God Directed Deviations

Advent, Apologetics, Ministry, Missions, Prayer, Theology

Advent Apologetics Day #14 – The Apologetic of Prayer

Praying-TogetherIn an article titled; “Discipleship as a Craft, Church as a Disciplined Community,” Stanley Hauerwas says; 

“After many years of vain attempts to “explain” God as trinity, I now say, “Well, to begin with we Christians have been taught to pray, ‘Our father, who art in heaven. . .’” I then suggest that a good place to begin to understand what we Christians are about is to join me in that prayer.

For to learn to pray is no easy matter but requires much training, not unlike learning to lay brick. It does no one any good to believe in God, at least the God we find in Jesus of Nazareth, if they have not learned to pray. To learn to pray means we must acquire humility not as something we try to do, but as commensurate with the practice of prayer. In short, we do not believe in God, become humble and then learn to pray, but in learning to pray we humbly discover we cannot do other than believe in God.”

Ultimately, the purpose of apologetics is not to “defend our beliefs,” but to give a reasonable hope of why we hold to them.  This quote by Hauerwas is genius in that in learning how to pray becomes the path to that hope.  Imagine the power of tossing out “the sinner’s prayer,” in favor of teaching people how to pray correctly and continually.  This simple apologetics hack could change how the outside world perceives the defense of the faith. It might authenticate real opportunities for communal hope and discovery rather than entangling people as projects or programs. 

You can read the entire Hauerwas article here.

Help feed a family in need in the Ecuadorean Cloud Forest Region.  Click Here for Details.  

   

Advent, Apologetics, Christianity, Theology

Advent Apologetics Day #13 – Noble Argumentation?

goddnAn Advent Apologetic is one that is not quarrelsome but kind, able to teach, and patiently endures evil.  (2 Timothy 2:24)  It has nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; or purposefully creating environments for contention. (2 Timothy 2:23)  It’s one that does not lean towards grumbling or disruption. (Philippians 2:14)  It’s soft in response and does not feed anger.  (Proverbs 15:1)  It is not vengeful. (Romans 12:19)  It submits to those in authority, is obedient, disposed to do good, speaks evil of no one,  maintains gentleness, and practices common courtesies. (Titus 3:1-2)  It pursues peace and the building up of others. (Romans 14:19)  It is patient and kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, doesn’t insist on its own way, and is not irritable or resentful.  (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)  It doesn’t contend without fruitful purpose. (Proverbs 3:30)  It lives, breathes, and moves according to its calling. (1 Peter 2:21) It is pure, peaceable, open to reason, full of mercy, and impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)  It acts according to its nature. (James 3:9-12)  It’s timely. (Proverbs 23:9)  It is enfleshed in continued faithfulness.

I know the above paragraph is filled with subjective terms.  If you’ve ever said to someone; “you’re being arrogant, unkind, discourteous, argumentative,unimaginative,  or even ‘not speaking the truth in love,’ then you should be prepared to answer how they are being any of those things and where the sinful action is in it.  If you’re not prepared to answer those sorts of questions, then it is likely it is you who are being all of those things.  The exact opposite of an attitude of an Advent Apologetic.

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:16,16)

Many, including myself have justified argumentation as noble when it is used to “defend the faith,” or even “defend God” A few  questions:

 

Are there any texts in scripture which justify being argumentative?

Is there any call in scripture or any biblical warrant to “defend God?

What does it mean that Paul was appointed for the defense of the gospel? Are we as well? 

Would you like to help feed a family this holiday season?  Find out more here: http://is.gd/ChristmasBaskets

Advent, Apologetics

Advent Apologetics Day#12 – It’s about Helping

10-goodsamaritan-sketchWhen we do the work of apologetics we do it as disciples of Jesus, and therefore in the manner in which he would do it. This means, first of all, that we do it to help people, and especially those who want to be helped. Apologetics is a helping ministry.” ~ Dallas Willard

An Advent Apologetic is:

An apologetic that helps attract people to the faith.

An apologetic that helps people overcome barriers to faith.  

An apologetic that demonstrates a willingness to work with God in helping people discover and turn to His glory.

An apologetics that helps the gospel gain a foothold in your contexts.

An apologetic that helps people to find and enter doors they may never have known about.

