Category Archives: Evangelism

Gracious, and Seasoned with Salt

In this eight-minute exchange with Bill Maher, conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is by no means theologically or stylistically perfect.  Nonetheless, his humble and winsome defense of the Christian faith in a rather hostile setting bears watching. What I’ve written below is not a summary of the Maher-Douthat dialogue but three, more general “take-aways”:

1 — To advance the claims of Christianity you must know the Word of God.  The Bible’s message is simple but not simplistic. There are nuances for which skeptics will demand an explanation. In discussing them, believers must be diligent, not dismissive . . . “rightly dividing” the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).

2 — When you know the Word of God, you need not fear engaging in conversation about it. You should, in fact, relish opportunities to present the gospel and refine your understanding of its message. Speaking (coherently) requires thinking. So you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn through the process of searching for the words to explain the wonder of grace and truth and the reason for the hope we have. When you know the Word of God, the charges that atheists fire your way actually strengthen your faith–much like a vaccine strengthens one’s immunity to a disease. Consider Bill Maher’s snide questions to Douthat. They set up well-worn arguments that at once garble and oversimplify what the Bible teaches and what most Christians believe.  Contrast Maher’s flippant jabs for the purposes of laughter with Douthat’s genuine attempts to demystify and help his inquisitor understand. Which approach strikes you as more compelling?

3 — Finally, the inexhaustible arrogance of atheists like Bill Maher–though worthy of condemnation–should really elicit our sympathy.

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”–Colossians:4:6

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Posted by on September 15, 2012 in Apologetics, Evangelism


A Full Understanding

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” — Philemon 6

When we think about evangelism, our tendency is to focus on the immeasurable riches of God’s grace that others are blessed to receive through us.  Given the definition of evangelism, this is actually quite reasonable.

But Paul’s passing exhortation in his letter to Philemon points to the reward a believer may enjoy when he shares the gospel as he ought.  To be sure, there is a certain exhilaration that comes from advancing God’s kingdom as “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).  But Paul identifies another consequence to sharing one’s faith–namely, enhancing one’s understanding of the joys we have in Christ.

When we engage in thoughtful conversation about the Word of truth and life, we are obliged as a matter of course to consider more carefully what it says.  We search for an effective way to communicate the Savior’s love for others and their need for Him.  In the process of seeking this new wisdom, we become like a teacher who discovers–to his utter amazement and delight–an unexplored vein of knowledge in the subject he loves and yearns to master.  With a odd blend of giddiness and solemnity, we hold a candle at arm’s length and step further into a darkened room with bated breath.  We find ourselves deeper … perhaps just a bit deeper … inside the holy of holies and see more clearly the manifold pleasures of God.  In sharing our faith, we come closer to grasping “a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  The curtain has been pulled back for us even further.  Through teaching and sharing, we ourselves learn deeper, more wonderful truths.

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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Bible Reading, Evangelism