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Being an apologist (2)


Hey.  Hope this message finds all goin' well with you.

Came across your website & found it very interesting & related to 
quite a bit.  So, I decided to write.

Here's a little about me...

This letter is going to have more "I"s in it than I like to put) J 
But that's the only way to convey information about me.

Some "I" stuff.  I'm 44, have been to 48 states by myself (in my 
Blazer), do pretty serious research on the John Kennedy 
assassination, am a public high school teacher (former coach), 
have a B.S. (Univ. of Tenn.) & a M.S. (Mississippi College) in 
biology, love nature & environment, am married (have the "bestest" 
wife in the whole world), am a positive person & really do enjoy 
life & living, am a Bible believing Christian (am doing the best I 
can to live a Christ centered life).

Christian Apologetics.  In the past two or three years I have 
really developed a strong urge to get involved in apologetics.  I 
take pleasure in helping to strengthen a person's faith in the 
Bible & belief in God.  God made me a thinker & inquisitive & 
analytical & a "question asker".  & I absolutely believe there is 
a purpose & reason God wants me to be that way.

You know, I've been around so many people in my life that feel, 
"The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it".  Well, that's 
OK & there's no problem with that, but it's just not that easy for 
me. And I truly don't think it's an accident that my Faith doesn't 
come easy.

Teaching science & having faith in the Holy Bible is not a 
conflict.  I truly just don't think science & theology are 
incompatible.  & I just find myself devoting much energy & effort
to the creation/evolution issue & (origin & age of the universe) & 
all the other relevant topics.

Lee Strobel.  I read his book, "The Case for Faith", not long ago. 
The book is nothing short of a gift from God to me.  It's a book 
specifically for people like me, someone that wants quality 
answers to tough questions about the Bible ... There's no way to 
measure how much I gained from that book.

Here are 3 quotes from Mr. Strobel's book that I strongly relate 
to: "Asking uncomfortable questions hasn't diminished my faith; it 
has strengthened it."  "Refined by the rigors of intellectual 
scrutiny, my faith has emerged deeper, richer, more resilient, and 
more certain than ever."  "Ultimately, though, faith isn't about 
having perfect and complete answers?"  (I think this last quote is 
the most important)

Of course, there's plenty of harsh criticism I've come across on 
the internet about "The Case for Faith".  So, it hasn't had the 
same effect on all who read it.

Love & hate.  When it comes to all of these topics, I love to 
discuss, but I hate to argue.

We (Christians) are referred to as "believers", not "knowers". As 
important as it is for us to "know", "knowing" the answer is nice, 
but not necessary for Faith.  Something important to me ... 
proving the Bible is the Truth is not necessary.  Having faith in 
& believing the Bible is the Truth is necessary.  Think of how 
many verses in the Bible refer to belief & faith.

Square one.  I guess square one with me is that I simply cannot 
concede that everything in the universe, as we know it, (atoms & 
the pne that make them up, energy, the four states of matter, 
things living & nonliving, AND the rules, regulations & guidelines 
on which all of these operate) happened by accident.

Therefore, this ultimately points to creation & a creator.  & my 
belief is that God of the Holy Bible is the Creator.

Here's something.  I get a lot of strength for my Faith from 
books, articles, speeches, etc. from those NOT particularly 
religious that support the idea (& all that goes with it) that all 
in the universe didn't just happen by accident.

Of course, there are quite a few books promoting some aspect of 
creation that are written by pastors, someone from "theological 
seminary", etc. that are very compelling & thorough.

But I love seeing someone supporting creation, design in the 
universe, things having a cause, etc. because of analyzing the 
evidence, considering all arguments & making a rational, 
reasonable judgement & the Bible is not central in the conclusions 
they reach. I like it when someone with a Ph. D. or an 
"investigative journalist" or something like that says there is 
credibility in the Bible.

Here are some examples.  Am reading a book now, "Intelligent 
Design" by William Dembski (Ph. D. in mathematics).  You are 
probably well aware that the ID movement gets much attention these 
days (pro & con).  Other books I have ... "Not By Chance" by Lee 
Spetner (Ph. D. in Physics), "Science & Christianity" by Richard 
Carlson (professor of Physics).  There're others I have, but you 
get the idea.

Another book I finished not long ago is "Shattering the Myths of 
Darwinism" by Richard Milton (he's a science journalist).  I can't 
imagine anyone doing a more complete & successful job of 
undermining & toppling the theory of macroevolution.

Have read some stuff by Hugh Ross (Ph. D. in astronomy).  He 
claims to be a Christian & believes in an "old earth".  Many think 
the Genesis account doesn't support the idea that the earth is 4+ 
billion years old in the least bit.

So, there are many in the "middle", so to speak ... "progressive 
creationist" & "theistic evolutionist" & etc.

& I subscribe to Technical Journal.

Now, I don't agree with everything all of these authors have to 
say, but on some things they make sound points & some of their 
stuff is hard to ignore.

Now, I don't know if I'll ever write a book, but I want to do 
something that adds to a person's foundation of faith, like I know 
Strobel's book & some others did for mine.  At this point in my 
life I do have time to devote to some serious work.