An apologetic  that helps people navigate new terrain.

“Training the body helps a little, but godly living helps in every way. Godly living has the promise of life now and in the world to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 (God’s Word Translation)

An Advent Apologetic demonstrates a Kingdom now for a coming King.

How are you helping people through your apologetics? 

During Advent, Pathways International will be supplying food to the poorest of the poor in the Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador.  You can help by visiting this link.

Advent, Apologetics, Christianity

Advent Apologetics Day #11 – Is It Suppose To Hurt?

10-goodsamaritan-sketchModern apologetics tends toward spending more time defending the historic Christian faith, or a perceived one, than demonstrating hope in the present or expressing a future confidence.

An advent apologetic sometimes needs to ask “Where does it hurt?”

A well reasoned logical argument, an attempt to rationalize the pain of others, or defense of the tenets of one’s faith, does little to acknowledge or alleviate the hurt.

 In fact, much of modern-day apologetics causes unnecessary and untimely hurt.  It’s often glossed over by the kurt and insensitive philosophy “The Truth Hurts.”  If you are prone to use that phrase, then stop.  It is unlikely that your speaking words of life, restoration, and reconciliation.  It can be devastatingly deceptive to tell a truth at the wrong time. The truth, spoken at the wrong time or in the wrong context becomes like a manipulative lie.

C.S. Lewis once said;

“We accept the claims of Christ because they make sense and then abandon them when a painful or confusing situation causes us to be overcome by feelings of fear or guilt.”

Struggle in apologetics is often thought of as the frustration or inability to convince the other party of their error. These thoughts and others like it are shameful for both parities. An Advent Apologetic, is one that is familiar with real struggle and is willing to join others in it. 

Most of us, if we’ll admit it, do not trust God in times of struggle because we really don’t trust God when things are going well. We develop our faith arguments to cover up our own frailty and then foist them on others to make ourselves feel better.

Apologetics is about hope, and not hoping you’ll be able to win arguments. Advent Apologetics is benevolent. But again, as C.S. Lewis has said;

“Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”

An Advent Apologetic based in love is not rude, does not irritate, and does not portray resentfulness. (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Pathways International’s  Advent Apologetics, in part, is about feeding the poor, a demonstrating hope.  

Would you consider joining with us in this ministry?  Visit this link for details.

Advent, Apologetics, Christianity, The Bible, Theology

Advent Apologetics Day #10 – Unable to Cope

10-goodsamaritan-sketchSome would think that the attitude of Advent and those often expressed via Apologetics, are at odds with each other.  Advent actions and attitudes are often described with words like patience, waiting, and hope.  Apologetics is often associated with abrasiveness, pompous posturing, and pithy argumentation.  What if we adopted an attitude of Advent in our apologetics all the time? For the past 9 days I’ve connected Advent and Apologetics under these sub-headings;

 

 What’s is all about?

Living and Searching Together.

Helpless Doesn’t Mean Hopeless

Christ Conquered Chaos.

It’s Humane

Countering Foolishness

The Samaritan Approach

It’s The Question That Drives Us

and

Changing Minds

This series will conclude with  1 Peter 3:15, everyone’s favorite apologetics verse.  Until then, I’d like to look to some other texts that I believe are important to any discussion on apologetics. Todays text is Acts 6:8-10

“And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.  But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen.  But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”

Of particular interest is the last sentence, “But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”  The NIV translates it this way;

“But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”

When they could not answer Stephen’s arguments as a well known debaters, they prosecuted him as a criminal.  When they could not resist the Spirit that was in him.  Later, Steven would say concerning them; “How stubborn can you be? How can you be so heartless and disobedient? You’re just like your ancestors. They always opposed the Holy Spirit, and so do you!”

Often, apologetics is centered on intellectual prowess or keen debating skills.  It is also primarily focused on the spoken word.  Steven’s apologetic contained three critical components; action or deeds, being present amongst others, and Spiritually empowered disposition and discourse.  An Advent Apologetic includes all three.

Thomas a Kempis once said;

“For truly it is not deep words that makes one holy and upright; it is a good life which makes one dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skilful in the definition of it. If you know the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what should this profit you without the love and grace of God?”

 

Celebrate Advent by feeding a family over the Holiday Season. Click here for more details.