Can a person be a committed Christian while ignoring apologetics?

I would like to describe a situation that arises frequently that concerns me. The situation I describe below brings out a flaw I see in the way that rank-and-file Christians respond to criticisms of Christianity in the public square.

Here is the situation

Eve is busy programming away at her desk, rushing to check in her unit tests so she can spend her lunch hour reading the latest Stephenie Meyer novel, or check on the schedule for her local sports team, “the Vicariouses” (she has tickets for Thursday). Suddenly Eve hears Alice talking to Bob on the other side of her cubicle. She stops typing to listen to the following unencrypted conversation.

Alice: I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel last night that said that the universe has always existed, so there is no God!

Bob: I was watching a documentary on PBS last night showing simulations of how the first life started on Earth! God didn’t do it!

Alice: I saw “Inherit the Spin” on the weekend! The only reason people oppose evolution is because of the Bible! Not because of science!

Bob: I’m going to see “The Va Dinci Code” this weekend! It says that the Gospels are unreliable and that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross!

Alice: I just bought the latest Dichard Rawkins book “Christians Should Be Fed to Lions and the Bible Should Be Burned”!

Bob: I will read that as soon as I finish Histopher Chritchens’ book “Why God is the Evilest, Stupidest Person in the World”!

Eve double-majored in business and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, and has an MBA from the London School of Economics. She has spent a ton of time, effort and money studying very difficult subjects for her job, and she even publishes research papers. She works full-time and runs her own business part-time, and teaches night classes for a well-known university. She earns about 200K per year. She lives in a huge house, drives an expensive car, and goes on vacation abroad to all the best vacation spots.

Eve thinks she is a Christian. She has attended church since childhood, her husband is a church elder and she sings in the church choir. She reads the Bible and prays every night, because it helps her to get sleepy before bed. She gives lots of money to the poor. She teaches Sunday school to very small children.  She has even read all of the Narnia novels five times! She even has a calendar filled with nature scenes and itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Bible verses posted on her office wall at work! Judging from all of these facts, you might expect Eve to get in on that conversation with Alice and Bob, and set them straight.

But she won’t. Why not?

Why won’t Eve stand?

I am wondering if anyone can explain to me why it is that most church Christians are not able or not willing to make a public defense when God’s reputation is called into question. It seems to me that there are two bad effects that follow from Eve’s unwillingness to stand up and invite Alice and Bob to lunch so that she can address their questions and concerns.

  1. God’s reputation is being trashed by Alice and Bob on the basis of lies they’ve swallowed from pop culture. These lies about God’s existence and character could be easily corrected with a minimal amount of study, which Eve is capable of – she is a genius and has amazing entrepreneurial skills.  If someone said similar lies about her husband or children, she would speak up, but she won’t speak up for God.
  2. Alice and Bob are bound for Hell unless someone cares enough to correct their mistaken beliefs, which, along with their sinfulness, is what is keeping them from a relationship with God that would go on in Heaven. If Eve’s husband or children were mistakenly about to drink poison thinking it was Aspirin, then Eve would speak up. But to save her co-workers from Hell, she won’t speak up.

Eve is capable of studying to defend the faith, because of her great success in other areas where so much time and effort were required to master difficult material. So why has she not applied herself to answering public challenges to her Christian faith from her professors, teachers, actors, the media, politicians, scientists, historians, etc.? She’s heard these questions about God’s existence and character all through high school and into university and then now in her career. Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to prepare a defense? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to acknowledge God before men? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says that all authentic believers in Jesus will suffer a little for their faith?

It seems to me that if she did spend some time studying, and then made her defense to her co-workers, then two good things would follow:

  1. Eve would be demonstrating her love for God and her friendship with God by protecting his reputation when it is called into question by unbelievers in public settings. That’s what friends do – if Eve wanted to be God’s friend, she would care that no one believed lies about him and told lies about him in public settings.
  2. Eve would be demonstrating her love for her neighbor if she was able to correct some of these false beliefs, such as that the universe is eternal, or that a historical case cannot be made for the resurrection, or that evil is not compatible with theism. It’s important for Alice and Bob to know that Christianity is not stupid.

So why is it that Eve is able to go to church for 20 years, sing in the choir, read the Bible, read the Narnia stories, pray on her knees, and yet still be unwilling to do the best thing for God and the best thing for her neighbor?

