An interesting chart:
Have you ever been told you’re arrogant because you:
This is a famous quote from G. K. Chesteron, but if you’ve never read it, it is very helpful for remembering some basic things about Truth. You might offer this view to someone the next time you get in one of these discussion:
What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.
Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert—himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt—the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it’s practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . .
The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. (Orthodoxy [reprint, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1995], 36-37.)
I recently finished listening through two courses of lectures on the life and thought of Francis Schaeffer.
If you’re interested in listening yourself, you can find the courses on iTunes U or the Worldwide Classroom website. In the “Later Years” course, lecture nineteen, the instructor gives an interesting list of what Schaeffer saw as the benefits to a society when the worldview of the Bible is adopted. In other words, even if everyone’s not born again and authentically trusting Christ, if a society agrees on some of the basic teachings of scripture, huge good can occur. Many of these things are the very distinctives we enjoy in our own modern American culture.
Here’s the list:
Adopting a Biblical Worldview
1) The elements of this world view:
a) A God to whom we are answerable
b) A created, orderly universe
c) A moral order with God as its source
d) Antithesis – truth conquers falsehood
e) Objective human innocence and guilt
f) All humans on “level ground” before God
g) All humans are sinners
2) The cultural benefits of this world view
a) The rule of Law: There is Someone we are answerable to.
b) Accountability in government: Leaders are answerable for their actions.
c) Truth can be found: It is possible to know things because God made things to be discovered.
d) A Democratic impulse: All people are made in the image of God, so they are equal.
e) Restraint of those in power: Rulers are not God.
f) Objective human guilt and need for punishment
All this is open to discussion, of course. In the course these ideas are justified and fleshed out. But it makes good food for thought, and I find it convincing: It only makes sense that a society that believes in an eternal Authority who made us with inherent dignity in His image would be a society with limited government, free people, and an “impulse” to keep things ruled by the Creator’s morality, while affirming the worth of all its citizens. And when there is no more eternal Authority, what and who determines what is right? If you study history, the only answer we find is, “Power.” Which means that freedom can’t last when there is no belief in Truth.
…Which reminds me of this quote from Michael Novak:
During the past hundred years, the question for those who loved liberty was whether, relying on the virtues of our peoples, we could survive powerful assaults from without (as, in the Battle of Britain, this city nobly did). During the next hundred years, the question for those who love liberty is whether we can survive the most insidious and duplicitous attacks from within, from those who undermine the virtues of our people, doing in advance the work of the Father of Lies. “There is no such thing as truth,” they teach even the little ones. “Truth is bondage. Believe what seems right to you. There are as many truths as there are individuals. Follow your feelings. Do as you please. Get in touch with yourself. Do what feels comfortable.” Those who speak in this way prepare the jails of the twenty-first century. They do the work of tyrants.
This is from one of my all-time favorite books, The Saint’s Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter.
Here, Baxter gives us ten pearls of wisdom for sharing the gospel with others:
Mike Focht posted this on the Senior High Blog. This is so good:
Encouraging men to believe that God will be merciful is not preaching the Gospel. All such preaching really ignores the cross. Salvation is not a present act of generosity and leniency on the part of God. Salvation is possible because the love of God has already provided all that a sinner can ever need. The sinner is not saved by pleading with God for His kindness: he is saved by believing that God has been kind. Such is the exact place of the cross in the message of the Gospel.
Preaching the Gospel is telling men something about Christ and His finished work for them which they are to believe. This is the simplest test to be applied to all soul-saving appeals. The Gospel has not been preached until a personal message concerning a crucified and living Saviour has been presented, and in a form which calls for the response of a personal faith.
The Saviour said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
I saw this on another blog the other day and it stirred me up. This is a great call to action for all of us in the “young adults” age group–we are perfectly positioned in our culture to affect the way people see the world, one person at a time. Our public witness for Christ and our message about the way the world really is can affect, not just our friend at work or school, but our whole nation (and therefore, the world…). Notice too the challenge here is not only to evangelize but to be intellectually engaged–to be thinking people who can articulate and communicate truth to those around us. We can not let the spirit of our age lull us into mental laziness and inactivity . As Jude says, we must contend for what is true, and that, my friends, takes energy. Read on for sound words:
We are all agreed that at least one great function of the Church is the conversion of individual men. The missionary movement is the great religious movement of our day. Now it is perfectly true that men must be brought to Christ one by one. There are no labor-saving devices in evangelism. It is all hard-work.
