CAN YOU ARGUE SOMEONE INTO THE KINGDOM?

1 11 2012

This is from a great blog by Luke Nix called FAITHFUL THINKERS which we have added to our blogroll (right hand box)

Can You Argue Someone Into the Kingdom?
Posted by Luke Nix at 6:00 AM

A while back I was listening to Greg Koukl’s radio show “Stand to Reason”, and a caller challenged the need for apologetics (1 Peter 3:15) at all. His main concern was that nobody could be “argued” into the Kingdom, and that apologists were wasting their time with “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Colosians 2:8).

I have to agree that his first premise is valid, but I don’t agree with the second premise and thus, his conclusion. I don’t think that anyone can be “argued” into the Kingdom. For example, knowing that someone exists is different from wanting a loving relationship with them. Someone can believe that the Christian God exists, yet not want to have a personal relationship with Him. That person can recognize that the evidence points toward the Resurrection being a historical event, but not want to dedicate their life to that fact. A belief that is different from a belief in.

A belief that means you know that something is true. A belief in is a life-commitment to that truth (a conscious choice to change your actions to be consistent with that truth). See Psychology Class Series for more on this.

Having said that, a belief in something requires a belief that that something exists. If someone does not believe that something is true, why would they commit their life to it?

Apologetics is important because it helps people to take the first large step into the Kingdom. For many people, an apologetic approach is not necessary (they may not have philosophical, historical or scientific questions). They may simply have never understood the Gospel. In this case, no, we don’t need to waste our time with philosophy. We don’t want to create a stumbling block where one does not exist or is not realized by the person himself (1 Corithians 10:32-33).

I have to admit that I have focused so finely on the arguments that I fear I have created stumbling blocks where they weren’t before. When to use apologetics and when to simply present the Gospel (or both) is something that I have to learn. I believe the caller above had a good point in showing a possible extreme, but he must recognize, though, that his side is also an extreme. Greg Koukl’s book Tactics (My Review) is a great resource to start to help determine when to use which approach with a nonbeliever.

This reminds me of the value of the different parts of the Body of Christ. Granted, all Christians are called to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15), but there are some who have deeply studied specific challenges and their answers. Christians should never think of one “gift” as less valuable than another (1 Corinthians 12:24-26) because some day, they may need to swallow their pride and refer someone to a Christian whom God has given the answer to the question being asked of them.

As mentioned in the Psychology Class Series, emotions (the heart) is key to the acceptance or rejection of a belief. The Holy Spirit is who works on the heart of people to bring them to Christ. The Holy Spirit prepares the emotions (heart) to accept the evidence. Christ commanded his disciples to go make disciples. The Christian’s duty in evangelism is to provide the evidence to the person, so that the emotions (the heart that the Holy Spirit has been working on) will accept it- thus changing a life. Those whom the Holy Spirit has been working on are drawn to Christ, but may need an intellectual reason to accept Him. Apologists can provide that intellectual reason. We need to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”.

Near the beginning of this post, I stated that no one can be argued into the Kingdom. The reason for this lies in the above paragraph. If the Holy Spirit has not prepared the emotions (heart) to accept the evidence, no number of arguments will convince them. They are emotionally attached to a non-Christian idea, and will satisfy themselves with all sorts of rationalizations and absurd philosophies to avoid acceptance.

As the Church, we need to learn to recognize our role in the Great Commission. It is not to convert; it is be a witness- provide evidence from experience, nature, and philosophy. We also need to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit. It is to soften the heart to allow for the recognition of and commitment to The Truth.

I remember my frustration when in my “earlier” years as an “apologist”. I would always think that I’ve got the Truth and impenetrable arguments to support it. When one argument didn’t cause a conversion, I would arrogantly whip out another (unwittingly, this probably cause more stumbling blocks). When someone still didn’t accept it, it caused much frustration for me. I just didn’t understand how or why someone just couldn’t get it. When that happened, lots of ad-hominem attacks were having a party in the back of my head and were attempting to dance right out my mouth.

When I finally recognized this balance of duties with regard to The Great Commission, my frustration with people who “just don’t get it” went down considerably. I had to swallow my pride. I am not that great. The salvation another a non-believer is not because of me. It is because of the Holy Spirit who worked in the life of the non-believer and myself (which is a result of the Holy Spirit working on my heart, which is the result of the Holy Spirit working on the heart of another, etc…). There is no need for me to get so frustrated or be arrogant. If an argument that I present helps a person come to Christ, I thank God that He allowed me to be an instrument in His orchestra. I am still in the process of being sanctified by Him, and at times, I will be out of tune and hit wrong notes. Because my choice is to worship Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, He can still use me to be an ambassador, while He prepares me for eternity with Him.





THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPAL

25 10 2011

Tuesday is for Apologetics. This video is a fascinating argument from science that supports the biblical worldview.





DOES GOD EXIST?

18 10 2011

In many ways, Apologetics is a lost art within the church.  Yet part of the process of building bridges to the Bridge requires us to help open closed minds and respond to important questions with intelligent answers.  Today we start a weekly feature which will be called TUESDAY IS FOR APOLOGETICS.  Here’s the first offering featuring Kenneth Boa being interviewed by The One Minute Apologist.