Questions for my readers

Can anyone help me to understand why Christians are willing to accept this? Why is this not being addressed by churches?

Do you have an experience where a Christian group stifled apologetics? Tell me about that, and why do you think they would do that, in view of the situation I outlined above? My experience is that atheists (as much as I tease them) are FAR more interested in apologetics than church Christians – they are the ones who borrow books and debates, and try to get their atheist wives to go to church after they becomes interested in going to church. Why is that?

I’m not saying we all have to be geniuses. I am just saying that we should put as much effort into learning apologetics as we put into learning school stuff and work stuff.

Note: I picked these names because there is a running gag in computer network security where these names are used to describe the actors. Eve is the eavesdropping hacker, get it?

I’m not the only one who is concerned

Christopher Copan Scott commiserates on Facebook:

On several occasions while bringing up the importance of apologetics for not only the individual believer, but the church as a whole, I am instantly responded with an improper definition of faith that somehow excludes reason, and thus apologetics should not be used.

Or, some may respond that the use of apologetics shows that we (those who advocate for the use of apologetics) value man’s word over God’s (that’s probably the funniest claim out of the bunch).

Few do express a spark of interest, yet seldom act upon it. These people respond enthusiastically initially, but never attempt to involve themselves in reading, listening to debates, or actually downloading the podcasts I recommend, etc.

Lastly, I do find myself enjoying dialogue, at times, with atheists more than Christians. This is especially true when it comes to philosophical matters, since most Christians I converse with simply don’t care for philosophy.

Now, why is this so?

The reasons are manifold.

For one, (as Moreland talks about) the church is filled with empty selves. Christians desire that which entertains them, and have difficulty being able to reflect deeply on abstract ideas. So they would readily delve into sensational books, then read something that challenges them and takes careful thought.

Also, I think Christians often equate disagreement with hostility. It’s almost as if once one disagrees about a certain proposition, then you are therefore cantankerous and want to break the unity. Thus, in order to preserve this (facade of) unity, Christians wont allow rational disagreement.

For these reasons and many more, I’m genuinely anxious about how the different bible studies at my future college will be. In spite of my attempts to kindly and respectfully disagree on certain points during dialogue with Christians, my motives are often misinterpreted and Im labeled as the argumentative kid who thinks too much.

Okay, Im done.

I’m not the only one who is suffering with these experience, it seems.

22 thoughts on “Can a person be a committed Christian while ignoring apologetics?”

  1. “I am wondering if anyone can explain to me why it is that most church Christians are not able or not willing to make a public defense when God’s reputation is called into question.”

    Hm, this might be your experience, but it’s not my experience.

    Also I don’t know what you mean by “church Christians.” Most Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians are church Christians in the sense that they attend church. But I don’t necessarily think most of them are genuine Christians.

    Most evangelical Christians are likewise church Christians. At the same time most evangelical Christians are into a more theologically superficial Christianity than I’m accustomed to. As such, it’s possible most church Christians aren’t as mature as what I’ve seen elsewhere. This fact could in turn be a possible explanation to your query.

    “So why is it that Eve is able to go to church for 20 years, sing in the choir, read the Bible, read the Narnia stories, pray on her knees, and yet still be unwilling to do the best thing for God and the best thing for her neighbor?”

    The fact that Eve knows and does all the items you listed doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a bona fide Christian. I don’t see where the Bible equates a person’s salvation with their knowledge of Christianity, years spent in church, actions such as prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, love for Christian fiction like Narnia, etc. In fact, it could be that because Eve was born into a Christian home, she never thought to examine herself and test herself to see whether she’s truly in the faith. Whether she truly has repented and trusted in Christ alone. Or whether it’s more of a “I’m a Christian because I grew up in a Christian family,” as if she were really trusting to her upbringing or her family or something along those lines. Not Christ. However John 1:13 notes that genuine Christians aren’t born “of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man.” Hence a person can be very devout to all appearances but still dead in sin and not alive in Christ.

    Or if she is a genuine Christian, we don’t necessarily think because she does these things that she’s a mature Christian. Maturity isn’t identical to knowledge, years attending church, prayer, Bible reading, regular church attendance, love for Christian fiction like Narnia, etc. In fact, some otherwise genuine Christians die in the faith as immature Christians. It’s possible.

