What’s Christian Apologetics? Pt 2 of 2

Image

Why is apologetics important?

Not only is apologetics important, it’s necessary. In my second year at university, I had an English prof I’ll never forget. On one particular day in this class we were discussing the historical context of a book we were reading, and suddenly he started harshly criticizing Christian missionaries. To that point in my young life I’d never heard an adult bash Christianity outright before. He had issues with religion in general, but he especially had it in for Christians. I was a deer in the headlights. Part of me was mad that he was harping so heavily, but what bothered me more was that I wasn’t sure if I should say anything, or if I should- what I would even say! Having grown up in a Christian home and lived in a Bible belt town for most of my life, my beliefs were fairly insulated. I’d been taught a lot about and from the Bible, and I trusted it, but never had anyone challenge it. Now I found myself in just such a position- with a university professor no less, someone who I naturally held in high intellectual distinction. Nothing prepared me to defend Christianity against that. I didn’t necessarily think that what he said was true, but I didn’t have a rebuttal either.

Such is the experience that many North American young adult Christians are having once they leave high school and enter the world. The result so far has been this demographic leaving the church in droves. Many go to post-secondary institutions without knowing how to defend their beliefs. It’s one thing to have a peer challenge you on it, it’s another altogether to have a professor ridicule it. It can be confusing at best, disillusioning at worst, and for many it’s meant the end of those beliefs. The good news is that if they have doubts, they don’t need to check their intellect at the door when they go to church or sit down to read their Bibles. The bad news is that many don’t know that yet.

Still feeling apathetic? Maybe the university setting doesn’t apply to your situation. Let’s move to the marketplace then. If someone said to you, “Christians are always trying to force their views on everyone else”, would you know how to respond? What if someone asks you, “Don’t all religions lead to God?” How about a the statement, “I don’t believe in God because it’s not rational. There’s no proof.” Or how about this tough question: “Why would an all-loving, all-powerful God allow suffering in the world?” These are some serious questions, and they’re ones that get asked a lot. Do you know how to answer any of them? Some people simply deem Christianity as just another religion while others don’t believe it at all. Still others like the New Atheists even go so far as to claim that Christianity causes only harm to the world and should be eradicated. How would you as a Christian respond when facing such harsh criticism? Again there’s good news. Apologetics training helps you navigate discussions on even the big, hard questions.

What about when you’re spending time with non-Christian friends at dinner and these questions come up? Maybe that’s happened already. How has the discussion gone? Do you feel like you’ve been able to confidently defend Christianity? Maybe you didn’t have an answer so you didn’t say anything. Maybe you tried to give an answer but the words came out wrong. Or maybe it went okay for a while but then grew emotional, even heated, and everyone walked away discouraged and upset? Discussing worldviews can seem daunting. What apologetics seeks to do though is facilitate edifying those discussions rather than just having an argument that winds up escalating (again, “…with gentleness and respect…”), or dying before it’s even gotten a chance to address the question . There are apologetic books on how to navigate conversations about Christian doctrine. They can provide helpful tools to bring to these discussions despite the difficult topics, and to help represent Christianity strongly and accurately.

One last point…

This is too critical not to include. A key goal of apologetics is not to convert non-Christians to Christianity, but rather to get BOTH of these groups of people to think critically. Never before has humanity seen an age like the present one where so much information can be accessed so easily. The disadvantage to that is of course the amount of misinformation there is mixed in with it. Add to this the advent of social media to truncate and over-simplify this information, creating a sea of one-liners and memorable catch-all statements that we constantly expose ourselves to. It becomes very easy to grow lazy in our thinking about what’s really being said. More importantly, we tend to not filter out what’s true. Of course there are other causes. But while we’re being spoon-fed so much information, how much of it do we allow to influence us without thinking about the premises and conclusions we’re agreeing to? It influences our own worldview. Consequently, we regularly say things we don’t actually mean. If the mind is our circulatory system, critical thought is our immune system. By challenging you to think critically, apologetics wholly and truly teaches how to love the Lord your God with all your mind.

