Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Art of Apologising

I was roped in as 'substitute speaker' yesterday at the MMU Melaka christian fellowship.

Finished work at 5pm, the car heated up at Sg Besi hiway but thank God, arrive safely at about 7.30 pm... It was quite tiring but I never felt so 'alive'. Sharing on this topic close to my heart with such a group of energetic and warm students is what I've always enjoyed doing.

Here are some notes from the sharing... I promised to show you guys this article on Asking Questions didn't I?

1 Peter 3:15-16 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Apologetics aims to give seekers or critics a reason for the faith we have in Christ. It could involve removing obstacles to faith, ‘taking the roof off’ (2 Cor 10:5) and give positive evidences.

Examples of Jesus’ chat with Samaritan woman/Sadducees and Paul in Athens… It should involve reasons of the heart also, not just intellectual arguments.

Why is it important?

1) “Faith is believing what you know ain’t true?” (Oscar Wilde) If there are reasons or proofs, where is the room for faith? If got faith, why need reasons?

Biblical faith is beyond reason, but not against reason. It is not blind faith or intellectual suicide. Faith involves knowledge, agreement and personal trust/commitment.

2) Avoid a privately engaging, publicly irrelevant religion

Is the gospel otherworldly? Or does it speak to all of life? Is it relevant to every dimension of human existence – spirit, mind, body, economics, politics etc?

When was the last time you were encouraged to think Christianly as a student of law, business, information technology or education? Demonstrate the Lordship of Christ in all things.

How To Do It?

1) Doing it in conversations. Rethinking evangelism as offering propositional facts only.
Don’t be an answering machine. Ask good questions like Jesus. Be a good listener.

2) Doing it in the context of trust, relationships and demonstration of the gospel.
The ultimate apologetics is love. Be sensitive to the real concern behind the question.

3) Three characteristics of a great ambassador for Christ universities and churches in
Malaysia today - informed, wise/tactful and winsome. Use the power of stories.

4) Seek common grounds or point of contact. Paul approvingly cites pagan philosophers!
How much do we know about Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or atheism? How do bank workers recognize counterfeits?

Some Possible Objections

1) “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy…” (Col 2:8) It’s a warning against false philosophy. The cure is good philosophy, not ‘no philosophy’.

2) Only the Holy Spirit could touch a person’s heart to believe, not arguments.
Apologetics is not a competitor of God’s work of illumination, but a way in which the Holy Spirit could use in opening peoples’ eyes. It’s like the ministry of transportation, bringing someone to a ‘place’ where they can hear the gospel.

3) Faith like a child? Jesus is talking about humility and dependence of a child, not the ignorance of a toddler.

4) The gospel is the foolishness of God… I come not with persuasive words of wisdom (1 Corinthian 1-2)

But Paul used arguments and reasoning in Acts. He is condemning the false, prideful use of reason, not against reason itself. The crucifixion is offensive to human pride. The Greek sophists spend all their time to improve speaking skills and seek to persuade people by rhetoric, not substance.


Sze Zeng said...

wow! Concise and easy to understand.

The Hedonese said...

Hehe.. This is one of the 'canned' topics which can be recycled in any setting at the drop of a hat :D