Apologetics Series – Intro Sermon

Last week I preached a sermon that began a series on apologetics. It was called, “The Heart of Apologetics” or “Why we do apologetics.” This will be a 6-7 week series and I will speak two times; the one above and one is basically a summary of the book, “Tactics” by Greg Koukl. I wanted to post it on here, so here it is. I didn’t write the very end because it was just some examples of a poor attitude on my part, and a good attitude, when I was in Utah. I took me a really long time to write, probably about two months or more. I am so concerned about the subject and our response as Christians that I rewrote the beginning like 4-5 times. Anyway, here it is in its entirety.

Heart of Apologetics (Why?)

Romans 16:17-18 – “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

The word “naive” is not meant to be insulting, neither is “simple” or “unsuspecting,” words used in other various translations. It is to tell us that there are people then as there are now who don’t know as much as they should or could about the message of the gospel. People accept a deception out of ignorance or desire. Apologetics is here to help.

I came across apologetics while looking at a particular deception within the church. Now, I use apologetics because I care about knowing what I believe to be true and to be able defend it. I care about this for my family and I care about it for you. Apologetics fortifies believers in their faith, whether they are wrestling with doubts and questions or simply seeking a deeper grounding for their biblical beliefs. After this series, I hope you will appreciate apologetics the way many others do who have a deep concern for the deception within and outside of the church.

We are going to examine apologetics in relation to ourselves and to those we love. We will also look at its connection to our culture, and why it is important for the future of our faith. In this our path will point out that this subject is all for the glory of God. And finally, we will look at some of the reasons why we may not participate in apologetics.

For ourselves – Study

Do you have hope? Do you have hope despite the world seemingly falling apart? What is the reason for that hope? Let’s look at 1 Peter 3:15, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” 

Peter’s purpose is to strengthen those who are suffering because of their faith. The reason they (as well as us) endure and even find hope, is Jesus. Although Jesus is the reason for our hope, today, just as it was then, it is important to articulate why we believe in Jesus, as well as why he is our sufficient comfort and inspiration in difficult situations. After all the verse says to “make a defense” and that is a simple definition of what apologetics is.

When John the Baptist was in prison and wondered if Jesus was the Messiah John himself had proclaimed, Jesus provided evidence of His identity. Jesus did not rebuke John in his doubts but answered, listing his unique credentials as one who supernaturally fulfilled prophecies from ancient Hebrew writers.

Doubt creeps into the minds of the youngest/newest believers as well as the strongest, longest-lasting Christians. Challenging life circumstances prompts us to ask tough questions. Worldly pressures cause us to be unsure of who God is or if He really exists. If we don’t have a solid foundation of truth and know how to find answers for these questions, we will waver, tossed about by every wind of doctrine or worldly philosophy. That’s why we need to learn apologetics.

For others – Partake

Many people are wary, even resentful of Christianity. The demand for faith, humility, a submission to divine authority, a willingness to sacrifice, and repentance (which is the end of indifference and hedonism), are many roadblocks to a deep examination of the faith. There is a fear that their lives will get worse if they submit to its terms. The antidote is to defend the core claims rationally to show Christianity as objectively true. Apologetics demonstrate where we came from, who we are, what the problem is, what the solution to that problem is, and how we can flourish as creatures in this life and beyond, when reconciled to our Creator.

Christian apologetics employs the tools of theology and philosophy, and is also linked closely to evangelism and discipleship. Taking on the mantle of Christian apologist means you must be a good philosopher (if not a professional one). Those who do not yet believe the Bible typically aren’t interested in drawn out discussions of biblical doctrine. This is where the rational argument of philosophy becomes compelling. The use of philosophical apologetics can be used to remove or diminish intellectual obstacles hindering people from embracing Christ as Lord. Since I’ve become a Christian many of the unbelievers I observe exclaim warily of the evangelical “shoving religion down their throat.” Philosophical arguments break down those barriers, obviously in use with gentleness, patience and humility.

Paul sets the standard in his letter to the Thessalonians:

For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-5

Our arguments may not be perfect in its philosophy or theology, but it is worth the risk to share and practice the ancient idea given by God himself, now entrusted to us. Let us partake in the practice of apologetics for the sake of others.

For our culture – Evaluate

Just after 9/11 people felt the quickening influence of spiritual matters in the US rise to 70%, a number not seen since the mid-late 50s. Before that, the numbers hovered around 30-40%. Yet, since then, it has quickly declined and the belief in God has become a thing to mock. For whatever reason Americans walked away from something they suddenly saw as influential, they moved toward answers found in men hostile to religion in general and Chrisitanity in the specific. Four men arose from the smoke and were deemed the The Four Horsemen, they led a people towards a hostile and militant atheist ideology called the “new atheism.” Their call was to counter, criticize, and challenge through rational argument wherever religion exerts undue influence, such as in government, education, and politics.

Sam Harris, a leader in this new atheism asserted after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, “Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.” 

Richard Dawkins, another big influencer says, “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

What would you say to someone saying these quotes to you? Their idea is that God should have no bearing in our society and that there are no good answers to the world’s problems through a belief in God, and is in fact the major, if not the, cause for all of the problems in the world. Abolishment of faith is their goal. To most of them, we Christians are unreasonable, irredeemable, deluded, and either a fool or outright evil.

These people and those influenced by them have gone into the midst of the culture, to colleges and online, defending their brand of faith. They have been met head on by Christian theologians and philosophers we should know; William Lane Craig, Greg Koukl, John Lennox, Frank Turek. 

Isaiah 1:18 reads, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord.”

Jesus, the ultimate arbiter of cultural change, is our apologetic exemplar; the one we look toward in an object lesson. He affirmed that we should love God with all of our being, including our minds. We should defend God’s truth when it is attacked. And when the Sadducees questioned Jesus on the heavenly state of a woman who married multiple brothers after the death of each one, what did Jesus do? After all the Sadducees had a point; she could not be married to all at the resurrection, or he had to deny the resurrection. The question was: Moses’ authority, or, the resurrection?

Jesus could have muttered a pious and unrelated platitude, threatened hell to those questioning his authority, or assert two logically incompatible propositions with no hesitation or shame. But, he started pointing out the Sadducees’ failure to know the scriptures or the power of God.

Jesus said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

In this seemingly simple statement, Jesus builds an argument rich in depth and reason. First, he challenges their assumptions about earthly institutions continuing in a resurrected world. The Bible doesn’t teach that marriage will continue, neither did Jesus believe it. Second, Jesus compares us to the angels, challenging the Sadducees’ disbelief in angels (they didn’t even ask him about angels). Third, Jesus quotes a text from scriptures highly esteemed by the Sadducees. He argues from their trusted sources which Jesus also endorsed. Fourth, Jesus says of God the father that he is the God of the living. He is quoting God, speaking to Moses, about those who have already died.

The crowd heard Jesus, were astonished at his teaching and that he silenced the Sadducees. Jesus’ arguments were challenging the culture of the Sadducees, as well as other groups of his day. He is a model for us today along with the other New Testament writers. Peter admonishes followers of Jesus to be ready. Paul speaks of coming against arguments that deny the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Colossians 2:8-9). Jude tells us to contend for the faith (Jude 3). Luke recognized the need for certainty of the things taught by recording the happenings from eyewitnesses, and the careful examinations he himself made (Luke 1:1-4). Let us evaluate apologetic thought to challenge wrong thinking in our culture.

For our future – Teach

Apologetics is for Christian conversion and intellectual confidence. Biblically understood, conversion is a radical turning away from sin, selfishness and Satan, turning toward God and his kingdom. What we are observing in our society today is nothing so radical but just the simple, purposeful and wholehearted embracing of sin. 

