Live Blog by Chipper Flaniken
Welcome to “Apologetics Beyond the Pew – A Conversation with Ravi Zacharias and Friends”
A live video stream of this event is available here.
The event will begin at 2:30PM CST.
The Henry Center is sponsoring a special event with global evangelist Ravi Zacharias on Monday, April 12, from 2:30pm-4pm in ATO Chapel on the TEDS campus. Entitled “Apologetics Beyond the Pew: A Conversation for the Church with Ravi Zacharias and Friends”, the event will cover how Christians can carry out faithful apologetics beyond the walls of the church building.
Zacharias will be joined by Scott Chapman of The Chapel (Grayslake) and John Njoroge of RZIM. President Craig Williford of TIU will give opening remarks.
Introductory comments from Dr. Craig Williford, TIU President
– Introductory music by Jay Greener
– Further introductory comments by Scott Chapman, who came to Christ in part through the tapes and writings of Ravi Zacharias.
Ravi Zacharias – Introductory Comments
– Honored to be here, accompanied by his wife.
– Mentioned that Rick Pease is here, the new president of RZIM. This will allow Ravi to focus more on his speaking engagements.
– Mentions that the new partnership between RZIM and TIU is very strategic and timely. Through this new alignment, we will look into the future together.
– Remarks that Trinity faculty has been very instrumental in shaping his spiritual formation – especially when he was studying at TEDS for his MDiv – (graduated ’76)
When you look back over the last thirty years, there have been many voices announcing that changes were coming – sounding the alarms. Including Francis Schaeffer.
And these warnings have come true. We can’t define sexuality, marriage, etc. These social difficulties are not longer shocking. We can’t even define what “life” really means.
Things that we thought would be self-evident and sacred and no longer that way.
But again, people like Schaeffer warned us of this, and this time is now here!
Now, as we live in the “high-noon” of reasoning and thinking – we need to know how to respond. What are the patterns we need to deal with?
Four changes in the past 30 years:
1. The popularization of the death of God – especially the atheistic mindset.
– people don’t just believe this – they are also willing to live within in ramifications. If you say it, and repeat it, and say it in a triumphalistic way – that’s all you have to do! You say it or pronounce it, and then it’s over! Dawkins, Hitchins, Harris, etc. – they have made this type of thinking very popular.
2. The Third World’s attack on western ideas with their pantheistic mannerisms. The western world looks juvenile, and the rest of the world looks sophisticated. Pantheism has “disoriented” the Western world.
– Do you know of any other religious worldview defend the statement, “all are created equal”? Only Christianity would really support this. This framework shaped the Western world.
– All of the sudden the most unwanted voice in Western public forum is that of the Christian. Can you believe this shift?
The world doesn’t realize how precious the Gospel is
3. The transfer of truth through the eyes – the “eye-gate” rather than the mind.
– Most people today see with their eyes, but not with their conscience.
Example: Movies. They get rejected because
4. It has become a youth-oriented world as far as a molding point. We have to address the youth!
How do we respond?
1. We need an apologetic that is seen! Not just explained. Otherwise it will become heretical.
– Many Christians have sown these seeds of action – and we need to keep sowing. The life has to be lived! When the life is lived, don’t underestimate the impact.
2. An apologetic that is not merely argued, but is also felt. You cannot have a persuasive speaker if he/she does not come through as being persuaded themselves!
– passions are very real, and therefore the passion for the gospel has to be real if it is to appeal to a generation that lives with its feelings.
3. We cannot comprise the Word of God in the process! We cannot compromise the Word in the process of bringing the world over into the experience of Christ
– we have to bring life into the proclamation of the Word!
– Why didn’t Christ wait to become incarnate until we had video cameras? The Word has a lasting, abiding value as a carrier of truth.
– Words – they must have objective meaning and value! Otherwise, you are manufacturing a world of your own. And when these types of worlds collide – terrible things happen.
Thomas Moore: When we give our words to someone, we hold our lives in our hands. If we open our hands and let them drop, we shall look down and never find ourselves again.
– The Word that we have been given must be seen, felt, and argued!
Question & Answer Session – with Zacharias, Chapman, and Njoroge
– Chapman to Zacharias: The practice of apologetics is changing – how do social justice issues affect this? Are classical apologetics still useful?
