BGEA: Be Filled With the Holy Spirit


By F.B. Meyer

We cannot expect to have the Holy Spirit’s fullness in our lives if we are quite content to live without it. Our Father is not likely to entrust this priceless gift to those who are indifferent to its possession. We must, therefore, stir up the gift that is within us by a quiet consideration of all that is meant by becoming Spirit-filled.No book will move us in this direction more than the Acts of the Apostles. Cowards became brave. Those who had stumbled at the simplest truths suddenly awoke to understand the Master’s plan. Many whose hearts had heaved with rivalry, suspicion and desire for earthly power now sought to excel in humble ministry to the saints. Christ’s murderers became His worshipers and friends. Councils of clever men were not able to withstand the simple eloquence of indisputable facts. Countries were shaken and yielded thousands of converts to the unlearned but passionate preachers of the cross.As we contrast their triumphant success to our halting progress, shall not we be filled with uncontrollable longing that God should work similar results through us? Rivers of water should flow from us. We should never need to be anxious about our words, because they will be given to us. We will be taught all things and led into the whole circle of truth. We will know Christ and be changed into His image.

Check Your Motives

If we seek the Holy Spirit merely for our own happiness or comfort or liberty of soul, it will be very unlikely that He will be given. His one passion is the glory of the Lord Jesus, and He can only abide with those who are willing to be at one with Him in this. “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3, KJV).

But if you are motivated simply by the desire that the Lord Jesus may be magnified in you, whether by life or death; if you long above all that men should turn away from you to Him, then rejoice, because you are near blessing beyond words. If your motives fall below this standard, trust Him to enlighten and purify them. Offer Him free entrance to your heart. It will not then be long before there will be a gracious response.

Consider the Scriptures

We must not be content to have the Spirit without the Word or the Word without the Spirit. Our lives must travel along these two, as the locomotive travels along parallel rails. It is only by our devout contact with the Bible that we shall be able to detect the Holy Spirit’s voice. It is by the Word that the Spirit will enter our hearts, as the heat of the sun passes into our homes when its beams of light enter the open windows.

We need a widespread revival of Bible study. These mines of Scripture, lying beneath the surface, call loudly for investigation and discovery. Those who shall obey the appeal shall be soon aware that they have received the filling that they seek. There is no better way of communing with God than to walk to and fro in your room or in the open air with your Bible in hand, meditating on it and turning its precepts and promises into prayer.

Yield to Him

The Holy Ghost is in us, and by this means Christ is in us, for He dwells in us by the Spirit, as the sun dwells in the world through its rays of light. But we must perpetually yield to Him, as water yields to the vessel that holds it. This is not easy. It can only be accomplished by incessant self-examination and putting to death our self-life [that is, making self, rather than Christ, the focus of our life].

We have chosen Jesus as our substitute, but have we also chosen Him by the Holy Spirit as our life? Can we say, like the Apostle: “Not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20, KJV)? If so, we must be prepared for all that it involves. We must be willing for the principle of the new life to grow at the expense of the self-life.

We must allow the One to increase, while the other decreases. We must be ever on the alert, hastening the processes of judgment, condemnation and crucifixion of our fleshly desires. We must keep true in our allegiance to the least request of the Holy Spirit, though it cost us tears of blood. There is nothing trivial in this life. A look, a word, a refusal, may be enough to grieve Him in ourselves and to quench Him in others.

Do not shrink back afraid of what He may demand. He is the Spirit of love, and He loves us too well to cause grief unless there is a reason. And we would approve, if we knew as much as He does.

Receive Him by Faith

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6, KJV). Just as you once obtained forgiveness and salvation by faith, so now claim and receive the Holy Spirit’s fullness. Wait quietly but definitely before God in prayer, for He gives His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Then reverently appropriate this glorious gift, rise from your knees and go on your way, believing that God has kept His word.

There may not be the sound of rushing wind or the tangible feeling of His presence. Do not look for these any more than the young convert should look to his feeling as an evidence of God’s acceptance. But believe—in spite of how you feel—that you are filled. The feeling will sooner or later break in upon your consciousness, and you will rejoice with exceeding great joy; and all the fruits of the Spirit will begin to show themselves in your life.

Author and pastor F.B. Meyer was born in London in 1847. He was a contemporary and friend of D.L. Moody, and was known as a crusader against immorality who preached against drunkenness and prostitution. He is said to have brought about the closing of hundreds of saloons and brothels.

This article was sourced from BGEA: Be Filled With the Holy Spirit.

Day of Pentecost, First Half Year as a Christian and Quiting the Smoking


Yesterday I celebrated the Day of the Pentecost at Harmony Church which has  really become my home church. Rapidly building a reputation as that young new church “is where it is really happening” I found myself there yesterday committing quietly to stop the smoking and this time no more “bs”. Tomorrow I am celebrating my conversion exactly 6 months ago on 25 November 2009. Looking back it has been an amazing ride which is documented here on this blog. Strange how the importance of Christian celebrations changed in only one half year. Where Christmas used to be the highpoint of the year in terms of celebrations, Easter seems to be the real important date now together with the day of the Pentecost.  And what better way to celebrate these joyful events than with quitting the very thing that I feel is holding me back in my relationship with God and my family: smoking. I tried many times to no success. In fact I’d go so aggressive that my family would beg me almost to pick up the smoking again. But now, with the help of God and the Quitline I am sure it is going to work out.

I found a helpful article on “How to stop smoking the Christian Way which basically outlined the following steps:

  1. Understand why you need to quit: your life and health are precious to your Creator (Psalms 36:9, Acts 14:16–17, John 3:16). You are responsible for treating yourself and others well (2 Corinthians 7:1, Matthew 22:39, Matthew 7:12) and you can’t do that while filling your lungs and those of others with smoke.
  2. Step 2 Set a date, write it down and make sure it remains visible for a week or more before you quit, (Proverbs 21:5, Ephesians 5:15–17). Make sure there are no cigarettes available when that day arrives (1 Corinthians 10:13) and go out of your way to avoid cigarettes and smokers from that day forward (Proverbs 13:20).
  3. Step 3 Realize that you may not succeed in quitting on the first try. If you have a setback, don’t beat yourself up (2 Corinthians 2:7–8, Romans 2:4). Simply accept the fact that you’re not perfect (Mark 14:38), recommit and move forward.
  4. Step 4 When you finally do succeed, you can trust that the joy you feel is mirrored by the joy of your Creator (Matthew 18:12–14). You couldn’t have done it without him, and he’s delighted that you cared enough to fight that battle for him!
  • Never underestimate the power of prayer! During every step in the process, prayer can make the way easier and the goal clearer (Hebrews 4:16, Psalms 55:22).
  • Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms including nausea, irritability, insomnia and a strong craving for cigarettes. Check with your doctor for possible prescriptions to help ease some of these symptoms and help you to make it through this difficult period.

So, last night I prayed, this morning again and picked up the phone and called the Quitline. The first talk went well and a prescription is on the way to the pharmacy and after writing this post it will be about ready to be picked up as opposed to the normal five days to process it: so here we go the first little miracle already happened. Now it is up to me to follow through.

Your support and prayers are welcomed and to support others as well as being supported I will open a new category SMOKE STOP.

To close off Psalm 23, more for me than for the reader probably:

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Christian doctors prescribe ‘spiritual healing’ for sickness


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Christian doctors prescribe ‘spiritual healing’ for sickness

More than 240 of them from 40 countries gather in Rome to discuss ‘Spirituality in Medicine’

By Dan Wooding Reporting from Rome

Special to ASSIST News Service

ROME, ITALY (ANS) — Some 240 Christian doctors from some 40 different countries around the world have prescribed “spiritual healing” as an answer to sickness in the 21st Century. They believe that medicine alone cannot deal with some of today’s worst illnesses.