Apologetics is immensely valuable for Christians. We can give good, thoughtful, reasoned, even evidence-based arguments for what we believe. In today’s world the attitudes toward Christianity range from indifference to hostility. However, as C.S. Lewis wrote: “Christianityif false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Do we believe this as Christians? We should according to the Bible. So rather than shrugging it off or spurning it, Christians should educate themselves on what apologetics really is and take the study seriously. This practice is both biblical and necessary. We as Christians ought to be prepared to have a response to what we believe and why. Studying apologetics helps greatly to equip us with the necessary information to do this with- to think critically about the mountains of information available, to sift out what’s true and what’s not, and to then engage with others in addressing the most difficult questions about life. If you’re a Christian and this topic doesn’t excite you, I encourage you to very carefully evaluate or re-evaluate your reasons why. For everyone else, let’s take a lesson from the apostles. Let’s take up the mantle to defend the Christian worldview. Let’s share the knowledge we can glean and do so with gentleness and respect. In doing so we will be encouraged in our faith, gain confidence in defending Christian beliefs against criticism, and put into practice loving our God with our minds. In doing so we will encourage and challenge those around us as well. To the glory of God.

Advertisements
Posted in My Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Christian Apologetics? Pt 1 of 2

I’m passionate about Christian Apologetics. This is partially because it was a catalyst for my already-Christian world being turned upside down in an amazing way about four years ago, and partially because I believe in what it stands for- giving a thoughtful account, or reasons, for the hope that we have as Christians. In light of a conference that will be happening at my church next weekend on this subject (follow the link at the end of this blog for more info on that), I’m re-posting a blog I posted a few weeks ago on the subject, but in two parts this time. I haven’t yet learned the art of short article writing.

Interestingly, as I’ve gotten more and more into apologetics over the years, the reactions to it from some fellow Christians towards it have been disappointing and even unsettling. (Sidenote: Christian Apologetics isn’t actually just for Christians at all but also for theists, atheists, agnostics and whatever other -ist you may consider yourself. So feel free to read on, whatever your beliefs, but this particular blog is written for a Christian audience). I’m a little surprised at how many Christians don’t know what apologetics is, but I’m even more surprised at how easily others dismiss it or even denounce it. All of these reactions are surprising to me for two main reasons- apologetics is important and it’s Biblical. Before I delve further into that though, I’ll address the most basic question first…

What is “apologetics”?

NO, it doesn’t mean to “apologize” for something. Actually, the opposite is true. The word itself comes from the Greek work “apologia” meaning to give an answer or defence for something- in this case a defense of Christian claims to truth. The word comes from the judicial processes that go on in a courtroom, so let’s analyze that scene for a moment: Defense attorneys come prepared with all the evidence they can gather. They have both direct and circumstantial evidence, and eyewitness accounts, and from this they make their case. The attorney researches, studies, memorizes and then expounds their evidence to the courtroom. They build a reasoned and rational case for what they’re claiming is true. Christian apologists do the same thing, only they use the Bible as historical document as much as a holy book, and evidence from other disciplines as well like the sciences (yes, the sciences), philosophy, archaeology and more.

Image

Does that sound cool? It is!

As Christians, we’re actually all called to be apologists. 1 Peter 3:15 says “…always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect…”. We are also instructed, ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind“- Matthew 22:7, Deuteronomy 6:5 (emphasis mine). And yet, a lot of Christians seem lukewarm about it. Some are even antagonistic towards it. Of the Christians I’ve spoken to in this latter camp, they explained that they’ve had bad experiences with it. Some have taken the apologists’ words as prideful and arrogant. Consideration for subjectivity aside, on the one hand if this is true at face value, the apologist has perhaps not applied the second instruction in 1 Peter 3:15 in his or her argument. On the other hand, it also doesn’t seem reasonable to ignore an entire field of study because one proponent didn’t follow one of its cardinal rules. Furthermore, to those who are against apologetics, if a strong enough case hasn’t yet been built from the aforementioned scripture, there’s another fact from biblical history that gets seriously overlooked- apologetics was the modas operandi of Paul and the apostles.

Apologetics is not just a trend as many seem to think. Dozens of examples could be used here to illustrate how apologetics was standard for the apostles. They constantly defended, taught and challenged false teachings against Christian doctrine. They used examples from the culture of the audience to whom they were speaking to apply Christian teaching, regularly quoted from “scriptures” (the Old Testament) and taught from oral traditions (“You have heard it said…”) and historical facts as known to their audience to formulate their arguments. “Then (Paul) went to the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, engaging in discussion and trying to persuade them about the things related to the kingdom of God.” Acts 19:8 & 9. As you can see, being a Christian and being an apologist actually go hand in hand. Far from a passing fad or something popular Christian culture has conjured up that will come and go, apologetics is as old as Christianity itself.