A half century ago A.W. Tozer preached these words: “This is the day of excusing sin instead of purging sin. An entire school of thought has developed justifying sin within the church and trying to prove that sin is perfectly normal, and therefore acceptable.”

Consider this current headline: “US Anglican church ordains lesbian bishop.” When even those in our churches say, “God made me this way, so how can it be wrong?” fifty years after Tozer wrote what he did and we’ve come this far. How can we argue that we understand the bible better than we did then? How can we argue against movements within a culture that has so infiltrated our church?

With the current arguments against the Christian worldview and it’s acceptance within, it is easy to see the lack of knowledge that has grown in the 50 years since Tozer’s quote. In the academic realm of our culture many universities foundational on Christian ideals, Christian beliefs and arguments are seen as intellectual suicide within today’s common worldview. In the scientific realm where Christians took the lead in their quest to understand and give glory to God, we are now in a supposed war with science. The historic certainty of the Christian fight to eradicate slavery has turned into a presumed endorsement of it. Our New Testament understanding that a woman (declared an unreliable witness) brought the truth of Jesus’ resurrection to men, has suddenly turned into a patriarchy that silences women wherever they may appear. Our model to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and engage those most rejected in society, has turned into an exclusive hatred and fear of homosexuals. The human race in the beginning, called to care and nurture the beauty and provision of the world, we Christians are now named ignorant, thoughtless and even hostile to this “dying” world. Even our passion to see Christ the savior face-to-face and spend an eternity with him in heaven is considered bland and unappealing.

In the medievil Muslim civilization, the 8th to the 14th century, we see many advancements in science by Muslims in mathematics, astronomy, medicine and natural philosophy, now have few and arguably poor quality contributions. Many withdrew from the pursuit of scientific thinking. Why? With modern scientific advancement as well as Darwinian theory, Muslims declared much in science as contradictory and even forbidden to followers of Islam. 

Is this the fate of Christ followers? Do we continually withdraw from realms of science, thinking, politics and culture and become like the Amish? Satisfied in a culture of our own making? Or do we, like Paul at the Acropolis in Greece described in Acts 17, partake and challenge the thinking that moves away from reason? Look up things the Church needs to give up in order to attract the younger generations online and you’ll see pleas to give up your ideas of music, money, buildings, style, and the like, which are important in contemplation, but one of the disturbing calls to pull away from is politics. The biggest influence in culture and there are calls for us to move away from arguments, thinking and the philosophy of politics. If we continually move away from many of the ideas we Christians have promoted, even with science and politics, we will have nowhere left to stand.

The lies, many in our culture have swallowed, are propagated continually in the forums of our day, churning out so-called truths to those too young in faith and wisdom to see beyond the words calling to abandon biblical truth, because they are unaware of the solid ground we stand on. Yet, in all this discouragement, there is hope. There is a resurgence of the philosophy of Christian apologetics, and an abundance of resources. It is our duty to push into the culture and influence it to the glory of God. Let us teach apologetic reasoning for those who come after us so they may continue strong in the faith.

For God’s glory – Understand

There was a show I remember back in my late childhood called Donahue, where Phil, the host, interviewed people in front of a live audience and part of it was audience participation of questions or statements. Guests were occasionally antagonistic to the host, other guests or the audience in general. When a show member criticized the obvious antagonist, the audience cheered the statements, many times drowning out the person’s response. Thus began my lifelong hatred of talk-shows with similar format. I hated the way the audience cheered or booed the ideology of whomever there was rallying cries against. There didn’t seem much thought in the process. This format was much copied over time due, I suppose, to its cost and ease of production, not to mention that people were drawn to the drama and conflict. These iterations devolved to the point where many of the shows had to have bouncers of a sort to stop people from slapping, punching or hitting each other over the heads with chairs. Today we continue in the blind cheering of simplistic ideas through shows like The View, The Talk, The Daily Show, Ellen Degeneres and so much more. 

I want to give you an example of how this bleeds into the Church. I follow media that examines today’s devolving teachings. The other day I came across a church whose main focus is raising the dead. The leader used Matthew 10:8, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” The crowd cheers his introduction about raising the dead. He goes on with a story about raising a dead man on a beach. The story goes he was lying there dead and in rigor mortis and people began to pray for him to come back to life. When the main pray-er hears everyone else praying, their faith “exploded” and the dead man sat up. The crowd marvels, shouts, calls and cheers. They are excited and notably so. Someone being raised from the dead is something to shout about.

But here’s the thing; where is the reasoning in all this? A man lying on the beach dead for a couple of hours, with people just standing around, and someone begins to pray he sits up and there is no documentation on any of this? This would be poor enough judgement without the fact that no one was taught how to read their Bible. Here is the full reading of the story around Matthew 10:8. Matthew lists the twelve, then:

“These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”

The leader points out in Matthew 28:19-20a, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to  observe all that I have commanded you.” He says this extends back to 10:8. We are commanded to raise the dead, he asserts. But if we are to take this to the full extent we shouldn’t go among the Gentiles, and only go to Israelites, as well as all the other stuff described.

We become like the world cheering for things we don’t understand but makes us feel good, because the speaker is charismatic, or it is simply incredible to believe. It’s like we’re shouting louder to drown out the sound of reason in our brain. Let us be like the Bereans; examining the things we are taught.

I never want to discount the works of God in other people, and I can’t really say if these teachers truly believe what they are saying or if the deceit is intentional, but we are called to a higher purpose – serving, growing, and defending the kingdom of God here on earth.

I could go on and on about this and many other leaders, but there is one thing that sticks out that we should all be wary of. He comes to the point where he says this: “I’ve caught a lot of flack throughout the years, but to be with people who actually want what I have means a lot… it means a lot.” And then comes the cheering and shouting.

I think at some point, if we feel as though we’re doing a good job, and people are paying attention, and we get caught up in the excitement, that is when we are in danger of losing site of the real reason for the faith we have, the works we do, and the gospel we preach. Paul says in Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Let us understand the process of apologetic arguments are for the glory of God.

Why don’t we take part in apologetics, or evangelism?

Ignorance

One reason Christianity has failed to exert much influence on the major intellectual institutions of America is that too many Christians hold their beliefs in an uninformed and precarious fashion. We too often rely on cliche and platitudes, rather than pursuing answers to the toughest questions the unbelieving world can marshal.

In his book, The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer challenges the reader:

When we understand our calling, it is not only true, but beautiful—and it should be exciting. It is hard to understand how an orthodox, evangelical, Bible-believing Christian can fail to be excited. The answers in the realm of the intellect should make us overwhelmingly excited. But more than this, we are returned to a personal relationship with a God who is there. If we are unexcited Christians, we should go back and see what is wrong.

The apologist cannot substitute raw emotional fervor for intellectual insight and hard study. Rather, they should work hand in hand. As I am well aware of in my desire to embrace the fullness of what it means to be a Christian apologist.

Heightened expectations

Another reason we do not study or practice is we have too high expectations for the things we have decided to take part in. We believe that if enough evidence is presented, a new believer will be born. The reason martial art masters can punch through boards and bricks, is because they are punching at a point beyond the board. Their result is beyond the wall they are breaking through. Our wall when taking part in evangelism or apologetics is a person’s change of heart. To break through that barrier is not our responsibility; that is God’s responsibility. Just because we have perceptibly, “done all the work,” doesn’t mean God will break through. Our barriers to break through are our own doubts, fears, worries, or ideas of opportunity.