And yet it would be a great mistake to suppose that all men are equally well prepared to receive the gospel.
It is true that the decisive thing is the regenerative power of God. That can overcome all lack of preparation, and the absence of that makes even the best preparation useless.
But as a matter of fact God usually exerts that power in connection with certain prior conditions of the human mind, and it should be ours to create, so far as we can, with the help of God, those favorable conditions for the reception of the gospel.
False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel.
We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.
Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root. . . .
What is today a matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires. In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combated; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassioned debate.
So as Christians we should try to mold the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity. . . .
What more pressing duty than for those who have received the mighty experience of regeneration, who, therefore, do not, like the world, neglect that whole series of vitally relevant facts which is embraced in Christian experience—what more pressing duty than for these men to make themselves masters of the thought of the world in order to make it an instrument of truth instead of error?
—J. Gresham Machen, “Christianity and Culture,” in What Is Christianity? And Other Addresses, ed. Ned Stonehouse (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), pp. 162-163; emphasis added
Dan George sent this to me the other day, and we got together to talk about it. I decided to type it all up and post it, because I think more and more we’re all running into these kinds of ideas as we’re talking to people. Just to be clear, the point of this is to illustrate how we might think through a discussion with someone, face-to-face. Personally, I would not get on a comment thread on the web and post this in reply to the writer. I think it is (probably) never helpful to get into these endless online discussions, where anonymity fuels the worst kinds of exchanges, and very little real dialogue happens. It doesn’t seem like the kind of forum where the Holy Spirit usually works.
But we should be prepared to answer this kind of reasoning, since it is becoming more and more common. Also, this is very incomplete. I don’t get to the gospel here, which I would be getting to in a real discussion. All I’m doing here is thinking about how to answer the objections being made. Here’s the original post. It’s a reply posted in the comment section of a news article about Christians working to stop human trafficking.
“You REALLY do buy into the whole garden of eden story, don’t you? This alone is shocking enough, but you also seem to be taking great liberties with the story and imposing your own convenient interpretation to justify god’s actions. You talk about a conscience as if it is something bestowed on people, yet we know that children have to develop a conscience. They do this by experimentation with their actions to see what kind of result they will have returned. This is science and I suspect it’s a little out of your paradigm. If I step into your view then, I should assume that Adam and Eve were created with a fully developed conscience, given to them by god, with absolutely no experience of right and wrong or the reward/consequence system that the brain chemistry operates on by every other living creature on this planet. Then you have to ask yourself, why did god put the tree there to begin with, if not to test them? It seems that if so much were riding on this 1 choice to eat a fruit or not to (i.e., endless generations of suffering, disease, toil, violence…), then they must KNOW that these were the consequences of their actions. Otherwise, again, they were not fully prepared for the consequences of said action and could not exercise an act of conscience. So do you believe that Eve and Adam knew this would be the result of their action? If not, we are back to what I call the innocence of the child mind. If they did know that taking a bite of fruit would cause such suffering, why would they not do everything in their capability to avoid this tree? In fact, why wouldn’t they try to destroy it? To do otherwise or even knowingly eat the fruit would mean they must truly be corrupt before eating. I mean, I don’t want to be the destroyer of your comfort zone. Personally, I find these back-and-forths beneath a respectable level of human discourse. But, if you find yourself in a sinking boat because there’s holes all through it, and you’re rushing around ripping off your own clothes to fill the holes… Maybe stop blaming the water and realize that the boat is the problem. A) you can most likely swim on your own, or B) one of us will be along to help you out.”
To begin to discuss this, I’ve broken the post down into section to identify the eight assertions being made. Here’s how I would restate them:
Now we can start to think through what is being said, point by point. Here’s the original post, broken down into sections, with my restatement underneath, and then my reply.
1. “You REALLY do buy into the whole garden of eden story, don’t you? This alone is shocking enough,”
Restatement: It is shocking that someone would believe the Garden of Eden story.