Some have said to me that apologetics is intimidating. That’s certainly understandable. I was exposed to apologetics for a few years before I started to understand even its staple concepts. The scientific and philosophic statements that often arise from the various fields of study that apologetics encompasses can indeed seem baffling. The great things is though that you don’t need to be an expert apologist to be able to defend your faith well. Sometimes even a few key pieces of information that challenge some of the major, popular, flawed ideologies of our culture are enough to greatly increase your understanding, both of what those flaws are and of how to have a meaningful conversation about them. There are also many of online resources (see below) that put these complex arguments in simpler terms. I’d encourage you not to let sophisticated argument names or concepts intimidate you and to be patient with yourself. There are hugely important lessons to be learned and even greater benefits to be reaped for you as a believer when you come to understand them.

For the Christians who seem to be apathetic altogether about the subject, I have a few thoughts to share about that but I’ll leave it for the next blog. I’ll start it by giving you an anecdote from my own experience. I hope you don’t get caught in the same position I was.

*Visit http://www.apologeticscanada.com/conference-2013/ for more information about this year’s Christian apologetics conference.

*For a sort of intro to apologetics, visit http://www.thinkingseries.com

Posted in Apologetics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Sound of Grief

I don’t know if it will ever make sense to me how one moment I can be smiling, laughing and content, and the next suddenly find myself transported to some place that’s like a dark, shadowy pit, and hearing someone cry out like a psych ward patient, only to realize… the cry is coming from me. This is the sound of grief. ImageThat’s not the only sound grief makes, but in those moments that’s all I can think about. The wailing… that’s what grief sounds like. For me it often feels like an out of body experience. But almost within the same thought, I remind myself that this is a very present, very real reality that I can’t escape.

These moments of overwhelming grief from the loss of my parents- my dad from MS when I was 19 and my mom in six short months from breast cancer when I was 27- is not something I can truly describe. Maybe it’s like having your heart in a vice, or having your heart suddenly fill with stones, or having a rope tied around it with an anchor hanging off of it, or having the anchor hanging off it while it’s in a vice and filled with stones. And I wind up sometimes on the floor, feeling heavy like my body is some sort of sentient bag of stones. That is the weight of sorrow. In these moments, if I’m not gasping for air between near-uncontrollable wails, I’m reminding myself to breathe.

Sometimes I feel it coming on slow and steady, and other times I’m literally going about my day one minute and flat on the floor in grief in an instant. But I have to fight- I force myself to feel the grief, no matter how deep it goes. If I don’t, it’ll eat me alive some other way. I’ll start to run and I’ll never stop, and I’ll maybe manage to stay a few steps ahead of it but I’ll always be running. I’ll never be free. No, the only freedom comes from facing it, in going through that fire, in having the courage to go endure the catharsis in order to reach healing at the other end.

So I wail. I cry out to God. I let the memories of my beloved parents come to me. This time they’re slow at first, each a few seconds long, allowing me to take in the moments I’m recalling… these memories that have become treasures… But then I remember a painful memory- and suddenly it all speeds up. It doesn’t take long for them to come at me faster and faster until they overwhelm me in flashes like film that’s fallen off a reel. And I wail. I listen to the sounds I never thought a human could make. It’s hard to believe I’m making this sound, but I acknowledge them as mine. This is the sound of my grief. My grief. My own. Only I can feel my grief. And I cry out to God. I’m at the end of myself and can’t go any further. My mind spins wildly, and I cover my head with my hands but I can’t slow it down. The wailing continues and I struggle to breathe. My bones rattle inside my body and I want to crawl out of my skin. …..God, please take this. I’ve come to the end of myself.

Although there’s no telling how long the moment will be once it’s begun, eventually the grief subsides. Eventually the moment decrescendos. It’s often like a symphony with all its movements, ebbs and flows of intensity but never subsiding until it’s ready to.

And when it has, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. The overwhelm of grief is exhausting. And I’m numb. But another wave of grief has finally settled. If I haven’t already blacked out and fallen asleep, I can finally sleep now. I am completely spent. In my numbness I finally sleep.

Posted in Grief | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Uncomfortable… In Thailand!

