If God Desires All People to Know Him, Shouldn’t All People Know Him?

On logical syllogisms, the hiddenness of God, and unimaginable treasure


Many people make logical arguments that begin with assumptions about God. The latest one I saw was a syllogism beginning with the following premise: God desires all humans to know Him…. As the syllogism goes, it states that all people do not know God, and it ends with the conclusion. “Therefore God does not exist.”

The critical thing about syllogisms on the existence of God is that initial premises make some assumptions about God. Immanuel Kant famously developed a logical syllogism proving that God exists; then he turned around and developed a logical syllogism proving God does not exist. Both syllogisms were well-constructed, and the conclusions logically flowed from the initial premises.

That’s the thing with logic: we need to set the initial assumptions, and the conclusions are dependent on those assumptions. The logical syllogism I saw this morning seems solid at first glance, but it leaves out a critical word that makes all the difference.

Logic can be abstracted from reality and still make sense. The exact terms of the assumptions are critical. If the assumptions are inaccurate or poorly stated, our conclusions will be false, no matter how logical they are.

In this case, the assumption is that God desires for all humans to know Him. For the assumption to make real sense, though, we would need to add one word.

Implicit in this premise is that God desires only for humans to know Him, and He has no other desire, purpose or goal. If the initial premise is that God desires only for humans to know him, that God has no other desire, purpose, or goal for humans, then the logic follows.

If God’s only desire, purpose, goal is for humans to know Him, He could so dominate and overwhelm us that we would have no choice but to know and acknowledge Him. The fact that people are not overwhelmed or dominated by God, and that people do not know God, would prove, on this syllogism, that God doesn’t exist.

We have to ask, though: Is that really God’s only desire, purpose, and goal for humans is to know that He exists? Is God that simple-minded?

If God is really God, God is (at least) as complex as the universe He created. Taking note of the sublime nuances of physics, quantum mechanics, biology and chemistry, we should assume God is (at least) as sublime and nuanced as the world He made with these elements.

Does it make sense that God has one singular desire, purpose, and goal for humans? Is the entire thrust of creation summed up by an unconditional desire by God for humans to know Him and acknowledge His existence?

The problem with logical syllogisms is in the initial assumptions. We have to presume to know the mind and purposes of God. If we are wrong, even if God really does exist, we will come to the wrong conclusion.

As finite, limited creatures of an infinite Creator of the universe, we do not have the capability of knowing on our own why God created the world such as it is and what His purposes are. I believe we have no capacity to know these things apart from God revealing them to us.

The Bible purports to be that revelation from God to man, so let’s take a look at what it says. If we are going to be “scientific” about the Bible, we shouldn’t come to it with preconceived notions. We should consider what it says on its own merits and come to our own conclusions.

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How Does the Tower of Babel Fit into God’s Plan for People to Love Him and Love Our Neighbors?

Our frustration, toil and separation from other people are not contrary to the purposes of God, but part of the plan.

The story of the Tower of Babel is included in Scripture for a reason, right? So, Why is it there? How does the tower of Babel fit into God’s redemptive plans and purposes?

These are questions we should think to ask. In fact, Scripture is designed, according the Hebrew thinking, to invite us to ask questions.

Western thinking might assume that we just take things on faith and don’t ask questions. Or the opposite: take it at face value and dismiss it when we find problems (“contradictions”) in the text.

God wants us to seek Him, and that includes asking questions of Scripture, wrestling with it, and finding answers to our questions. We don’t exhibit a lack of faith when we find problems in Scripture and ask questions.

We can hold to a high view of Scripture and admit there are “problems” in the text . Those problems may lead to some real gems in the answers they reveal.

God desires us to seek him and find him, as Paul says to the philosophers in Athens. (Acts17:27) Jesus, of course, promised that those who ask, seek, and knock will be answered, will find, and the door will be open to them. (Matthew 7:7) Faith enters when we use the problems we see as the springboard to seek answers.

I recently wrote an article on the Tower of Babel story exploring some of the questions it invites us to ask, and trying on answers that are suggested by a more eastern (Hebrew) mindset than most westerners might be adopt.

One question we might ask is: why is the story there to begin with?

We might assume the story is simply an explanation for how people became scattered all over the world in different language groups. How questions, though, miss the most important meaning of Scripture. If we stop there, and assume there is no more to know, we may be missing the most important part of the story.

A Hebrew (or eastern) mind always asks, “Why?”

I resonate with this basic practice incorporated into the BEMA Podcast because of a Jewish professor I had in college. He explained one day the difference between the western and eastern approaches to Scripture. He illustrated it with the following example.

If the universe consisted of a chair in a room, people with western minds and eastern minds would approach the chair differently. The westerner would measure the height, width, depth and mass of the chair. He would weigh it and measure the distance of the chair from the walls and the ceiling. The easterner (the Hebrew) would start by asking, “Why is the chair here?”

In my previous article, I discussed how the story is a chiasm (a type of poetry). A chiasm puts emphasis on the middle verse. In this story, the emphasis is on the people’s desire to “make a name for ourselves” because “otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the earth”. (Gen. 11:4)

Why were they concerned about being scattered? Why does God care? What is God doing in confusing their languages and scattering them?

For starters, God does not break into the story when they are making bricks. God isn’t threatened or concerned about their development of new technology. He doesn’t break into the story until they say they are going to build a tower to make a name for themselves.

We also need to be mindful, always, of context. The context here is that people are moving away from God, away from his plans. (Moving east.) God wanted them to multiply and fill the earth, but they wanted to put down roots in the plains of Shinar (Babylon) and build a tower to exalt themselves, lest they be scattered.