We also need to give up our idea of perfection. My ideas may not persuade anyone, but it doesn’t stop me from studying, and ultimately sharing the things I know. Surely the evidence you present to an atheist is never going to be the perfect wrecking ball to their heart. One person’s barrier may be the apparent contradictions in the bible, and all the reasons for God’s existence won’t matter one lick of spit to them. That doesn’t mean we give up because our arguments aren’t fully realized, that means we just change tactics.

Not everyone Christ witnessed to followed

Which brings us to another reason we may not participate in apologetics: Jesus is our perfect example of persuasion. I am constantly amazed at how Christ answered people, not with the same rote answers, but with deep insight to see into the heart of the person he addressed. But even Christ “failed”. Jesus was asked a question by a rich man about how to gain eternal life. An earnest person sought answers and walked away from Christ saddened at his answers, apparently no longer desiring eternal life because in this world, he had so much stuff.

Christ knew this man. Knew what he really was seeking. From the perspective of making disciples, Christ failed. Was there something else he could have said or done? Why is this even included in the Bible? After the man walked away thinking about his stuff, Jesus tells his disciples how hard it is for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven. They’re flabbergasted that anyone even gets in at all. Jesus tells them not to worry, but that the things which are impossible for man, are no problem with God. And Peter is all sad cause they will probably end up with nothing because they started walking around with Christ. Christ chills them with stories of all the thrones they’ll sit in, along with Christ’s major throne, judging all the other people of Israel. And how everybody else is going to get a hundred times the satisfaction in their eternal life despite all the stuff they walked away from in this one because of the things they made first in their life; that first thing being God and they just have to be content until the last comes.

That story, that one is for us. We don’t know the rest of the story with the rich man, but we do know that Christ said all the right things for that man, for that time. God knows what happened to him later, and we don’t know what will happen to those we witness or give our best arguments to. Our apparent failure is not to be dwelt on – we move on because we were thankful for the opportunity to share our understanding of the world with others, to be an example of Christ.

Opportunity

Which brings me to the final point – our opportunity. We live in a world of busyness with little time in our schedules for spontaneous discussion. You all know this, we’ve all heard it. We can’t all put on desert sandals and just walk from point A to point B with crowds of people ready to discuss their favorite worldview along the way. Not that there is enough busyness for us, so we stir into the pot a little Covid-19 and we all get to choose sides, with all the experts coming out with different ways to prevent or lessen it everyday. It’s like someone thought that we didn’t have enough doubt and uncertainty in our life. We needed new things to figure out better divisions on love, authority, government intervention, and all that has gone along with it. Don’t even mention the time it takes to study up on philosophy and theology. How do I find the time and opportunity?

I’m going to get a little rough here, but there is time. When there is something we enjoy, we find the time. If we can find the time to do the things we enjoy, we can surely find the time to do things that are necessary. What are we here for after God converts us, but to sow that same seed found in us, into others. Like the rich man, do we walk away shaking our head because there wasn’t enough time? How much doubt have you had because of difficult questions about God and the Bible? Who in your life has walked away from the faith because a good God wouldn’t allow “these things” to happen? Does it matter that you can’t rightly dialogue with your neighbor about what they identify as?

If these questions matter to you, and maybe you want to start down the road where you can, with confidence, address these things to those around you, then you will find the time, and the opportunity to study and share. And with this series, we hope to help guide you to the ideas, the resources, and the people whose main concern is bringing the kingdom of God to a world increasingly uninterested in the eternal. Our faith should be prepared for the challenges posed by opposing worldviews wherever they manifest, for yourself, for your loved ones significantly affected by bad thinking so easily found.
Let’s go back to 1 Peter; “do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” Our arguments should never be separate from our character, for the character we display is what draws people to us and ultimately, to God and gives us the opportunity to defend the reason for our hope. This verse hit me when, while I was in Utah, my niece came to a family gathering wearing a shirt with Pope Francis on it and below it said, “The Pope is Dope.”

Apologetic Views – Further Thoughts

Two days ago I wrote this article briefly summarizing 10 different views on apologetics. The next morning as I am in my thinking place, the shower, I wondered at the idea of apologetics. We get this word from 1 Peter 3:15, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Peter’s letter is to the Church scattered throughout the world and is encouraging the believers to understand their suffering is likened unto Christ. We are to live different from the world and he exclaims this to servants, husbands, wives and, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (3:8-9). He goes on in verse 13, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” But Peter is a realist and knows that if we are to live differently from the world, we will suffer, and this verse comes before 15 of which it mentions “to make a defense”: “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.”

Peter talks about the suffering that will come to us as we live differently from the world, then tells us to honor Christ in being prepared to “make a defense” to those who persecute you, and are asking for a reason for the hope in us.

We have looked at this verse as a tool of evangelism, and our current apologetic state are mainly tools for evangelism. We speak about apologetics in debates, on the streets, convincing atheists that there is a God using 1 Peter 3:15 as our justification. Now I’m not so sure about my agreement of modern apologetics. It is amazing that there are so many methods for doing apologetics when it was supposed to a defense of our hope to those persecuting us and questioning why we are enduring it with such hope.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, a good defense in “friendly” debates and presentations are most likely apologetics, but it may not have been what Peter meant in these verses. Maybe we’re just doing evangelism. In our zeal to defend our faith in perceptible offenses, this has become the new apologetics, and we debate over methods. Perhaps there is something to “Presuppositional” apologetics. If we are simply defending our faith under persecution than we have to make an argument based on the assumption of understanding Truth beyond reason.

The gentleman I was having discussions with online was requesting evidence. He was a former believer asking me why he should believe, or maybe why I believed. I introduced ideas about creation, morality and suffering, not getting too much in depth. Was I doing apologetics? I have hope, because of Christ. He is the basis for all the hope I have. Creation and the Bible, at least to me, convince me of Christ’s reality. My basis is the God of the Bible is real and everything written and the world I view points to Christ.

All of these thoughts came to me the day after writing the previous post, and my wife let me know a faithful reader (my spiritual father) sent me an email commenting on that post confirming and cementing a few of my thoughts. He told me that people are “super dividing” the methods of apologetics, thus the 10. His understanding is that there are only two: Presuppositional and Evidential. He says that the presentation I used in finding all the methods are mostly evidential, and I tend to agree.

I’d like to end with a quote from him describing the Presuppositional:

The issue for this perspective is that you will never convince a convinced atheist that there is a god by logical evidence. Unless their mind is open to receive the truth, apologetics is meaningless. That openness is God-made! Therefore, you start with what God says about Himself, His creation, man, and Jesus. If the Spirit doesn’t draw them, the rest is meaningless anyway.

In less than a night and one shower, plus the received email, I understand the Presuppositional position better than I could in the brief moments it took when I wrote my last post. Thank you for reading. See you next time.

Apologetic Views

I am part of an Eldership class in our church that meets every week to discuss lectures found on biblicaltraining.org and chapters in Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. Recently our church has started Growth Groups. These are small groups focusing on growth, ministry and living a Christ centered life. Currently we are discussing the recent sermons. Our pastor would like to get ahead of our discussions so he can plan better our study and application during Growth Groups. Someone suggested that we, the Elders in Training, do some preaching to give our pastor some time to organize for the next few weeks. It was also suggested that I team up with another person, also interested in apologetics, and do a few weeks preaching on apologetics; any topic we want.

My team mate called me the other night to find out what type of apologetic I favor. I asked, “What do you mean?” He said, “Are you a Classic, Evidentialist, or Presuppositionalist?” I hadn’t heard of any of these, and it reminded me how not good I am at apologetics. I’m not much into classifying myself in my view of politics, Christian election, or such, so realizing that there are types or views of apologetics made me a bit weary. I thought, “another thing where people have to question me where I am… sigh.” It’s alright though. I can figure this out. I know the way I usually go (or would go) when in discussions about God, the Bible, the universe, morality. Let us examine this.

