Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fare Thee Well, Brother 7/6/2013

Our beloved brother, leader and friend, David, and his beautiful family, are moving this week. Our hearts go with them, and we pray for the Lord's rich blessing upon their lives. Undoubtedly, the Lord will use them mightily in their new location.

Almost as a parting gift, Dave's old friend, "Roger the nemesis," dropped by to "save" the "stupid" Christians. Off the box, David and Roger had a lengthy, animated discussion about a wide range of topics. Roger's chief complaint, this time, centered around the epistemological "problem" of the Christian faith.

In point of fact, as Francis Schaeffer, and others have wisely explained, the problem of epistemology is only a problem for secular philosophers, not Bible believing Christians. Epistemology may be defined as the theory of knowledge, or how we know what we believe to be true. Where people like Roger, and many modern scholars, run into problems is in attempting to establish a reliable standard for understanding what a word, or sentence, or an entire text "means." For thousands of years secular philosophers have defined and re-defined various theories for determining this standard.

Some of these standards (and the men who espoused them) include: rationalism (SPINOZA), empiricism (HUME), agnosticism (KANT), idealism (PLATO), positivism (Comte), existentialism (KIERKEGAARD), phenomenology (HEGEL, HEIDEGGER), and mysticism (PLOTINUS). (For further reading on this topic see The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, by Norman Geisler.)

The reason why this is not a problem for Christians is eloquently stated by Francis Schaeffer:

There has always been communication, before the creation of all else, in the Trinity. And God has made man in His own image, and part of making man in His own image is that man is a verbalizer. . . So God made the universe. He made man to live in that universe, and He gives us the Bible, the verbalized, propositional, factual revelation, to tell us what we need to know. In the Bible He not only tells us about morals, which makes possible real morals instead of merely sociological averages, but He gives us comprehension to correlate our knowledge. The reason the Christian has no problem of epistemology is (that) the same reasonable God made both things - namely, the known and the knower, the subject and the object - and He put them together. So it is not surprising if there is a correlation between these things. (Schaeffer, "He Is There, And He Is Not Silent.)


This is, of course, a deeper subject than we care to address on the box, or in the street. Simply put, epistemology won't save you. But this is typical of the type of diversionary tactic that sinful men use to justify their unbelief. If words have no set meaning then how can one claim to "know the truth" about anything at all?

And so the last few centuries have been characterized by men like Roger who have sought to destroy the word of God by twisting, contradicting and spiritualizing it, under the banner of "academic scholarship." Hence, Roger's condescending allegation that, "You guys don't know what the words mean!" But the real problem is that people who hate God and love their sin do understand the words, they just don't like what the words say. All such arguments turn to dust when confronted by the whole gospel. The Lord, in His infinite wisdom has given mankind His revealed word with built in defenses against such unreasonable attacks.

But that doesn't stop Roger! Our brother Paul had his first opportunity to go head to head with Roger from the box. Humbly, Paul endured a verbal onslaught, which included various insults and put-downs, intermixed with unsupportable assertions and outright falsehoods. All this to the cheers and shouts, and even dancing, of the crowd which Roger always manages to draw.

But Paul wisely kept his cool, and finished with a strong presentation of the glorious Gospel of Christ.

This raises, again, the question of the role of apologetics in street ministry. The most important resource we have to combat every idea that exalts itself above the knowledge of God is, of course, the Word of God, the Bible. Nothing else is sufficient in matters of faith and salvation. It is exceedingly valuable, however, to be also familiar with the basics of apologetics. Here is a good article with 8 reasons why this is so.

The value, it seems, of being prepared in this way is the ability to use a salient, factual response to an untrue assertion, much the same way as a tiny needle can quickly dispatch with an enormous balloon full of hot air. Our Lord used this same technique in confounding the devil by simply answering every attempt by the enemy to twist scripture, by quoting scripture correctly and authoritatively. Similarly, when an unbeliever asks a loaded question, that is a question based on a false presupposition, it is helpful to counteract the question with a statement that reveals the faulty presupposition.

Some examples:

Assertion:  The bible has been changed through the centuries.
Truth:  Manuscript evidence proves the opposite.

Assertion:  What makes you think the bible is true?
Truth:  The evidence of fulfilled prophecy.

Assertion:  If God is so loving why does he allow evil and suffering?
Truth:  If God were to stop evil and suffering wouldn't he have to put a stop to us too? (Romans 3:23) Haven't we by our own actions caused much of the suffering in the world? By allowing it God is actually showing us mercy. (1 Tim 1:14-16, John 3:16-17)

Assertion:  How do you know Jesus even existed?
Truth:  The New Testament is a reliable historical record. On top of that at least 39 sources outside of the Bible attest to more than a hundred facts regarding Jesus' life, teachings, crucifixion and resurrection.
(source: Charlie Campbell, One-Minute Answers to Skeptics, Harvest House Pub.)

Simple statements such as these undercut the power of the falsehoods behind the questions and enable us to put those aside and get directly to the gospel.

Often, however, we make an error by getting into a back and forth, Q&A with the questioner, rather than giving a quick answer to the question and immediately jumping into the Good Person Test, or gospel explanation. By doing so we can reassert control of the dialog in a constructive, edifying way, rather than digressing into a verbal sparring match. The mic is out there to allow questions. The questions are allowed to further the gospel, not to provide a talk show format for lengthy sharing of ideas.

Several others stepped up to the mic, and the Gospel was boldly proclaimed.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:15-17)

Please join us: Saturday, July 13th, 6:00pm @ BPD Parking Lot. See you there!

Special event:  Saturday, July 20th, Glendale Cruise Night!!!  Stay tuned for details!

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