Monthly Archives: September 2014

Writing something Positive and Bashing Christians

Prayerfully the title got your attention, and you will read what could be my shortest, but one of the most important, blogs I have written. Let me share with you what God did in my heart over the past few days! If you are familiar with the majority of my blogs, Facebook posts, and Tweets, then you know they have always seemed to be negative, harsh, blunt, or as I have been told “bashing Christians”. Well, with the help of a brother in Christ, and the move of God, that is about to change! I know, it’s about time huh!

The last blog I wrote was titled something to the effect of Pastor’s need to Engage. It has since been deleted. The reason is I was “called out”, or confronted by a brother in Christ. Though I still feel that pastor’s need to be more engaged with making disciples and teaching, the examples I used in the previous blog were indeed inappropriate. Meaning, they obviously upset the person who came to me, and very well could have hurt others. Though the intention was to make a point, as always, the examples given concerning other pastors was seen as “throwing them under the bus”. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the people involved knew who the examples were about, and though each example had indeed been stated, and names were not used, it took my friend confronting me, and God, to open my eyes and heart to something so many had already said.

You see, my wife has told me since I met her that my approach was too harsh. My mother and others have stated the same. But, instead of listening, I defended my position. I felt that by pointing out all that is wrong with Christianity, or other Christians, in a direct and honest way, that maybe someone would get the point. When in fact, I made more people angry, was “unfriended” on Facebook, and confronted more times than many that have ever stated something a lot less controversial. Until the past few days. You see, my initial reaction to my friend was anger. Maybe not anger, but more frustration of someone whining about the truth. But instead of immediately becoming defensive, though I did respond to him, I thought and prayed about what he had stated. And then it happened! God moved in my heart, and opened my eyes! I have been going to school now for seven years. I have obtained what many would say is a lot of knowledge. To me I have limited knowledge. But anyway, the point being, I need to share what I have been given the opportunity to learn by God! I can be so much more effective in making a “point” by sharing tactics, reasons, logic, and a defense of Christianity. I can share what many in my field already share, but to an entirely different audience. I can share how God changed my life of agnosticism, through the Holy Spirit and apologetics, that may actually strengthen the follower and reach the lost. Which was my intention all along!

So, Praise the Lord for what He has done, and continues to do in my life! I am sorry, and ask for your forgiveness, if you happen to be one of the many I may have offended, come off as a know it all, or sadly,may have given you the wrong impression of my heart and the Christian worldview as a whole.

Beginning tomorrow, or when I write my next blog, expect to see apologetic content. The limited knowledge God has allowed me to obtain. And prayerfully, I can begin to do what Gods will for my life has been all along…

Disclaimer! Calling false teachers out, clarifying why false doctrine is wrong, and stating there is only one Truth is considered an apologetic.

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Maybe it’s just me, but…

2 Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV. Maybe it is just me but, in my personal experience, since accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior, the only difference I see in those professing followers, and the friends I had prior to salvation, is what we do on Sunday mornings. Oh, and that my brothers and sisters are a lot more sensitive. Once again, I know and understand, I am about to be the bad guy. However, please bear with me as I explain what I mean. And please, if I am wrong, guide me in the direction of a better understanding that I too may “enjoy” life and stop being so concerned with what everyone else is doing, or not doing. But then, maybe it is just me…

When I accepted Christ i was under the impression, maybe because it is written somewhere, that 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2Corinthians 5:17 ESV. But in the short time, nine years, it seems I am the odd man out. Please, by no means get the impression I am perfect, claim perfection, or anything remotely close. I am simply looking for clarification, or as usual, attempting to make a point. But then, maybe it is just me…

So let’s see, where to start? We know the extreme frustration I feel concerning followers that can’t answer basic questions of why they believe. I mean, it is only commanded in scripture, yet is one of the primary reasons I fought the Holy Spirit for so long in not accepting the free gift of salvation. I spent years asking “why” and to this day the majority still can’t tell me. But that is a given if you are remotely familiar with me. Let’s look at the main point of this writing. As I stated in the opening, the only difference in many followers and the “lost” is what we do on Sunday mornings. Here is what I mean by that:

Movies – many watch the same movies as the rest of the world. Is that extreme, I am told all of what I am about to write is extreme, so maybe it is just me. Anyway, it seems that it is okay to attend R rated movies if it is a war movie, or violence. Maybe one nude scene, or whatever, but still, is it really? I know, in my previous life, any time I saw a “good Christian” out doing the same thing I was doing, well, you know, excuses, excuses.

Music – this one really confuses me. I was a die hard GNR fan, in fact, Axl was my hero. Eminem, loved him. And pretty much anyone else that went against the stereotypical “I can’t believe you listen to that crowd”. But now it seems, regardless of the impression it may give someone that is “lost”, I can listen to pretty much whatever I want, well you know, the “clean” version. Sorry, I don’t get that one either.

