Is there a Tea Party faction within the Christian Church? Who is it?

Did someone say "Tea Party?"
Did someone say "Tea Party?"

Consider this report by a non-Christian who attended the recent “On Guard” conference in Dallas, Texas. (H/T Melissa of Hard-Core Christianity)

Excerpt:

Over the weekend, I attended the On Guard Conference 2010, a Christian apologetics conference. Before you read any further I must quickly explain my history with Christianity.

Back in high school, I was holy rollin’ like a 80-year-old on a Rascal. I  knew for sure I was going into the ministry and was entirely prepared to spend the rest of my life in the service of God. Several things happened about which I would write a book (and might one day). The short version is, my church was populated with small-minded, bigots. The church split twice and once because of a situation I was involved in. A poor black woman living out of an old rusted mustang barely survived two lots down while the church sent money to missionaries in Honduras. By the time the church had sucked my soul from me and spit me out, I turned my back on it all.

Fast forward to now. I have two children and I live in Texas. They will be exposed to Christianity in some form. We visited many churches (and synagogues since they are technically Jewish) and nothing appealed to me. The primary problem I have is that traditional worship is a broken record, especially when handled by Southern Baptists. There is only so much of the same catch-phrases, slogans, and cliches I can take before I hit toxic cynicism. The other problem I have is with modern worship. There is only so much canned slides, unfamiliar songs, and slick (but only re-purposed traditional) sermons I stomach. Where others claim tradition, I claim “rut”. I was on the other side long enough to see all of these things as meaningless.

I kept myself at such a distance from religion for so long, that aplogetics is entirely new to me. Christian apologetics is a discipline (and I would argue a culture as well) within Christianity where Christians defend their faith through logic, reason, and even science. Yeah, I know, sounds crazy. But here’s the kicker:

In my entire life, not once have I ever seen or heard a Christian say these words: “I’m not afraid for anyone to question me about my faith. I have nothing to hide [intellectually].”

Keep in mind, growing up Southern Baptists means growing up knowing very little about your own faith and spending time around other people who are openly hostile to those who don’t believe the same way.

For me, I don’t know what I believe anymore. I feel burned by a long history of disappointments by my own faith. In a nutshell, God to me is very similar to my own father. He came around, did his business and is long gone. I don’t and probably will never believe God is much more than a designer who set up some sophisticated systems that still work today but has moved on to other interests. I frankly think it’s absurd to believe God takes the time to help somebody have the strength to make it through a job interview while somewhere else around the world a child is sold into a life of sex slavery. But I digress.

So my attendance at the conference is me intrigued by the kind of intellectual topics presented because that’s not the Christianity I know or see on TV.

He summarizes the conference and then ends with this:

So the conference was great. So great in fact it occurred to me if actual mainstream Christianity was like that instead of the feelings-based judgment frontal assault I grew up with, I might have never left the church. However, the conference seemed to be geared toward two types: believers (meaning Christians who want to defend their faith) and atheists, who comprise the main apologetics boogie man. “Atheist” was used constantly to refer to the kind of people they needed to stay prepared for.

As a guy who lost his faith long ago, I never doubted God’s existence.  However, since I think he is a deadbeat dad, I have many questions and am looking for meaning without being convinced God is real. My struggle with faith has lasted me about 25 years. I would like to have seen a session on reconciling the Bible as a whole. For instance if Intelligent Design is really using science as I heard, how do they address the Adam and Eve question? I also would like someone like Dr. Moreland to discuss why he gets three angels and conversations with God directly when clearly God never bothered with me to begin with.

The premise on which they build many of their arguments is their belief. I don’t have that. So while I enjoyed the conference overall, I walked out of there with more questions. But isn’t that kind of the point? For the first time in over two decades, I felt mentally stimulated by a religious event. In that, I’m intrigued.

And what do we learn from this?

Well, I will try to be civil, but what I really want to do is rant against the postmodernism, irrationality, mysticism, pietism, relativism, inclusivism, universalism, hedonism, etc. that has got us to a point where something like 70% of young Christians who grow up in the church abandon it as soon as they go off to college. The church is a club that is run by people who want nothing to do with the honest questions of people who are less interested in feelings, intuitions, amusement and community and more interested in truth. And we are failing these honest questioners, because we are too busy having fun and feeling happy.

