Yet none of this should be cause for discouragement, let alone reason to disregard Peter’s exhortation and forgo giving answers altogether. Since Peter directs us to treat with gentleness and respect those who inquire about our hope in Christ, we ought to take their questions seriously—if they are serious questions—and seek to provide truthful, biblical, God-honoring answers. As we do so, the Holy Spirit will be pleased to work through our words to accomplish God’s purposes: either to bring His elect to saving faith or to confirm His just judgment on those who remain in stubborn unbelief. We should recognize that pursuing and providing good answers to challenging questions is a God-glorifying end in itself, no matter how those answers are received. What is true of faithful evangelism is also true of faithful apologetics (1 Cor. 3:6–7; 2 Cor. 2:15–17).
If we’re honest, there will also be occasions when our answers are not fully satisfying even to us. They may be only partial answers that lack the details we might desire. And there are some questions to which we do not yet have—and may never gain—even partial answers. This should come as no surprise, for we are called to walk by faith, not by sight. But in those cases, we should remember two things. First, unanswered questions are not refutations; the incompleteness of our knowledge is not a reason to doubt what we already know. Second, we should recognize that every worldview faces some unanswered questions and intellectual objections. The crucial issue is not whether Christians can satisfyingly answer every question and refute every challenge but whether the Christian worldview offers better answers to the most pressing ultimate questions, and better explanations of the human condition, than any competing worldview.
By way of illustration, let’s briefly apply these observations to one prominent issue. The problem of evil and suffering remains one of the leading objections wielded by skeptics against Christianity. The argument is easily stated: If there were an all-good, all-powerful God, He would be both willing and able to prevent all evil; but since evil exists, it follows that there is no all-good, all-powerful God. Christian philosophers have observed that the argument is unsound because it fails to acknowledge that God may allow (even ordain) certain evils in order to accomplish His greater good purposes (Gen. 50:20; Acts 4:27–28). Moreover, the Bible doesn’t leave us completely in the dark about God’s purposes but reveals to us at least some of the good reasons God has for allowing evil and suffering (Ps. 119:71; Luke 13:1–5; John 9:1–3; Rom. 5:3–5; 8:28–30; 9:19–24; 2 Cor. 1:5–7; 4:17; Heb. 12:5–11; James 1:2–4). At the same time, Scripture emphasizes that we should not expect to always be able to discern why God permits specific instances of evil, for we have only limited knowledge and understanding of God’s ways. Thus, the Bible supplies some answers while also explaining why we cannot have all the answers. Finally, while there will always be unanswered questions about evil, we can be reassured that Christianity, when compared with alternative worldviews such as Darwinian materialism and Eastern pantheism, still offers the most satisfying answers to the most crucial questions. What accounts for the distinction between good and evil? How did evil and suffering originate? Why are humans capable of such heinous evils? Do our sufferings have any meaning or purpose? Will evil be finally defeated, and if so, how? How can we experience real hope and joy even in the midst of painful trials?
The same principles can be applied to other issues. In the end, the Bible not only assures us that God will provide sufficient answers to the most pressing objections to the Christian faith but also explains why we do not have an answer to every question we might want answered, at least while we “see in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12).