Dr. Armando Pineda-Velez

The medics gathered in the eternal city of Rome from on May 22-23, 2010, for the 7th Annual World Christian Doctors Network “Spirituality and Medicine” Conference held at the Sheraton Roma Hotel and Conference Center in Rome and they examined actual case studies of miracles presented by various respected doctors.

Honduran-born Dr. Armando Pineda-Velez, US Director of WCDN, a nuclear medicine physician, told me that there are a lot of doctors today who “not only believe in God but believe that God is healing today.”

He said, “They are putting their prestige on the line for something that they know; that the truth that the Gospel of power can be manifested in the 21st Century.

“This is a different kind of organization,” he continued. “There are a lot of Christian medical organizations, all of which are very well respected and I love them, but we at the World Christian Doctors Network are different in the sense that we are going into the miracle part of the healing. We are not going to stop being doctors, but we are going to use a superior tool – the healing power of God — in order to be helping our beloved patients.”

Dr. Pineda-Velez said that he encouraged Christian doctors to lay hands on their sick patients and pray for their supernatural healing. “I think that the power of healing and faith has to be used by doctors,” he said. “Anyway, we are not the one who heals – it is Jesus!”

I then asked him what happens when people are not healed.

“You know,” said Dr. Pineda-Velez, “healing resides only in the sovereignty of a merciful and gracious God. It’s not only up to us in this equation. There are two involved here — God and you. Does He decide to heal you? I don’t know. Does He have a purpose for your disease? Maybe; maybe not! Do you have enough faith? I don’t know. Yes the measure of faith you have is important but we also have the sovereignty of God. He still rules your life.”

The doctors, who for these two days forsook the formality of being medics and became “ordinary Christians” and joined whole-heartedly in the worship sessions, raising their hands in the air in praise and some even dancing along to the music. One doctor told me, “This has been like a refreshing rain for me.

Read the rest of the article at Christian doctors prescribe ‘spiritual healing’ for sickness.

GoogleTV Invigorates the IPTV Market and Genos’ CEO, Rob Shambro, Dissects the AlternativeTV Space – GENOSTV


Read the complete article here

GoogleTV Invigorates the IPTV Market and Genos’ CEO, Rob Shambro, Dissects the AlternativeTV Space – GENOSTV.

‘Raising the Dead: A Doctor Encounters the Supernatural’


ROME, ITALY (ANS) — The audience of more than 270 doctors from some 40 countries around the world sat in stunned silence today (Friday, May 21, 2010) in the eternal city of Rome, as a renowned heart doctor produced evidence of how, after he had prayed for a patient who had died and was being prepared for the morgue and then he was brought back to life after that prayer.

Dr. Chauncey W. Crandall IV, who serves at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach, Florida, told this story during his dramatic presentation on the first day of a two-day conference at the 7th Annual World Christian Doctors Network “Spirituality and Medicine” Conference held at the Sheraton Roma Hotel and Conference Center in Rome.

Crandall, a born-again physician, produced dramatic evidence that was shown on big screens at the front of the hall where the medical professionals were meeting.

I joined the gathering and can report that you could literally feel the electric atmosphere as it swept through the hall, as Dr. Crandall told of the day — October 20, 2006 — when a middle-aged auto mechanic, Jeff Markin, walked into the Emergency Room at the Palm Beach Gardens Hospital and collapsed from a massive heart attack.

Forty minutes later he was declared dead. After filling out his final report, the supervising cardiologist, Dr. Chauncey Crandall, started out of the room.

In a later interview Dr. Crandall told me, “Before I crossed its threshold, however, I heard the audible voice of God telling me to turn around and pray for the dead patient.”

The doctor told the audience that he had learned to “follow that impulse” even if he was embarrassed.

“Father God,” he said, under his breath, “I cry out for this man’s soul. If he does not know you as his Lord and Savior, please raise him from the dead now, in Jesus’ name.”

With that and Dr. Crandall’s instruction to give the man what seemed one more useless shock from the defibrillator, Jeff Markin incredibly came back to life — and remains alive and well today.

