As a whole the Christian community have abdicated our collective responsibility to come to terms with the reality of the society in which we live. We need to be reminded that
|13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. -- 1 Peter 3:13-17 (NKJV)|
This my brothers and sisters in Christ is the society in which we live today:
- The vast majority of the people in the developed world do not know what the Bible is, let alone subscribe to the notion that it is the inspired Word of God. Those who do know of the Bible, consider it highly inaccurate, a collection of fables and tall tales written by people who bring with them their own personal and cultural biases. None of these consider the Bible as authoritative or even authentic. Worse, some within the Christian Community itself have chosen to adopt these attitudes, picking and choosing from within its pages, thus lending even more credibility to the notion that the Bible is suspect. Other Christians, unschooled and prideful in their understanding of the Bible have adopted flawed, often incorrect, and even extreme views of Scripture resulting from a lack, and even refusal, to seriously study God's Word. They fail to acknowledge the fact our English Bibles (ALL Versions) are translations from ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and are thus faced with the problems inherent in any translation. They also fail, sometimes willfully, to understand the historic, cultural, linguistic, and situational context of Scripture. As a result, fueled by pride and an unwillingness to declare "MYSTERY", they major in minors, interpret Scripture wrongly through modern and biased filters, and end up adding to the notion that the Bible is not trustworthy because Christians cannot even agree on what the Bible says.
- For well over three generations (some even suggest four), we have systematically pushed God out of our public institutions replacing it with a humanistic view of the world. Our classrooms teach the THEORY of evolution as fact, our textbooks portray scientific theory and deductions as "fait accompli" when in fact, much of what we know are still in flux, and our media adds fuel to the "mythology of God" by engaging in biased, poorly researched, and sensational reporting. For instance, images and evidence from electron microscopes, and advanced telescopes such as the Hubble telescope flood our world. Yet none of these images mention that they are not images from photographs as we understand them to be but are the result of the interpretation of data based upon our "best guess" given available knowledge and technology with possible margins of error. This gives us a false sense of complete certainty that no responsible scientist will ever advocate. As a result, we have spawned whole generations of poorly educated and informed people with a very strong worldview, one that is decidedly theistically ignorant, indifferent, if not totally atheistic.
- For many who remain unconvinced, holding on to a suspicion that there is much that cannot yet be explained, the global village and in influx of philosophies and belief systems from the far east have introduced a cacophony of alternate choices in how we view the world. The rise of New Age mysticism and philosophies are clear evidence of this.
Paul in his sermon to the Areopagus in Athens spoke to the Greek's belief in "the unknown God", boldly declaring the Gospel (Acts 17). What we often miss is the fact that Paul was no slouch concerning the culture, history, beliefs, philosophies, and history of the Greeks. He did not take lightly his commission and declares in Romans 1:14-15 "I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also." (NKJV). He reiterates this once more in his first letter to the Church in Corinth saying:
|19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. -- 1 Cor 9:19-23 (NKJV)|
This my brothers and sister in Christ is where our heart should be! Yet whenever, we speak of apologetics, we will also hear the inevitable cry from some that say that it is useless to try to speak of science and secular philosophies because the Word of God is sufficient! This is exactly what happened in my recent discussion.
How often have we heard Christians decry this or that only to admit that they have neither bothered to read, watch, or examine the very things they decry on their own? How often have we heard Christians quote sources denouncing this or the other only to say that they have not taken the trouble to acquaint themselves with that which is being denounced on their own? How do we expect to reach a broken and lost world if we refuse to engage it?
Moreover, how are we to defend The Faith if the vast majority of us do not even understand what The Faith is? How will we give answer in support of the Bible's authenticity if we are not bothered to even gain a rudimentary understanding of Scriptural and textual criticism? For over 2 centuries, we have been dumbing down the Bible, treating it as something akin to an idol, in essence worshiping it, or more accurately, a particular translation of it as though it were a god, when in fact Scripture demands that we study, meditate upon, and wrestle with the Word of God so that we can give an answer.
In two recent blogs, "A Miracle Of A Different Kind" and "No Fear In Death" , I shared my experience in witnessing to a man who had real and honest questions. Questions about the reliability of the Bible as God's inspired Word, questions regarding the Creation account as they pertain to science, questions regarding the claims of the Bible as they pertain to different religions and philosophies, questions about the problem of evil. Questions that challenged me to dig deeply, read broadly, and study more fervently. Questions that helped me realize that I was woefully unprepared to give an answer, to make a defense. Cliche answers that I had depended upon before would not have sufficed. There were times when I was sorely tempted to just say, "The Bible says so" but the Holy Spirit in me refused to let me get away with it. In essence, It was asking me if I loved enough and cared enough, to take the time to thoughtfully respond. The Holy Spirit was asking me, "Where is your heart?"
I also learned that in the end, it was the working of the Holy Spirit that eventually drew this man to God and that indeed, the Word of God does not return void. Nevertheless, I am also convinced by that same Spirit that God had used my obedience and diligence in my witness in His work.
Lastly, I learned that my words, the force of my arguments, and the strength of my intellect would have meant little if they were not spoken with love, without a judgmental and dismissive attitude. I learned what Scripture meant when it says that "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Cor 13:4-7). Most importantly, I am more convinced now than ever before that "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20)
So I end this blog with a few questions: Where is your heart? Will you be what you need to be, learn what you need to learn, live as you need to live, to win some for Christ? Will you have the heart of Christ who, forsaking all, died upon a shameful cross so that we might be saved? Will you weep as Jesus wept? Have compassion as He had compassion? What do you see when you see a broken and lost world? What do you feel? How would you respond?
In His love,