I believe the Holy Bible is the absolute Truth, but am not sure 
there is an absolute interpretation.

There's the idea some have that the only people who believe in the 
Bible are simple minded, "weak minded" & shallow thinking. Sure, 
there are those like that, but I'm finding out that there are a 
bunch of Bible believers not at all that way.

But I realize the Holy Bible is not a science book.  & It just 
doesn't elaborate extensively on some things of particular 
interest to me & many others. For instance, the Genesis Flood & 
Noah's ark are certainly critical parts of the Old Testament, but 
there's not much scientific type information about them.  & what 
about any information on prehistoric animals?  But, that's just 
the way it is & that's OK.  Knowing is nice, but not necessary ...

Over the past 10 or so years I've come across much more credible 
evidence that supports Creation & a Creator (God of the Holy 
Bible) than anything otherwise.  & I want to add to that evidence.

Wow, have rambled on & on & on ...

I certainly would appreciate you communicating with me on some 
topics relating to the Bible & science.  Would really like to get 
your opinion on some specific stuff.

God Bless you,

first response

Thank you for your interesting and detailed email. As much as
possible I try to answer all my email. However I do give priority
to non-Christians who are seeking the Lord, and to struggling
Christians who are at a crisis and need immediate help.

Nowadays I have less time for "fellowship discussions" on topics of
mutual interest. This is one reason my web site is a sort of filing
cabinet for people to browse through as they wish.

I also work with a great team of men and women who answer email and
have terrific experience and resources of knowledge and wisdom.
I'll copy your email to them in case one of them has time to write
and say hello.

Do visit the web site of my teacher and mentor, the late Ray C.
Stedman, http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/.

May God be with you,

second response

I am one of the associates on the Paraclete Forum
(http://paracleteforum.org), with whom he has shared your e-mail. 
We are a small group that does apologetics on the Internet and also
try to encourage Christians in a stronger relationship with the Lord.

I thought I would write and give you some encouragement.  I won't go 
into detail about myself but only to say that I was once a hostile 
to Christ and who was more surprised than anyone that I would ever 
have become a Christian.

I would like to say a few things about being an apologist.  I have, 
in a sense, been one since the first month after becoming a 
Christian in 1975.  I devoured books like Josh McDowell's Evidence 
That Demands a Verdict and Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults. 
For instance, I started "confronting" Mormon missionaries months 
after becoming a Christian.  But I can't say if I was particularly 
effective or made the correct impression because, at times, I was 
pretty zealous in my blunderings.  So I hope to relate a few things 
I have learned over the years.

First, know that you can't really convince anyone about faith.  The 
problem is always a spiritual problem and not an intellectual one. 
Mankind, as enemies of God, wants to find reasons to not give 
account to the Lord.  We, as arrogant rebels, want to live 
independent and self-reliant lives the way we want.  So, no matter 
how solid the facts and how tight the logic, it is, in the end, a 
spiritual battle.  Your task, then, is not to win the argument, but 
to win them to Christ.  But ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who 
does the real work.  We, as God's tools, must realize that He does 
not need us to accomplish His tasks, yet He wants us to be 
intimately involved in His work.  This is easy to know 
intellectually but comes hard in practice.

Second, realize that the preparation of an apologist is not only 
intellectual.  God prepares his really useful servants in a graduate 
school of disappointment, loss, sorrow, and heartache.  This is what 
the world experiences and God will bring you through these very 
things to demonstrate to you who or what you really trust in and 
give you real compassion and understanding for those who He wants 
you to reach out to.  Jesus is our merciful and high priest because
He experienced what we humans experienced (see Heb 2:14-18).  One 
then approaches the God given assignment with humility.

Third, it is important to know the Bible well and be aware of the 
various aspects that people have problems with.  Seek God for 
answers.  Seeking for answers comes from study, prayer, and turning 
the thing over in your mind several times.  Remember, an appropriate 
response is better than a quick response.

Fourth, one must be able to relate to different kinds of people on 
different levels.  For example, for a Jew it would be necessary to 
be able to show the Messiah from the Hebrew Scriptures; and then, 
when referring to the New Testament, say, "and this is why so-and-so 
wrote this" to show that it really elaborates a point already 
present in the Tanakh.  For a scientist, though, you would need to 
relate on a completely different level.  However, one can never be 
all things to all men in all circumstances.  That is why God has 
given different talents to different people.  Paul was no a 
lone-ranger.  He had help from Timothy, Luke, and others.

Fifth, keep the real issues central. The central issues are 
salvation and Jesus.  Of course, you will need to discuss other 
things, but remember that it always comes back to these things.  For 
example, when talking to Mormons you could go on and on detailing 
all of the errors in their sacred books and history.  But they would 
come back with all sorts of canned responses that their leaders have 
provided them.  This goes no where.  Remember your goal: not to win 
the arguement but to win them to Christ.  In the Mormon's case, for 
instance, I always try to stick to the nature of salvation, who 
Jesus is, and how we should evaluate revelation.  Everything else 
may be fun to know and argue over but they are really peripheral.

Well, there are probably a trillion other things I could still 
ramble on about but I just wanted to give you some things to think 
about in your preparation.