21st Century Apologetic

On monday evening I had a chance to join with some fellow co-laborers at our church and meander through a few neighborhoods. There were a few conclusions made regarding the event.

  1. At least on Campbell St. everyone has to have a dog that is at least 5′ tall.
  2. Many people of differing backgrounds claim they are atheists.

I think there were a lot of people surprised by that comment. Maybe surprised is not the right word. Caught off guard perhaps? If you crossed a few blocks over east of Troost Ave. you probably not hear the word atheist. But, there are people who believe they are atheist and do not use the word, even if their music of choice is Luther. (Usher vs. Justin Timberlake perhaps a better comparison. You get my point I think.)

We tend to hear that word and stray from people like it is the plague. “I’m an atheist. Muhhhh ha ha ha ha.” No anything but that! Give us anything but atheists!!! I think it was Frederick Nietzsche who said, or demonstrated by the latter part of his life that real atheism should ultimately lead to insanity. To believe in nothing absolute leads to an inablity to function. If you probe most people long enough, you will find some sort of absolutes in their lives that they hold to. Those usualy become their gods. Hence there not many atheists. Which is really where I believe the problem is: not in their failure to recognize God, but in the Christians willingness to go the length (not necessarily the depth.)

Apologetics as defined from be thinking.org is:

Apologetics is the defence and the communication of the Christian faith. It’s what Simon Peter was writing about when he wrote: “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

We should note that contextually Peter was talking about a ‘courtroom defense’ using that word. And that seems to tie back to Jesus teaching the disciples in Luke 12 in that they would be drug before court and the Spirit would teach them what to say in their defense. But, I think we should consider the relevance of the courtrooms on street corners, in your children, an unbelieving mate, at work, etc. There is a defense that occurs there…even if you do not hear the gavel.

Perhaps this will evolve into a mini series of sorts but I had a few thoughts yesterday from some mentors at my church. These women are quite helpful and full of encouragement. There are some more technical aspects to apologetics which give you an ability to pull out other tools in the tool box. But defense of the Faith is the explanation of the Gospel. If you know who you believe in, you know who what you are defending. And thus you know HOW to defend Him also.

  • The principle is the Gospel (and especially its implications)
  • The perseverence in defending is in the love you have for all (brought about by your understanding of the Gospel)
  • The power is in the Spirit of God, bringing to your memory the truth. His sealing secures where your knowledge comes from.

Given this as the basis I believe there are some basic concepts that might aid in defending the Faith.

1. Think our Faith. Not only my faith. Personally understood but Corporately belonging. ‘My faith’ will tend to push me toward a personal testimony about what God has done for me…alone. This is truth, but not necessarily universal truth for all. We stand on Jesus Christ the rejected messiah, incarnate, eternal, forever the begotten son of God, died, rose, and reigns forever. The par excellence savior. The only one  who sufficiently, adequately, and eternally paid the penalty for the sins of mankind. That is The Faith. If He never paid a light bill, never permitted a good day, if I have to suffer, if I fail daily, if he did not save me (ouch), He would still be Lord and Savior. We stand on His word. Defense in this manner supersedes a kind of perspective about God being partial, or flippant in His dealings with mankind. And this also keeps you mindful that there are many who have come before us who died horrific in order to maintain the Gospel message AND THEN what He has done for them in their individual lives.

2. Our Gospel is True. If the gospel message is true, and the implications of it are true, then you are speaking the very truth of God to others. Peter Kreeft made the point that because of the authority of the Gospel a 7 year old is standing on more authority and is more effective than the greatest skeptic and intellectual thinker in a debate or discussion. This is really a trust issue on our part more than an defense issue.

3.Debate and Argue is not always the kind of discussions that happen in your home. We tend to bias discussions based upon our own experiences. And since most of us (including myself) never took debate, we tend to line words like ‘debate and argue’ up with ad-hoc attacks and ‘yo momma’s.’ And while rightfully so we should not turn the other cheek about someone talking about our mothers, this is not necessarily the quality of the debate with someone who does not believe what you believe. You can disagree, and not take it emotionally (recall you are the one with eternal life.) And if they yell then perhaps you should listen closer to why they are yelling. This is perhaps the toughest one and within it are a few sub points I will bullet point for clarity.

  • A disagreement is not a reason to kick the dust, especially if they are willing to talk about it.
  • Perhaps one of the biggest detractors could be your unwillingness to listen. Not only because of the perception of the other person that you are just running your ‘Jesus loves you (not me so much) and He is Lord’ script. But because God is showing you barn door size openings of common grace that you can walk through to get to know the person and demonstrate that you care about them.
  • Remember these are not just pithy thoughts they have, they are philosophies that they are living their lives by that you are essentially telling them ‘they are broken tools put them down.’ That is no easier than the things you have trouble putting down now…and you have a relationship with Christ.

4. What greater conversation will you have with a person? The tough discussions are always the hard ones. I find that as I get older I have been more forthright and my fear is coming off brash. But life is too short to dance around eternity. Let us have meaninful discussions. Level 1 coversations have to happen, but I would much rather be at least at a 3 with you, I love you too much to exanche cliches and God bless you’s. Your effort is essentially leading to your ability to say throughout all eternity ‘I had a conversation(s) with someone that led to them seeing God face to face….forever.’ This is a priviledge. If this is not motivation, you might need to gaze at the gospel a little longer.

More to come I suspect. SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS

How can Hold To Truth help you see to just how effective you already are? Share your experiences.

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2 thoughts on “21st Century Apologetic

  1. When it comes to sharing the gospel, sometimes I don’t feel qualified. I’m not the best Christian or the most educated. In fact, I only have one Bible verse memorized: “Jesus wept.” These insecurities have hindered my ability to share God confidently, and I fear that loosely bumpin’ my gums might cause more damage than good. What are some ways that I can become better equipped? Please share the methods that are fast, easy, and fun.

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