This was the instruction from God to Adam and Eve. It was the instruction from God to Noah. God said, “Multiply and fill the earth.”

Building a tower to make a name for themselves, in this context, means wanting to pursue their own plans to achieve their own ends. The concern about being scattered suggests they knew they were doing their own thing contrary to God’s plans for them. They might have feared being scattered because it would disrupt their plans.

Maybe they thought God couldn’t scatter them if they built a fortified tower. Maybe they were trying to make God deal with them on their own terms, in a location they established, by a structure by which they thought could ascend to God and control where God met with them.

Of course, God did exactly what they feared, and scattered them. against their wishes. But why? Was God threatened by them? Um…., no. So why did God scatter them?

I believe the answer lies partly in the fact that they were pursuing their own plans in exultation of themselves. Their plans were not consistent with God’s plans, and they knew it (thus, there fear of being scattered for doing it). 

God had other plans, and God frustrated their plans that were not in keeping with His plans. That might all seem arbitrary unless we keep asking questions and seeking answers. Why were the peoples’ plans something God couldn’t abide?

They interfered with God’s plans, but how? What were God’s plans?

Continue reading “How Does the Tower of Babel Fit into God’s Plan for People to Love Him and Love Our Neighbors?”

God Meets Us Where We Are

God says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in….”


I have come to realize God meets people where they are.

When I was growing up, the concept of “finding yourself” was a popular idea. I thought I needed to go out into the world to find myself, and that’s what I did. I launched myself on that journey, even before I left high school, reading poetry, philosophy, literature – anything that seemed to have some some hint of a claim on truth.

I remember the old adage that the wind can’t carry a ship at anchor, or a ship at anchor can’t be steered (or something like that). That idea became a guiding principal, and I have given that guidance to my children. You have to get up and move, even if you don’t know precisely where you are going. (That’s what Abraham did when God called Him.)

I think it’s generally good advice. It has held me in good stead. If we wait around for the perfect opportunity to come our way, it may never come. We even find wisdom along those lines in Proverbs (16:9)(NASB):

The mind of a man plans his way,
    but the Lord directs his steps.

When I set out to search for truth as a young adult who had squandered his teenage years in reckless drinking, drug use and risky behavior, I thought the truth was “out there”. I just had to go search for it and find it.

In more recent generations, the conventional wisdom might run along the line of finding the truth within. Oprah Winfrey and other popular prophets of modern wisdom would say we don’t need to go searching for the truth “out there” because the truth is within us.

In my latter days now, as a journeyer who moves a bit slower, I have come to see things slightly differently. Neither paradigm rings completely true. I think we can find truth “out there”, and we can find truth “within”, but truth is not limited in any one “place”. Truth is part of the fabric of reality – the world God created.

I certainly don’t want to make light of the search! The search is critical. We have to want it. We need to orientate our hearts toward “finding it”. We need to value the truth for its own sake and be willing to let go of anything that runs counter to it – even if we don’t like it, even if the truth doesn’t look all that attractive to us… even if the truth is hard.

At the same time, truth isn’t necessarily “out there”, and it isn’t “within” either. I am (you are) not the arbiters of truth. “My truth” doesn’t mean anything in the face of reality. We don’t talk about “my scientific truth”, and we shouldn’t talk about “my spiritual truth” – if we are really interested in truth at all.

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Finding God


“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

This is one of the more encouraging and hopeful verses in the Bible. It had a profound impact on me when I was first reading the Bible. I took it to heart, and it guided me into a relational position with God.

As with any verse or passage in the Bible, the depth, nuance and layers of meaning can be drawn out by focusing on the context. We can tease the meaning out further by considering application of it to my own life.

The context here is a letter written by the prophet, Jeremiah, to his people who had recently been exiled to Babylon. Though Jeremiah’s letter was written to a particular people in a particular time and place under particular circumstances, and it was particularly relevant to them, it has application to us today. Some people claim that an ancient verse like this that was written to a specific people in a specific time for a specific purpose shouldn’t be applied to modern life. I beg to differ.

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Seeking God and Finding Him

It isn’t a matter of God responding to us. It’s a matter of us responding to God.


As I was praying for my children this morning, I was reminded that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 10:6), and no one comes to Jesus unless he or she is drawn by the Father (John 6:44). As I prayed for my children who have not acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior and have not professed faith in Jesus, I am also reminded that God gives us free will.

God won’t violate the free will He has given us. How, then, should I pray?

I wish there was another way! I wish that God could just make them believe! If I only I were a Calvinist!

I am only half joking. Maybe not even half joking!

I had a conversation with my youngest about a year and half ago in which she told me that she thought she was an atheist. She said all of her friends are atheists. (I doubt that is true, but whatever.) She told me that she asked God for something (I don’t remember what), and He didn’t respond.

That conversation has stuck with me ever since. I was taken aback. She was only about 16 or 17 at the time. I was painfully aware as we spoke, as I am now, that I can’t make her believe. I was thankful that she felt comfortable enough with me to be open and honest, and I told her so. But that doesn’t make the pain of it any less.

I don’t remember exactly what she said she asked God, but she seemed convinced, at least as we talked at that point, that God must not be real if he didn’t respond to her. I didn’t want to preach. I wanted her to know that she always has an open door to talk to me so I didn’t press the issue with her.

I also know that God is faithful. God drew me out of my darkness, and I believe He can draw her too. After all, no one can come to Jesus except the Father draws her. But will He? Can He?

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