I have a very good idea of why the church is losing all of it’s young people. And we need a tea party revolution in the church to get people to come back.

So here’s my stand:

  • The church believes that belief in God’s existence is divorced from logic and evidence, but I believe that God’s existence is knowable, rational and supported by publicly-accessible evidence
  • The church thinks that people become Christians because they like Christianity, but I believe that people become Christians when they think Christianity is true
  • The church believes you can seek happiness without caring about the moral law, and their job is to make you feel accepted no matter what you do, but I believe that we need to set out clear moral boundaries and explain to people using non-Biblical evidence what damage is caused if those boundaries are broken
  • The church believes that reading the Bible and attending church as therapeutic, but I think that the Bible and church are for clarifying my obligations in my relationship with God and for setting out the broad goals that I will use when I develop my life plan to meet those goals by solving problems using my talents in the way that *I* think is most effective – and my plan doesn’t involve making you feel happy, by the way
  • The church thinks that the Christian life consists of singing, praying and not disagreeing with anyone or thinking that we are right about anything, but I think we should get off our duffs and start studying to think about how our Christian convictions apply to the world around us in every area of life, from politics to economics to foreign policy to marriage and parenting and beyond
  • The church believes that Christianity is true for them while other religions work for other people, but I believe that religions are assessed by whether they are true or not – and that other religions can be mistaken where they make false claims
  • The church believes that evangelism is done without using apologetics or focusing on truth, but I think we should all be prepared by watching debates, holding open forums, hosting speakers and conferences, and generally training ourselves to engage with the outside world in the realm of ideas
  • The church thinks Christianity is a faith tradition, but I think Christianity is a knowledge tradition

Anyway, check out these other posts for more snarky defiance.

Mentoring

Apologetics advocacy

43 thoughts on “Is there a Tea Party faction within the Christian Church? Who is it?”

  1. Wintry, twenty-five years ago, I could have written that man’s story, only, I would not have been so nice. If he is really like I was, God did do something in his life at the conference. I went into rebellion at the age of 25 and he lists some of my own reasons for doing so. I believed in God, but I didn’t like Him. For ten years I secretly expressed my rage at Him and openly showed disdain for Christians. I REALLY did not like Christians.

    His cry is “Why doesn’t God talk to me, care about me?” That’s what is in his heart. Couple those emotions with the intellectual questions, and the man is in a great deal of pain. I know.

    My testimony is quite long, but Jesus did save me when I arrived at the brink. When that happened, it was the emotional need that needed to be met first. To meet it, He challenged me to trust Him. I agreed, and the healing began. After a couple of years, He began to address my intellectual questions. God used a messenger who is maligned like few in the church today have endured. That man is Dr. Hugh Ross. The Bible is true like an onion, blanketing every layer of life with that truth. Dr. Ross has shown me how the Bible is true in every imaginable way possible and the “facts” are a tasty dish at His banquet.

    Having said that, I believe, in the final analysis, there is no formula one can apply to “reaching” people other than love, prayer, and preaching the gospel, using words when necessary or opportune. Jesus deals with us on an individual bases and we really never know what He will do next. He is ‘personal’ after all.

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    1. Hugh Ross worked for me, too! There’s something about the way he loves science that just captivates the mind.

      The reason why “acceptance” and “community” means nothing to me is that I’ve never experienced it. All I ever get from the church is resistance to the idea that Christianity is TRUE and that moral boundaries are part of the real moral law. I don’t want to be in a building full of people who just want to have happy feelings and ignore God’s character. We are in a relationship with God. Every part of our lives contains opportunities to care about him in the way we make decisions. To give him respect. To be morally obligated to him. To give him gifts of service. To show him that what he thinks matters to us. I think we take God’s blessings and forgiveness for granted, and that we really don’t want to be led by him.

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  2. Well, these are all fine points, but also consider:

    Part of why we have church services is to worship. That’s always been part of the equation from the beginning, for believers to give thanks and praise. So while I support the idea of debates and hard core intellectual battles going on in a church building, I think that some of these things are best suited for, say, a Wednesday night presentation, as opposed to trying to ram these things into the traditional Sunday morning worship service format (and yes, I know many of your readers probably bristle at the word format, or liturgy, but I say bah humbug, hah!).