    Or perhaps there are unseen issues in her life. Perhaps she’s suffering in life. Maybe she has a chronic disease. Or she was diagnosed with cancer. Or she lost a loved one. Or she’s lonely despite her seemingly happy marriage. Or whatever. I’ve known many Christians who I’ve thought seemed perfectly happy and healthy when I first met them. Or even after being acquainted with them for a long while. But when I got to know them on a personal and more intimate level, I realized how much pain and suffering they must be experiencing in their lives. If this is the case with Eve, it could effect her emotionally and more. For some people suffering could draw them into themselves. Make them not want to socialize or interact with others.

    Or perhaps she’s simply an introvert. Shy. A reflective type. More comfortable in one-to-one situations. So it’d be hard for her to engage two people. Particularly two atheists.

    Not to mention it might be hard for her to engage a male as a female. Maybe if it were only Alice alone, she’d be fine. But since Bob is there, it changes the dynamics a bit. I find many if not most married conservative Christian women tend to be (rightly) more discrete about their relationships with other men who aren’t family or close friends.

    Besides, who knows? Maybe Eve will approach Alice a bit later once Alice is on her own. Who’s to say she won’t?

    “My experience is that atheists (as much as I tease them) are FAR more interested in apologetics than church Christians – they are the ones who borrow books and debates, and try to get their atheist wives to go to church after they becomes interested in going to church. Why is that?”

    My experience is the opposite. I find most atheists I speak to would rather be left alone than engage in apologetical issues.

    Although online it’s an entirely different game. I find most atheists online are interested in apologetics in a superficial sense but not in a deep sense. They’re not interested in an actual intellectual exchange of ideas. A reasonable back and forth debate. Rather they’re simply interested in vehemently bashing Christians over the head with their atheism.

    Back to reality. In the real world I find most Christians I know are the ones buying and borrowing books. Listening to debates. Inviting others to debates. In fact I know Christians who don’t so much as have a college education yet I find them far more intellectually informed about all sorts of apologetical issues than most atheists I know.

    By the way, with all due respect, I think you may be overly focused on correlating genuine Christian piety (“committed Christian”) with a willingness to employ intellectual arguments for Christianity. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m all for apologetics and sophisticated intellectual argumentation in defense of the faith. But I don’t see how God calls every Christian to the level of apologetic engagement you expect them to evince.

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  2. Allowing for the already-mentioned “do not assume the person is a Christian” aspect, there are some other considerations that would inhibit someone from giving a bold defense of the faith. I make no claims that the list below is complete.

    Wrong beliefs about — Christian Claims generally // the importance and urgency of believing v. not-believing // the ultimate trustworthiness of our beliefs eg: Bible or Christian claims (Thank-you Liberal Theology) // role of clergy v. rank-and-file christian (i.e. thinking only pastor/minister is sufficiently expert or qualified to discuss such matters) // some pastors actually perpetuate the view of their ability/believers’ inability to inflate their own stature in the community. To the neglect of Eph 4:11ff

    Worldly pressures — We still carry the cultural baggage of Elizabeth I’s resolution of the Catholic/Protestant tensions by making it politically incorrect to discuss politics or religion. Most cultures are not hampered by this restriction. // Making definitive truth claims in a self-consciously pluralistic society takes courage and confidence // Legacies of Pietism (moralistic diesm), Anti-intellectualism (Fideism, especially after battles lost in Academia) // Futurism (people more focused on “Left Behind” series than living consistent Christian lives) // Fatalism/apathy. (I might include people who pray with no intention of being available if God gave them practical steps to answering their petition)

    Subset of Worldly pressure is economics — Warning of Deut 8:11-13 (wealth/security can cause you to forget God) is especially relevant // “prosperity-gospel” trading a hope in Christ for a hope in wealth distorts/chokes the gospel, or displaces it entirely with idolatry. Such people ‘witness’ with a bait-and-switch: come to Jesus and he’ll make life sweeter because he’ll improve your situation (health/marriage/job/addiction/sense of personal worth… blah blah blah)

    Confidence — some people simply don’t know how to start. (Greg Koukl’s “Tactics” book very useful here), or they think that not having all the answers disqualifies them, or that they have to meet some arbitrary benchmark of christian maturity before they can do so. // Misunderstanding the responsibility of our obedience with the Holy Spirit’s responsibility for outcome.

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    1. Regarding the economics. This is something that most people don’t even think about because they are not thinking about the practical side of Christian living.