If you’re following my blog (or not), I told the first half of a story a few weeks ago entitled “Uncomfortable”. In it I observed how over the course of several months, I’d come to realize, or rather that God revealed to me, that I’ve been fairly unchallenged in my beliefs all my life. I’ve lived in a very “comfortable” conditions for twenty years. On the one hand, I believe it was a great mercy for my family as we faced several serious hardships. On the other hand I’d started feeling the Spirit starting to move and do something in me and I did’t exactly know what. I was being challenged, but in what area? And FOR what?

No sooner had God begun putting the wheels of some large, obscure machine into motion than did I hear about a missions trip that was being planned for the young adults group at my church. Applications were being accepted and the team would go in May 2013. In my whole life I’d never felt “called” (a feeling or knowledge of a spiritual pull to a particular person, place or thing) to go on an overseas missions trip. Now suddenly I did? But given what I had been realizing and this sudden pull, I applied. I also prayed for a clue as to what all these things meant. God was starting me down some kind of path, but what was it? Things were about to get uncomfortable, but in a really cool way.

Clues

In the following days, I would get more clues. But I’ll backtrack a bit first..

The week before I applied, a man named J. Warner Wallace spoke at my young adults group. Mr. Wallace is a cold case homicide detective from L.A. who was an atheist until he decided to apply his skills, experience and knowledge as a detective to analyze the claims of the gospel critically. As a result of his research, Jim became a christian at 35, and then he wrote a book on his findings called “Cold Case Christianity” (I highly recommend him as both a speaker and an author). There were two closely-related concepts he described that have made an impact on me, and were maybe the clues that I had prayed for just days before.

I was unable to go see him speak that night, but I listened to his presentation online afterwards. The first concept he spoke about is one I hadn’t thought of before. I’m actually still chewing on it, but the greater point of it I believe is true and it’s been significant to me. He had with him his bulletproof vest and he put it on. He described how at some point in his early police training, his class went to a firing range where the vest was put on a dummy and shot at. The point of this exercise was to demonstrate how much you can trust the vest. It helped to form a belief in these trainees that the vest would perform like it was designed to. In another story, Jim described how he got called out to an officer-involved shooting (where an officer shoots his/her weapon and wounds or kills someone). The officer had pulled someone over for a simple infraction, and as he stood right beside the driver’s side door, the driver shot at him. At that moment, Mr. Wallace describes, you go from belief THAT the vest will do its job to belief IN the vest. It’s just saved your life because you decided that you had faith it would stop a bullet based on what you witnessed back when you were in training. Now that you’ve actually taken a bullet, you believe IN it. When I heard this concept of belief that/belief in spoken in this way, I started to realize that I hadn’t really, not REALLY, put on my “vest” as a Christian and gone out. I’d never really prepared myself to take a “bullet” for the gospel. I’ve personally lived very comfortably in my mostly-Christian family and my Bible-belt town, and have only occasionally been engaged in conversations about my faith, or applied my Christian worldview to a conversation with participants hostile to that worldview. I’ve been on that firing range but mostly just watched the bullet fly and hit the vest. I haven’t really owned that vest once it’s been on me. I’ve put it on a bunch of times but never kept it on and worn it with pride and joy, or trusted IN it.

Image

The other concept that Mr. Wallace spoke about was this (to paraphrase)- We all have two choices as far as Christianity goes: The first is to give our lives for God, the second is to be an active agent of spreading the gospel. In all my years of going to church I’m sure I heard this message hundreds of times, but for whatever reason, just the timing of the season, this clicked. I’d most certainly taken the first step- once as a child and then a few more as a teenager as I searched. I’d also taken the second step at times, but not really been armed with enough knowledge to know how do so. And, again, I hadn’t really had to explain what I believed or why to anyone, or defend my beliefs all that much. I simply hadn’t had practice. At the same time, I realized I was growing tired of living in the fear of what others would think of me if I became more passionate about my faith. This was possibly more of an issue for me than my lack of practice.

To add one more aspect into the mix, life has been calming a little after some personal losses and hardships that have been MAJOR refining tools to my faith and beliefs. They’ve forced me to decide what my reaction will be in the face of adversity- will I have the courage and strength to not only get angry at God but to listen Him? When I hear, will I submit? And finally, will I then live by the truths I claim to believe and actually apply them whether or not the going’s easy? Long story short, God spoke to me and met me repeatedly during my very darkest hours of those trying times. So when I heard Jim Wallace describe these two choices everyone must make, I started to reflect. I realized that if I never truly dug in on my own, if I was never challenged, either by myself or anyone else, and that if I always let the fear of what other people thought of me have control over what I said and did, that I ran a very real risk of becoming complacent (thank you Steve for that word) in my faith. Yes, life’s adversities might drive me back to God again in the future, but in the meantime I’d be in as comfortable a situation as I’d ever been. I’d be again only putting on that vest when I was challenged by someone else, which didn’t happen often, so when trials would come I wouldn’t be ready at all.