Reply: This is not really an argument. It’s really more of an insult designed to put someone off their balance, and make them feel dumb. You might ask, “Why is it shocking? Is it shocking to you that this universe is made by a creator? Or is it the garden part of the story?” If someone accepts that the world was made by a Creator, I see nothing inherently shocking about the first two chapters of Genesis. And then you might ask something like, ”Do you have a better explanation for the universe, one that accounts for all of the matter, life, good, evil, logic, art, love, etc in the world?”
2. “but you also seem to be taking great liberties with the story and imposing your own convenient interpretation to justify god’s actions.”
Restatement: As a bible believing Christian, you take liberties with the story and distort its true meaning in order to justify a (presumably) unjust God in the story.
Reply: This statement may be true, but it needs to be proven. How exactly am I taking liberties with the story and distorting its true meaning? The writer does not prove this point, he just states it and moves on. If this were a face-to-face conversation, right here would be a great opportunity to get out a bible and go over Genesis 1 and 2 verse by verse. Also, at this point, the writer makes an odd switch from saying it’s shocking to believe the Genesis account to discussing it as if he believes it and knows the true interpretation. Which is it? Did he take the time to read and understand deeply this story that no intelligent person would believe? If so, then I guess we can talk, because the conversation reduces down to Biblical interpretation: who’s account of the story is more supported by the actual words of the text? Another great opportunity to get out our Bibles and go through it.
3. “You talk about a conscience as if it is something bestowed on people, yet we know that children have to develop a conscience. They do this by experimentation with their actions to see what kind of result they will have returned. This is science and I suspect it’s a little out of your paradigm.”
Restatement: Science has proven that conscience is not innate, but is developed by learning which actions produce which results.
Reply: Does the writer have research to back this up? I am not familiar with the science of the conscience, but it is true that Psychology is not a “hard” science like chemistry, and so we’re constantly working with observation and interpretation. But is there actually a consensus in the scientific community about how the conscience is formed? Or even about what the conscience is? And even if there is, does that actually apply to the Genesis story? Not really, as we’ll see…
4. “If I step into your view then, I should assume that Adam and Eve were created with a fully developed conscience, given to them by god, with absolutely no experience of right and wrong or the reward/consequence system that the brain chemistry operates on by every other living creature on this planet.”
Restatement: In the Christian view Adam and Eve were created with a conscious, but no experience of reward and consequence. This is impossible.
Reply: The Genesis account doesn’t address whether or not Adam and Eve had a “conscience” as the writer is describing it. We know that what they had were working, mature minds which could understand the communication of their Creator, and could reason and decide things. In other words, they were fully functioning adults, even though they didn’t have, say, 30 years of life experience to draw on. But let’s not forget: if we take the story to be true, they also had experiences to draw on which we have no concept of. They awoke to some kind of immediate, conscious knowledge of being made by a good Creator. Somehow, they knew Him and He spoke with them. They experienced Him putting them in a garden stocked with good things for them to eat and do, and with a mandate and the ability to rule all and order it for their own good and the glory of the creator. Do any of us have any idea what it is like to experience this? Do any of us know what kind of obligation it creates (morally, intellectually) within someone when they have gone through this kind of experience, in fact, when it is their ongoing experience, day by day? So we shouldn’t assume we fully understand what life was like in the Garden. And it is no argument against the truth of this story, or any part of the Bible, to create artificial problems and then knock them down. Adam and Eve had no experience of eating the fruit, but they had the capacity to understand God’s prohibition of it, and the stated penalty: “You will surely die” (whatever else that meant to them, they knew that, at least, it meant something like: “you will cease to enjoy all these benefits”). They did not need to know anything else to be morally accountable. And besides, is the prospect of hurting someone else always a perfect deterrent to keep us from sinning?
5. “Then you have to ask yourself, why did god put the tree there to begin with, if not to test them?”
Restatement: Which begs this question: why did God put the tree in the garden anyway?
Reply: This may be an interesting discussion topic, but it is not really part of the writer’s flow of thought. It’s more of another way to put someone off balance. You might say, “we can discuss that later, but let’s get back to the topic at hand.”