    None of these things, as compelling as they are, can be used as an excuse to not worship with our Brothers and Sisters. The community aspect of church is important, as this is a means for us to support one another.

    Finally, I submit that some of the experiences in this fellow’s story, as well as your own experiences detailed elsewhere on this blog, differ from my own. While I have seen plenty of the touchy feely stuff, I’ve also seen plenty of stout, solid teaching going on within a traditional church building. Not only that, I can say with the utmost confidence that the influence of a *good* Pastor, someone who truly has your best interests at heart, is worth a thousand friendships. I never would have had the great blessing of that had I not shown my face in the church door from time to time.

    I’m not trying to disagree with a lot of what you say here, just putting a friendly reminder out there that churches aren’t all as terrible as one might think if this guy’s story was the only information they had to go on.

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  3. Good post. I can’t agree enough with your third bullet point: “The church thinks that people become Christians because they like Christianity, but I believe that people become Christians when they think Christianity is true.” God does not exist because we believe in Him. We believe in Him because He is.

    Having said that, do you really think Christianity is more of a “knowledge tradition” than a “faith tradition”? I agree with you that our faith should be grounded in knowledge, but:

    “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17. Galatians 3:11. Hebrews 10:38.

    “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” 1 Corinthians 8:1.

    The preaching of Christ and His crucifixion will always seem foolish to the world. 1 Corinthians 1:21-25, 3:19.

    Paul was not sent to preach the Gospel “with wisdom of words.” 1 Corinthians 1:17.

    The “things of the Spirit of God” cannot be “know[n]” “because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14.

    I’m not trying to diminish the importance of apologetics in any way. (You make a very good point in arguing that modern Christianity is much too “emotion-based.”) In the end, would you agree that the solution to today’s shallow Christianity is not (less faith, and more knowledge) but (more knowledge, in order to lead us to more faith)?

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    1. I think that the Biblical definition of faith is trust based on evidence. That’s why Jesus had to heal the paralytic and rise from the dead. Those things were used as evidences in the early church. If evidence was good enough for Jesus and the early church, sure we can scrape together a few hours to learn the kalam argument or the fine-tuning argument or the intelligent design argument. But people don’t do that because they don’t care enough about God’s reputation in the non-Christian world to puzzle about these things and to learn enough to answer people’s questions. We should at least know how to defend the resurrection and explain the problem of evil.

      Here:
      https://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/does-the-bible-teach-that-faith-is-opposed-to-logic-and-evidence/

      Read that, tell me what you think.

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    2. Elliot,
      I have to ask then what you think the purpose of the NT was at the time it was written? Was Acts a record of the early church trying to get people to believe the Christian message on “faith”? What about 1 Cor 15? The fact is the entire purpose the NT as it was written is that you may know that what the church was asking you to believe in was actually true. Never once did any writer of the bible implore its audience to just believe, there is always an apologetic given.

      If you have a Bible software, search the phrase “that you may know”. See what the references are and to what the subject matter pertains. God is constantly giving evidence of His existence. Paul and Peter were constantly appealing to the bodily resurrection, and that you can ask people about it. That if it isnt true we are to be pitied because our faith is worthless. They make claims like “it was not done in secret, but out in the open where all could see” and “some are still around to ask”.

      Christianity was never offered to help with lonliness, to offer fellowship, to make you feel welcome, to help with depression, or any other reason churches implore you to “try Jesus”.

      By the way the verses you offered do not support the idea in which you are offering them and are terribly out of context.

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      1. Just another quick point, when ever in the NT there is a record of the Apostles evangelising, they put the object of the faith (Jesus and the resurrection)over and above the faith itself. The emphasis is on “believe it because it’s true”.

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    3. Read the article, Wintery Knight. Thanks for the link. I think I agree with everything you wrote in your comment. Like I said, I don’t have any problem with the use of evidence to bolster or support our faith.

      @ John Barron, Jr.: I believe the purpose of the NT was to record what happened in Jesus’ time and teach us about God. In case I haven’t made this clear yet, I have nothing against the use of evidence or apologetics in our Christian walk. I’m just saying it’s not the end-all be-all of Christian living.