Drinking – here is a “biggy”! 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 ESV. The standard answer I get on this one is “there is nothing wrong with drinking a beer, or, Insert your drink of choice”. And, I agree! But, my answer is always, we have to buy it somewhere. What if the person behind you in line is “lost”? Something about causing someone to stumble comes to mind.

Language – “well as long as I don’t use the Lords name in vain, those are just slang words”. Again, I agree, but really? I am not really sure why we can’t make our point without using slang terms. I don’t know, maybe Jesus tossed a few back, and threw around some slang terms and, well, now that wouldn’t make Him the Jesus of the Bible would it? I believe if someone was beating me, and putting nails in my hands I would at least consider having a drink first, and then screaming out a few “slang” words!

This could obviously take many pages. The point is, though none of us are perfect, me included, I just don’t get it. I had many more friends in my previous life, their feelings weren’t hurt when I told them how I felt, much less the Truth. We drank together. Sometimes a couple, most of the time more. And we all quoted the drunkard scripture, as none of us considered ourselves drunkards. We didn’t care what the rating of the movie happened to be, or if anyone saw us going to or leaving the theater. We did laugh at the “good Christians” going to the same movies though. We used the slang terms, but only a few used God’s name in vain. Maybe that was just a moral thing, or we knew it was in a Book somewhere.

I am pretty sure I am missing the point here somewhere in my attempted walk with Christ. I fully grasp “grace”. What I don’t understand is why anyone would want to be in the “club” when we are all doing the same things, except on Sunday mornings of course. But then, maybe it is just me…
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Being all things to all people…

The apostle Paul, speaking to the church at Corinth, tells us “19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 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. 21 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. 22 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. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” ! Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV.
I have written previously concerning the language apologists use among themselves/ourselves, and for the most part, when speaking to others concerning apologetics. The point was that many followers and non followers alike, if not most, do not know what apologetics is, much less understand the language we speak. It is here that I would like to spend some time expounding on that particular subject and ask, are we really being all things to all people, or just talking amongst ourselves?
We all would agree, or I would at least think we would, that many professions speak the language associated with that particular field. And that is perfectly okay as the majority of those fields only speak it among themselves. But we, on the other hand, are attempting to share our particular area of expertise with the “world”. I discussed some of the terminology, and such, previously also. So let me explain further.
Being from southern West Virginia, be it stereotypical or not, we are famous for not have the best grammar, and speaking a different language than others. Using slang terms, that only we understand, don’t instead of doesn’t in the correct manner, and giving the appearance of, well, just not being very well educated. And, in fact, only 17% of our state, yes we are a separate state, have an undergraduate degree. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, simply the culture in which we have been raised. Now do you honestly believe that the majority of the people I am around know what apologetics is, much less care or understand? But let’s step aside from culture and look at others we are trying to reach. Those who have been in the church for any length of time have heard that we should not speak “Christianese”. Meaning the church itself has a language all of it’s own. Imagine being a non follower and coming into a church service and hearing about the blood, sacrifice, and the eating of the flesh part just to name a few. But yet we are going to share evidence of a man raising from the dead and wonder why the majority doesn’t understand. Or should that be don’t understand? Oh well you get the point.
I was a part of a motorcycle ministry at one point. The whole idea of having a bike ministry, obviously, would be to reach the big, bad, biker. How far do you think I would have gotten, if I were to have a discussion, with one of them that had stated they did not believe in God by presenting the evidence, of the many we use, in the language we use with each other? Exactly.
I’m not sure how many examples I need to present. I do know that I have held many different positions, in many different professions. I have always been myself. Yet, as I stated previously, I adapt to my audience. I have conducted multi million dollar transactions as a financial advisor, been an Air Force recruiter, and even sold motorcycles and ATV’s. All of which involved a presentation, all of which was basically the same basic sales tactics. The difference was I became all things to all people depending on the situation. We need to come down from our high horses, West Virginia term, and realize that maybe, just maybe, if the audience we are trying to reach doesn’t know what apologetics is, then they probably don’t understand many of the terms we use in communicating with each other, or the atheists that understand us. Dr. Ergun Caner once stated that we could not combine an intellectual church with a spiritual/emotional church as it just doesn’t work. (paraphrased). I am finding that to be true, but wonder if we really did become all things to all people, well maybe we could reach at least one…

I’m sorry, what did you say?

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C.S. Lewis

Have you ever noticed that many apologetic blogs, or for that matter most anything written about apologetics, begin with a definition of apologetics? The writer knows the definition, obviously, so the question becomes why do we feel the need to define apologetics? Possibly because most, if not all of us, know that the majority of our audience have not heard of, or know anything about apologetics. Yet for some reason we then go on to discuss such things as relativism, naturalism, cosmology, macro versus micro evolution, universalism, well, you get the point. I know to be in the apologist business we need to use the “words of the trade” for respect, and common understanding among each other. But, do you not think, if our audience doesn’t understand what apologetics is are they really going to understand a false dichotomy? I’m sorry, what did you say?