      Whenever I give advice to Christians, I advise them to study things that will allow them to earn a lot, then I advise them to spend very little and save as much as they can. It helps them to be able to deal with crises, and to be able to share with others. For example, you can buy apologetics books for people. Life is practical. Having more of your own money helps you to avoid being tempted to abandon God if things get tough financially.

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  3. Additionally — I have been in churches of both stripes, ones that engage this way, and others that do not. I think the culture created in the church by the leadership is important in fostering a willingness in the congregation to do so.

    Also, I have noticed that groups that have a more seeker-sensitive attitude tend to shun doctrine because (they think) that ‘doctrine divides’. This would seriously handicap their ability to engage many important issues, or to truly ground them in Scripture.

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  4. Paul wrote in Titus the qualifications of elders and overseers (I think the same qualifications should be for all Christians):

    “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

    For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”

    Then in Paul’s second letter to the corinthians:

    “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”

    Christians need to be prepared to do such things as refuting arguments raised against Christianity. (with gentleness and respect of course!)

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    1. A committed Christian is a person who reads the Bible, tests it to find out whether it is true (e.g. – science and history), studies the world to find out how the world works (e.g. – economics and moral issues), then thinks about how to apply what the Bible teaches to every area of their lives as part of an ongoing, two-way, relationship with God.

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      1. How about someone who does not study or concern themselves with science, history, economics, or moral issues, but who does trust Christ as their savior and responds to God’s love by spending their life doing something that demonstrates God’s love? (feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, serving others, etc…) Would they be committed Christians?

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        1. We must ask three questions:
          1) Do they know any non-Christian people?
          2) Are they capable of purchasing a used Lee Strobel book or another basic apologetics books for $5 or so?
          3) Can they read at a high school level?

          If the answer to the first 3 questions is yes, and the person still has not developed a basic ability to do apologetics after being a Christian for some period of time, then they are not a committed Christian. That is because everyone who reads the Bible knows people who don’t accept it, and they know that Christianity is a propositional religion, and must be commended to others with reason and evidence – which is exactly what Christians in the Bible did. (E.g. – Peter in Acts 2, Peter in Acts 17, etc.)

          It’s very easy to cash out Christianity as something that we do for fun and for ease. Young Christians are especially inclined to oppose apologetics. Maybe tthey behave as Christians when they are young, in order to please our parents, or to have friends in youth group, or to have community in church, or to have emotional experiences while singing. It’s just easy for children to do before they move out to college. And then when they move out, they get new friends, new communities and new experiences (adopting atheism, feminism, secularism in order to get good grades, binge drinking, hooking-up, etc.). If you seriously expect people to retain a living and authentic faith once they are away from their parents and church, then the church learns apologetics, the pastors learn apologetics, the parents learn apologetics and the kids learn apologetics. And not just apologetics, but a comprehensive worldview, including economics, social issues, and foreign policy.

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          1. There is much you say I agree with. We do need apologetics. We do need to know our faith and be ready to give an answer. We do need to do better individually and we do need churches that teach apologetics.

            But, I also think your definitions of “committed Christian” and “apologetics” are far too narrow. There is a hint of “better-than-thou” and “they can’t be “real” Christians” to them.

            Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ toil tirelessly according to the gifts and abilities they have been given who would not meet your standard. They still defend the faith and God still uses them.

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  5. Christians are called to be “my witnesses” (Acts 1:8)
    What exactly is a witness ?
    Well, that is someone who testifies exactly what Christ has done in their life. Think of it as a witness be called forward in a court to testify of event – the truth, the whole truth of what Christ has done for them and in them ( Repentance for bad/illegal habits, bad personality traits )

    “Seasoned Christians” show real repentance and lead a overcoming life and this is seen in their actions, speech, character the nature of Christ ( ( Repentance for bad/illegal habits, bad personality traits etc)

    Btw, the New Testament/New Covenant is the “actual disciple of Jesus” and not the written books of Matt- Rev.
    Paul mentioned this in 2 Cor 3
    2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.
    3And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

    Sometimes the only bible a person will see is YOU !!!

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    1. I think that it’s a mistake to emphasis good actions and disregard truth, because even Mormons can behave nicely. Does that make Mormonism true? Of course not.

      Christianity is not a religion of good works. Good works proceed from a true worldview, but the core of the religion is truth. What matters is that Christians understand what the Bible communicates to them, what nature communicates to them, and that they are able to prove these things out as much as they can, and then intelligently implement them in their own lives.