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  4. Greetings. I responded to your pingback back on my blog as to not appear to troll yours, since my reply ended up much longer than when I started.

    I appreciate the kind comments both here and there.

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  5. Not disagreeing with you, just adding a balancing view.

    Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

    Check out this sermon: http://desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/think-hard-stay-humble-the-life-of-the-mind-and-the-peril-of-pride

    It’s a bit lengthy and not apologetic material. Some parts raised my eyebrows, but other parts seriously challenged me.

    I mean, do we weep for the lost? Do we love our enemies?

    Just food for thought.

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    1. Yeah, I think this is a good point. I just think that emotions should not be manufactured just for the sake of feeling something. When I see a fatherless woman struggling to relate to men in a way that is pleasing to God, I feel something, because I have read piles of books on fatherlessness and marriage. I know perfectly well what has gone wrong, and it makes me sad. Sad enough to do something about it. Something self-sacrificial.

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  6. This post is very helpful in seeing why we desperately need more apologetics ministry. People have intellectual questions and they need answering. Christianity a factual faith, rooted in history and supported by science. We can address those questions with robust answers.

    That said, church should be more than JUST apologetics. Community is important. Let’s not knock it. Jesus commanded us to love one another and said it would be mark of us being His disciples. Our witness is to be multi-pronged. Jesus Himself addresses people’s felt needs as well as embodying Truth. WK, I am sorry that you have experienced a lack of community in the past. I hope we can change that.

    I also have a quibble with this statement:
    “The church thinks that people become Christians because they like Christianity, but I believe that people become Christians when they think Christianity is true.”

    I disagree. If thinking of facts as true were all it took, demons would be Christians.

    People become Christians when the Holy Spirit changes them fundamentally inside, regenerating them. This produces a liking for Christianity (the natural man dislikes the Gospel) and an acknowledgement of the truth of the Gospel.

    I agree that we need to be built up in our faith intellectually, to withstand the challenges life brings our way. But I also worry when you knock emotions. Jesus demands our all – and that includes our emotions. So we are to obey not only in actions, but in attitudes as well.

    To love God incorporates both the intellect and the affections. To quote John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” God is not glorified when we find our satisfaction elsewhere. God is glorified when we regard Who He is and are captivated by His excellence. It is our duty to delight in Him. When we fail to do this, we sin.

    Christianity offers us a joy and happiness which goes beyond circumstances and which makes sense even of trying circumstances. We do Him a disservice when we ignore this.

    Note that emotions and truth are not competing forces, but work together to glorify God. We are able to delight in the Gospel because it is both true and excellent.

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    1. “That said, church should be more than JUST apologetics. Community is important. Let’s not knock it. Jesus commanded us to love one another and said it would be mark of us being His disciples. Our witness is to be multi-pronged. ”

      This is correct. I have nothing against fellowship with a bunch of warriors. I just can’t stand the singing, the feelings, the happiness and the fun. I hate fun!

      Fun is only allowed with committed Christians, maybe at a formal debate or an academic conference. Otherwise, no fun!

      “If thinking of facts as true were all it took, demons would be Christians.”

      This is correct. I do think that’s it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to draw the person beyond the facts. My job is to demolish arguments (2 Cor 10:5). And I think that’s important.

      “I also worry when you knock emotions. Jesus demands our all – and that includes our emotions.”

      What are these “emotion” thingies you keep talking about? They sound… squishy. I don’t think I would like them, (if I could be moved to like anything).

      “To love God incorporates both the intellect and the affections. To quote John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” God is not glorified when we find our satisfaction elsewhere. God is glorified when we regard Who He is and are captivated by His excellence. It is our duty to delight in Him. When we fail to do this, we sin.”