– Dr. Zacharias: look to Schaeffer for a bridge from apologetics to cultural engagement. Also, classical foundations are still important. There are felt realities to that we must address. If we understand the “wounds” of a culture, we will never be able to communicate with them. We need to understand the “why” questions and the anguish that a culture might be dealing with. Otherwise we will talk completely outside of their felt needs. There needs to be a connection between classical apologetics and felt needs.
Njoroge: we can become very good at intellectual ideas and forget that there are many other aspects of being human that need to be addressed. Often, gifted communicators find it hard to understand why people are not changed by good arguments. We need to make sure that different gifts are being used well. They all come into play.
– Dr. Zacharias: Just because people have heard the arguments doesn’t mean they understand them! So find an entrance into the heart – such as through music, poetry, etc.
Question: Christians are comfortable talking about truth because they believe there is one. Is there such a thing as objective beauty? Could this serve as an apologetic?
Dr. Zacharias: you can usually tell when beauty is violated more easily than you can sense it on its own. There will be preferences and choices, but when profanity comes into play, we see beauty from a more objective point.
Njoroge: We are called to preach a vision of beauty to others so people can truly long for God! Arts often bring out the best in people, so we need to know how to use art.
Scott Chapman: people might be searching for a beauty of love. In this kind of openness – God must find a place to dwell. And this is the role of the church.
Dr. Zacharias: most people have given up on love. They just don’t believe it exists anymore. People are very cynical in this regard. One thing we can do to help with this – is the model this fraternal relationship. This king of respect! And the church must model this. People who leave the church, they find that the church has totally rejected them, and they don’t have any room for God.
Njoroge: We talk a lot about winning souls for Christ – but we need to remember that once people come to Christ, there is still a lot of work to be done in their lives and in the community. We need to saturate the community with the gospel. This has really been lost – especially the biblical storyline. So we have to change the angles that we speak to. We need to understand this storyline of Scripture so that people are truly changed. They will be forced to confront issues that they are dealing with.
Dr. Zacharias: Apologetic strategy often depends on where people are from. Also, this is a tumultuous time that we live in as far as the invasion of the mind! We have our Black Berry devices, TV, tons of emails – it’s almost as if God doesn’t have a chance at getting in! So we have to acknowledge this, and make sure that we guard our quiet times as well. This is a difficult time in which to live a consistent, godly life.
Question: From a Christian perspective, when we look at key political issues today, Christians are very divided. As you look at the landscape, what guidance can you give as far as addressing a diverse Christian body?
Dr. Zacharias: This is a difficult question! There will always be people who disagree with you.
– Example of Joe Gibbs (NASCAR – used to be in the NFL) – everyone is depraved (according to Joe Gibbs). It doesn’t matter what industry you are in.
Watching the world today – including the United States – there is systemic corruption everywhere! When the central power is given to a governing authority, it will plunder the souls of people. There are plenty of historical examples of this. The process of freedom and markets doesn’t eliminate evil, but it may be the best route from a philosophical perspective.
Can you respond to the apparent cruelty of God in the Old Testament?
Dr. Zacharias: Another very difficult issue! John Njoroge is doing a lot of thinking on this.
Njoroge: This is a really important issue today – in fact much of The God Delusion is based on attacking the character of God.
– the question itself assumes a certain standard. You have to believe that there is a moral standard in order to even raise this question, and you can’t have a moral standard without God. The question of evil is in view here as well. You answer these questions in a similar light. We have to remember that God is all-knowing, and we are not. When answering this question though, remember that God is often cast in the worst light possible. Remember that you cannot say that the events of the Bible are knee-jerk reactions. God’s judgments on the nations are purposeful. Also, Israel was an instrument in the hands of God and they too were inflicted with judgments from God.
Dr. Zacharias: When you see God’s cataclysmic actions – remember that there are major revelatory elements there as well! This means that what he does is a result of people ignoring God’s revelation. God is not acting in a vacuum.
Also: Dawkins and all of these scholars disavow God because of evil. But the thing is, when you talk about evil, you must say there is a God. But why must there be a moral law giver? Because when evil is discussed, it always relates back to people – so the question is bound within itself. There is a dignity inherent in humans that cannot exist without a law-giver.
Finally: pain is necessary! The possibility of pain is an indicator for self-preservation. This keeps us from self-destructing!
End of event: Thank you for joining us!