I try to encourage my Christian friends to study topics related to the Christian worldview, and to make connections between the Christian worldview and topics like economics, science, politics, etc. I want them to have deep conversations with non-Christians. Well, I just noticed that Laura, who writes at An Affair With Reason, started a series of posts about her experiences having these conversations.
She has two posts so far. In the first, she provides an introduction to the series:
By the grace of God, an ordinary day for me includes at least one significant spiritual conversation. The conversations are spontaneous, and the people I talk to are those I come across in the mundane activities of life: construction workers I see while walking my dog, neighbors out mowing their lawn, CrossFit coaches and athletes, my husband’s coworkers, the pest control man, the UPS man, the woman at the grocery store, and the customer service representative who took my call.
[…]Because spiritual conversations are so fun for me, I enjoy sharing them with others. People ask me often, “How did you get into that conversation?” and “How does this happen to you nearly every single day?”
In one sense these conversations do “happen to me” in that I don’t plan them, but it would be far more accurate to say that I create these conversations by living my life in a way that causes me to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks me for a reason for the hope that is in me, and then paying attention for opportunities to get a foot in the door. Hence, many people have suggested that I publicly share what I’m doing with others so that they may benefit from practical, real life examples of conversations that they may seek to emulate in their own lives.
I’m so delighted with this, because I am always urging my Christian friends to read more, listen to more podcasts, and watch more debates, so that they are equipped to have these sorts of adventures.
Laura posted the first conversation in the series, with her previous pastor:
For two years I had tried to persuade my pastor to allow me to teach a small group or conference on apologetics. I set up appointments so he and his staff could get to know me. I shared my background and experiences, gave them opportunities to ask me questions, and even offered references from other churches where I had taught. I offered to show videos and facilitate discussions on the teachings of well-known apologists like Greg Koukl, Frank Turek, and J. Warner Wallace so the church leadership wouldn’t need to worry about platforming a heretic, and I shared my blog so they could see my work for themselves. Several months later, the entire church leadership admitted they had not read my blog and probably never would.
Over the next couple of years I continued to offer to introduce apologetics to our congregation through any format deemed appropriate, but nothing came of it. Eventually, my husband was relocated and our pastor, along with a dozen others, helped us load our moving truck in exchange for pizza, soda, and one last evening of fellowship.
During our conversation, as we were sitting on the empty floor, eating pizza on paper plates and drinking soda from plastic cups, my pastor mentioned that he frequently visited a certain coffee shop in the area that was very unfriendly to Christianity. The owners even had a sign on the wall that said, “No crazy talk”, which they had made clear included talk of Jesus, miracles, and the gospel. I commented that it seemed like the ideal place to share truth with people who needed to hear it, and I asked if that had been his experience.
“How do you even begin to discuss those things in an environment where the gospel isn’t welcome,” he replied.
“Personally, I would go with the Cosmological Argument, but you could always share the Teleological Argument. If you’re talking to college students, though, I’d definitely look for opportunities to share the Moral Argument. Young people seem to relate most to that line of reasoning,” I said.
“Sorry, what did you say,” he asked, as if I had just begun speaking in tongues in front of his Presbyterian congregation.
“The Cosmological Argument,” I repeated.
“And the Teleological Argument”
“Teleo-what,” he asked quizzically.
“It means having a purpose or a design,” I explained.
“So how would you go about sharing these arguments with non-Christians,” he asked.
It was getting late and we were all exhausted, but this was important. This is what I had wanted to share for two straight years. I looked at my watch and told them I needed four minutes per argument in order to explain adequately. I was given the green light, and for the next twelve minutes I summarized for my pastor and about ten others what I had not been able to share with the congregation.
So she doesn’t really spend much time describing the conversation, because that’s not what this series is about. You can ask her for book recommendations if you want to handle it like she did. But the rest of the post explains why she prepared to have this conversation, and what pastors can do to equip people in the church to have these conversations.
This is not the first time I’ve linked to her, I also did here for her post about apologetics and here for her post about talking to Muslims. What I like about her is that she has a mature view of the Christian life that I really respect. When I read her writing, I can tell that she is not involved in Christianity to feel good or to be liked. She has a goal in mind, and she has done hard things to be prepared to reach it.