Read the rest of this incedible story here ‘Raising the Dead: A Doctor Encounters the Supernatural.

COMMENT

What shall I say? You cold have told me this a year ago and I would have laughed in your face.We are born and raised in a a world that does not accept miracles as they go against anything that is natural and cannot be explained in that context. Miracles, raising people from the dead, that was mythology of the ancient times: or is it?  Yet, after seeing incredible things at two healing seminars myself, finding my own hearing substantially recovered just like that, and seeing the other amazing stuff happening at Harmony Church, especially amongst the youth this can no longer come as a surprise.It was bound to happen somewhere.

I remember well how Chad Dedmon brought healing and deliverance back to matters of expectation and perseverance and how thus it is all brought back to a question of faith.I guess these two bible verses summarize it exactly:

12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. (John 14:12,13)

And

20For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)

Praise the Lord.

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Apologetics and Why the Church Needs it


It is amazing to see how years of looking at the Christian faith with a view of exposing the church as a fraud, have left me with an apologetic basis that can be drawn upon for the greater good. For those of you not familiar with the term I refer to 1 Peter 3:15, 16 which is can be used as the biblical rationale for apologetics:

“… Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15,16)

There are many definitions when it comes to what is to be understood as apologetics. In very short terms it could be described as the reasoned defence for what you hold to be the truth. Other descriptions I have come across relate to both the content and function of apologetics. Lane Craige, a well known apologetic himself, speaks for instance of “rational justification.” R.C. Sproul explains it as “helping Christians know what they believe and why they believe it” and “providing intellectual defence for the truth claim” which is the Christian truth claim. J. Moreland explains it as “overcoming intellectual obstacles” for a Christian faith.  You could see apologetics as a Christian theological exercise that addresses the intellectual obstacles that keep people from taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ serious. Apologetics addresses amongst others the common known objections hear against the Christian faith such as:

  • Why does evil exist?
  • Has the Christian faith not been proven wrong by science?
  • How do we know Christianity is true in light of the existence of other world religions that also make claims to ultimate truth?
  • Why is homosexuality or abortion bad?
  • Sex outside of marriage?

There appears to be this conception that apologetics is something for a select minority; the inquisitive minds, the intellectual elite. The fact that some universities now offer a major and degree in apologetics may have contributed to this fact as well as the association o apologetics with such brilliant minds as C.S. Lewis whom once wrote:

“To be ignorant is simple now – not able to meet our enemies on their own ground – would be to throw down our weapons, and betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defence but us, against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. “ C.S. Lewis

While it may hold some truth that apologetics is associated with sharp minds such as C.S. Lewis, serving God with the mind has always been part of the life of the church. Look at some of the trinity creeds and the precision with which words were entrusted to paper. They are a perfect example of how God can be served with the mind the intellect. Lack of answers has been a contributing factor in people leaving the churches. People will need to be enabled or to use a popular self-help catch phrase, empowered, by the church to reconcile the worldly in which they live with the spiritual. It is my simple belief that the heart cannot follow what the mind cannot conceive or justify. It is also my belief that it is and has been for that very reason that we have seen secularism and even atheism grow in such enormous popularity. If there is one thing that may be said about the church and the church losing the game from atheists like for instance Dawkins or Hitchens, it is not because their ideas and arguments are necessarily more compelling but because we never entered the arena. Most importantly, it seems to me that as Christians we let ourselves be pushed into an area of “defence” where actually I would like to see a more pro-active approach to apologetics that is closely aligned with ministerial, missionary and evangelistic activities of the church.

