Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apologetics methodology - reaching our culture where it is at.

Pastors wake up! we are past Josh McDowell's plaid trousers. To put it another way -
Pastors, we are not in Kansas anymore. At least Dorothy had the perception to realise that she wasn't in Kansas anymore, unlike many pastors and evangelists today. Back in the late 60's or early 70's I had the pleasure of watching a movie involving Josh McDowell speaking about Christianity and the Evidence that demands one make a verdict about Jesus. It was relevant and informative and challenging, for in those days many were asking the question about evidence for the christian faith.
I remember the laughter however when Josh, appearing before a University crowd came on the screen dressed in plaid trousers. At the time something culturally relevant for Americans but not so with Australians where Blue Jeans was the "in thing".
Thirty odd years on however, we have Pastors who just don't get it that those sorts of answers that Josh gives don't cut it anymore in evangelism purely because most unbelievers are not asking those questions anymore.
These Pastors who quote McDowell are in effect wearing plaid trousers without any awareness that the culture has moved on.
Our Culture has moved on. Far fewer have any basic understanding of the Bible or the Christian Faith. It's revealed partly by the unbelievers best known verse which isn't John 3:16 but rather "Do not judge". Most unbelievers think that objections to Christianity have won the day. Many live by unexamined assumptions about life where beliefs are picked up by adding them to your plate from the smorgasbord of beliefs and chosen on the basis of pragmatism only. What "works for me" seems to be the guiding motive in what people believe today. They accept half-baked worldviews such as postmodernism with any investigation or deep thinking about what is involved. The Closing of the American Mind is aptly descriptive of the Australian scene and indeed most Western advanced countries. But surely it is tragic if this is the situation of our pastors also.

Some might think that apologetic method is not important for the Christian, he just needs to tell others about Jesus. But this is both simplistic and untrue. It ignore that Paul shows a clear method of being culturally relevant to unbelievers and showing them that their worldview is a house of cards and that Christianity alone makes sense of it all. In Acts 17 Paul helps us see the importance of what he elsewhere calls "pulling down fortresses." The unbeliever is shown how man has 'a worldview of choice' that is internally incoherent, for example he makes idols of the same wood he uses to warm himself by the fire.
And we need to repeatedly hear that Evangelising doesn't mean everybody responds positively as we see clearly from Acts 17, indeed Paul is denigrated and maligned by some of his hearers but such responses are not a reason to refrain from proclaiming the gospel message.

Isn't this something we take for granted, this cultural awareness in evangelism - when preparing missionaries for the mission field. We do this as an integral part of the training we do when sending missionaries overseas to the Chinese or Africans. We learn the culture and language so as to be able to communicate and not needlessly offend by saying inappropriate things or using gestures in the wrong manner. So why are we so reticent at home within our own culture?
Is it that we are so cut off, or perhaps it's the opposite of being so absorbed by our culture? that we are not aware that our professing of evangelistic truth is not hitting home and we blame the lack of response to being due to hardened hearts or refusal to turn to God.

I hope all of us will spend some more time in pondering this as we seek to take the good news to those without the Lord Jesus Christ.

Your brother,

No comments: