Michael Ramsden sets out with the aim of making Christians think about sharing the gospel in a culturally relevant conversational way here, but below are some notes I made…
Apologetics is not for philosophical experts… when Peter writes his letters he writes them to the church (1 Peter 3.15,16): – 1. Set apart Christ as Lord; 2. Be prepared to give a reason for the hope you have. Not a complex specialist talk, but a command to the church: You must be prepared and ready, to give an answer, an apologia for the hope you have. Not an increase in profoundness to make more confusion, but to add profundity to clear confusion.
1 Peter 3… Well, what if people aren’t asking… well the quality of our lives should be prompting questions, for surely that’s the context of 1 Peter 3. It is a spiritual discipline for the mind. 2 Cor 10.5 – ‘we demolish arguments… and take every thought captive to obey Christ’. It’s not an intellectual struggle, but what is being assumed in 1 Peter and taught in 2 Cor is that the spiritual battle involves the mind.
Our reason for hope is JESUS!
It is more than giving ‘answers’… there’s more to apologetics than giving answers to questions, but also asking questions of other people’s answers or even asking questions of the questions themselves.
Asking questions allows people to open up within their cultural assumptions…
Luke 20.22… should we pay our taxes… our answer is automatically ‘yes’. Why doesn’t Jesus use ‘yes’? Because it’s a cultural trap (v20) – asking questions exposes their trap – the Jews knows they are God’s chosen people oppressed by Romans – paying taxes finances oppression of God’s people thus moral compromise, but if you refuse to pay taxes you’re breaking the law…
Jesus answers their question… pay your taxes, but paying your taxes is not a compromise, for holiness is giving to God what is God’s. To say ‘yes’ is to not communicate to culture…
E.g. ‘is abortion wrong?’… now, you want to say ‘yes’. But if you say ‘yes’, they’ll think you’re narrow-minded, hate women. In the world’s eyes it’s a choice situation – dictators get rid of choice, so you’re showing God as a dictator. A cultural assumption asks the wrong question… it assumes ‘do you think its ok to eliminate people’s choices by force if necessary?’. ‘Is this a human life?‘ is the real question: ‘when is it right to kill a human person?’ Giving the right answer to the wrong questions is always wrong. Jesus is defining the issue. ‘Supposing I thought life began at conception, what would abortion make me?’ – you’ve communicated.
‘Does your mother know you are stupid?’ – a faulty dilemma… artificially limiting options. You have to introduce another option…
20.41 – won’t morally compromise: who’s authority?
Asking questions makes people think… you think and work out the answer yourself. Saying I am a person of faith… tells people you have leapt into the dark… when is that used in Scripture. I’m not sure if it’s true or real. Faith is a gift but not a gift to believe in something unreal! Faith in the OT… is nowhere! In Hab 2.4, it is a verb – a process of putting weight and trust in something true and real. In Gk, 2 words for faith: pistis (from verb ‘to be persuaded’ – so, noun carries connotations of persuaded of its truth and reality) and nomisto (to describe belief with no specific basis, e.g. in their own Gk gods).
In the English language upto middle-english period, faith was a verb. Putting trust in something, sure of its reality. But now, it means something different. The more you are convinced of God’s reality and truth, the more you will lean on him! Only response to a God who is true and real! How can asking questions be a problem.
‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life…’ believe in me? Why doesn’t Jesus say that? Didn’t he understand the gospel? If there is a heaven, how would you get there? ‘Be good!’ – ‘How can you condemn all these good people?’ If you don’t get where they’re coming from, they’ll disagree – shows you haven’t nailed it. We’re dealing with people. Luke 10 & 18 – the same question, different answers.
Asking questions exposes people’s motives…
Luke 20.2-4 – ‘we don’t know’ – that’s not true, you’re not being honest, neither will I answer you… Exposing motives is very helpful, and how they respond is instructive. Recover the courage to ask people how they’ll respond to the claims of Christ. ‘If I asked you to become a Christian now, what would be holding you back?’ Giving an apologetic is giving a reason for the hope we have – it must flow from the cross, for that is where our hope stems from. Any apologetic that doesn’t take us to the gospel isn’t an apologetic… it may be initially useful, but we can’t leave them there saying we’ve given an apologetic. The answer for the reason for the hope we have must be Christ!
Schaeffer: ‘The greatest problem we have as a church is that we don’t understand what the questions are, let alone the answers‘. The goal must be the cross, in any conversation, situation.
Ramsden: ‘If I were to answer your question adequately, would you give your life to Christ?’
Ramsden: ‘Then what is this issue?’.