Sunday, January 12, 2014

From Different Planets? (Evangelism vs Love / Power?)

Today after church I had a conversation with a Christian that left me feeling like we were on totally different planets. I've encountered this before and it is of deep concern to me about the state of the church and the need for Christians to have a faith that is biblically based.

The Bible says that as Christians we are called to evangelise and make disciples of all nations. Most Christians are in agreement about this. The thing that many Christians do not agree on is HOW we are to do this. The person I talked with today was convinced that it's not a good approach to use apologetical reasoning with unbelievers when we share our faith - their argument was that we should just rely on the power of God to bring the unbeliever into a power encounter with God.

I agree that much (about 1/3) of Jesus ministry revolved around the miraculous / healing. However, much of his ministry (about the other 2/3) also revolved around teaching and preaching. It's wrong to think that we should rely on one method over another and just focus on miracles, or just focus on showing love. It's not either or, but both. We need to preach the gospel, show love, and pray for unbelievers so that they can encounter God's power.

If you are a Christian - would you become a cult member if a person from a cult prayed for you and you experienced a miracle? I hope not. If you know your Bible you'd know that cults are not biblical. If a cult member was going to deceive you they'd have to not only demonstrate experientially that they knew God, but they'd have to reason with you in order to change your worldview and give you logical answers to dispel your objections. Likewise with unbelievers. Even if they do have a power encounter with God, they are still going to need logical reasons and answers to their objections to Christianity if they are going to embrace the christian faith.

The concern that I have is that not only are many Christians not doing evangelism biblically, but they are also taking an approach to the christian faith that is anti-reason and based on experiential encounters. These encounters may be wonderful and the feelings that accompany them may bring joy. But feelings are not a solid basis for being a Christian. It's a bit like a kid living only on candy floss. If that's all they eat then they'll get sick. We need to have solid reasons why we believe in God. If we do not then we are in danger of being blown around by every wind of doctrine and every false teaching that comes into town.

The ironic thing about Christians that don't believe logic or reason is important in Christianity is that in order to defend their position they attempt to use logic and reason to explain why logic and reason are not important!

A good question for those who say unbiblical things that are based on feelings is 'How do you know that?' Or 'How do you know that is true?' These kinds of questions will expose if they are basing their thinking on fallible human opinions or the truth of God's word. 

The Bible teaches us that all Christians are called to love God with all of their minds (Matthew 22:27), and that we are also all called to be ready to give an answer to unbelievers as to why we are Christians. (1 Peter 3:15). We all have different callings and abilities as Christians, but we are all called to evangelism, and evangelism cannot be done without words.

Preaching of the gospel requires words, and when we preach the gospel to unbelievers they will naturally ask us why we believe that. And at that point apologetics comes in. Apologetics is simply giving good reasons why the Christian faith is true. And in order to do that takes study and preparation. I hope that more Christians will share their faith, and prepare themselves with good answers to the skeptical questions that arise.

Finally, we are to speak the truth with love, because whacking people over the head with a Bible isn't going to achieve much. Unfortunately, many Christians have such a negative view of biblical evangelism that they equate preaching the gospel with abusing people. I encourage all Christians to look again at Jesus and how he reached out to people, because we are called to follow Him.


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