My friend gave me an article to start with and I looked up some things for myself. My friend thought there were three views, was surprised by the “five” of the article, and I see as many as ten views when I look on the internet. I will be using this presentation as a basis for the points I will briefly summarize. Let’s go on.

Classical Method

This view focuses on the argument to bring a person first to an understanding of theism, then presents the Bible as historical and argues Christ from there. Some of the proponents include Augustine, Norman Geisler, R. C. Sproul, and Frank Turek. I have read some Sproul and listened to podcasts as well as watched videos from him as well as Frank Turek. This is possibly the type of apologist I look to be, although this being the first one it might be heavily influential. I would imagine a possibility that there are combinations of types as well.

Recommended: Christian Apologetics by Norman Geisler I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Frank Turek Searching for “why believe in God (Sproul, or Turek)” turns out lots of videos on youtube.com. You can also look for their podcasts. All great stuff for the beginner apologist.

Evidential Method

Here the focus is on the historical and archaeological evidence proving the Bible is true. Some would say they avoid proving the existence of God philosophically. Their point would be that people understand history better than philosophies. Proponents of this view, among others, are Joseph Butler, Josh McDowell, Gary Habermas, and Michael Licona. I haven’t followed any of these men much if at all. I do see their point, but just don’t see myself in this camp of apologetics.

Recommended: The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell You’ll have to do your own search for videos, podcasts or otherwise.

Historical Method

This one to me sounds much like Evidential, but the focus here is the New Testament and Christ. Once you see Jesus, his miracles, and his resurrection, the rest will be affirmed as true. Proponents seem to be more of a lawyerly or forensic persuasion such as Simon Greenleaf, John Warwick Montgomery, J. Warner Wallace, and Edwin M. Yamauchi. I have heard of J. Warner Wallace but that is all. Christ does seem like a good place to start for some.

Recommended: Faith Founded on Fact by John Warwick Montgomery Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Experiential Method

Experiential apologetics is so far the least interesting to me. It is based off a person’s experience. Now, don’t get me wrong here, I love being encouraged by a great testimony showing God’s supernatural power, but leave it to the already believers. I wouldn’t use experience unless to prove a point to another believer. The article I posted this from says this about subdivisions in this method:

Divided into four major subtypes: (a) general religious experience, (b) special religious experience, (c) Christian mystical experience, (d) existential experiences, this method is commonly and powerfully used in discussing conversion experiences, “a changed life”, and in testimonies how God worked in some area of life, circumstance, or situation: “I want what you have!”

Recommended: I can’t find any proponents or books regarding this, but I imagine there are many in this type of apologetic, if you can in fact call it that. Sorry, not my thing.

Relational Method

This method’s focus is the love relationship you have with Christ in Christianity. A main analogy you may have heard from C.S. Lewis is that you must decide if Christ is a Liar, Lunatic, or King. I am guessing he is a proponent(?) It challenges postmodern ideas and that may be the way you recognize if articles or arguments are using the relational method. It also focuses on all relationships Christians have with others. It is hard to find proponents of this, but I do find some articles that may argue from this viewpoint.

Recommended: This article. Relational Apologetics by Michael Sherrard

Presuppositional Method

The above method does seem to be the most controversial one that I’ve briefly looked into so far. There seems to have been a division among its main proponents. It holds to the idea that arguments for the Christian faith begins with the assumption that there is a God. It sounds like it denies the idea that any of the other apologetic methods are fruitless and circular. If people don’t believe that there is a God they are only suppressing the truth, so they start there. I, for one, believe that people do suppress the truth about God, but do not agree about the method of bringing people around to understanding that truth. There seems to be a focus of proving other worldviews as false apart from Christianity. Reason is not a value in this method as we cannot reason apart from the Christian faith. This is a very interesting apologetic, perhaps only argued among Christians. Some articles I read stated that in a debate, a presuppositionalist said you can’t know your car was in the parking lot without presupposing Christianity to be true. I can’t wrap my head around this as it seems to transcendental to me. Very interesting, but I’m not sure how I would use this method, maybe this requires a bit more study. Proponents of this method include Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, Gordon Clark, John Frame, and K. Scott Oliphant. Haven’t heard of any of these fellas.

Recommended: Presuppositional Apologetics by Greg Bahnsen Christian Apologetics by Cornelius Van Til Video Discussing the Apologetic Article by proponent John Frame

Cumulative Case Method

This one seeks to reveal that the Christian worldview as a whole provides the best explanation for why the world is the way it is. It takes a broad brush approach in looking at all the data regarding Christianity and reveal it to individuals. It uses the best of all the methods and combines them for a holistic approach. This seems to be less of a process than a big picture sort of focus. Paul Feinberg, Ron Bigalke are the main individuals I could find that wrote much on this method.

Recommended: Five Views on Apologetics edited by Steven Cowan seems to be the only book out there expounding on the subject.

Cultural Method

This approach, pioneered by Francis A. Schaeffer, uses a presuppositional foundation that argues that only biblical Christianity posits a foundation that is strong enough to support sinful society and produce God-given values, meaning, and significance since He is here and not silent (God is both infinite and personal). Other worldviews/cultures cannot adequately nor consistently handle the sinfulness of humanity, the intrinsic value of creation (including humanity), and the nature of the external world or even produce values that correspond to how things actually are (designed).

The above quote expresses it best. I do like this approach and feel it would be a good combination with Classic apologetics. I have read Schaeffer and enjoy his views on culture, art and the universe. I am very interested and love to discuss culture and Christianity. Proponents are William Lane Craig, Francis Schaeffer, Paul Gould, Nancy Pearcey, and one I’m very familiar with, James Sire.

Recommended: Cultural Apologetics by Paul Gould The Universe Next Door by James Sire Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer

Reformed Epistemological Method

I am not sure how much this one has to do with reformed theology, but the basis seems to presume there is a God and we only have to answer to arguments brought against our faith rather than go out and put forth challenges. I also am not sure how well I am categorizing this. It does use reason as opposed to presuppositional. This looks like another one that might take more studying, although so much of it seems to be way above my head. Proponents: John Calvin (yep, looks like it has a lot to do with reformed theology), Alvin Plantinga

Recommended: This article. Knowledge and Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga

Imaginative Method

This method is based off the idea that fiction can be a great argument for faith. I like this idea, but I am not sure if many of the people that are claimed to use this method would agree. The themes of many of their works take on depictions of absolutes, evil, goodness, sacrifice, the ultimate evil, the power and corruption of temptation, and virtues such as loyalty and love. Thus, using the power of imagination, brilliant story telling, and irony/paradox, can powerfully communicate biblical concepts and teachings in a compelling way. Main persons associated are C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, J.R.R Tolkein. You know their books.

Conclusions

I find myself firmly in the camp of Classic/Cultural with a mix of Evidential (and I suppose, Historical) thrown in. I will begin to make some moves toward understanding these methods more and look for the main goals of apologetics.

Apologetics – A new focus

I have been talking with a person from another blog regarding my faith. I think I mentioned the fact that I study apologetics. He said I’m not very good at it and I tend to agree. Here in West Plains, in the circles I travel, there aren’t many people that challenge my beliefs. I’m challenged frequently on some doctrinal issues, but not much on God, sin, the Bible, creation, good and evil, etc. I’ve been toying with the idea of my blog being mostly about the apologetics of my faith. I don’t think I’d be very good at it, but there are a lot of people who are.