We’re called to always be ready. We’re called to spread the gospel! Complacency is what I was in danger of, and I believe that at least some of the key clues that I’d prayed for came from Jim Wallace’s lessons. This is the journey God has me on: I made the first decision to accept that Jesus saved me from what no one else could already. Through studying my Bible and apologetics, through prayer, and through worship, through community and through solitude, I’m making that second choice. I’m putting on that bulletproof vest in expectation of doing His work and being able to defend it at any turn, whatever my circumstances, whatever my fears, by the grace of God.

One last thing- I also found out just this morning that I was accepted as a member of the Thailand missions trip team. It’s time to get uncomfortable on purpose, both at home and abroad.

For information on J. Warner Wallace’s book and ministry…

http://www.coldcasechristianity.com

Posted in My Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apologetics- What It Is And Why It’s Important

I know this blog entry is not the conclusion to the previous one that I said I would do, but I’m going to delay that one to instead write on another subject I’m passionate about- Christian Apologetics. I do so partially because it’s the subject of a conference* happening at my church in a few weeks’ time which I could not be more excited about, but also partially because of some of the attitudes of fellow Christians towards apologetics that I’ve noticed over the past six months or so. (Sidenote: Christian Apologetics isn’t actually just for Christians at all but also for theists, atheists, agnostics and whatever other -ist you may consider yourself. So feel free to read on, whatever your beliefs, but this particular blog is written for a Christian audience). I’m a little surprised at how many Christians don’t know what apologetics is, but I’m even more surprised at how easily others dismiss it or even denounce it. All of these reactions are surprising to me for two main reasons- apologetics is important and it’s Biblical. Before I delve further into that though, I’ll address the most basic question first…

What is “apologetics”?

No, it doesn’t mean to “apologize” for something. The word itself comes from the Greek work “apologia” meaning to give an answer or defense for something- in this case a defense of Christian claims to truth. (You may even notice, this blog is an apologetic for apologetics). The word comes from the judicial processes that go on in a courtroom, so let’s analyze that scene for a moment: Defense attorneys come prepared with all the evidence they can gather. They have both direct and circumstantial evidence, and eyewitness accounts, and from this they make their case. The attorney researches, studies, memorizes and then expounds their evidence to the courtroom. They build a reasoned and rational case for what they’re claiming is true. Christian apologists do the same thing, only they use the Bible as historical document as much as a holy book, and  evidence from other disciplines as well like the sciences (yes, the sciences), philosophy, archaeology and more.

Does that sound cool? It is!

As Christians, we’re actually all called to be apologists. 1 Peter 3:15 says “…always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect…”. We are also instructed, ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind“- Matthew 22:7, Deuteronomy 6:5 (emphasis mine). And yet, a lot of Christians seem lukewarm about it. Some are even antagonistic towards it. Of the Christians I’ve spoken to in this latter camp, they explained that they’ve had bad experiences with it. Some have taken the apologists’ words as prideful and arrogant. Putting the issue of subjectivity aside, on the one hand if this is true at face value, the apologist has perhaps not applied the second instruction in 1 Peter 3:15 in his or her argument. On the other hand, it also doesn’t seem reasonable to ignore an entire field of study because one proponent didn’t follow one of its cardinal rules. Furthermore, to those who are against apologetics, if a strong enough case hasn’t yet been built from the aforementioned scripture, there’s another fact from biblical history that gets seriously overlooked- apologetics was the modas operandi of Paul and the apostles.

Apologetics is not just a trend as many seem to think. Dozens of examples could be used here to illustrate how apologetics was standard for the apostles. They constantly defended, taught and challenged false teachings against Christian doctrine. They used examples from the culture of the audience to whom they were speaking to apply Christian teaching, regularly quoted from “scriptures” (the Old Testament) and taught from oral traditions (“You have heard it said…”) and historical facts as known to their audience to formulate their arguments. “Then (Paul) went to the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, engaging in discussion and trying to persuade them about the things related to the kingdom of God.” Acts 19:8 & 9. As you can see, being a Christian and being an apologist actually go hand in hand. Far from a passing fad or something popular Christian culture has conjured up that will come and go, apologetics is as old as Christianity itself.