Western culture and society are now considered to be a post-Christian culture and society in which secularism is the dominant philosophy at least on a state organisational and legal level.  Even when I was a sceptic it seemed apparent that a lot of the problems and issues Europe, the US, New Zealand and Australia are dealing with have to do with the secularisation of society and more importantly the associated denial of our own past and identity that comes with that. Biblical thinking has been at the very foundations of western culture whether we like it or not. With secularisation came an ongoing emphasis on what could be described as individualism and with that an ongoing process of moral and cultural relativism. ‘Old’ values such as the family and community as cornerstones of society have been replaced by isolation. “Communities” is something that may sound good coming from policy makers but that’s as far as it often goes and most certainly it is far from a physical reality in many places. Many of us would not even know the name of our immediate neighbour, or recognize them as such in an encounter somewhere else. How can one love one’s neighbour if you don’t bother getting to know them, reach out to them. Look at most western societies and find a very similar picture emerging of self-centered individualism. Plagued by greed and self-interest, lust for power and status, we have seen the emergence of a world in crisis: politically, economically, spiritually, philosophically, and environmentally.  I hear people complain about the Islamisation of the Netherlands and Europe. Quite frankly I think most of it has to do with finding oneself confronted with the identity-crisis of one’s own western culture. But this is a subject of another article maybe.

Biblical Thinking as a Shaping Factor

Biblical thinking has been at the foundations of western culture and gave rise to modern sciences and technology. The Bible gave rise to and a foundation for human rights. As humans we are created in God’s image and while many may claim that we are all equally worth as much or as little as we are, it seems to me that only the Christian worldview provides a solid and consistent philosophical basis for such a claim. No matter how you look at it, while we may want to make this claim, the simple reality is that we do not enter the world equal. The only way we can objectively as well as rationally make a claim for equality is if we depart from a view on humans as being created in the image of God. Not just the principle of equality but also other human rights depart from the premise that there are simply some “inalienable rights” that apparently exist outside of any human authority. The Preamble of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948 words it like this:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world

Where, one could ask, could these rights come from other than God? It is equally the same with science and technology. Johannes Kepler, one of the key figures in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century advised us that:

The chief aim of all investigations of the external world (author: the essence of science) should be to discover the rational order which has been imposed on it by God, and which he has revealed to us in the language of mathematics.

From a worldly point of view I guess it is good to remember our Christian heritage as part of our identity. There used to be an advertisement on television in New Zealand which basically promoted that we should understand our past to prepare for the future.  The ongoing process of secularisation of western societies and all the problems it is currently facing illustrate what happens if we do not have an appropriate amount of attention for our past or even (as for instance is happening in the UK) deny our past. And all this time churches have stood by and watched it happen. Apologetics are absolutely crucial in any church for both health of it and the witness. Unless we understand the gospel at a worldview level, it’s impact on those who accept the gospel as well as its power to fundamentally impact on and change society, it will always be short of God’s best for His people. However in order to understand the Gospel at the worldview level we need apologetics.

Light of the World

Simply put, in my opinion there is a duty on the church to think through the relevant issues so that it can anticipate and answer questions that people have. As a church you have a role to play as light in this world and that role should be taken more seriously. Apologetics are needed to help people answer increasing amounts of increasingly complex answers. If we want a future for the church and Christians to be at the heart of our society, it is of paramount importance that we teach our people and people to come. Churches in my view, have a responsibility to make apologetics part of the teaching and training of their flocks especially where it comes to the how to respond to the questions of faith and compassion for those that have developed false worldviews or religious believes.

There are several good reasons to engage the Christian community in apologetics. For starters: the Bible demands from us that we defend our faith and provides examples thereof. From a Christian mission point of view: the removal of intellectual barriers aids or assists unbelievers or non-Christians to embrace the gospel. For believers apologetics assists in strengthening their faith on an intellectual level and as such encourages spiritual growth. From a societal perspective it contributes to cultural health at large.

Spiritual Warfare

The Bible has a great deal to say about such warfare. The devil also known as Satan is a real adversary that you must reckon with. Initially a high-ranking angel in heaven who rebelled, he was was cast out of heaven.