6. “It seems that if so much were riding on this 1 choice to eat a fruit or not to (i.e., endless generations of suffering, disease, toil, violence…), then they must KNOW that these were the consequences of their actions. Otherwise, again, they were not fully prepared for the consequences of said action and could not exercise an act of conscience. So do you believe that Eve and Adam knew this would be the result of their action? If not, we are back to what I call the innocence of the child mind. ”
Restatement: This makes God out to be unreasonable, since he punishes Adam and Eve for something they could not have known the consequences of. (see #3)
Reply: See the answer for number 4.
7. “If they did know that taking a bite of fruit would cause such suffering, why would they not do everything in their capability to avoid this tree? In fact, why wouldn’t they try to destroy it? To do otherwise or even knowingly eat the fruit would mean they must truly be corrupt before eating.”
Restatement: The fact that they didn’t try to destroy the tree, but ate from it, means they must have been corrupt before they ate.
Reply: This is interesting reasoning. Not sure why we would assume their ability or desire to destroy the tree. I think we assume too much if we presume to know what they would or wouldn’t have done and then draw conclusions from that. In fact, what they seem to have decided was to stay far away from the tree, as evidenced by Eve saying they weren’t even allowed to touch the tree. But then, Eve must have done some sort of sinning in her heart to actually take the first bite, right?
8. “I mean, I don’t want to be the destroyer of your comfort zone. Personally, I find these back-and-forths beneath a respectable level of human discourse. But, if you find yourself in a sinking boat because there’s holes all through it, and you’re rushing around ripping off your own clothes to fill the holes… Maybe stop blaming the water and realize that the boat is the problem. A) you can most likely swim on your own, or B) one of us will be along to help you out.”
Restatement: This discussion is beneath human dignity, and your conceptual boat is sinking and full of holes.
Reply: Since nothing has actually been reasoned through, this way of ending is more about posting a triumphant ending and heaping scorn on the bible believer than actually making any claim. But if someone said this to me at the end of a conversation like this, I might ask, “Now, if you don’t believe we were created, could you tell me where you come up with your idea of human dignity?” That could be an interesting discussion.
Saw this a little while ago and and thought it was helpful in a light-hearted sort of way:
Don’t Get Weird
We’ve all been there, the conversation is going fine—and then somehow, some way the conversation turns to Jesus.
While the conversation was on the last topic, you were fine, you were laughing, you were yourself, you were having fun, but suddenly when it turns to Jesus, you get weird. You get tongue-tied, cottonmouthed, you start breathing heavily, you get very serious, almost cold. Any hint of joy is gone from your demeanor and you begin to talk to them about the Greatest News Ever.
Do you see the contradiction? When talking about anything else, you’re fine. But when you talk about the gospel, your demeanor betrays your message.
Always Be Prepared
The Apostle Peter instructs the early Christians in their conversations with those outside the faith by saying “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 …” (1 Peter 3:15).
Do you see what he said there? In your hearts, regard the Christ the Lord as holy, always be prepared to make a defense—always. We always need to be ready to talk about the hope that is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. You never know when the Holy Spirit is going to give you that moment. You need to be prepared. Usually that is precisely why you get weird: you’re not prepared.
Know the Gospel
Start by preaching the gospel to yourself. Read passages about the gospel. Listen to how your pastor talks about the gospel, and be ready. Even if you don’t have all the answers to people’s questions, you can say something like, “I’m not sure, I’ll have to look into that.” Don’t get weird, don’t get defensive, and don’t get frustrated.
If the gospel is true (and of course we believe it is) then we should have no insecurities talking about it, just like we would talk about anything else that is true. This 1 Peter passage tells us Christ is Lord. Some of this purely comes down to repititions. The more you talk about Jesus, the more comfortable you are going to be with these types of conversations. In the end, the one who has the power to draw people is God who is sovereign over your conversations and interactions with those who don’t believe the gospel—it’s not all up to you. Relax a little.
In Your Hearts Honor Jesus
The Apostle Peter begins this instruction by saying, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.” In your hearts, always lift up Christ, always submit the conversation to him, and trust him! Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you up. When you do it, “do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:15–16). After the conversation is over, trust Jesus for the effects of the conversation. Ultimately you are the messenger of the gospel, not the message itself. God is the one who ultimately evangelizes to them and changes hearts.
by Harvey Turner
This is really cool. Dr. Dan Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary posted this last week. They keep finding new (older!) manuscripts confirming that what we read in our Bibles is what the authors actually wrote. Read on…
On 1 February 2012, I debated Bart Ehrman at UNC Chapel Hill on whether we have the wording of the original New Testament today. This was our third such debate, and it was before a crowd of more than 1000 people. I mentioned that seven New Testament papyri had recently been discovered—six of them probably from the second century and one of them probably from the first. These fragments will be published in about a year.