Some have said to me that apologetics is intimidating. That’s definitely understandable. The scientific and philosophic statements that often arise from the various fields of study can seem really baffling. But you don’t necessarily need to be an expert apologist to be able to defend your faith well. Sometimes even a few key pieces of information that challenge some of the major, popular, flawed ideologies of our culture are enough to greatly increase your understanding, both of what those flaws are and of how to have a meaningful conversation about them. There are also many of online resources that put these complex arguments in simpler terms. I’d encourage you not to let sophisticated argument names or concepts intimidate you and to be patient with yourself. There are hugely important lessons to be learned and huge benefits to you as a believer when you come to understand them.

For the Christians who seem to be apathetic altogether about the subject, well let me start by giving you an anecdote from my own experience. I hope you don’t get caught in the same position I was.

Why is apologetics important?

Not only is apologetics important, it’s necessary. In my second year at university, I had an English prof I’ll never forget. On one particular day in this class we were discussing the historical context of a book we were reading, and suddenly he started harshly criticizing Christian missionaries. I’d never heard an adult bash Christianity outright before. He had issues with religion in general, but he especially had it in for Christians. I was a deer in the headlights. Part of me was mad that he was harping so heavily, but, what bothered me most was that I had no idea what to say. Having grown up in a Christian home and lived in a Bible belt town for most of my life, my beliefs were fairly insulated. I’d been taught a lot about and from the Bible, and I trusted it, but never had anyone challenge it. Now I found myself in just such a position- with a university professor no less, someone who I naturally held in high intellectual distinction. Nothing prepared me to defend Christianity against that. I didn’t necessarily think that what he said was true, but I didn’t have a rebuttal either. This is the experience that many North American young adult Christians are having once they leave high school and enter the world. The result so far has been this demographic leaving the church in droves. Many go to post-secondary institutions without knowing how to defend their beliefs. It’s one thing to have a peer challenge you on it, it’s another altogether to have a professor ridicule it. It can be confusing at best, disillusioning at worst, and for many it’s meant the end of those beliefs. The good news is that if they have doubts, they don’t need to check their intellect at the door when they go to church or sit down to read their Bibles. The bad news is that many don’t know that yet.

Still feeling apathetic? Maybe the university setting doesn’t apply to your situation. Let’s move to the marketplace then. If someone said to you, “Christians are always trying to force their views on everyone else”, would you know how to respond? What if someone asks you, “Don’t all religions lead to God?” How about a the statement, “I don’t believe in God because it’s not rational. There’s no proof.” Or how about this tough question: “Why would an all-loving, all-powerful God allow suffering in the world?” These are some serious questions, and they’re ones that get asked a lot. Do you know how to answer any of them? Some people simply deem Christianity as just another religion while others don’t believe it at all. Still others like the New Atheists even go so far as to claim that Christianity causes only harm to the world and should be eradicated. How would you as a Christian respond when facing such harsh criticism? Again there’s good news. Apologetics training helps you navigate discussions on even the big, hard questions.

What about when you’re spending time with non-Christian friends at dinner and these questions come up? Maybe that’s happened already. How has the discussion gone? Do you feel like you’ve been able to confidently defend Christianity? Maybe you didn’t have an answer so you didn’t say anything. Maybe you tried to give an answer but the words came out wrong. Or maybe it went okay for a while but then grew emotional, and everyone walked away discouraged and upset? Discussing worldviews can seem daunting. What apologetics seeks to do is facilitate edifying those discussions rather than just having an argument that winds up escalating (again, “…with gentleness and respect…”), or dying before it’s even gotten a chance to address the question . There are apologetic books on how to navigate conversations about Christian doctrine. They can provide helpful tools to bring to these discussions despite the difficult topics, and to help  represent Christianity strongly and accurately.

