're they're two very separate issues that they both need to be addressed. Some people need intellectual answers but other people are really emotional turmoil and they need a friendly hand. The touch on the shoulder voting were lied to do that. And it must be absolutely awful to have to say goodbye to a loved one without Dave from touching anyway and so my heart goes out to them and it seems to me that Christianity hit says head on. There's a marvelous story that I've been enjoying over Easter. They raising of Lazarus from the dead. And you're a member that Martha Mary His Sisters. They sent the message. Jesus said Lord the one you love second expected them to come and they knew the power to heal but he didn't come and so at raised in their minds what happens today with many people emotionally. Does God really love us out of he does. Where's the demonstration of his power? So that cut says right into the covet situation and when Jesus eventually came to Bethany was confronted by Martha she said Lord. If you've been here my brother wouldn't have died. Kept up the distance and she didn't understand that and he entered into a deep discussion with her but the resurrection. Your brother shall rise again. Which by the way ought to be a huge encouragement to believers who've lost loved ones to trust the Lord. Your brother the relationship once good in it or what was good will be preserved across death by Christ but the point. I wanted to stress as Martha was intellectual. See was theologically trained. She wanted an answer even within sight of her brothers to put. It didn't only by four days but Mary was a totally different Emotionally and she kept right and she was. Weeping are hard time and when Jesus saw what deaths adult. That's the only way Ray. Jesus wept and that to my mind is making the point that you have just mentioned that. He didn't engage with Marian. Any complex discussion. In fact it didn't say anything at all. He's simply wept and many people today. They want someone to wait. They don't want a plethora of simplistic answers that are insincere. Possibly even hypocritical. They won a touch. They want a sense of a friend. Who's near them? So that's why I tried to balance this in the book. It's difficult but I did try to do it. Yeah it's one thing to be aloof from somebody suffering and try to explain it from from a distance thing to be engaged and of course that's ultimately where the Christian worldview leaves us. I'm always struck. I'm so glad you brought up that Lazarus Story 'cause I'm always struck by that Jesus wept passage primarily. Because Jesus knows he's going to go raise Lazarus from the dead that's the other detail there right which which yes he knows about the turn this into a party like there. I mean he does. He doesn't even dismissed like oh come on now. I'm going to do it. It's going to be awesome. You know. Follow me he actually takes an enters their suffering. Which of course is where Christianity leaves us ultimately anyway at does and you see the thing is a paradigm for something bigger. He let Lazarus die by staying at a distance and on a bigger scale. You see if we believe in the reality of God to create a opposes world. The same thing is happening today and this sign in John's Gospel. Raising Lazarus from the dead is for us a foreshadowing of what Christ for one day due on a bigger scale but we got to realize that he may let us go through that sense of where is love of God of this. Where is God in this? He left my brother die. He let my dad die and so on. And it's only when we get to the other side to not Lazarus raising from the dead but Jesus Own Death and resurrection that we begin some hope of a resolution but as not yet my guest today on the breakpoint. Podcast is Dr. John Lennox mathematics professor at Oxford University. And a well known university well known apologist and he deals a lot on issues of science but he's written his book. Where is God in a corona virus? World come to breakpoint dot org and we'll tell you how to pick up a copy of this. It's published by the Good Book Company Doctrine Lennox. Just because a lot of people aren't looking necessarily for intellectual answers and the importance of morning with people entering into their suffering as our savior. Did is is there? There are things we can say about suffering. That's what I really appreciate it. Nothing I really appreciated about the book is you. Don't say what you can't say but you do say what we can say if I thought out. Yeah it is so so one of the things that you bring out is that in a sense even evil and suffering are often considered kind of defeat. Here's for Christianity in the Christian worldview that actually atheism has a harder time explaining it. Can you talk us through that? Well I think that's right. My friends think that they've sold the problem intellectually by just saying. That's the way the Universe is Richard Dawkins you know looking up. It's just the way would expect the universe debate he says if there's no good no evil no justice the NA justice may down so it's music and that's a grid view and he points side. Yes it's awful but that doesn't prove a to wrong but it doesn't prove its right either and I have a series of problems with that because if he says there's no good to know evil than an atheist who believes that ought not to talk about the problem of evil either in the moral sense or in the sense of a world filled with viruses and pain in other words. That view goes too far. In the sense that it removes Justice of Morality and that I find that an offense to our sense of morality and being moral beings and also the atheist does not remove the suffering and one could argue that Ev. It's false at makes suffering ten thousand times worse because the Christian tells us that the sufferings very real that death is not the end. Jesus