Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 8, 1951
NUMBER 43, PAGE 1,16b

In The Beginning - God

Early Arceneaux, Sabinal, Texas

Once when I was a very young preacher I was in the state of Florida, holding a meeting way back in the country. We were meeting in a borrowed Presbyterian meetinghouse. The meeting was only a few days old when a man came to me after the service and said, "There's an old infidel over here about a mile from this place, and he says he wants to see you, and wants you to come over to his place right now. There'll be about a dozen people there. He always gives the preachers a lot of trouble, arguing with everyone that comes along. He aims to trip you up and show that only fools can believe what you are preaching. Will you go?"

I said, "Yes; of course." What else could I say? I was a young man then, several years short of my majority, but of course I was a lot smarter then than I am now. And I didn't have any better sense than to start out immediately for the designated house, trembling and fearful at the thought of my first encounter with an infidel. I'd never had any kind of experience with this brand before—that is but very little, and I hardly knew what to expect. But as the dusty road lengthened behind me, I began to collect my scattered wits and plan my campaign. I had heard that sometimes one single point will win and lose a debate—win it for one side, lose it for the other. And I decided that I'd try right from the very start to get the laboring oar into the hands of the infidel. I'd make him do the work, and maybe I could stay close enough to him to make it interesting.

Upon reaching the cabin, I was introduced to the man who had sent for me, and I asked him at once if he would be willing to lead out in the discussion. He replied that he was willing. I said, "That's fine. Now, just what is your proposition?"

"I'd like to make one thing clear to start with," he said, "and that is that I am no atheist. (What a relief! I said to myself; that's half the battle to start with.) I want you to understand that I believe in an Almighty God, but I don't believe the Bible is of Divine origin. I don't believe the Bible is inspired of God."

"Why don't you believe it?" I asked.

"There are too many absurdities in it," was the reply.

"Well, now, that is a clear proposition, and you've made a good beginning statement. Now we are getting somewhere. Now suppose you begin to name some of the particular absurdities to which you refer," I said.

"There are so many of them I hardly know where to start."

"If there are that many, just pick one at random. Any one that happens to come to your mind will do."

"Oh, well," he replied, "you remember that story about Moses and his rod? And how God made him throw it on the ground, and the rod became a serpent, and God told him to pick it up by the tail? Do you expect me to swallow that story?"

"Why not?" I asked. "What is so absurd about it? Wherein is the absurdity?"

"Snakes simply ain't made that-a-way!" he snorted with finality.

"But," I asked, "do you believe there ever was a time on the earth when there were no snakes at all? Do you believe that sometime God did make the first snake? And you believe that there was one snake (that first one) who didn't get here like other snakes do?"

"We-l-l-l, I guess so," he finally agreed.

"Then how do you think that very first snake got to the earth?"

"God made him."

"I'll accept that. Now what did God make that first snake out of?"

"I don't know."

"But you are very certain he did not make it out of a stick?"

"Well, he might 'uv."

"Then you think God might have made a snake out of a stick once, but you are sure he couldn't do it twice?" I asked.

That argument ended, like most arguments with unbelievers end, rather unsatisfactorily. For once the unbeliever saw the absurdity of his own position, he quickly lost all interest in continuing the discussion. He had simply set his mind to deny the miracles. And he was denying them without having one single thought as to the difficulties involved in such a denial. His loudly trumpeted infidelity was just so much bombastic thunder. Once he had admitted a belief in God, his pose as an infidel was quickly demonstrated to be impossible.

Brother J. W. McGarvey was once asked the question; Do you believe the story related in the book of Jonah to be possible? McGarvey replied, "Oh, yes; it is quite possible. If there is a God, nothing is impossible. When you ask me about believing in miracles, you are only asking whether or not I believe in God."