      I find God… comforting because he is perfect and also worthy of obedience and worship. Sometimes, he is a bit frustrating because I find him unpredictable. However, other times he thwarts me and then I learn later why I was thwarted. Or I find myself saying brilliant things and employing amazingly sneaky strategies that I only make sense of much later (and I do take credit for them). I guess what I mean by worship is not “having feelings while singing about how Jesus is my boyfriend and I can do any bad thing I want while trying to be happy in a worldly way like my non-Christian girlfriends and ignore the moral law and yet still get forgiveness without having any moral obligations in the relationship”. What I mean by worship is ascribing worth to God, like when i talk about the habitability argument and I say to non-Christians “look how much work God put into making a wonderful place for you to live – dangerous and filled with adventures, with lots of pain and suffering for you to learn from and alleviate, as you grow in knowledge of God and obedience to him”. You know – saying things in public that make God look good to people who don’t necessarily want to hear a bunch of Chrisitanese mumbo-jumbo.

      “Christianity offers us a joy and happiness which goes beyond circumstances and which makes sense even of trying circumstances. We do Him a disservice when we ignore this.
      Note that emotions and truth are not competing forces, but work together to glorify God. We are able to delight in the Gospel because it is both true and excellent.”

      I feel… normal. All my circuits are functioning… normally.

      Now don’t freak out.

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      1. “I have nothing against fellowship with a bunch of warriors. I just can’t stand the singing, the feelings, the happiness and the fun. I hate fun!

        Fun is only allowed with committed Christians, maybe at a formal debate or an academic conference. Otherwise, no fun!”

        You’re a real bundle of joy, aren’t you? ;-P No, I’m not encouraging frivolity. But you say singing is bad. What about all the biblical injunctions to *rejoice* in the LORD, to sing and make music to Him? What about King David dancing and singing before the LORD? What about Acts 16:25: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” That’s right, they weren’t sitting stoically and looking miserable to impress the other prisoners with how godly they were in their misery. They were singing!!

        You’re not being Biblical.

        “I do think that’s it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to draw the person beyond the facts. My job is to demolish arguments (2 Cor 10:5). And I think that’s important.”

        So do I. But it’s not the ONLY thing that’s important.

        “What are these “emotion” thingies you keep talking about? They sound… squishy. I don’t think I would like them, (if I could be moved to like anything).”

        They’re God-given, so you ought to learn to like them – squishy and all. ;-)

        “I feel… normal. All my circuits are functioning… normally.”

        Good. Hopefully the Tin Man will get his heart soon. :)

        “Now don’t freak out.”

        [proceeds to FREAK OUT]
        Kidding…

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        1. I think I understand Wintery’s wall against the mainstream charismatic “worship” that is done by Christians in church. The church I grew up in, people would jump, run, do cartwheels, shake and run the pews (yeah, it’s true) and then the next day or maybe even after service, the same people would slander, gossip, and ridicule others…there was no change in these person’s character.

          So, naturally, I see no point in acting that way in church. How does doing such things glorify God? I know it’s all in the heart, but if a person acts crazier than people do at hardcore shows and say it’s for God, but then writes notes during the teaching and gossips, tells perverted jokes…you see what I mean?

          Again, I can’t say how a person should worship, but the charismatic worship is generally what keeps non-christians from church (just like what Paul described in Corinthians). I think heart worship is truer than any action we could ever perform.

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  7. I can totally empathize with the person that wrote that article. I seen so much hypocrisy in the church I grew up in and seen on TV, I didn’t want any part of Christianity so I put on the deist glasses and that’s how I viewed God; as a creator and nothing more.

    What brought me out was finally visiting a church with my family, and that church was actually different. No, they weren’t apologetically sound, but they’re pure and spend money on feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless in their community! Now, that’s something, a church helping the locals in the community? Really? Yeah, it’s true.

    Also, the youth group and older folks strive for excellence in a pure Christian life. The churches I attended growing up, the youth and older folks would abstain from cussing, doing drugs, and alcoholism, but their speech would be as perverted as the non-Christian and they would also slander and gossip just as much. No, everyone isn’t perfect in the church I mentioned above that changed my view of Christians, but the core group of the church strive for a pure Christian life.

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  8. Oh, I forgot to mention that if the church (I’m speaking of churches across the U.S.) would focus on the local community, then the Government wouldn’t have to help out the homeless and hungry. It’s just a thought.