BATTLESTAR GALACTICA AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF REBELLION

29 08 2011

I am a big science fiction fan and have enjoyed BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.  Several months ago I found a great post on THE POACHED EGG (which is becoming a highly useful tool for apologists) that is worth your reflection as you see to communicate the Gospel. – Steve

The Consequences of Rebellion

Imagine a time in the not too distant future. Trying to compensate for a declining population, scientists use advanced technology to build a “race” of robots, giving then not only human appearance and abilities, but also increasing amounts of “artificial intelligence.” Things work smoothly in the short run, as the robots’ nearly limitless energy for work transforms Earth into a near paradise. But the scientists, never satisfied with their product, and seeking to give them a chance at true relationship with their human masters, give the robots freedom of will, grafting it on to the ability to the think independently that they already have. Chaos soon ensues, as the robots rebel and rise up against the human population….

This is standard fare, of course, in science fiction circles. Shows like “Battlestar Galactica” explore the philosophic issue surrounding this scenario, and play out possible expected, and some unexpected, outcomes. Let’s do the same from an apologetic’s standpoint.

A major stumbling block for non-believers – and for many Christians as well – is the doctrine of Hell. How, they ask, can an “all-good” God consign his creation to a place of torment? Don’t we have a right to continued life, as we want it to be? Rights talk such as this flows readily from the American mind and temperament. As beneficiaries of a system of ordered liberty, with resort to the courts to settle our grievances, we seem to easily slip into thinking that man is autonomous, a force onto himself, with rights that spring from his desire for control.

But though we resist thinking about this notion, we are in fact created beings. We did nothing to bring ourselves into existence and the basic equipment with which we encounter the world was given to us at birth. However much we wish it to be otherwise, we cannot for long escape the realization – especially as our bodies age against our will and betray us – that we are on a journey in which this good Earth is simply a way-station. However much we assert our independence, utilize our intelligence, and demand our “rights” to do what we want, we must, if we are honest with ourselves, realize – perhaps with a bit of alarm – that whatever left us behind may intend to reckon with us for what we have done while here. He may, we must acknowledge, require an accounting.

Most people who think through the implications of our contingent nature eventually realize that whatever did create us and leave us here retains the right to do what he will with the fruit of his labor. After all, no one condemns the potter when he smashes the pot that does not meet his wishes, or the painter that slashes a painting if he so chooses. In the scenario painted above, we realize that the scientists would be within their rights when they “unplug” or otherwise disable their creation. Having made them, the scientists retain the right to do what they will – even by putting them to forced labor or by dismantling them for parts. There is no moral outcry when, for example, the Air Force cannibalizes broken planes for parts that keep other planes flying.

But when we move to the arena of man and his Creator, our bias leads us to a totally different conclusion. But we are different, aren’t we? We think, and reason, and have free will that allows us to plan, to dream, to set goals. We form relationships that are meaningful to us. And most importantly, we feel. Pain is a constant threat and common companion. Does this not give us the right to “do what we want?” Especially if we mean well and don’t want to “hurt” anyone? To be “good,” God must simply get out of our way and let us … what, be God?

Actually, He doesn’t. Nothing changes in this analysis when the creatures under consideration are us. Having formed us – and everything for that matter – from nothing, God can do what he wants with us. In fact, it appears that in the natural order of things, God has established rules that we violate at our peril, so that what He wants for us can be seen not only in his Revelation, but in the natural law. What changed is our perspective. Our bias in wanting our way is what leads us to cry foul when God’s created order bumps up against our plans and desires. As in the Garden of Eden, modern man insists on not serving God, but on replacing him… or displacing him, at the very least. Insistent on having our way, we see God as a nuisance, or for many of us, the enemy. We shake our fist at him, insisting that He move out of our way, and that he justify Himself to us.

Unlike the robot analogy, God does not fear us or where our freedom may take us. We present no threat to him. But that does not mean that He must accept us into His fellowship, for to do so would be inconsistent with His holy nature. So, He reveals Himself to us, in a way that is substantial but not overwhelming, so that He does not overcome our freedom to choose. And most importantly, He provides a way for us to reunite with Him, but on His terms. That many people will use this freedom to remain in rebellion is not something for which He must explain.

None of this is easy for us to fully comprehend or to accept. Set in our rebellion, without God taking the initiative, all would be lost. But when we insist that God must bend to our will, that our freedom to choose must be accepted by Him despite His contrary view, well, then we are living outside the order which God has created. And in the end, He can – and will – do what He, in His wisdom, deems right.

Better for us to begin to see that clearly than to persist in a notion that we can imagine God out of existence. He may seem largely hidden to us, but He is there.





THE ONE MINUTE APOLOGIST – INTOLERANCE

1 08 2011

Via Greg West and The Poached Egg:





WHO CREATED GOD?

24 07 2011

This is a repost from the apologetics blog – OPERATION 513

It is likely that you have heard atheists say to Christians, “But who created God?” They ask this usually when the Christian has shown that the universe had a beginning, and so in the atheist’s mind it’s a little like, “If I can’t have an eternal universe, then you can’t have an eternal God.” But does this question really present a problem for Christianity? In this video, Randall Niles explains the impossibility of infinite regression, showing there must be an uncaused God.