Follow the Proof

I listen to Greg Koukl’s podcast, Stand to Reason, and he spoke the other day about a high-schooler he met who had his own website. Greg spoke on how he didn’t write anything, just shared all the resources he found. I always thought it had to be my own writings, my own ideas and thoughts to be able to post successfully, and that people would be interested. I always thought it was cheating somehow to just refer to a video or book you read. Last time I did a sermon at church, I spoke on a topic wholly based on a Voddie Baucham sermon. I think it was good because I put my own spin on it and I still studied. I can do that.

I don’t have the time to do lots of research for writing my own thing, so I’m thinking of posting links to videos, books, and articles I have watched or read, and put my own little spin on it. Why be excellent at apologetics when others have gone before me and done so much better at it than I. I am not saying that I will not take opportunities to discuss God, specifically or in general in my own words, but that for the sake of spreading the truth, there is a much easier way.

What Kind of God?

In my discussion with the person I mentioned at first, my writing ended up questioning him on what kind of God would he believe in. He claims to be a former Christian that no longer believes in a God associated with the Bible. I think he doesn’t like what he sees in the world now either. It is a fair enough question having an idea about what the Bible says about God and observing the suffering in the world. He attended a Christian school whose purpose was to make Christians who could defend their faith and have a strong faith based worldview. And now he’s asking me to answer his questions about the God I believe in. I haven’t delved deeply into any apologetic, trying to understand what he was taught and where he is really coming from.

Frank Turek (another apologist much better than I) likes to ask people, “If Christianity were true beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you believe it?” This question reveals they have a problem the God of Christianity beyond simply discovering what is true. If they say “yes” than they are a true seeker and questions should continue. If they say “no” then the problem is deeper than what their questions are really asking.

So I ended up questioning this man about what kind of God would he believe in. He is telling me he can’t believe in the God of the Bible, implying that there is some standard to which there is a god in which he would believe. Many say, “I don’t believe there is a god.” Some say I can’t believe in the God of the Bible.

Give me a clear presentation of a god you would believe in and I will be able to see your heart clearly.

A God You Would Believe In

I think most people don’t like suffering, be it at the hands of other humans or some catastrophic natural event. It’s clear in this world where we are eliminating or attempting to eliminate all forms of suffering, from a historical perspective to the sexual ethics of the day. The only reason we keep Hitler in the history books is because it is easy to call someone a Hitler thus dismissing anything they may say.

A god who allowed suffering should be eliminated as well, right? So what do you want? A perfect world? What does that mean? How would you recognize it as perfect? We cannot recognize darkness unless we knew light. What about the preciousness of life, without death. Would we live forever? Would that be the perfect world? How about food. We wouldn’t know hunger unless we recognized our satisfaction in eating something. Would we always have food? Should we travel to places where food is scarce and know we have brought enough food? Should the desire to explore be eliminated from life so as to not go places that may be dangerous or harmful to our health? How would we even recognize that? What about courage? We wouldn’t know courage without fear.

What is this perfect god people imagine apart from the God of the Bible? How can we define a perfect world where this god took care of all our needs and wants? I am putting forth, you can’t know such a god because he wouldn’t exist. Our concept of god would only be a reflection of what we deem good. And what we deem good changes at the slightest whim. We don’t even know good unless we knew what evil was. We don’t know suffering without health or happiness. It is sad to dismiss the fact of a God desiring to reveal himself, because he allowed suffering.

Is a God who didn’t allow suffering in your life the God you are willing to believe in? How would you know him? Does he inspire your kind to write about him, or does he walk with you? Does he publish a daily newsletter? Please tell me: Who is this God? When I hear your answer then we can move on with purposeful discussion.

Moving On

I think I’ve hesitated long enough. Time to move on with my life in this here internet universe. Don’t know what’ll come of it, but forward I’m a’goin’.

Cheers,

Mark

Critiquing the “Spiritual” – On A Mission

The newest article from Godinterest Christian Magazine has come out, so let’s discuss. Here is the first paragraph.

We all have a mission given to us by God, just like Christ once He arrived on earth, He was on a mission. Not only did He come to die to save us from our sins, He had a mission to set people free from every kind of brokenness and oppression. He was anointed, and empowered by God to fulfil His mission. He didn’t go around doing good to some people. No, He went around doing good to all. That was His mission, and Christ is still fulfilling that mission on earth today.

First off, I believe that God has works for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” I think the word “mission” is a little too strong of a word, especially when comparing our mission with Christ’s. Our “mission” is simple: Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all the commandments. That is our mission.

I’m also not sure if I appreciate the addition of Jesus’ mission setting people free from brokenness and oppression. He did come to save us from our sins, which does include setting us free, and I suppose it is nice to think about our brokenness, if that is indeed referring to our sin. However, it is the oppression part that gets me. Just reading the 5 or more articles on this site, I know that they most likely don’t mean oppression as in the oppression of our own sin. I think it is probably the oppression we receive from other people. They are welcome to correct me if I am wrong, I would like a better understanding of their motivations anyway, but that is what I believe. God did not promise freedom from oppression, if fact he actually promised it. Look at these verses [emphasis mine].

James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.
1 Peter 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Mark 4:17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Going on they say that Jesus, and I’m guessing they’re are continuing the idea of freedom from brokenness and oppression, did good to all. Now, I believe this is totally true, to the greatest extent. It does make me wonder again about what they mean. Like do they remember Jesus tossing tables in the temple, calling people white-washed tombs, blind guides, fools, vipers, hypocrites and so on? How He cursed the fig tree that represented the Jews? Those things aren’t “good” by worldly standards, but saying that Jesus did “good” to all when saying He freed people from brokenness and oppression, I don’t think the scribes and Pharisees would agree. And how is he continuing that mission today? If they are referring to Him saving people from their sins, then Amen!

When you accept Christ as your Saviour, the Bible says that you become an ambassador of His. That means you represent Him. As His representative, you have access to the same power and authority that He has. You are empowered to fulfil His mission on the earth. You are anointed to do good and heal those who are oppressed by the enemy.

Ambassador? Yep. Represent Him? I agree. Same power and authority? He gave the apostles and disciples power and authority for certain things at certain times. If anyone can find verses for me on this, please share. Saying that we have the same power and authority as Jesus is reckless, and not the God’s love kind. To what extent? I agree that we are called to fulfill the mission of going, making, baptizing and teaching, but throwing around these words like empowered is just plain weird to me. Christian, be wary of teachings like this. Heal those who are oppressed by the enemy? Only God has that power, authority and worthiness to heal people of their sin, which is the only oppression God saves us from. Consider Job. Again, I think these are careless words tossed about, Christian, awake and read the word of God. Check what the Bible says about such things as these.

Today, is there someone in your life who needs a touch from God? You are His hands and feet on the earth. You are anointed to do great things. You are anointed to pray and heal the sick. As you reach out to others and allow God to use you, you will see His power and anointing flow through you, and you will be empowered as you empower others. You are anointed!

There are many people who need God, and that is our mission to be His representative in this world. Go. Do great things. Consider is all joy because you suffered in His name. Pray for the sick, the sinful, your brothers and sisters, and boldness to confront lies when you hear them. Reach out to others, see what God can do, be in awe at His power to forgive sin, to save souls, to draw people to Him as He drew you. You are blessed by His forgiveness, forgive as you have been forgiven.

The article ends with a verse and a prayer:

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38, NASB

Let’s Pray

Yahweh, thank You for choosing me and anointing me. Father, thank You for doing good in my life and setting me free! Please show me my mission, and make me an instrument of Your goodness and healing to those around me, in Christ’s Name! Amen.