as proof that this is eastern time when we're celebrating his resurrection and that opens a huge new window of hope and possibility that we can confidently a ninety percent of the situation and in that sense. I regard deeply atheism as a hopeless face. But I do not believe. It's true because I think the evidence for Christianity being true as far stronger when people think of Oxford and they think of the problem of evil and answering skeptics a name of one of your forebears POPs up C. S. Lewis. Who wrote about this as well? And you quote Louis Several Times. Yes because he's have so much to understand this thing he he really has and he's also one of those stunning where he wrestled with intellectually and then dealt with personal suffering. That really made him think about. It may be a little bit different. What do you think are some of Louis is most helpful? I know you bring up several of them in the book and so I I'll I'll telegraph it here a little bit. What do you think are? Lewis is most helpful observations about this issue. Well on this particular thing people ask and you may want me to develop this out. What is saying if anything a you know? There are people on one. Extreme are saying this is the judgment of God on various nations and individuals. And other people are saying look at the fulfillment of Karma. And there's no point in helping people because if you do have to suffer worse the next life which by the way is awful. Isn't that a terrible? I mean people find hope in these eastern religions and when you really dig below the surface on Karma. It's awful. It's cruel yes. I I fear so but you see my view is and this is hugely important. Would come to Lewis in a moment. I take my cue from what Jesus said. And there's an incident in luke thirteen where some of the cried. He was at the temple and the crowd said you know there was a massacre here when tied up the soldiers killed a number of people who are worshiping. An awful moral evil yes. He said that's right. But also those at tower the Tower of Siloam Jerusalem which fan donating people and they died but the point he makes and it's very interesting. He says in both cases. Do you think these people were were senators than anybody else. And they expect the answered. No they weren't so my axiom then as a Christian is to follow what Jesus says that you cannot conclude from observing tragedy whether it's an individual one bill one that happened because a group of people were worse than anybody else but then comes the next bet and Jesus said you likewise I warn you unless you repent you will likewise parish now. What does that mean here? We come to Louis. You see Lewis says of such things of paying tragedy. Being God's megaphone wake us up now I find that much more helpful and I'll tell you why I don't know whether you've noticed. I'm sure you may have done that when people say that's God's judgment on that nation because they've done this or that for the other. How do people react to that? Well they don't react by turning to God they react by looking at the person that said that and said you arrogance own. So what right have you to be so judgmental higher can you second guess called what he's doing whereas if you say look this is happened. It's getting us to think it's a wake up call says Louis. We may parsley have neglected God for years and been saving his goodness every day in terms of food job hosing them so hot and I suddenly where confronted with deep issues that raise the specter. I'm being Zayed's and the fear of dying death disease but they also raise questions of eternity in gold and that happens to us if we've been neglecting God for years have made a mess of our lives and indeed of other people's lives then it is acting like a megaphone to wake us up and that is a very good thing from that perspective and I find out a healthy way of looking at this issue making us think and we need to buy into that thinking which is why I wrote the book. The book is so personal in the way that it comes across in fact you write it as if you're having a conversation over coffee. I mean that's kind of the thing we can actually do right now. Unfortunately unless we're both tipping over zoom here but do you think God shouts to civilizations through the sort of thing and not just individuals. I mean we. We're a culture that thinks we're in control. I mean that's the myth of model. Yes right well yes. And if we were to develop the idea what is called shouting threw his megaphone and one of the things is our vulnerability our weakness. We've taken for granted that we're in control off our lives and we felt many of us felt that medicine as of mount so far that nothing like the black death or they even the horrific flu epidemics of the nineteen twenties. Nothing like that will ever happen again. We've got it under our control. I'm suddenly that is all swept away. And the uncertainty set said and that's healthy of turn says to the only source of certain day. Which is God himself in the academic world. I know you're quarantine staying at home just like the rest of us and I wonder as you. Look to your fellow academics. They are one of the academic centers on the planet at Oxford University. Here you're writing about this as a Christian. What are you hearing from the other intellectuals in your orbit right now particularly those that are sharing your the you're saying Christian worldview. Well I'm not hearing. How Great Data? To be honest. I am in conversation with some people and they are of course. Trade mathematician would write a book on this topic. You are an intriguing guy. Being a mathematician and Oxford profes- DODD. Who who is so outspoken. About his faith. That's not your Mannix was only my professional. Christianity is my life and I think what is so important that I'd like to bring to my colleagues