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18)

Ever since, Satan has been in total opposition to God. It was Satan who tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:4). In John 10 we see Jesus describe Satan as:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10)

It was that Satan challenged Jesus at every turn, from His infancy through His death. Yet Jesus was undeterred from His mission to completely defeat His ancient foe. Satan is a schemer using smart tactics and while defeated for a while he continues to have a substantial amount of influence on earth. He is still behind every form of evil, perhaps with increasing intensity, sensing (correctly) the day is coming when he will be completely destroyed. Peter advises us that Satan “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8) and tells us to “resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:.9). Paul offers similar advice:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10,11).

Off all the tactics and tools Satan may try and use in this battle against God, ideas are probably the most effective in the toolkit of Satan. In essence the battle is one for our minds initially.

“The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

In Isaiah we see this blindness depicted as “the sheet that covers all nations” (Isaiah 25:7).

When Christians think of conversion and rebirth in Christ, a renewed mind is at all times part of the equation. On a personal/individual level; these ideas come in the form of temptation. On a collective level, it can be explained ironically enough using a theory that is very popular with atheist, universal Darwinist scholars: the meme theory.

The most compelling example of how Satan used ideas to win over God’s own is the story of Adam and Eve. Satan was able to drive them away from God by one thing only: planting an idea in their minds. Since that moment mankind has been buying in to the idea that we can actually be as God, that we do not need God because we can be God. In memetic terms, Satan planted a very good meme right at the start and so far it seems to be surviving and reproducing beautifully.

God gave us an ability to choose, to make real decisions with real consequences. In exercising our freedom to choose we actually affirm our true humanity. At the same time, and as a result of the work of Satan, we end up choosing against God so often; the God that created us to be up close and personal with Him. Where we end up turning away from Him, we basically dethrone God and with that the essence of our humanity. False ideas were at the basis of our initial move away from God ((original) sin in the broadest sense), and has continued to be a prime influence on us. This applies all despite the fact that deep down inside, we know that we function at our best when we are properly related to God; individually and as mankind. The mind is a battlefield that is as simple as it is. As Christians we are called to engage in this battle for the mind using our minds:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Probably one of the best examples of how this battle for the mind (and by the mind) is fought is to have a close look at University campuses. I think we can all come up with one or more examples of people that enrolled at University as a Christian to leave it a few years down the line as an agnostic or an Atheist even. Biblical thinking has become something that is considered to be irrational and not in touch with reality on the marketplace of ideas. And that should be a priority. Biblical thinking should regain its respectability, it needs to regain its recognition as a legitimate option in the marketplace of ideas and for that we need apologetics. Apologetics are the prime instrument to make a case for Christ and Christianity.  At all times this will be a hard fought battle, as we will see. Ideas that are powerful enough have a habit of sticking, up to a point where they may well end up being almost part of our genetic imprint: memes.

Apologetics in my view is a shared responsibility for the churches of all denominations. Since we are to function as one body, it should not be something elitist, no-one should be left out. That doesn’t mean that everyone should be an apologist, the pastor included. The churches should just open their doors for those that are willing to use their minds to serve God. Local churches could consider raising up and training people who serve as apologists for their congregations. Both the apologetic pursuit and the spiritual transformation of lives depend heavily on guidance by the Holy Spirit so as to prevent faith from becoming a merely intellectual exercise.

Rethinking the Agenda

Besides the apparent need for apologetics, I think it is important that we have a good look at the current apologetic agenda. Apologetics appears to slowly become into a discipline that is occupied with ‘defending the reason for our faith and hope” yet this has worked out in many instances as a ‘reactive’ approach.
In my view a pro-active approach could well form part of the new apologetic agenda.  Defending in a pro-active sense is in my view only one side of the coin. In fact: defence against ‘outside attacks’ manoeuvres you in a position where the other may up determining the ‘battlefield.’ In my view there is a good argument to be made to have apologetics positioned not just as a ‘defence force’ but more importantly as part of the evangelist and missionary function of the church.