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  9. My problem with the author and those like him is their abdication of responsibility. Where does he talk about his own search for what Christianity means? Maybe I missed it, but it seems as if he bases all on things that have nothing to do with the teachings of the Bible. Too many look at church and church life as if it is to do something for them, to lift them up (and it can), to help give their lives meaning (and it can), to teach them all the details of the faith (and while it can, it’s not realistic to to expect that it can or ever will). At some point, each of us must dive in on our own, read Scripture, then read some scholarly works or,as WK suggests, listen to debates and lectures. Why wait for it to be handed to you only to reject it when it doesn’t satisfy? Go out and learn it.

    As to hypocrisy in the churches, I would caution those that feel this is too common that such a belief suggests the speaker is perfect in his own manifestation of Christian teaching. Rather than hypocrisy, I believe what is seen is merely imperfect people imperfectly living their faith.

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    1. That’s true. Actually on his blog, he talks about how he would prefer Christians to be more inclusive, but whether we can grant that really depends. We can be nice to PEOPLE while till disagreeing with them about things. I think he may want approval, and we can’t give him that if he’s talking about some particular sin. The best we can do there is to disagree nicely and state what facts we can that show why we don’t accept something. For example, I don’t accept no-fault divorce, and I can make a case that it harms children using statistical data.

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    2. Marshall,
      I confess I had a similar reaction as you when I read the above article. I get that there are some churches that do terrible things but this is no excuse for someone to “walk away” from God.

      Further, his critique of his church not helping the local poor is a bit ironic. Here he was a member of a church seeing someone in need and seemingly doing nothing about it himself! It’s not up to the pastor to locate every poor person and initiate a ministry to help.

      His critique of modern worship music makes it sound like nothing would please him except U2 or Johnny Cash leading worship. Some churches just don’t have musical people. Christ still builds his church and uses the abilities of his people though.

      Anyways, I don’t want to minimize everything he said or felt. I actually agree that the teaching in some churches is just weak. Probably some pastors out there shouldn’t be pastors. But church members shouldn’t just expect that every church has got it together and that they deserve to be spoon-fed the answers to the toughest questions. Get out there and learn it!

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      1. Yeah, I really didn’t care about any of those complaints since we can’t really fix that. I was more concerned about his response to the apologetics conference. I think that people minimize the unanswered questions that people have and Christians need to do a better job of preparing answers.

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    3. What responsibility did I abdicate? I grew up attending church and my exposure to Christianity is part of my life experience. I walked away around the age of 18.

      I lost faith completely. The Bible wasn’t a place I went to because it was synonymous with my bad experience. To this day I am not convinced it is the literal word of God and the source of all knowledge.

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      1. Don’t worry Keith, I’m not upset with you. I understand completely, and I would not assume the Bible at all in anything I would say to you. I totally understand what you are saying about church and the Bible. I have had sightly different experiences because I WAS a Christian and struggling to get the church to get serious about answering your questions without assuming inerrancy.

        A lot of Christians, including some of my commenters, are so steeped in Christian culture that they have trouble understanding that not everyone accepts their pre-suppositions and they have to start from public, non-Christian knowledge, like the Big Bang, the fine-tuning, the origin of DNA, etc. I think Marshall was wondering if it would have been possible to look into apologetics yourself, without the support of the church. Like I did.

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          1. For me, I was reading C.S. Lewis in my teens and we brought out William Lane Craig to debate at my university when I was an undergrad. (I have a BS and MS in computer science). While we were planning the debate, my friends and I would be watching Craig’s old debates and taking turns practicing Craig’s opening speech entirely from memory. We would also be quizzing each other on why God allows evil to happen to people and why there are so many religions and what about those who never heard the gospel. This was all normal for us. We liked puzzling these things out. I remember the day I stumped our mathematics professor on actual vs. potential infinity and infinite time in class. One of our team was sitting right next to me. This is what we liked to do. We liked to understand and take our arguments out on the field. We were fearless. The trouble was, we faced massive opposition from the university chaplain, the campus clubs and local churches. That’s why I don’t like the church. If you want to take some more steps, try watching the Craig-Crossley debate and the Craig-Dacey debate on Youtube. That will help you. Almost all the Christian apologists I know got their start by watching Bill Craig debate.

            From the core team of 5 apologists who worked with me in university, 4 of us went on to get our Masters degrees and one has a PhD in Physics. We were all inspired to do our best academically. I have not given up on a PhD in computer science, but I want to be able to PAY for it without taking out loans.