One last point…

This is too critical not to include. A key goal of apologetics is not to convert non-Christians to Christianity, but rather to get BOTH of these groups of people to think critically. Never before has humanity seen an age like the present one where so much information can be accessed so easily. The disadvantage to that is of course the amount of misinformation there is mixed in with it. Add to this the advent of social media to truncate and over-simplify this information, creating a sea of one-liners and memorable catch-all statements that we constantly expose ourselves to. It becomes very easy to grow lazy in our thinking about what’s really being said. More importantly, we tend to not filter out what’s true. Of course there are other causes. But while we’re being spoon-fed so much information, how much of it do we allow to influence us without thinking about the premises and conclusions we’re agreeing to? It influences our own worldview. Consequently, we regularly say things we don’t actually mean. If the mind is our circulatory system, critical thought is our immune system. By challenging you to think critically, apologetics wholly and truly teaches how to love the Lord your God with all your mind.

Apologetics is immensely valuable for Christians. We can give good, thoughtful, reasoned, even evidence-based arguments for what we believe. In today’s world the attitudes toward Christianity range from indifference to hostility, so rather than shrugging it off or spurning it, Christians should educate themselves on what apologetics really is and take the study seriously. This practice is both biblical and necessary. We as Christians ought to be prepared to have a response to what we believe and why. Studying apologetics equips us with the necessary information to do this with- to think critically about the mountains of information available, to sift out what’s true and what’s not, and to then engage with others in addressing the most difficult questions about life. If you’re a Christian and this topic doesn’t excite you, I encourage you to very carefully evaluate or re-evaluate your reasons why. For everyone else, let’s take a lesson from the apostles. Let’s take up the mantle to defend the Christian worldview. Let’s share the knowledge we can glean and do so with gentleness and respect. In doing so we will be encouraged in our faith, gain confidence in defending Christian beliefs against criticism, and put into practice loving our God with our minds. In doing so we will encourage and challenge those around us as well. To the glory of God.

*Some fantastic Chritian Apologists (including literally one of the world’s best), are coming to Northview Church in Abbotsford, B.C. This is happening on March 1st and 2nd and tickets are on sale both online and at the church. For all details on keynote speakers, schedules and speakers for breakout sessions, ticket pricing and more, visit… http://www.apologeticscanada.com/conference-2013/

Posted in Apologetics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncomfortable

I think I might have mentioned in my last blog that my next one was going to be an account of my life as a Christian. A “testimony” as we Christians call it. But I’ve sat down to write it several times now and I just don’t feel like it’s supposed to come out yet. So for now, onto another subject…

“Comfort”. In my experience in Christian circles, this word is cliché. It’s cliché in that we’re taught that comfort isn’t what we’re called to. This cliché, however, is one that I feel like we as Christians ought to pay close attention to because, odds are, as with every cliché, there’s an element of truth. What does my life look like right now as a Christian living in the western world? As a Christian living in Canada? In my province? In my city or town? And, more uniquely for me, in a Bible belt? Would “comfortable” be a good word to use to describe my life? And is this what God is calling me to?

I realized last fall upon talking with a friend that I’ve been living in my town for 20 years now. This might not seem like a big deal for many, but this thought has actually been of some consequence to me so far. I know that it’s partly because I’ve never been able to attach that increment to anything in my life as I’m 29, so it’s partly just some kind of psychological rite of passage. It did get me thinking though of what it’s been like for me to live where I live. 20 years. 20 years already?! In Abbotsford. When I reflect on those 20 years, what’s happened? What have been the highs and lows? But more significantly for me- what has been the overarching sense of how my life has been?

Comfortable.

This has made me uncomfortable.

Now it seems to me like in our culture, as soon as someone questions their creature comforts, some people blame “fundamentalist ideas” of how to live a proper life and call it unfair placement of guilt. “Of course she feels guilty. She’s a Christian.” That’s another discussion, but I will say for the purposes of this blog that my discomfort was neither some sort of misguided idea of what’s right and wrong nor self-imposed guilt. Right away there was a kind of depth to this discomfort that I felt. It was a healthy discomfort. And I absolutely believe that it’s my faith progressively settling in as I realize more and more that I ought to follow God, not the other way around. In addition, over the past 4 years or so, God has been revealing to me that I’ve lived the vast majority of my life in fear as well as comfort. Now that seems like a contradiction in terms but the fear I felt was fear of man- what people think of me, how they perceive my actions, and how they’d react if I truly spoke Christ’s words to them. I haven’t really been challenged in that area of my life very much, and this feeling of discomfort about that fact that I’d now acquired wasn’t going away.