Great verse, interesting prayer. God does choose us. He does good in my life and sets us free and we are most grateful. He has shown us our mission, and we are that instrument – otherwise we’d be gone in the blink of an eye.

Godinterest Christian Magazine

One of the things I will miss about that one site is being able to be critical about BSSM. The wife of a friend once said about me, “Mark is totally trolling BSSM.” I didn’t want to be trolling anyone. I’m not a troll. The term has negative connotations that make me think of people in the dark, being openly hostile to strangers, ignoring facts, and spreading lies to create controversy. I hope I am not that way. I want to light the candle of truth to that one person who sees that little snippet I wrote challenging BSSM’s assertions about what the Christian life is like from their point of view. That one person considers how the lies they’ve been constantly told ain’t really working how they thought it would, so maybe there is another truth. I miss seeing those errors and having to think about, from a biblical view, why they are wrong and posting a response. I have no delusions that I’m changing the world, but it helps me improve my thoughts and communication.

Enter “Godinterest Christian Magazine.” I have had this blog that I am currently writing on since somewhere around 2013. I have followed lots of different sites along the way and Godinterest Christian Magazine is one of them. I don’t know why I ended up “following” them, but I saw them on my newly installed WordPress app on my phone and opened up an article to see what they were up to. The message was one similar to what BSSM would tell their followers, so I decided to comment. My comment wasn’t added and it looked as if all their comments were disabled. Later I saw an article that listed a comment so I went and looked. The comment said, “Amen this text inspired me to do something!!” Below is the text copied directly from the article:

Don’t you dare settle for a mediocre life! No matter what’s happening in your life today, you are not limited by resources or family background. God has equipped and empowered you. He has blessed you with creativity, ideas, inventions, skills and talents. Today, call forth those seeds of greatness within you!

Today, go further and dream bigger, declare that your best days are ahead. Declare that you are going further than anyone in your family ever did, that you are going to dream bigger and live better. No one can put a curse on you when God has put His blessing on you. So, walk and live in that blessing by following His commands and stay fully committed to Him!

I decided to comment on the comment because you can’t just let someone say “Amen” to something like this. Does this person realize how un-Christian these sentiments are? I typed in my response and hit the send button and, nope. Didn’t work. It tells me immediately that it couldn’t post my comment. Not something like your comment is awaiting approval or anything like that, just that I couldn’t. It looked as if my previous comment has rendered my comments un-postable to this site. Fair enough. I get to pick and choose what to approve when people comment on my blog, they can too. But that is just begging me to critique this blog. And so, my first new category on my renewed blog: Critiquing the “Spiritual”.

Some time ago I got a hold of some Charismatic magazines and evaluated the articles. This will be the same thing. I will link to the articles and hope that others will see and perhaps get comments from those over there at GCM. That would be fun, but I’m guessing they won’t. Those who hold to certain doctrines about dreams, declarations, and the greatness within you, want to stay in that bubble. I hope that the errors of my ways may be exposed and I can correct my thinking. These people hide behind their idea that people like me are simply wanting to fight. We are called to expose error and my main concern in discipleship is for followers of Christ to discern the faultiness in what is being taught on this site.

Godinterest Christian Magazine has posted this for the world to see, they should be ready for others to challenge their ideas. After all iron sharpens iron. If we avoid all critique, how are we going to get better discerning how to fight lies when we meet them face-to-face?

From this point I will talk about every new article that comes from GCM, starting with the one I copied above.

Don’t you dare settle for a mediocre life!

First off, what do they mean by this. Much in life is mediocre, meaning moderate quality or not good at all. By this do they mean boring? Or safe? Or maybe they consider mediocre as not very good and being poor, or jobless as mediocre? Maybe even difficulty with your boss or coworkers is mediocre. I don’t know, let’s look at more of this.

No matter what’s happening in your life today, you are not limited by resources or family background.

This makes me wonder if they want the reader to define what mediocre means to them. Whatever is limiting them is blocking their path to a life that is not mediocre – by their own definition.

God has equipped and empowered you. He has blessed you with creativity, ideas, inventions, skills and talents. Today, call forth those seeds of greatness within you!

Here we’re getting more to the meat of the idea. God has equipped and empowered us. Let us look at what the Bible says about what God has equipped and empowered us with, [some clarity and emphasis is mine].

Hebrews 13:21 - [God has] Equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 6:12 - Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
2 Timothy 3:16-4:5 - All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In these few verses we see some of the things God has equipped or empowered us with and better yet, the reasons He did. They are so we can do His will, pleasing Him in doing so, taking hold or understanding eternal life. The 2 Timothy passage has a long list of God’s equipping us for good works. Which include teaching correcting, training, preaching, reproving, rebuking, exhorting, all with patience. And then it goes on to say that people will not bear sound teaching for much longer following their own passions! It is ironic that this in this article the next part is exactly that: their own passions.

Today, go further and dream bigger, declare that your best days are ahead. Declare that you are going further than anyone in your family ever did, that you are going to dream bigger and live better. No one can put a curse on you when God has put His blessing on you. So, walk and live in that blessing by following His commands and stay fully committed to Him!

Where are we going and whose dreams are we following? Yours. Your best is ahead. You’re going to be way better than anyone else in your family, in how you live and what you dream. When God has blessed you, no one can curse you….. Wait, what are we supposed to understand in this? Are Christians to think that if our dreams are big and our lives are better than others we are not cursed because God has in some way protected us? What Christian reads that and says, “Yes” to this? Our blessing is that we were dead, DEAD. And now we are alive, ALIVE in Christ. Praise God, Alive in Christ! Amen is where that comes in. Not that we need to dream better and do more, but we need to understand that “it is finished.” We don’t have to be encouraged to go out and “do” something because we gotta be better than our circumstances. We have to rest in Christ because He has done it all.

Our best life is to suffer well. We should expect suffering because the Bible tells us to. It will happen. We are not to dream ourselves out of suffering, but to expect it. We are to take up the cross of our own suffering and as Christ did, move forward toward that goal. Christ’s goal was death on the cross. Our’s is to endure it. We may not be called to death, although perhaps some will, but to endure.

This kind of teaching will have people thinking that because my dreams aren’t fulfilled God doesn’t love me. Because I am not creative or inventive or talented enough, that God did not equip nor empower you. It is to do the list of things in the passage from 2 Timothy above, and to suffer for all of it!

GCM articles are pithy and end with a verse and a prayer. This one ends with Philippians 4:13, and this prayer.

Yahweh, thank You for blessing me and calling me according to Your purpose. Father, I receive Your Word which is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. God, please bless me to dream bigger and go further in every aspect of my life. I declare I will hide Your truth in my heart, so I won’t sin against You, in Christ’s Name! Amen.

These people are messing with people’s minds in understanding God’s purpose and what His word truly tells us about that purpose. I pray that the people writing these things study their Bibles and seek out the truths that just because God blessed us does not mean we are to have our dreams fulfilled and a better life than anyone else in our family. Can you imagine Peter being crucified as Christ was and thinking God doesn’t love him because his dreams aren’t being fulfilled? Wait, maybe Peter’s dreams was to suffer for Christ’s sake and endure it. It may be, but I don’t think that Godinterest Christian Magazine nor it’s readers are interested in enduring suffering as Jesus and the apostles did, but I pray that someday they will.

2021 Updates – Last Rites

Well, I did it. Done with that one site, and the other messaging app thing. I did say February 1, but me carrying it out that long is just stupid and no one really cares. Even if they say they did, what ho? They are the people I see face to face anyway. I just want to move on with the new chapter in my life and I have plans for this blog. I will update it’s look, get rid of all the old categories, have scheduled writings about news, culture, religion and such. I’m pretty excited, but I gotta wrap things up here, a last rites of sort. So I’m a gonna paste all the last things I wanted to talk about, then give a brief summary of each. I think most of these are going to be strongly referenced in my future endeavors.