            Here:
            Craig-Dacey at Purdue: Does God Exist?
            http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=BA8DC00322DBB639&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&v=xcfwq3GNjOU

            Craig-Crossley at Sheffield: Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?
            http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=WJpeJJlCK-U

            Regarding books, you want these:
            On Guard, by William Lane Craig
            True for You But Not For Me, by Paul Copan
            The Case for a Creator, by Lee Strobel

            I also think J.P. Moreland is a bit weird, by the way. I agree with your assessments of the speakers. By the way, most of the best Christian apologists today are old Earth, so don’t feel obligated to be a young-earther. I am an old-earth person but I doubt that natural forces alone can create the first living cell or even change one body plan into another. I’m open-minded about both of those things, though.

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  10. Tom: While U2 would be great, Johnny Cash would be better since he’s dead, but only if he did “Come Take a Trip On My Airship”. But I digress.

    I left the church at 18 AFTER I tried to make changes and get help for this lady. I was planning on going to seminary and had been probably the most radical member of that little Southern Baptist church. In retrospect, I could have done more for her, but I was a stupid teenager with apparently stupid ideas of how things work.

    As for now, I don’t really want a show. In fact, modern worship doesn’t appeal to me at all. Singing hymns and/or singing along to canned worship music isn’t my thing. I personally don’t like the format of worship services. I have an aversion to them. That does not mean I cannot seek out spiritual reconciliation. If I wasn’t trying to find something, I wouldn’t have gone to the conference. However, my life experiences have me questioning the fundamentals. For instance, I don’t think I walked away from God. As I wrote, I feel as if he left me.

    I’m just trying to figure it out.

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  11. Keith, I think it’s fantastic that you’re investigating apologetics! You won’t regret it. It’s a wonderful adventure. The more I come into contact with material from good apologists, the more I want to read their stuff. I wish I could take a sabbatical of sorts from my regular job and read this sort of thing all day. That and good theology. *wistful sigh*

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    1. I’ve seen Mary in action. I was explaining her latest exploits to an atheist co-worker today at lunch, and I described it as a ballet dancer bull-fighting.

      The other thing that is really interesting and fulfilling is self-sacrificial love. If you can find someone who is interested in being a better Christian and help them to do it on a one-on-one basis, it’s enormously fulfilling.

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  12. Wintery, I’m afraid that you have it all wrong. As much as Jesus Christ stressed the importance of faith dispite lack of evidence, you seem convinced that one must use facts instead of faith. Faith is important because it is the bookmark that holds one in place until they progress further into the book of knowledge. To say that Christianity is all about knowledge is to disregard the younger Christians who have not yet gained complete evidence supporting their faith.

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    1. “As much as Jesus Christ stressed the importance of faith dispite lack of evidence…”

      Really? I don’t recall that. I have an inkling that you may be referring to his response to Thomas in John 20:29:
      Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

      Yes, those who have not seen (us) are blessed. But we are not without evidence. That is why we have been given the eyewitness testimony of the disciples. The Apostle John says to his reader in the *very next 2 verses* to the one quoted above:
      Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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  13. I disagree with a lot of what you’ve said here but I am afraid I can’t write all that I want to say write now. For now, I am just glad Mary is handling you. I hope my bro would just give back the network cable soon.

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  14. Okay. Now this is a little embarrassing that I brother let me do what I wanted to do this quick.

    Anyway, where do you get off with all your generalizations WK? What’s with all the ‘Church says…’ bulletin points? That’s your opinion and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a fact at all times. I am not disagreeing that there are churches who have lost primary focus on Christianity is all about and who only care about happy feelings and being nice. BUT that doesn’t justify you making such sweeping statements. Where do you think MY interest in apologetics came from? That’s right, it came from my church. My church which set the fire burning in my heart about such a wonderful and intriguing God. She taught me His mercy, she taught me His glory and she taught me to be intrigued and fascinated in Him that she nudged to go learn the truth about Him and happy proclaim all that I’ve learned about everybody I know. Of course, I did sing not because I felt happy about it but because I knew I was making God happy. My church taught me taught me that Christianity is about about doing things God commanded me to do which INCLUDES praising, worshiping, glorifying my creator along with learning and proclaiming the truth about Him to the whole world. And I do think I am practicing Christ’s version of Christianity, not your version which is perfectly fine with me. This isn’t about me but I am sorry that I don’t take kindly to you insulting my church simply based on your limited observations.