In addition to starting to read more since then and starting to be more deliberate, practicing living out my faith, a few short months later I learned that my young adults group at my church was planning a missions trip to Thailand. Now I’ve been a Christian for about 23 years. In that time I have honest-to-goodness never felt called to go overseas on a missions trip. I have never, ever felt it. I’ve always discerned my callings to be more within Christian circles or with my non-Christian friends in and around where I live. I’ve prayed about going overseas or even to the US when the opportunities have shown themselves, but sincerely never felt like I was meant to go. You can imagine my bewilderment, then, when I found myself holding a clipboard and signing my name to get more information about this one. “Really, God? ….seriously? Wait, is this me or you? Why am I even holding this pen? Why am I sitting in this group discussing the itinerary?” Now, months later, the whole idea is perplexing even still to a degree, but I emailed in my application a week ago and am now waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted.

I hit “send” on that email feeling like God was at work in all of this. I don’t know what His plan is, and I may still not even get accepted to that team. He might have something completely different in store for me in the coming months. But I prayed for some kind of clue as to what this was all about, even what the last 4 years of realizations and revelations were all about, because as strange as it is for some to understand, it’s the wildest thing to be able to feel moment by moment that the Holy Spirit is doing something in you. It’s like you’re being readied for something. It’s the preparation before the adventure that you can feel you’re about to embark on. You know you’re going to be stretched past what you thought was your breaking point. You can only imagine how difficult it will be. You’re a bit afraid of it, but you know you won’t be the same after and you know that that’s going to be good. You might come out the other end a very changed person. It’s thrilling and terrifying all at once.

You know you’ll be uncomfortable.

I did have some encounters in the following days that may be the clues that I was praying for, but I’m going to save those for the next blog entry. As always, God is faithful.

For the moment, thanks for taking the time to read this and may God challenge and bless you on your journey today. See you next blog.

Posted in My Story | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Finally, at 2am, it starts…

Well, here it is: after suggestions from a few friends, one very encouraging acquaintance, and multi-years of persistent prodding from the Holy Spirit, I’m starting a blog. Is this the part where I explain what it’s going to be about? I literally (yes Adam, literally) don’t know, but I will. I’m new to the blogosphere so please bear with me…

This blog will largely be about my walk with the God of the Bible- the Judeo-Christian (I think I have that right), Trinitarian God. I might discuss current events, and maybe politics, but those will also be looked at and analyzed through a Christian worldview, which I’ll represent as faithfully, humbly and courageously the average sinner can. Although if you’re a Christian I guess that’s really a moot point of a caveat (see Philippians 4:13). I’ll also talk about, and in the same language as, a discipline that is an ever-growing passion of mine- Christian apologetics. If you don’t know what that is, the internet is full of information on it. I’ll add some online resources at the bottom of this post. To put it briefly though, as Jesus says in Matthew 22:37&38, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. While each of these acts of love to God affects the others, it’s the third that apologetics focusses in on. And I love it.

So I’m a Christian, but more specifically I’m a Christian in transition. I am progressing out of lukewarmness into boldness. To say the least, I’m going through a season of transition. From the world’s point of view, as far as my resume looks, I have no idea what I’m transitioning from and I don’t know where I’m transitioning to, but spiritually I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alive. Spiritually I DO know who I’m transitioning from having been to who I’m transitioning into (I think). The last 4 years have been especially incredible (use of superlative intentional and sincere. Oh, and I care about grammar and correct wording as you’ll learn), very, very difficult, humbling and root-deepening. And I’ll be honest- the future freaks me out a little. But WOW is it ever exciting!

In my next blog I’ll share about my background. I was afraid that might take me a long time to write, and it probably will, but I wanted to get this thing started before I put it off any longer. To give you an idea, however, I’ll say that my life so far seems to have been a perpetually messy mix of traumas and love right from since I was a child. Although as I’ve learned, that is what the human experience can so often be.

That actually brings me to the other very important reason why I’m starting this blog- to encourage! I’m very, very passionate about encouraging others in various ways, and I hope and pray that this blog will serve to encourage you- that is whether you’re a Christian or not. 

Please check out the links below- again, whether you’re a Christian or not- and we’ll see you next blog.

reasonablefaith.org, http://www.str.org, pleaseconvinceme.com, coldcasechristianity.com Names to google/youtube: William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, R C Sproul, JP Moreland, Greg Koukl

 

Posted in My Story | 2 Comments