Standing for Truth

Standing is part of my newer mantra. I want to Stand for what’s true against the lies this world is a giving. You can’t do that on that one site. Why do I think it’ll be better here? I don’t think I will. I don’t have any delusions that this is a successfully published blog with lots of readers. This is just to formulate and refine thoughts. That one site needs more people standing for truth. Well sure it does, but for reasons already gone through, it ain’t for me. This is for me… and maybe you too. I sat with… never mind, more on that in the “Eldership” portion of these thoughts.

Standing for Others

See above, but to be more precise I want to stand with others who stand for truth. It isn’t enough for those who stand, we need to find those who stand so we can stand next to them. Capeesh?

Fighting the Good Fight

This just relates to the above two, but taking on a more offensive position, but not offensive. Capeesh?

Walking with Friends

I started to walk during lunch at work last year and one day I asked a guy if he wanted to go with me. I regretted asking immediately. I like being alone, listening to music or a podcast and what was I thinking? He said sure and now it’s a habit and a female walks with us as well. We talk about all sorts of things. They aren’t Christians but the topic comes up more often than I thought. We talk about metal, bullying, censorship, self-esteem, childhood, existentialism, and all sorts of stuff. I don’t regret asking them one bit. When I first me the girl, I had some trouble dealing with all the language and snarktasticism, but she has grown on me and I would defend her against her enemies if need be. They are really the only regular non-Christians I know and have a regular relationship with. We don’t agree on politics, mostly, but we can talk about it, and that is awesome. I wish more people were like them. Wow. Did I just say that?

Eldership

Early last year I was convinced by my good friend and pastor that I loved the Church enough to care about it’s teachings and such to a point that I would want to be in leadership, or, an Elder to be more precise. I’m regularly doubting this path and thinking I want to walk away from it all. I know at some point I’ll be faced with a congregation peppering me with questions and I plan to not care that much about any well-formed answers that they will not want me. I’m not studious enough to really want this. I’m not philosophical enough to ponder the deeper meanings of the Bible. I’m not dedicated enough to care long term for people outside my close family and particular friends. I’m lazy. I’m blissfully ignorant. Last night I was with the group and the conversation turned more in depth than I cared and sort of stared off into space. I want to expose error, and light candles for truth, but how much do I need to know about liturgy and why it matters, or the impeccability of Christ and why it matters, or any of the other stuff we’ve been discussing, listening, reading, and writing about. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being an elder, and really, I don’t think I want it. The other guy I’m with talks about all the books he’s reading about preaching a sermon, articles he has read and keeps up with the studying. Me, I just want to read some fiction once in a while, write my blog, see a video, listen to a podcast and talk about it, not too deeply, but just enough.

What kind of Christian does that make me? I don’t know. Do I tell my friend? Duh? He may read this at some point. Is he going to convince me this was meant to be? Probably, but I’m not going to like it. I don’t know if I’m cut out for this. But I don’t want to disappoint him, or *cough* *cough* God. Truly though, I do want to lay down more of myself and take up the cross, not that this is a kind of punishment, but more of a denial of self. It’s about sacrifice and following His will. What path am I on?

Liturgy

I grew up Catholic and became a born again Christian who viewed the ceremony of the Mass as something to stay far away from. Yet here I am, discussing it with people wanting to provide an order of worship. I am for it too. Order is one reason, one I say, that drew me to God. Challenge me on it? I become like the mist, words get lost in the chamber. Again, we discussed it last night and it can’t be enough to simply desire it, you must say why in flowing and philosophical language that always escapes me when discussing things I care about, but not enough to study 3 or 4 books and memorize statements. Again, shouldn’t I be that person who knows what he knows and why he knows it? I don’t know.

Who am I going to be when I start writing again in earnest? Someone distracted by more internet? This is one of the reasons I left that one site, so I can dedicate myself to the study of something I care about. I’m really not sure how dedicated I am to fight for liturgy, but I’m willing to look up the definition online, read an article title or two along with the first paragraph and write a whole post no one will read. Sure, I can do that.

Discipleship

More time. Necessary. Sacrifice. Study. Feel inadequate. Share a drink with friends.

Utah Trip

My aunt and uncle are having a 50th wedding aniversary this summer and some time before Christmas I was talking on the phone with my mom and she gets this emotional undertone in her voice saying, “Please come home.” Who can say no to your mother asking you to come back?

It’s been 6(?) years since I drove back with my 3 best friends at the time, and almost 10 since all of us have gone back. I really want to go back more, time just goes on by. I am very excited but not sure how it’ll all work out. I’m scared too. So much has changed about me and I’m silly if I think they’re still the same. Anyway, I miss them. I miss the restaurants and mountains. Will I come back here, to West Plains? Sure. As long as the 3 friends I need here stay. There is talk. And there is always possibilities. Lord willing.

That’s it for now. I hope to have everything updated and planned next week. See you then. Life is a journey down the road and I am excited to see what’s around the next bend.

2021 Updates – Part 4

My wife had a great idea last December. She gave me the choice of several cook books and asked me to choose one where we could cook through each recipe all throughout this year. I chose the one called “the smitten kitchen.” Yes, the book is all in lower case for the title, author and all recipe titles throughout. I looked at some other cookbooks in my wife’s collection and noticed a similar thing and pointed it out to her. My wife says that it is less threatening than upper case. What do you think?

I really would have loved to film our cooking in some way and edit it for public consumption, my wife and I have great rapport, I think, for this sort of thing, and maybe it might have gained a following. But that is a lot of work. So, I did the next best thing and took pictures then posted it on Facebook. I am very much enjoying doing this, especially finding new recipes, as well as interacting with people about food. Since I am leaving Facebook, the posts will now be here, and maybe my wife will share it as long as she is still on there, for now.

My favorites so far have been the surprising, “spaghetti squash tacos and black beans with queso fresco” and the “ratatouille sub.” I have posted everything so far, but am a bit behind. We’ve cooked three this week that I haven’t posted. So, here we go.

emmentaler on rye with sweet and sour red onions AND vinegar slaw with cucumbers and dill

We had quite a few people over for a light luncheon on Sunday before a dreaded 4:30 pm Church service. (I say dreaded as an inside joke, (but really I don’t like going that late any more, (and frankly am ready to throw in the towel.))) We made the sandwiches and slaw.

Emmentaler is a kind of cheese that is like Swiss, which is the suggested replacement, as we would never find emmantaler here in West Plains. Also, we should have made a lot more onions as they didn’t spread out well over 10 sandwiches. Most people said the onions were the best part, but it needed more.

I don’t have any pictures of the vinegar slaw, but we were told it was too salty. I can’t really remember though. I guess it was a forgettable slaw. Someone brought over orange juice and Prosecco. A good time was had by all.

buttered popcorn cookies

Last night I had a hankerin’ for cookies. I hadn’t made any in quite some time, which has been my hobby as of late. I thought to look in the smitten kitchen and found the recipe for “buttered popcorn cookies.” I have liked adding a little extra pinch of salt to my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe, so having salted popcorn seemed just right. I got some silpat mats for Christmas, and I like them, but the cookies don’t seem to spread out as much as they use to. Which works great in an old, unevenly heated propane oven, but I like a flatter, crispier cookie. These did not flatten out like they did in the pictures in the book, but having dark brown sugar instead of light may have contributed to that as well.