reactions will come later of course especially when this thing gets up an Amazon. I'd be very interested in the reviews that one. I would really hope as that. Some people who are atheists skeptics now stakes on so on will at least have a and listen to what Christianity has to say. I'm not claiming and I said that they ended the that have got all the answers so of course I haven't. This is far too data thing for anybody to have all the answers but one I feel that maybe the book can do is open a few windows into possibilities that will set people off on a search that may lead to something that may provide them some comfort and solace in what for many is a Ren disley difficult situation loss of job future uncertainty health issues and they go on and on and on into the future. So we're all in one sense in this together but not everybody is experiencing the same way. I'm locked down as an elderly person. I'm not suffering from covet. Nineteen they smelt of the moment and I have to bear in mind all the time that some of the people reading my book may be reading in a hospital bed and my heart goes out to them as it also goes out to the courageous medics and nurses folks. That are treating these people and you know. Here's another thing that's important. Why do we have hospitals and hospices whether they're actually if you trace the back starkly a Christian legacy in the ancient world during one of the early plagues? The emperor was amazed that Christians didn't just care for their own people. They took risks with their knives on. They cared for Non Christian people and that is a wonderful legacy and we shouldn't be ashamed of mentioning that provided we do in the same breath as we recognize the wonderful work. That's being done with. People of all faiths are numb. It's just amazing. Higher that sense of humanity and solidarity is coming. My hope would be preserved long after this is over. I do too. I mean it has been one of the great stories the technological innovation into the very personal care and and and Dr Lennox. I really believe that this is one of those ways that Christians can continue to run into the plague. I mean the good news is there are hospitals today. So we're not dealing with it in the same way that the plague was dealt with so a lot of Christians are thinking what can I do and the moment I read through your book whereas Got Corona Virus World? I thought this is a way that Christians conserve because they can get this book and they can send it to their friends into their family into their skeptical neighbors. They can actually make this available as a way to share their faith and I just saw a study. Dr Lennox love to hear your comment on this. That that early indications are people are more open right now to talking about spiritual things you know at anytime that this sort of thing has been recorded. I think it was a Barna studied. Would you be surprised to find that? That's true not a toll because it is the fact that during times of great national stress and Calamity World War. Two for example for many of the churches were packed with people now. They're empty because we have to keep social distancing but I suspect that they understand spiritual things is growing. I've done a number of interviews in the past couple of weeks like this one and the number of hits just seems to soar up day by day so it shows that people are open are looking for answers and I hope that will long continue my guest today on the breakpoint podcast. It's been Dr John Lennox. Who has done? I think Christians and the larger culture a tremendous favor and providing this book in Record Time. Land speed record whereas God and a corona virus world and in and in this book. Let me just quote. What he writes. A Christian is not so much a person who has solved the problem of pain suffering in the corona virus but one who has come to love and trust God who has himself suffered. It's a tremendous book. That says what we can say about this sort of thing. It doesn't say what we can't say and acknowledges that but it's a tremendous resource spoke to strengthen your faith as well as to share your faith with others come to breakpoint Dot Org. That's breakpoint dot. Org and we'll tell you how to pick up a copy of this book and Dr Lennox. Could you also just tell folks where they can find you on the Internet yes? I've got my own website and I'm always delighted to be talking to people at the United States because I got so many wonderful friends and over the past decade given the many lectures debates dialogues interviews in your premier universities and colleges and you can find many of those. I'm very task dot. Org I have my own website. John Lennox Stopped O. R. J. AND THE TWAIN THE TURF. You can watch some of the debates and so on and The tone of how Dr Lennox Debates Some of the grumpiest atheists that we've had in our lifetime has with a terrific loving response which are also find in this book again the title whereas gone in Corona Virus World special thanks to Dr Lennox and the Good Book Company for making this available so quickly Dr Lennox. It's great to hear your voice and great to see your face here via zoom and just really grateful that God strengthened and empowered you to make this book available and thanks for joining us on the break point podcast. It's been my pleasure. God bless you all bye-bye thanks so much for listening to the breakpoint podcast. If you're dealing with doubts questions about God's goodness because of the corona virus or if you know someone who is Dr Lennox's book where is God in Corona virus? World will help this month. We'd like to send you a copy as a thank you for a gift of any amount to breakpoint and the Colson center just come to breakpoint dot Org Slash Lennox. That's breakpoint dot. Org Slash L. N. N. O. X. For the Colson Center I'm shameless.