I have also tried to get apologetics into the church. I normally try to bring in the Focus on the Family True U DVDs, which feature Dr. Stephen C. Meyer. Without success. In my experience, pastors tend to not really understand challenges to Christianity, or they don’t know how to respond to them, or they just don’t want people in the church to get upset by having to do work. Read the rest of Laura’s post to get her solution to the problem.
9 thoughts on “A new series of posts about the adventures of an effective Christian woman”
If she thinks it is difficult to get them to open up to apologetics, imagine what it would be like if she asked them to regularly go intercede for the babies at the local child sacrifice center.
It is not terribly sad that the pastor and elders did not KNOW apologetics, but the worst part is that they weren’t even open to it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yes, like how can you even profess Christianity and have no answer for people to deny core truth claims like God exists?
For two years I had tried to persuade my pastor to allow me to teach a small group or conference on apologetics.
Hmmmm, possible red flag here. Teaching apologetics to whom? I hope she doesn’t plan on her audience being a mixed sex one.
I think given her qualifications, she absolutely should teach a mixed audience.
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:12 KJV
Seems pretty clear to me.
I can guarantee you that Laura knows more about apologetics than you do. So it just comes down to whether you have humility to learn or not.
I can learn Java programming from a female professor, and go into an office building and be paid to program based on what she taught me.
I do think that there is a danger that women are more like to alter doctrine to appease family or community, but Laura doesn’t teach doctrine, she teaches apologetics. If you read her post, she recommends resources by experts.
I think Paul is talking about women pastors there, and I would agree with you on that.
I will say this. Laura seems to have escaped the traditional weaknesses of women about people pleasing and avoiding conflict. I’ve read her material, and her tone is about as close to pugilistic as you can get, while still remaining in compliance with 1 Peter 3:15-16.
My experience in a lot of churches is that a lot of pastors are trying to not get fired.
Because in many churches teaching truth and the Bible is a fast path to being fired from the job. So many pastors make a lot of compromises to keep an income
By the way, not that I’d advocate every small group or church do it this way, but one such way into apologetics is https://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/the-truth-project/
“The Truth Project”
Lesson 1 Veritology: What Is Truth?
Lesson 2 Philosophy and Ethics: Says Who?
Lesson 3 Anthropology: Who Is Man?
Lesson 4 Theology: Who Is God?
Lesson 5 Science: What Is True?
Lesson 6 History: Whose Story?
Lesson 7 Sociology: The Divine Imprint
Lesson 8 Unio Mystica: Am I Alone?
Lesson 9 The State: Whose Law?
Lesson 10 The American Experiment
Lesson 11 Labor: Created to Create
Lesson 12 Community & Involvement: God Cares; Do I?
There are of course other curricula and approaches. Right after 9/11/2000, my church sponsored a semester-long series on “What is Islam?” and the main teacher was long-time missionary in North Africa turned director of training for Arab World Mission, Paul Martindate. (He retired last year.)
Since then, he’s taught at the local seminary:
AP/WM 647 Introduction to Islam
WM 648 Church Planting in Muslim Contexts
WM 628 Christian Approaches to Islam
AP/WM 747 Critical Issues in the Christian
Mission to Muslims
WM 725 The Theology of Islam and its
Implications for Ministry to Muslims
WM 726 Ministry to Folk Muslims
The following Fall, I did a different form of apologetics, “World Religions from a Christian Perspective.” We had subject experts speak on those topics (including Dr. Martindale, but also a Messianic Jew, former Hindu, former agnostic-humanist, etc.)
There are certain opportunities and one has to grasp the opportunities as they come.
My old senior pastor liked to work in apologetics, although he never called it out as such. For instance, he had a sermon series on “What are questions you might get about your Christian faith, and how to answer them” (ranging from things like Hell, who deserves to go to Heaven, what good is Christianity, etc.) Or he would answer various challenges like in his sermon series on John, which started in Fall 2005, he addressed Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (which came out in March 2003).
I suspect that if you advertise something is apologetics, it does have a certain draw for a specific crowd. I suspect my (now retired) senior pastor snuck in apologetics kind of like eating vegetables, “it’s good for you — even if I don’t tell you that’s on the menu.”
LikeLiked by 1 person