      Furthermore, the Bible requires Christians to be ready to give an answer to unbelievers – and by this they mean a rigorous “court room” style defense of the Christian worldview. (1 Pet 3:15) Furthermore, the Bible calls on Christians to be casting down speculations that are set up against the knowledge of God. (2 Cor 10:5) Careful thinking is more basic to Christianity than personal testimonies about changed lives. Every religion has testimonies and changed lives, it doesn’t prove a thing.

      The reason we are in the mess we are in is because we focus too much on good works. We focus too much on being nice. We focus too much on being liked. We focus too much on making other people nice, without telling them the truth about God and proving those claims out. You can’t please God by doing good things without having correct beliefs about him. That’s why salvation is based on who you think God is, not what you do. Good works are performed after you are saved as part of your relationship with him, but true beliefs come first. Anyone who is capable of learning apologetics, theology, church history, etc. and does not learn those things is not focused on the center of Christianity: truth.

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  6. >>>Should Eve step into the conversation between Bob and Alice?

    Yes. However, the way you think it should be done may not be the way Eve should do it. I would argue that she is already in the conversation by her actions.

    >>>Can anyone help me to understand why Christians are willing to accept this?

    Not all Christians do accept this. Those that do are either not properly equipped or are caught captive themselves.

    >>>Why is this not being addressed by churches?

    It is being addressed in some churches. In those that it should be, but is not, it is most likely due to the same reasons; not equipped and/or caught captive to false philosophies.

    >>>Do you have an experience where a Christian group stifled apologetics?

    Individuals yes. A group? No.

    >>>Tell me about that, and why do you think they would do that, in view of the situation I outlined above?

    I think fear is their number one problem. In view of the situation above, I don’t think there is an answer, it’s too hypothetical.

    >>>My experience is that atheists (as much as I tease them) are FAR more interested in apologetics than church Christians – they are the ones who borrow books and debates, and try to get their atheist wives to go to church after they becomes interested in going to church. Why is that?

    I don’t have that experience. In fact, I’m not sure I have ever met anyone who was an actual atheist. At least not in person. I’ve met many people who said they were atheists, but after 2 minutes of conversation it turns out they are agnostic. I think the majority of people, be they atheist, theist, agnostic, or something else, do not have a strong, well thought-out worldview.

    >>>I’m not saying we all have to be geniuses. I am just saying that we should put as much effort into learning apologetics as we put into learning school stuff and work stuff.

    I think we should know what we believe and I think we should be able to defend our faith. I do not believe we are all called to be “step directly into every conversation” type apologists. One of the problems, perhaps the biggest problem, occurs before we get to the level of apologetics. 90% of people who self identify as Christians do not believe or understand even the most basic elements of the Christian faith. Pretty hard to defend what we do not understand.

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  7. WK- Context… Context
    1 Peter 3
    Always be prepared to give an answer
    -to everyone “who asks you” to give
    -the “reason for the hope that you have”.
    -But do this with “gentleness and respect”,

    I dont see “good works” as being syrupy stupid overly friendly nice while giving a “watered down” gospel ? I agree – there is no truth, money grabbing, and results in hypocritical behavior that is contrary to the scriptures.

    Are you suggesting that God is going to send a “non believer” to hell for the same behavior as a believer ?

    How bout defining “good works” per the scriptures ?

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  8. I get attacked all the time for engaging in Christian Apologetic issues. Even by other Christians. It happens often. I was even treated like a criminal once at a job interview at a United Methodist Church because I am very knowledgeable about Christian Apologetics. They said they couldnt even think of one reason why Christian Apologetics was important for their Youth Group!! I think most Christians don’t engage in Christian Apologetics because they know they will be attacked by unbelievers, as well as other Christians, and they want to be seen as “being nice.” I have often been defriended both online and offline because of this. They don’t realize that as christians we are called to defend the faith. They think keeping their friends, work relationships, families, and reputations and being seen as nice and amiable are more important than defending God.

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  9. My first exposure to apologetics was in college 35 years ago when Josh McDowell spoke at a student Campus Crusade conference. I was blown away that someone had studied the questions that bothered me (“can the Bible be reliable after so many translations through the years?” etc.) I listen to Ravi Zacharias on the radio and send him monthly support. I have a master’s degree. But can I deftly or easily defend my faith? No. I now teach junior high girls in Sunday School in a rural town and am determined that they be exposed to apologetics. They had never heard the term, as I’m sure most of their parents have not. It’s a daunting task. I keep buying apologetics books but get bogged down as it seems a master’s in philosophy is required.