These fragments now increase our holdings as follows: we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 43% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts. But the most interesting thing is the first-century fragment.
It was dated by one of the world’s leading paleographers. He said he was ‘certain’ that it was from the first century. If this is true, it would be the oldest fragment of the New Testament known to exist. Up until now, no one has discovered any first-century manuscripts of the New Testament. The oldest manuscript of the New Testament has been P52, a small fragment from John’s Gospel, dated to the first half of the second century. It was discovered in 1934.
Not only this, but the first-century fragment is from Mark’s Gospel. Before the discovery of this fragment, the oldest manuscript that had Mark in it was P45, from the early third century (c. AD 200–250). This new fragment would predate that by 100 to 150 years.
How do these manuscripts change what we believe the original New Testament to say? We will have to wait until they are published next year, but for now we can most likely say this: As with all the previously published New Testament papyri (127 of them, published in the last 116 years), not a single new reading has commended itself as authentic. Instead, the papyri function to confirm what New Testament scholars have already thought was the original wording or, in some cases, to confirm an alternate reading—but one that is already found in the manuscripts. As an illustration: Suppose a papyrus had the word “the Lord” in one verse while all other manuscripts had the word “Jesus.” New Testament scholars would not adopt, and have not adopted, such a reading as authentic, precisely because we have such abundant evidence for the original wording in other manuscripts. But if an early papyrus had in another place “Simon” instead of “Peter,” and “Simon” was also found in other early and reliable manuscripts, it might persuade scholars that “Simon” is the authentic reading. In other words, the papyri have confirmed various readings as authentic in the past 116 years, but have not introduced new authentic readings. The original New Testament text is found somewhere in the manuscripts that have been known for quite some time.
These new papyri will no doubt continue that trend. But, if this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century, what a thrill it will be to have a manuscript that is dated within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection!
I asked Ryon Freeman, who’s out at Millersville with several friends from our fellowship, to write about what they’re doing with the Millersville night-life scene. This is another great example of looking at your situation (“all any one does around here is party”) and then, instead of being discouraged (or tempted) by it, letting God move your mind to think: How might He want us to be used here? Where are people? What do they need? How could we reach them?
Here’s the first post from his new blog:
The whole idea behind the outreach All Who Are Thirsty is to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the college night life. There is an overwhelming need to impact our generation for the cause of Christ.
One night after a local Bible study the burden to share my faith weighted heavy on my heart. After telling some friends about this burden we all decided that we should do something to reach out to the students on our campus. We decided we wanted to hand out hot chocolate to the kids walking to and from parties.
One evening a few friends and I walked the campus and stopped to talk to drunk kids that we saw. What started as a simple walk, flourished into a desire to see kids on campus saved. I began to share my heart about this desire I had to set up hot chocolate stands on campus as a vehicle to share the gospel. That night my friends and I gathered and prayed. We prayed that God would open the right doors and direct us as we looked to start this outreach.
Before we go to handout hot chocolate we meet at 8:30pm to get our supplies ready: we heat up hot chocolate, put it in coolers, and tape Bible verses to the cups. After that we pray to prepare our hearts before we go out . At 9:30pm we hit the streets and set up by the frat houses and on one of the main streets. We have three stations with three people at each station. Each person has a job one serves the hot chocolate another puts the hot chocolate mix in the cups and another hands out information about different bible studies on campus and churches they could go to on Sunday.
The rush starts around 10:00pm and we stay out until 1:30am depending on the amount of supplies we have and the people that want to talk. Our goal is to let the Holy Spirit lead, so we aim to stay out as long as we need to. We have print outs of Romans road ahead of time in case we have the opportunity to lead students to Christ.
When the evening ends we prayer for the students we encountered and for more ministry opportunities.
We ask that you will pray for the All Who Are Thirsty Outreach. Pray that God gives us favor with the kids and the police. Also pray that many would come to Christ.