Disclaimer

My last several posts have sprung from a conversation I had with a friend who is not a Christian, but likes the idea of that sort of a God out there.  To an extent.

And I’ve focused on the sorts of rational/logical questions I’ve been trying to ask to prompt her in clarifying her position on what god she may or may not believe in.  It all sounds very clinical.  And at this stage of things, and given her background, it is.  Much of what she occasionally rails against theists for centers on a certain lack of reasonableness or logic to the faith.  Much of that is frankly based in an inaccurate understanding both of what Biblical Christians believe and why they believe it.  
But to get to a point where we’re discussing the reasonability of Biblical Christians, I’m trying to understand what conceptions she personally has about God, with the hopes that we’ll move to a place where she’s willing and able to hear about God from the Bible, , based on what she has been willing to agree to in these preliminary arguments (used here in the logical sense, not the confrontational sense) about God.  Once we have clearly articulated where she stands, then we can know if there’s a way forward in talking about the Bible.  Up until this point, attempts to go to the Bible have been uniformly unsuccessful.  But hopefully if I understand what she believes and why, and if she clarifies that for herself, we’ll know if there is a way forward in discussion.
But it’s not as if I’m going to argue her into believing Jesus Christ the Son of God is her Lord and Savior.  
That’s not a job I (or anyone for that matter) is capable of doing.  I’m praying that by trying to clear some of the undergrowth from around the issue, we’ll be able to get to a place where she can hear the Gospel without simply laughing or getting angry and running away.  But clearing the undergrowth is not the same as the Gospel.  
We like the idea that if we could just present the Gospel in the right words, the other person would have little recourse but to believe.  This is erroneous on lots of levels.  And it puts terrible, terrible pressure on the Christian, which can lead to crushing guilt if the person we’re trying to talk to rejects what we’re saying.  What if we failed that person?  What if that person risks eternal separation from God because we weren’t eloquent or convincing enough?  Man, that’s a hard thought to fall asleep on at night.  
Biblically, it’s clear that this is never what Jesus or anyone else had in mind (1Corinthians 1:18, for example).  It’s not simply a matter of non-believers being stupid or evil, as some once (and still) assume.  Satan works hard to blind people to God’s truth.  He uses many mechanisms to do so, some of which are fiendishly effective.  The war here is not between my words and someone else’s words, but between the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of Satan.  It’s not an even match to be sure, and if it were only that struggle at play, there wouldn’t be any non-Christians left in the world.  
But people are a part of the equation.  And people can resist or reject the Gospel for any number of reasons.  The goal of apologetics is to examine those reasons with an eye towards demonstrating them to be false or inadequate, so that the person acknowledges that they ought to at least listen to the Gospel message with an open mind.  They could still resist or refuse at that point.  But the Holy Spirit might surprise them as well.  
Are apologetics necessary?  Can God open someone’s heart to His truth without extensive groundwork by me or someone else?  Of course.  The Apostle Paul is a pretty stunning example of that, and he’s hardly the only one.  But barring direct divine intervention or action, some people seem to require groundwork to be laid.  Or perhaps it’s simply that laying groundwork helps me feel as though I’m making progress.  Perhaps it’s just a way of making me feel better about myself and my own faith, by assuring me I’m not a fool.
I’m a fool all right, but hopefully not on that particular matter.  Only Jesus saves, and the Holy Spirit is the key agent at work.  But as I’m led, I seek to be faithful in communicating the Gospel in any and every way that might be effective.  And if simply stating it outright (as I have with this friend) is not effective, I’m happy to backtrack and try another route.  She half-jokes that I want to save her soul.  I assure her that’s not in my job description, but that I hope to have some small part in the Holy Spirit’s work in her life, ultimately resulting in her acceptance of Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  And if that requires continued conversation, so be it.  I’ll keep at it for the rest of my life, if that’s necessary.
I just pray it won’t be.  

14 Responses to “Disclaimer”

  1. justine Says:

    We sure think alike. Scary!

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    I’m sure there’s a cure…but I tend to think it involves taking up a cross and following this dude…

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