First off, I decided to double the recipe and halve the batter before mixing in the popcorn, and adding chocolate chips to half. Which was a better idea. You see, the popcorn was weird. It was chewy and the kernel husks didn’t really fit. I would have salted the popcorn more to get a better saltiness, but overall, my main reaction was, “meh.” I did like the ones with chocolate chips in there significantly better, because, well, chocolate. I don’t think I’ll cook these again. That is the first time I’ve said that about any recipe in this book.

You’ll be the privileged few who get to see the results of my wife and my experiments in the smitten kitchen.

2021 Updates – Part 3

Continuing the updates here, I look at the list I made a couple of days ago and wonder where I was going with the next few. These relate in my head with more leaving big tech social media. It ultimately comes down to standing for each other.

Close Family

My kids are growing up and nearing the great escape every child must make eventually.

And that’s about all I’ll say right now. I had a bunch of other stuff written here, but you don’t need to hear it. I hardly know you.

What I really wanted to point out is the fact that we need others to stand up for us. Christ is our advocate with God the Father. We need to be that advocate for each other. I’m thankful my kids haven’t gotten too deep with social media, but they need me more than I need anything I see on Facebook.

Distant Family

There are distant family members out there I can easily forget about. I don’t want that. My friends here in West Plains have been vital for my growth, but my family is what formed me, made me who I am. I miss them. I do not have some high idea that when I see them all again it’ll be all cucumbers and onions, but I am getting old and they are too. They have been an empty place in my heart for some time.

My aunt and uncle are celebrating 50 years of marriage this summer and we will be going back to Salt Lake, I imagine to see many people I haven’t seen in almost 12 years and more. I love my life here, mostly because of the people. Philosophical ramblings go on in my head about how I never knew about them until I came here and met them. Where have they been all my life?

But family. Family. I was a kid once. And they were there. I’m tearing up a little, let’s move on.

Church Family

Here we are, in West Plains and we have family. Closer than a brother or sister have some of them been. We’ve had fights, they’ve moved on and we stayed. We had hurts and probably hurt others. Here we are. My closest brothers are here. My sisters are here and they need people to stand up for them and most don’t realize it yet or haven’t had an opportunity in a long time. That time is coming upon us and we need to stand, shoulder to shoulder, armed for battle. Here we are. Thank you Lord.

2021 Updates – Part 2

I am not at this point going to move on to the next topic for there is more I want to say about this whole Facebook thing. I wanted to discuss one of the main reasons I would stay on there.

I watched a documentary a while back called “the social dilemma.” One of the points that really resonated with me was when they talked about how people are fed only the things they are looking for. Leftists suggestions are leftist articles and opinions. They read them thinking that if only the other side read this they will understand, or “see the light” if you will. This goes with those on the right as well. We assume that everyone has the information they see and think they are stupid for not seeing their point of view.

I wanted to be that person on Facebook who promoted an opposing view to my friends who wouldn’t otherwise understand or see my views, (which are obviously correct). I kid. With some of the interactions though, I see that it isn’t possible to present anything that would cause discussion, thought, agreement. I want to present three things that trouble me about Facebook and/or social media in general that makes the final reason I would stay on FB strained if not ridiculous. First two are about two people I know on Facebook. Lastly, I will talk about an interaction that was some straw that broke the social media appreciation back.

Friend 1 – The young liberal lady

One of the friends I have on Facebook is a young lady I worked with at my previous job. I actually hired her and really enjoyed her personality. She was my oldest daughter’s age and actually went to the same school she did. She was fired not much later after I was, and noticed increased activity of a leftist nature on her posts. Some of the things she posted was way, way out there and I thought a lot about commenting, and then maybe messaging her, to get some common sense input into her stream. She would get so many likes and positive comments that it amazed me, “how in the world do people think these things are good?” They were memes and links and posts from others that she posted. I would have loved to have discussed things with her about understanding what she was really saying, or helping her see other positions on the subjects she posted on.

I totally understand that I may never be the person to convince anyone else about how opposing view points may be valid, but I cared about her. I know that what I understand may not be easily understood by others, but can’t we try? I even thought about creating a page within FB where you could safely post responses to people you really care about, just to get it off your chest.

Her posts represented to me all the unthinking persons approval of unthinking people approving the thoughtless ideas that the masses approved, with a side sprinkle of craziness.

I can imagine me attempting a conversation with her at this point, but more on that later. The school that her and my own daughter shared is a conservative Christian college. I understood her as a struggling Christian going through life with no real understanding of the challenges of being Christian and giving up because of the Progressive church’s influential main question: Why would a good God…?

Last year I followed an atheist meme group just to answer their arguments. I feel the same about all this young lady’s posts. Someone needs to say something to point out how horrible some of the arguments are, but it isn’t going to be me. Sad? I’m not sure.

Friend 2 – The older republican dude

I met this guy at our local church. I became a little more close with him when I found out his wife left him and two daughters. He seemed sincere about his faith and wanting to be a part of a community. Since covid really became a part of our social fabric, he disappeared from the congregation, but I still saw him on Facebook. He didn’t post anything himself, I just saw his name pop up as commenting on some article. I saw his comments and was shocked. He hoped for person’s death, or wished them to die, or commit lewd acts to himself or others. It was all inappropriate and he was that guy I heard the left complain about.

As with the young liberal lady, I wanted to reach out. That kind of behavior though doesn’t pop up overnight, or does it? I wondered at his sudden transition, or was it? He was extremely angry. I found myself not wanting to find out the answer to the previous questions the more I saw his commentary. Maybe like so many others, the Church, at some point in time, filled the need he had at the moment.

I understand how a liberal can see the world the way they do. It is the leftists I have a problem with. I also see conservatives as having a sense of positivity in their view of the world and don’t complain much. This guy was way beyond what I could understand from a conservative. Angry republicans are not my cup of tea. How can you convince him of this image on Facebook? The answer: you can’t.

Interaction – Cancel Culture Invades the Church

The final straw was an interaction with other Christians. I follow certain Reformed Christian pages that point out the error and ridiculousness of the New Apostolic Reformation, the prosperity gospel, and the Progressive Church. I commented on a post that soon became very aggressive… to me. I was asking questions about a certain group of popular interviewers from a podcast, and the person I was asking questions to became hostile. I can literally say I was asking questions. At one point I even conceded to a point he made by saying, “Fair enough,” then asked what he meant by using a derogatory term describing those who are discerning. I would post what he said if I could remember, but the hosts deleted the entire post. One guy came on and went off on me being a “cage stager” and told me I needed to repent. This comment was several paragraphs going on about how horrible people like me are and that I should be agreeing with the other guy I was asking questions to. The other guy also came on and called me a “cage stager.” I had to look it up. Apparently, a “cage stager” is generally a new Christian or newly formed Reformed Christian who always needs to win the argument. They are also characterized by their rudeness and dismissiveness of common sense arguments. I was confused.

The next day I had a discussion with some friends about “Toxic Masculinity.” I also saw an article about the same thing mocking it by pointing out people can dismiss arguments by using that phrase. For example: you are having a discussion with someone and they say you are being a “Toxic Male.” They don’t have to listen to you anymore because of what you are being. You can tell people you’re “mansplaining” or “systematic racist” or “Hitler” and dismiss the discussion as unfruitful because somebody who is like that doesn’t have right ideas and is not worth your time.

This is the case with the two gentlemen who called me a cage stager. Christians! Calling each other names in order to stop an argument. To make them feel bad for being something horrible.

That is what we are doing on social media and the world in general. How can we discuss things if one of us is not worth speaking to. This is the final straw. We need opposing viewpoints in social media, but it seems to me entirely impossible. So goodbye Facebook.

That is all.