This may not come as a surprise to many but, the majority of our audience, excluding the atheist, have never heard of the big names in the world of apologetics, much less the common language used among them, or any of us for that matter. For example, Ratio Christi at Marshall University hosted Dr. Frank Turek to campus and I had to explain to my own pastor, and others, who he is. And God forbid I mention Dr. Craig, Ravi, Habermas, or most anyone else. The blank stares are almost like I had just mentioned a family member had died. Now this may not be true everywhere, but in rural America, or West Virginia where I reside, I promise you Joel, Hagin, Meyers and others are by far more well known than any apologist.

In reality, who exactly is our audience? We seem to spend a lot of time having discussions among ourselves. And why not, it is common ground and a passion we all live and love to share. But with who? I mentioned the atheist earlier, and I agree with what many may be thinking at this point, the atheist indeed understands our language, and you know as well as I do he/she is more prepared than the average follower to defend their position. But come on, really? Same objections, same defense over and over. I am new in the business and have a very good idea of many objections the atheist will present. I also know many of the same arguments we, the apologist, provide as a defense. But what about the average Christian we so much like to discuss that isn’t prepared to give a defense of why we believe, you know the verse, 1 Peter 3:15, that we quote almost non stop. Do we really believe if we have to define apologetics that the average follower is going to understand, or care, sadly, about relativism? They don’t know what relativism even is! Much less a dichotomy or a false one for sure!

We say apologetics strengthens the follower and helps reach the lost, but in reality, or for the most part, the majority of either group do not even understand what we are talking about. I am not saying anything about their intelligence level, simply if we have to define apologetics, and convince them of the importance of apologetics, how in this world do we think we are strengthening or reaching either group?

The point is, there is always a point, remember when all of us first heard of apologetics? The excitement of knowing the evidence, logic and reason behind our belief? How it lead many of us to school, and others to pursue this vital knowledge through self study, or a mentor? You know how excited we get when we are able to share what we have learned now, and how far we have came, since our introduction to apologetics? Well, not everyone is like us! I know, I know hard to accept huh? But seriously, if we are going to strengthen the follower and reach the lost through apologetics we have to speak in their language! Basic presentation skills tell us to “know our audience”. We are not our own audience. And just because we understand does not mean they understand. If so, then why are we defining apologetics? I’m sorry, what did you say?

Stop giving answers…so quickly

Over the past few months I have been ask numerous times how to answer an atheists question. But it is not just the atheist we need to answer. In fact, it may very well be the follower, or someone that is confused and truly needs clarification, (not that they atheist isn’t or doesn’t). It may be a family member, friend, or someone that is a follower of Islam, Mormonism, or any other of the many religions. For that matter, many of us may never encounter an atheist, as they are a small minority. So what do I tell those that ask for my help in answering questions? I tell them to stop giving answers…so quickly!

I know, I know the Bible commands us to have an answer. So why would I tell anyone that asks how to answer questions to stop giving answers? Besides it is part of my job, not only as a Christian, but as an apologist, and I use the second loosely as I will never feel worthy in referring to myself as an apologist. But anyway, there are numerous reasons in not simply spouting an answer back to any question posed. Many things need to be considered, such as, situation, who is asking the question, setting, and well, do we know the answer? You see, many times when ask a question we immediately want to answer with scripture, or an easy “canned response” we have learned, when in reality the question. or objection, is really just a smoke screen to avoid the conversation entirely. This is why we need to stop giving answers, so quickly, anyway. Let me explain…

Have you been to the doctor, bought a car, or if you are married, argued? Of course most of us have been in each of these situations and many others like them. What do they all have in common? If you go to the doctor, buy a car, or argue, what is the first thing that is done? In each situation we are ask questions, just as we are ask about our beliefs. But the key here is what is the other party actually doing? Listening! Why would any of the examples given ask questions and then listen? Other than to use everything you state against you, each situation given is trying to find out more information. How do we gather information, we ask questions and listen to the answer! Most of the time if we are ask questions there is more to it than the question being ask. In fact, most of the time, if we ask questions and listen we will be able to offer a better answer to most any question or objection, regardless of our knowledge on the subject.

The point is a simple one: stop answering questions! Listen, ask your own questions, then, and only then, attempt to give the appropriate response. It is a tried and true method. It is non confrontational. It avoids arguing. And if you do not know the answer, it gives you a way to respectfully ask that you have time to obtain an answer. Not only that, I am going to give you two examples I have learned from Greg Koukl and his book Tactics, used by some of the best apologists out there.

So the next time you are confronted with an atheist, question, objection, (be careful when using these with your spouse), simply reply with these two questions: “What do you mean by that?” and “How did you arrive at that conclusion?” It is that simple. Actually it isn’t. However, it is a very good starting point! Stop giving answers…so quickly!