1. notleia says:

    Except I’ve never heard of anyone who converts for apologetics reasons. They convert more for emotional reasons, because they’ve found a community, and the apologetics come afterward. CS Lewis’s Christian buddies came before he was Christian again. My dad’s family were traditionally Methodists (with a Methodist circuit-riding preacher in there), but he ended up growing up in the Disciples of Christ church and staying there because people there went to the effort of making them part of the church-family.

    • No one converts for “purely” apologetics reasons, that’s for sure.

      But then, no one truly converts based purely on emotional reasons either.

      Biblical Christianity is based an the announcement of a Fact: Jesus Christ lived, died, and lives again, and this was His mission, and here is what you must do.

      This invites emotional response. But it is not limited to emotions or apologetics points.

      For the biblical Christian attempting to share the Gospel with words and deeds, we cannot assume or devalue either emotional appeal or “apologetics” points such as “This is what the Bible says about Jesus, this is Who He was,” and so forth.

  2. HG Ferguson says:

    Stephen, again you raise the bar of “consciousness” if I may use the term. I would like to note that when the Way first appeared, especially in the Gentile world, many of them didn’t “get” it either. In Acts 17 Paul is laughed off the Areopagus because they think he’s preaching foreign deities, the male god Ho Yesous and the female goddess He Anastasis. So a “major disconnect” occurred in their thinking. The people of the first century didn’t understand Law and Grace either, but that did not stop Paul and others from proclaiming the Gospel. My concern is, as always, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The best way to evangelize — for me at least — is to so live my life before men and women who don’t know the Lord that when He gives opportunity, take it. I waited a very, very long time indeed at my job for the right moment — but it came, and so did the precise words I was meant to say. What that person does with the Truth is not my affair, only to be faithful. I agree with you wholeheartedly we need to amputate sloganeering from our lives. But when we get the opportunity, let’s ensure we do things God’s way by sharing the whole counsel of God, which involves love and grace but also sin and judgment. Like you, I deplore the remark cast at Franklin Graham. But his father never shied away from telling the lost that’s what they are, lost and doomed without the Son who died for them. So much of what passes for American “evangelical” Christianity no longer speaks of sin, no longer speaks of repentance, squirms and kicks at the very synapse that God might be “angry” about anything. Stay true. Don’t succumb. Swim against the flow. Engage, but according to the scriptures. Thanks again for raising that bar and making us take a hard look at how we express our faith to those who do not know Him.

    • Leeann Betts says:

      So true. Randy Alcorn wrote a great book about grace (mercy & forgiveness) and truth (law and consequences). Truth without grace kills; grace without truth also kills. Living completely under grace is like trying to survive on cotton candy. You can’t do it. Thanks, Stephen and HG, for reminding us that we serve a mighty God who has a powerful Son and an awesome Holy Spirit, not a weak and wimpy God whose Son simply whispered, “It is finished” and then died. IT IS FINISHED. AMEN!

    • Frank Foreman says:

      C. S. Lewis pointed out this difficulty in evangelizing moderns in his famous essay “God in the Dock”. He pointed out that the nearly universal assumption of pre-modern peoples was that they were sinners and needed to appease the gods and to approach them with humility. The unique doctrine of Enlightenment humanism is the assertion that men are essentially good and it is God who needs to justify His demands upon them. The unfortunate consequence of this absurd assumption is that Christian cannot lead with the Good News of the gospel. Moderns don’t see the need of a savior. So often we must first convince them of the reality of the righteous law and the reality of sin, before we can bring the good news of grace. However, this is for the most part just a theoretical, intellectual reality. I believe that for many this belief is fairly superficial. The deep existential feeling of our separation from God and of our need for meaning and love often bring moderns to cross. I certainly did for me.

      • notleia says:

        I’d quibble with that assumption that pre-moderns thought they were “sinners,” per se. Your everyday average Joe wouldn’t feel that he was a sinner if he hadn’t done anything (e.g., non-Christian connotation of “sin”), and respecting gods that you believed could smite your butt on a whim was just common sense. Superstitious, but common sense in a superstitious way. Original Sin is a Christian concept, and not even a universal one among Christians, because Eastern Orthodox doctrine doesn’t have it. Jews don’t, and Muslims don’t, either, so it’s not even common among monotheists.

  3. ** They don’t have a clue how non-Christians really interpret these terms. **

    To say “non-Christian” as though that encompasses a single conglomeration of beliefs and experiences and understanding is a very sweeping statement, and I argue an unsupportable one.

    I have non-Christian friends who are atheist, agnostic, Muslim, ex-Christian, Christian-in-name-but-not-in-belief, straight, gay, bi, drag queen, pick a label. Those people all have various different experiences which certainly don’t lead to a universal interpretation of terminology.

    To your point, however, I think this just means that we have to be personal, rather than issuing broad evangelical declarations and considering our missionary work done.

    • To say “non-Christian” as though that encompasses a single conglomeration of beliefs and experiences and understanding is a very sweeping statement

      Laura, that’s just the point. Too many Christians are certain they know what they mean by these terms. But non-Christians are, in fact, interpreting them in a variety of ways. Their views may be closer to the Christian understanding of these concepts, or far from them. But they won’t have the universal experience, shared and possibly projected by some Christians, so they can think, “Oh yes, when the Christian says ‘Jesus isn’t about religion, but relationship,’ I know exactly what this means because I too have had a life-transforming journey away from pleasing God through rule-keeping.”

What do you think?