A Quick Guide to Apologetics

For over a year now, I’ve been listening to a fantastic podcast called “Unbelievable?” produced by Premier Christian Radio in Britain hosted by Justin Brierley. The show focuses on discussions between two viewpoints, often Christian and non-Christian in order to create a space to think through issues relating to life and spirituality. And I have learned one gigantic thing about the way we do apologetics. (Apologetics is the defense of a belief, often used for defense of Christian belief.)

But are you ready for an in-depth explanation of how to make your apologetic efforts more effective?

Here it is:

Talk less.

Unimpressed? Maybe. But what I’ve noticed about the way Christians have been trying to change culture and defend their faith is that the method used is often debate. Debates, from my experience, usually end in talking over one another and shouting past one another in an effort to defeat the opponent one has been practicing against. Debate rarely ends well for either party. (Though, I have heard some very civil, polite exchanges on the podcast… fewer than I’d like, though.)

So how did Jesus defend his actions? Well, be asking questions and getting to the root of the problem others had with him and his ministry. It’s kind of a joke now in many Christian circles, but Jesus often answered questions with questions. The wisdom he showed in asking a question that made the interrogators stop and rethink their own presuppositions is still available.

While we have much teaching of Jesus and the apostles, we have as much or more of their actions. How did Jesus start many of his teaching sessions? With healing and care of the poor and oppressed. How did Paul or Peter get a crowd to share the good news that Jesus is King? By healing and care of the poor and broken.

While I can see some value in having an in depth response to the teleological debate, the debate on cosmology, or an answer to evolutionary biology, a better response may be: “I was once selfish and broken, and now Jesus has changed and healed me to better love and serve others.”

Our actions will often add more force to our words than the cleverest response. What actions do you and your family use to show how Jesus has changed you? What makes your family different in a way that shows others that Jesus is King in your home?

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Unasked-for thoughts on France

(Pre-script: I am writing this from the point of view that the internet doesn’t need another rehashing of events or even another think-piece on the how or why of these events. There are no suggested answers or easy solutions in this post, and very little in the way of calls to action. These are just thoughts and maybe some discussion starters for your home.)

I will be very honest and say my only connection to France has been through music and food. I have not always enjoyed the culture or history of France outside of the beautiful music and delicious cuisine I have encountered over the years. I speak little to none of the language, but have sung several gorgeous songs in French, enjoying the combination of the melody with the smoothness of the language.

In light of recent events, though, a new connection was formed, one of solidarity in the face of a terrible attack on innocents. It is difficult to grapple with a reality where these sort of atrocities happen – where people who were minding their own business, living their lives become numbers on a screen counting bodies. Many Americans remember the weeks following 9/11 where that number kept climbing steadily as more wreckage was sifted… The grief of those families and friends, and the ones currently feeling that loss, is impossible to describe with words or pictures and will be felt for years to come. May God grant them peace and comfort in this dark moment.

The way we discuss these tragedies with our kids is important. Yes, we want to shield our children from the evil of the world for as long as possible, but we need to start the discussion somewhere. We live in a broken world full of broken people that God is putting back together. Because the way we treat one another is broken, sometimes broken people hurt other broken people. As Christians, we’re working alongside God to help put things back together. We know that eventually God will put everything back the way it’s supposed to be, but right now, we’re waiting on that.

Already I have seen several posts angrily calling for violent retribution on entire groups of people. I have seen hateful comments popping up on Facebook.

Yes, a solution should be found, but maybe, just maybe we should take the time to grieve. Instead of instinctively lashing out in anger and fear, perhaps we should allow ourselves the chance to hurt, to cry, to mourn with those who mourn before throwing ourselves headlong into decisions and actions and words we can’t take back.

It’s ok to hurt. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to mourn. It’s ok to be angry.

So, with our hearts heavy, may we continue to pray for God’s mighty hand to put everything to rights. May we continue to pray for peace and comfort for the French people, and specifically those who lost loved ones.

How the Coffee-cup stole Christmas!

Despite all our wishing, our hoping, our scheming, one tiny red cup has left Christians screaming. They’ve howled and they’ve hooted, saying “These villains should be booted!” The articles being typed faster than light have left many people regretting their own sense of sight. I’ve seen them and rolled my eyes ever harder, as people point out that Christmas is the martyr.

Now, in some way I get the muss and the fuss, but, really, is this the thing that’ll make a preacher cuss? Consider the state of Christmas this year, the sales and the merchandise already filling the air. The sound of pre-packaged tunes loom ever nearer, while our perspective on the issue never quite gets clearer.

“A cup,” they exclaim, “has stolen Christmas already!” The response, also clanging, “Don’t you people think this is petty!?”

“Of course, it is not,” one side shouts with a clamor, “Christmas is supposed to be about the Savior.”

“While we don’t disagree,” say the suits and execs, “all that we want is financial success. Your beliefs and your faith mean little to big business, except for the fact that they share the same name: Christmas. We can manufacture emotion with movies, warmth with a drink, with the evidence around you, what more could you think?”

I propose a new thought, although it is old, let’s not think our Lord is out in the cold. If He really is Lord, and Lord over all, then maybe, just maybe, this order’s not so tall: to celebrate the gift we were given that night, and keep Jesus Christ and our family firmly in sight.

So whatever the sellers of packages, boxes and bags may relate as they show us new things that promise to elate, remember the reason we celebrate two whole months starting now, is Jesus the King and not some ridiculous cash cow.

So from one Christmas lover to those feeling the same, I wish you and yours peace and love in His Name. Now as the hands holding your coffee are thawed, may you all go in peace, to love and serve God.

(But seriously, though, if God really is King a blank red cup is very unlikely to disturb his plans or reign. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus this year, instead of trying to shout down advertisers. Simplicity and beauty are wonderful things, especially this time of year. So as the Christmas season comes closer, keep an eye on your thoughts and your attitude. I know I’ll have to.)