God is NOT Dead.

I just watched a snippet of the film “God is Not Dead.” It detailed Josh Wheaton’s dialogues with his professor, and his eventual “triumph” over the argument, winning the entire class to declare that God is alive.

During the twenty minutes of that video, I had several things going through my mind. The first was that I was afraid. I would never dare to stand up and argue with a professor like that! Let alone give a lecture with such confidence in front of a class. The second was shame, that I would, for fear of failure, loss of dignity, of becoming a source of constant derision, and being thought stupid, that I would allow the name of my Lord to be tarnished.

Let me provide some background to all this: I attended King’s College in London and Imperial College London. I have a BSc (Hons) Second Upper in Biochemistry, and an MRes in Biomedical Research (Personalised Healthcare), Diploma of Imperial College. I am no fool.

And yet, to an atheist, I am the biggest fool in the universe – someone who has been taken in by the biggest lie in existence. “There is, patentlyno God. So why, for all that is good, would someone believe in some dusty, old, decrepit god, who, if he/she/it does exist, doesn’t seem to care, and is so distant, that really, he shouldn’t count?”

I am no Josh Wheaton. I am no Apostle Paul… I am afraid of losing my face, even when I know, in theory, as a Christian, I have lost nothing. For I consider the loss of all things as nothing – compared to the gain that is Christ! (paraphrased from Philippians 3) I know that. But I don’t really know it. Because I don’t want to lose my face. I don’t want to lose my dignity, and I’d fight pretty hard to show people that I’m not stupid. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about is the differing responses to Josh Wheaton’s discourse on evidence for God being alive, and some questions that Christians might have with regards to evangelism .

I’m going to look at these questions:

1. Is it really important that we Christians convince others that we are right? (If not, why bother?)

2. What place does scientific/physical/historical evidence have in our arguments/discussions with non-Christians?

3. Do I need to know the bible back to back to back people up? How much do I have to know?

I cannot claim to have the answers. Pastors and vicars and teachers – anyone who has spent many more hours than me in my chair at home studying the bible, will have much better constructed answers than me. I’m not going to create some complete theological discussion here. Much of it will be personal, and I’ll try to back it up with what bible knowledge I have.

1. Is it really important that we Christians convince others that we are right? (If not, why bother?)

Biblically speaking – no. Because God does all the work. We plant the seed, and only he determines how and when (if ever) it grows (Mark 4:26-29). Planting the seed and then harvesting the fruit is our work. And again, Matthew 9:36-39, where Jesus himself emulates what should be done, by proclaiming the gospel to people. Whether people responded or not, and how they responded, was under people’s free will, and the choice made left up to them. (And as for predestination of who gets saved etc, I shall leave you with a book recommendation so you can decide for yourself: http://www.matthiasmedia.com/little-black-books-predestination)

Is it about winning the argument? Not really. So why bother? I think this needs another question to help: What is the point of talking to people about God and what we believe as Christians? If your answer was something along the lines of: to inform people about the gospel to help them make informed choices, then you’ve gotten your answer. It’s not so much of convincing these people. Because if you continue to pursue your desire to be right, you will often not be able to get to the bottom of the discussion and go in circles. Well, you’ll go in circles anyway in your discussion, but if you insist on your right to be right, then you’re sure to insult lots of people along the way, and worse, go against your initial aim: to win hearts for Christ. Demanding that your viewpoint is the only correct one (even though we firmly believe that the only way is Christ), will turn people away and make people more likely to reject Christ, because frankly, they would really rather not associate with fanatics thank you very much.

2. What place does scientific/physical/historical evidence have in our arguments/discussions with non-Christians?

I think there is definitely a case for when people should be looking into physical evidence for the bible, because Christ as his disciples was a real person who walked on this earth. The bible details places, people, and events. Therefore I think it’s a good thing to know about these outside of a biblical context, so you know what you believe in, isn’t some fairy story. It’s a real thing that happened.

The problem is that you will have two different camps of scientists and historians and scholars who will argue that Jesus either did or did not exist. In other words, it’s best that you examine the evidence alongside the bible and then decide for yourself. Remember, the point isn’t to be right. The point is to learn and gain knowledge about the person named Jesus, and decide for yourself if you want to follow him, or not. Remember, it’s not about shoving things down people’s throats and forcing them to hear you out. We need to emulate Jesus in his gentleness, patience, and compassion. We must bear in mind that people need Jesus, but not everybody likes to be told that, and not everybody likes Jesus either.

Opposition to the gospel message is not surprising (see reactions to Jesus in the gospels), and therefore if people choose to not want to listen to you despite your finely crafted discussion, they will come up with as many counter points as you come up with points. It’s less common that people will react like those people in the philosophy class in “God is Not Dead”, but it isn’t impossible of course! See Acts chapter 2 for evidence of a large number of conversions. The word is alive, and God breathes it out – nothing will stop it, and numbers are certainly not representative of its success or failure.

Acts 2:37-41- 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers,what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

3. Do I need to know the bible back to back to answer people’s questions? How much do I have to know?

No you do not need to have a degree in Theology, nor be a pastor to answer people’s questions about Christianity. Be honest about what you do not know, but do look up the answer, or ask someone for help with answering it, and then update the friend who asked. Bear in mind, there are some people who are not actually willing to hear the answer – they are the kind that like stirring up trouble and are not interested in Christianity at all. You will learn how to discern between people who really are interested in knowing more about Jesus.

As for how much you have to know, well, that’s a hard question because you can’t always anticipate what people ask. But it’s important to always be prepared to defend what you stand for.

1 Peter 3:15 – “ but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”)

Read books, attend seminars and talks regarding your subject of interest, or why not hold a dialogue supper and invite a staff worker from church or your christian fellowship to give a short talk to spark some discussion?

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