Blog Post

Why Apologetics?

I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church.  When you’re raised Roman Catholic, the church helps you to learn all about the rich traditions of the church through Sunday school and mid-week classes.

But as a young teenager, I also had a lot of questions.  I didn’t understand the reasons behind many of the traditions and rituals I was expected to perform.  Why am I supposed to genuflect before I go into the pew?  Why use the holy water and make the sign of the cross?  Why should I confess my sins to a priest?  When I asked my questions, the main answer I got was, “That’s just what we do.”  Questions like these (as well as a healthy dose of early 90’s teen angst) drove me away from the church all together.  Christianity seemed like blind faith.

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I met a good friend who invited me to his youth group at a protestant church.  There was the promise of free food and cute girls, so naturally I was going.  But what I found was that the student director was actually able to answer my questions.  Over the course of the next year, he showed me good reasons for trusting God.  For the first time in my life, it occurred to me that this whole Jesus thing might actually be true!

I don’t think my experience is unique… and this experience isn’t unique to Roman Catholicism. There are many who take a chance and try out their questions on protestant churches only to find that the church doesn’t give them sufficient answers.  This is why it’s so important that every Christian have a basic understanding of Christian Apologetics.

Christian Apologetics is the term used to describe the defense of the Christian faith.  We’re not “apologizing” for anything… we are presenting a defense to show that our faith is not blind faith, but it is reasonable.  In fact, this practice is something that the early church was commanded to do.  The Apostle Peter writes, “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

What if you knew why your faith was reasonable?

What if you were confident that you could defend your faith against the attacks the world throws at it?

How would your faith be strengthened?

How could you help the people in your life to trust the Lord?

Next week at Stones, we’re starting a ten-week class on Christian Apologetics, and I want to invite you to be a part of it!  It’s a journey that has dramatically shaped my trust in the Lord, and I hope it will shape yours as well.

Blog Post

Some Theological Nonsense

I recently read an article written by Rachel Held Evans. (Find the article here.) The main point that Evans conveys is that the millennial generation (those born after 1982 or so…) are leaving the church in droves because they find the church to be inauthentic and performance oriented, hostile to the LGBTQ community, opposing science and rational thinking, and lacking in participation in social justice issues. She concludes by stating:

We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.  Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Now, I appreciate a number Evans’ thoughts. First, I agree the American Church appears to be largely “inauthentic.” By this, Evans means that the church has been editing the teachings of Jesus to only those lessons that we agree with as a culture or find to be easy. In other words, the American Church wants Jesus to fit into our lives instead of allowing Jesus to shape our lives.

Second, I hope for many of the same things that Evans hopes for as well! I hope for a truce between science and faith. In fact, the data coming from the scientific community is demonstrating how science lines up with the Christian worldview with remarkable consistency. My hope is that scientists on both sides will seek impartial data and draw conclusions that only lead to the truth.

I also hope for a day when there is no longer hostility between the LGBTQ community and the Christian community. It makes me so sad when those who claim Christ tell people that God hates them or commit acts of violence against them. This is obviously not in line with the truth of the gospel, and it makes me so sad that this has contributed to the hostility.

However, at the heart of the article is the same problem that Evans is attempting to combat. Evans says,

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.  We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith… We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation. We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities. We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

These all seem like great ideas, and some of them are in line with scripture. But we must not allow our own ideas shape God or shape scripture, rather we must allow God and His Word to shape our ideas. What millennials want is irrelevant. It’s what God wants with millennials (and the rest of His church) that really matters. God’s truth will always remain constant and immovable. The poor still need to be cared for, sex outside of marriage is still a sin, and homosexuality still offends God regardless of what anyone says or does.

Each one of us, in one way or another, edit Jesus. We like the lessons that are easy for us to follow, and we ignore those that make us too uncomfortable. To bring real authenticity back to the church we have to start with this fundamental issue in each of our own lives.  And what is this core issue?

Trust.

Do we really trust the Lord enough to take Him at his word in every area of our life? When the teachings of Jesus are challenging, are we willing to take Him at His Word? Are we willing to lay down our belief system, our worldview, or our moral leanings in order to let those things be conformed to the teachings of Christ? Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) Let us be a people who are marked by this ethic—conformed to the image of Christ.