Saturday, July 20, 2013

Be Reasonable

I actually really liked this video and thought they made an excellent point. 

Atheists, like every other group of people, have a wide variety of personalities. Some are calm, logical, deep thinkers (like these) and some are irrational, angry, vehement (like the one here...warning, the video contains very bad language) and lots of personalities in between. 

When witnessing to any person, atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Jew, Mormon, etc..., you must tailor your delivery without changing the message. 

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, "For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." Paul met the people in the place they were in order to help them understand. To the Jews who understood the Law, he preached the law to them in order to convict them and then revealed the Gospel to them. To the Greeks, he acknowledged the fact that they were a very spiritual/religious people. He pointed out that they had an altar to "an unknown god." Then he went on to tell them about that God, Yahweh (Acts 17:16-34). 

Jesus did the same thing. To the arrogant Pharisees, He preached very harshly to them (Matthew 23). To those who needed hope, He preached the hope that is in Him (John 4).

There may be times when a Bible verse alone is enough to humble a person unto Christ. However, there are times and people who need different forms of apologetics  Apologetics comes from the Greek word ἀπολογία ("apologia") that means "speaking in defense." Many Christians say they feel uncomfortable with that word because they think it sounds too much like apologizing. That is not what it means, but when I felt this way, I thought of it more like when I do apologize for something, I usually follow it up with a reason for why I did what I did. It isn't really the same thing but it helped me get over the similar sounds. :)

There are two popular styles of apologetics; evidential/classical and presuppositional. Evidential apologetics is the most common form. This is where you used rational arguments and present evidence to support the claims of the Bible. For example, to argue that the Bible is reliable, evidential apologists may reference these evidences: compared to other ancient writings, there are substantially more manuscripts for the New Testamentthe numerous non-Biblical accounts of Biblical events/people; the vast amount of archeological evidence supporting Biblical claims; the prophecies that have come to pass have been 100% accurate (I’m not a huge fan of Reasons to Believe but this was a very interesting article on the probability of fulfillment of several Biblical prophecies); and the scientific accuracies of the Bible (also, I am a big proponent of Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, Creation Today, and Scripture on Creation if you are interested in more resources of how science and the Bible line up). Some examples of classical/evidential apologists would include Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Norman Geisler, William Craig, JP Moreland, and RC Sproul. 

Presuppositional apologetics presupposes that there is a God and the Bible is true. “The battle is not over evidence by over philosophical starting points: presuppositions.” (David Wright, AIG, 2007) This is actually more in line in how the prophets and Apostles seemed to reason. It is difficult to find an instance where one of the prophets or Apostles made an argument for the existence of God. It is also easier for those who want to evangelize but don’t have an extensive education in evidential apologetics or a doctorate in a science, religion, debate, or philosophy. The best argument I have heard for presuppositional apologetics was by Sye Ten Bruggencate. He made this argument: when before a court, as a defense attorney, you bring evidence to defend the person on trial. God is not on trial. God is the judge, not the defendant. Presenting evidence in defense of God puts God on trial and puts the unregenerate in the place of judge and jury. That argument makes a lot of sense. There are many passages in Scripture that support this type of apologetics. 
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” (Proverbs 26:4-5) 
The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.‘ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” (Psalms 14:1)
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)
As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” (Psalms 18:30)
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,” Acts 17:2
Many people seem to say one is better than the other but, for me, I think it depends on the personality of person you are witnessing to. Personally, I can relate to both. The scientific side of me loves and really responds to evidential apologetics. I understand why the presuppositional apologist argues the way he does and agree with him, but I'm not sure I would respond to his arguments positively if I were not already a Christian. Not that his arguments are not accurate or effective. I'm just not sure it would be the right kind of apologetics to have used on me as a non-Christian or even if I had not been raised in a Christian home. Having said that, there are people who have responded to pre-suppositional apologetics.

In my Wednesday night Bible study this week, a man talked about two of his children. One is on fire for God and wants to become a pastor. The other child, has pretty much turned her back on God. The boy will call the girl and his dad and point out all their sins. The father said he has told his son that this isn't the right way to witness to his sister and he said that it gets old when he hears it as well. The problem with this son is that he preaches all law and morality without following it up with the Gospel. This is very common today. People focus on morals rather than the Gospel. This makes is no different than every other works based religion out there. Morals do not save.

Our Bible study teacher, mentioned a quote he had heard somewhere that said, "If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." That was a good point. There is a time and place that a hammer is the perfect tool, but if you are performing an appendectomy, it probably isn't the best tool.

It's the same thing with street preaching. I have met people who heard the Gospel from a street preacher and were converted. I really admire street preachers, or at least the ones who do it properly. Then there are others who respond after years and years of a relationship and prayer. The delivery may be different, but the message is the same. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, Paul says, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building." 

The couple above made a great point that we should be able to reasonably explain what and why we believe what we say we believe. The Bible even instructs us to do this in 1 Peter 3:15. In the second video, if you didn't choose to watch it, a very angry atheist goes on a several minute long screaming monologue after passing a man holding a sign with a Christian message. He finally leaves after the police ask him to leave the college campus he was jogging on. The entire time, the Christian kept his cool and offered to debate the man but he would not. A crowd gathered and some of them tried to calm the man down. Even one guy who agreed with some of his statements pointed out that his irrational behavior was actually making a statement about his claims. Because the Christian kept quite and calm, he appeared more rational and respectful than the atheist, giving strength to his case over the atheist’s. 

Just my thoughts. So, I’ll leave you with this passage. 
"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, 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." (1 Peter 3:14-17, ESV)