My son has come to me asking questions about the church. He is a member of the church but has fallen away. His asking questions is a crack in the door I don't want to miss out on.
He's asking why did God allow proof that He existed then, but doesn't now. He said he doesn't want to hear that we just need to have faith but wants answers. Any help here?
A little history that plays into this, I believe. We had a child born terminally ill. He lived only a few days. My son was told by a woman at church that all he had to do is have faith and pray and our baby would be healed. When the baby died my son blamed himself for not having enough faith or praying hard enough. I have been over the truth of this so many times, but I think he is still angry at God for our baby's death.
Answer from a Sister in Christ:
The background of C. S. Lewis is similar. His mother died when he was nine or ten and because of that, he lost faith in God. He reasoned that God either didn't exist or, if he did, he was heartless and cruel. He was an atheist for a long time but eventually discovered the logic and reality of God and became an apologist for Christianity. I don't know if that helps you or not, but it might be another wedge to put into that crack in the door. The basis of his conversion was the thought that Jesus was a good man and a prophet -- all the historic evidence shows that. But, he also made these claims to be the Son of God. Now, if he truly was a good man then he can't at the same time be a liar. So, therefore, he was truthful and he is the Son of God.
For the specific question he asked, "Why did God allow proof that He existed then, but doesn't now?" you might remind him of the passage in Matthew 12 when the Pharisees asked for a sign from Jesus. His response was: "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." So, yes, God did actively show His power in the past, but there were also times when He just expected others to remember what had been shown and base their faith on that.
We have never been asked to put our faith in the unseen; there has always been either direct communication between God and men, or there has been the passed on knowledge of those communications. Lucky us! We have that complete passed on knowledge to soak up like a sponge or to disregard completely or anything in between. We are truly in a blessed era of God's communication with men because of the accessibility of the Scriptures, Bible translations into our native languages, and the advancement of civilization that allows us to have the free time and energy for deep philosophical and religious thoughts. The proof that God exists is so prevalent in our culture that you can find it in every hotel room in the country. You only need to stop asking for a sign and delve into the historical record.
I can understand your son's desire to see direct evidence for God's existence. The sad thing is that it does exist, but we are so used to seeing it every day that we discount it. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20).
I get fascinated at the subtle complexities built into living things, from the smallest to the largest. It doesn't take long to realize that random chance could not produce such interactions. It required a designer with skills far superior to any which men may possess. It is saddening to be told, "that's not good enough." As mentioned before, that is how the Pharisees treated the miracles of Jesus. Though the evidence was solid, none were good enough because they did not want to accept that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. The truth is that no evidence would have been good enough.
So ask yourself this: Does something become truer if it is proven repeatedly? Does God have to prove Himself to each individual before it can be claimed that He is real? "Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?'" (John 14:8-9).
"Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed"" (John 20:24-29).