    You recently said that the reasons for you not going to church was emotional? Aren’t you the same one who mocks emotions when it comes from other people? What gives, WK?

    As for your dislike to singing, Mary mentions a lot of people doing it in the Bible. But she missed one *very* important person. Jesus sang too, remember? Matthew 26:30? It’s okay if you don’t like it and don’t want to do it. But you don’t have to mock everybody who does that because God most certainly made it clear *HE* likes it. That’s good enough for me.

    Church is good for apologetics WK, no doubt about that. But it’s also good for a lot many things because our God is not one dimensional. Remember He warns us against using the tactic to preach Gospel to everyone? It doesn’t work like that and He in His infinite wisdom knows that. You cannot bring Jesus to some uneducated tribesman in my country by starting off with apologetic. The best place to start to bringing Jesus to them is through mercy. Love is a language everyone understands. You can’t treat a toddler and a scholar alike. You should know that by now!

    And I’ve made this argument before and I am making it again. Remember the post you made about how wives should submit to husbands whether they like it or not because they made that promise in marriage? Well we are Christ’s bride too, and there are a few things God desires of us and whether we like it or not we should oblige Him because we make a promise to Him when we become Christians? Why is it okay for your emotions to trump God’s desires but a woman’s is not? That’s blatant hypocrisy right there WK!! Please don’t be the like the Pharisee who is mentioned in Luke 18:9-14. I know you are better than that but spiritual pride is a deadly trap.

    Remember Jesus says He is humble in spirit. So should we His disciples be. In the same passage He offers love and rest. He’s a Lord of unconditional love AND infinite wisdom. In your quest to proclaim Him the ultimate judge don’t underwhelm His love. They are equally powerful and equally present. My church teaches me that. I am sorry your church didn’t do it for you but that’s no justification for the judgement you’ve passed. I am disappointed.

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    1. Zephaniah 3:


      14 Sing, Daughter Zion;
      shout aloud, Israel!
      Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
      Daughter Jerusalem!
      15 The LORD has taken away your punishment,
      he has turned back your enemy.
      The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you;
      never again will you fear any harm.
      16 On that day
      they will say to Jerusalem,
      “Do not fear, Zion;
      do not let your hands hang limp.
      17 The LORD your God is with you,
      the Mighty Warrior who saves.
      He will take great delight in you;
      in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
      but will rejoice over you with singing.”

      God sings! :)

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  15. The only other thing I would add (sort of along the same lines as Adam) is that it is possible to please God without knowledge (e.g., if you are a mentally retarded Christian), but it not possible to please God without faith (or love, IMHO). So again, knowledge as a means to knowing God, but not knowledge as an end in itself. And again, I totally appreciate (and respect) those people like William Craig who spend a lot of time in apologetics. I think that is important.

    Thanks for the post!

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  16. Oh yes, if I may make two more comments:

    1. I think God speaks to some people more through their mind, and others more on an emotional or spiritual level. So He might use apologetics to save a Harvard professor where He might not use the same method to draw a starving mother in Paraguay to Himself.

    2. Ever notice how much Jesus used parables and analogies in His teaching? I think that’s at least partly because a lot of societies don’t place nearly as much of a premium on logic/evidence-based reasoning as we do here in the West. E.g., in China/Taiwan (where my parents are from), the emphasis is often a lot more on reasoning by analogy, which may sound unconvincing to us (coming from a Western perspective), but not to them.

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    1. It’s good point, but the starving mother in Paraguay doesn’t have to live in a culture with all of the challenges we’ll face, both intellectually and from temptations.

      Besides, I am more arguing that every Christian should improve their skills because their neighbors are educated. One of our commenters that I just sent some books too explained it well. She said that some people who don’t believe (in the West) have engineer-minds and they wants facts and arguments. Even if the believer believes without facts and arguments, the facts and arguments are needed to deal with the engineer-minds who don’t believe. It’s not fun. It’s service.

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