I think it is fair to say that we are living in a post-Christian secular society in which pluralism is the norm. We are so well reminded of that in the logo of the United States: “E Pluribus Unum” which translates as “out of many one.” Since colonial times the United States has been a safe haven for those seeking freedom of religious expression. At the time the time it primarily referred to the European settlers that all practiced Christianity but came from a wide range of denominations, traditions which quickly expanded to a wider range of other religions and belief systems with the influx of immigrants from other parts of the world.

Recipient Orientation

Cross cultural ministries and missionaries were well aware of the need to communicate the Gospel in an appropriate way within the different cultural contexts. Perfect examples of how this works out in practice can be found in the letters and actions of Paul. Of course we humans would not be humans if we did not come up with some cool sounding multi syllable word for it: “contextualisation.”
When considering apologetics, similar to evangelism and mission, we should be looking at getting contextualisation on the agenda. Without a doubt the gospel transcends all cultures but apologetic styles may need to be adapted to the specific cultural context in which the Gospel is being communicated as well as the reasons for our faith. Moreover I think that apologetics in particular may well be of at least equally great importance as the defence discipline when it is approached as part of the evangelist or mission function of the church. Apologetics is thus seen as an ancillary discipline not just occupied with countering attacks but more importantly with supporting evangelism in that it anticipates barriers the evangelist or missionary may encounter and prepares them for that in a contextually relevant way. This means that apologetics should get involved in research and investigation of the different cultural contexts and settings so as to identify pro-actively the barriers: questions, objections and spiritual ‘issues’ of the other (sub-)culture. The apologist can’t afford to be an armchair intellectual (armed with a pipe), a distant observer, an ivory tower inhabitant.
The apologist will need to be out there, with or even ahead of the evangelist or the missionary, as an observer of how the other (sub)culture lives, thinks and practices and applies their belief systems (evangelic or missionary reconnaissance). In a sense apologetics thus becomes somewhat of the reconnaissance or intelligence function for the church. By direct observation the apologetic fieldworker identifies the relevant apologetic questions, and for that matter not just in faraway exotic places and cultures but equally important, in our own post-Christian secular and pluralist post-modern western societies. Looking at the current state of society, an argument could be made that cross-cultural ministry could tke place in your own backyard/hood in most-western societies. Apologetics thus becomes an addressee or recipient orientated discipline.

Globalisation Requires Being Globally Informed

Apologetics, if properly construed and ancillary to evangelism and mission becomes as a result unavoidable in the effective proclamation of the good news. Thus far we have talked about the different (sub)cultural contexts that may require a rethinking of the apologetic agenda. Equally important as a development is the trend towards globalisation and apologetics will therefore need to adapt, especially where communicating in non-western contexts such as the Asian, the Latin American, the African and Arabian. Globalisation has seen substantial movements of people to and through different cultural settings and as an immigrant myself I am well aware that immigrant populations themselves have a habit of deriving a subculture mixing culture of the homeland with that of the new environment.

In addition to this more and more non-Christian worldviews are seen within the western societies: old pagan believes and philosophies like Wicca and Reiki, more modern movements such as New Age, Scientology, and to my great astonishment by now some geographical areas in the world officially recognize Jedi-ism, or Jedi as a religion (In fact I see this as one of the more serious insider threats in some churches but that is something for another post).  From a personal perspective, it cannot be seen as anything else than that there is an apparent need for the spiritual and that people are seeking. From an apologetic and following that the evangelist or missionary perspective it means that the challenge to be an effective bridge builder has enhanced and will need to embrace all these different subcultures as well as the global culture.