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  10. Maybe the answer is simpler than you believe. Jumping into someone else’s conversation is an aggressive act. The benefit of doing that needs to be balanced against the built-in negative reaction you would get from butting into someone else’s business uninvited. Did Jesus do that? Or did he go where he was invited, in fact desired? Most Christians IMO don’t come across as having heard the absolute best news anyone could ever hear in their whole life. They come across as aggressive, self-righteous, judgmental and proselytizing. They don’t live the prescription of love God and love your neighbor as yourself, cross-correlated with the definition of love given in 1 Corinthians 13. Quite a few people also wonder why you worship a book. I know you will say you don’t, but from the outside it appears you do. And how neat that God is not, and cannot be by your doctrine, larger and more than it. Lastly, outsiders, without necessarily knowing the proper term, see Christians as Pharisaical — promulgating the law, yet forgetting that Jesus himself broke the law. “Fulfilling” is not the same as enforcing. Fulfilling the law could easily mean embodying it, and thus proving that Scripture isn’t everything. Because didn’t Jesus heal on the Sabbath? Didn’t he touch unclean people? Didn’t he stop the LEGAL stoning of the adultress? For those who know something about Christianity, your Pharisaism doesn’t make sense. Not unless the only thing you are after, like them, is saving your own hide after death. Personally, I HAVE heard the best news I could ever hear in my entire life, and my Lord Jesus is the sweetest gift I could imagine. I am so blessed! But what is preached and promulgated as Christianity today is not this. So it’s just as well your friend didn’t barge in. The Holy Spirit uses us, but I don’t think he needs our help as much as we flatter ourselves into believing. When the time is right, her reaching out and sharing would be natural, and and her sharing would reach their hearts. Eve’s second guessing and hesitating instead is a sign that maybe there’s something wrong with either the depth of her level of joy (like maybe it’s not real), or with the approach you expect of her. I applaud her for hesitating frankly. It shows that she realizes the heart is the key.

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    1. Actually, Jesus does butt into people’s business. He makes an absolute claim to their allegiance based on who he is and what he did. He speaks about eternal, active punishment in Hell for those who refuse to submit to his authority. You can just read Acts 17:31 in context if you need to brush up on what the Bible teaches about Jesus, judgment and other religions.

      Jesus went into the temple with a knotted rope and drove out the money changers. He called people who didn’t submit to his authority and believe in his claims to divinity “brood of vipers” and asked how they expected to escape judgment.

      Why quote Corinthians 13 (Paul) when there are dozens of passages on Hell spoken by Jesus? Are you picking out one verse and ignoring the dozens of threats of judgment?

      Here are two summaries of the Bible’s teaching on Hell:
      https://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/is-it-ok-to-judge-people-is-hell-a-real-place/
      http://carm.org/what-happens-those-who-have-never-heard-gospel

      Here are some useful podcasts on Hell from J Warner Wallace:
      https://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/j-warner-wallace-explains-how-a-loving-god-can-send-people-to-hell/

      And some statements from the early church fathers showing that the earlies Christians definitely believed in hell:
      http://pleaseconvinceme.com/index/What_Did_the_Early_Christians_Believe_About_Hell

      Finally, the passage about the woman being stoned for adultery is not authentic. The earliest manuscript it appears in is dated 900 A.D. – it is a late addition:
      http://bible.org/article/my-favorite-passage-that%E2%80%99s-not-bible

      Basically, I think the problem here is that you have a view of Jesus that is all in your mind, driven by your emotions and intuitions. You are projecting your personality onto Jesus, instead of reading the historical record in the Bible. You should let the facts determine your views of Jesus, instead of making yourself out to be him. No one would ever have crucified a meek and mild postmodern relativist universalist Jesus who made no claims to authority, performed no miracles and made no moral judgments.

      Read the Bible, evaluate the history, and form your views based on facts, not feelings.

      You’re certainly welcome to make up your own view over and against what Jesus believed, what’s in the Bible, and what the early church taught, but that’s the privilege of all of those who are outside of the faith. You have the freedom do decide what to do with the real Jesus – the Jesus of history. It’s up to you to decide. The normal Christian life is a life of obedience, self-sacrifice, suffering and unpopularity. The point of it is not to feel good and to be liked.

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