Apologetics as an Ancillary Discipline

Perhaps as a result of definitions in the past, apologetics is (in my view) too often seen as a ‘counter culture” or discipline, as standing up against false doctrines and teachers, and in all fairness, whilst it is by now hard not to notice attacks by militant atheists like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and others. At the same time, the defensive manoeuvres of the apologetic defence force seem to be hardening up as well especially in the Atheism v Christianity, Evolution v Creation debates. At the same time, evangelists and missionaries have never seen their work as on the defence and debunking false doctrines. It is good to remember that apologetics is not a means in itself. I prefer an approach that would enhance the focus of the apologetic discipline from addressing ‘heresies’ or false doctrines to assisting proactively in proclaiming the Gospel in a contextually relevant way so as to make new disciples: pro-active apologetics used in frontline evangelism and missionary work to reach the unreached people in different (sub) cultures and alternative spiritualities. Missionary work involves understanding the other’s culture, beliefs, practices, questions, answers, and issues and problems. Love and compassion are the leading drivers for any such missionary work and in my view the same applies to apologetics: debunking false doctrines as the prime focus limits the potential and scope of apologetics. In order to be relevant, apologetics need to embrace the principles of cross-cultural ministry. Dealing with doctrinal objections thus becomes part of a larger picture. There is a saying that “the heart cannot follow what the mind does not accept”: apologetics has the potential to assist in reaching the hearts of the not-yet Christian neighbours by clearing the mind in a contextually relevant way.

Diversity

John 3 and probably even more so John 4 where Jesus has an encounter with the Samaritan at the well we see a Jesus that goes well beyond rationality or the rational argument. The Samaritan woman’s imagination is engaged.  I can’t help thinking that we should consider how besides logic the minds and hearts of others may be stirred through for instance poetry, literature, narrative, parables, visual arts, music, dance, theatre, movies and other forms of creative works. A well known function of the arts is and always has been to open the door to what I like to call ‘hyper reality’ or ‘super reality’. The modern day apologist may need to consider the arts as part of the apologetic toolbox. Missionaries and evangelists for instance understand all too well the value of music and visual arts (probably equally well as marketeers). In the earlier days of the church, visual arts formed an important part of how the Gospel was communicated in a basically illiterate world. The modern day apologist, looking closely at the power of the creative disciplines, may need to include the artist in his or her self-conception as part of the need for contextual relevancy.

Humbleness and Fair Play

More than once I have seen how apologetics have turned into a crusade, even up to a point where it is, in my view at least, no longer serving Christianity. Where humbleness is lost, apologetics may well end up standing in the way of genuine love for the “not yet Christian” neighbour and the effective communication therewith.  No matter how convinced you are of the importance and correctness of the Gospel, it is good to remember that classifications like respect, integrity, goodwill are to be earned rather than to be claimed.

What may potentially be more damaging than not being humble, is the use of false arguments or not playing fair by leaving important information out that does not support your case. This is a practice I have seen all too often in the creation v evolution debates and for the record, not just on Atheist sides but most certainly also on the part of creationists.
In the end it does not help anyone. Atheist scientists like Dawkins, asking for scientific evidence deliberately ask for what cannot be delivered in their context. Science as by definition and practice limits itself to the natural and therefore the supernatural is per definition excluded. Likewise, all too often I see how creationists are trying to make us believe that evolution as a whole is a myth by pointing out the flaws in macro-evolution theory. Moreover while there may be holes in the macro-evolution theory, pointing out the holes or gaps is not the same as providing evidence for God. Both camps would do well in remembering that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Finally

In a culturally and religiously pluralistic post modern society the importance of apologetics is as high as ever. In the shift from modernism to post modernism, rationality still plays an important role but a different one where truth and experience go hand in hand. Post-modernists look for a reconciliation of the rational and the experiential and it is up to apologetics to pick up that challenge. In addition pluralism makes it a requirement to actively research/investigate different sub-cultures of society so as to enable more effective and contextually relevant communication. Apologetics needs to become a frontline discipline and can no longer afford to be an armchair discipline, focussed not just on countering the attack but more importantly on reaching the unreached and strengthening the weak. Apologetics may thus serve the missionary encounter with both non-western cultures and the post-modern, post Christian secular and pagan west (in essence our own neighbourhood) as well as spiritual growth within our communities.  The importance of contextualisation can be found throughout the Bible. Paul says it beautifully in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.

And just look at the story of Jesus. In essence they are the story of a creator seeking reconciliation with his creation came from his divine realm amongst us as one of us, with all the human limitations that brought. A challenge is waiting to be picked up I guess.

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