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Whom are we to judge as Christians? The culture would tell us to judge no one. “That’s not nice.” The most known Bible verse seems to have shifted from John 3:16 to Matthew 7:1. “Judge not, that you be not judged” says Jesus and that was all he said… ever. No.

I’m sympathetic to some degree, however, with our culture. Not that they are right and that there is no place for judgment (because there is) but because Christians are often judgmental jerks. I have seen many a time, and to my shame I have been guilty of so doing, where a Christian just lets an unbeliever have it. They react to the sinful behavior they see in an unbeliever and they tell them what’s up.*

What I mean is not that the believer gently but firmly points out their sin and need for repentance and faith in Christ for salvation, but that they belittle them and call them names and basically make them subhuman for living in sin and not feeling bad about it. Now I know that some will immediately react to what I have just said by replying “you can’t be soft on sin” or “Christians aren’t called to be doormats” or “Jesus and Paul were not afraid of harsh words.” All of these things are true and I agree. I am not saying that we back down or refuse to hold our ground and not say what needs said. I am saying that we need to be careful how we do it and we need to think carefully about the pattern laid before us in Scripture for how we judge.

I think it’s noteworthy that every direct teaching on the concept of judgment in the New Testament applies directly to believers dealing with other believers.

Matthew 7:1-5 “ “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Matthew 18:15-20 “15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 “9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters,since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Here in this last passage Paul explicitly states that we are not to judge outsiders but to judge those inside the church. This is the pattern of teaching in the New Testament when it comes to passing judgment on people. We judge believers we do not judge unbelievers. But what then do we mean by “judgment”?

There is, of course, a sense in which judgment is unavoidable. Every decision we make is a judgment to one thing instead of another. When I tell my unbelieving friend that he is a sinner and that he needs to repent and believe the gospel I am making a judgment about him. But that’s not the kind of judgment that the Bible seems to have in view. If it were then it would be impossible to not judge “outsiders” while also keeping the commandment to share the gospel.

The kind of judgment that the Bible deals with is that of correcting, rebuking and, if necessary, disfellowshipping another believer. These passages are not pointed at how to deal with non believing people they are how to deal with sin in the church. Some of the Bible’s words about dealing with unrepentant sin in the church are incredibly strong. In Revelation 2-3 Jesus threatens to remove churches lampstands and to fight against them with the sword of his mouth because of their unfaithfulness.

In 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 Paul writes “3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

Undeniably strong language when there is talk of handing people over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh! Jesus himself didn’t hesitate to call people a “brood of vipers” (Mt. 12:34) “Hypocrites” and “Whitewashed tombs” (Mt. 23:27). But you know what all of these really harsh statements have in common? They are directed towards those who consider themselves righteous before God. The harshest statements and judgments in the Bible are directed at those who claim to be believers but who are in unrepentant sin.

How does Jesus deal, on the other hand, with unbelievers and people who have no delusions that they are one of God’s people? The Samaritan woman at the well, for instance, is a person in serial adultery but she is not pretending to be righteous. Does Jesus have harsh words for her? He certainly speaks the truth when he says “you have had five husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband.” But he doesn’t berate her. Just as Paul instructs in 1 Cor. 5 we are not to have anything to do with the sexually immoral, not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, but those who bear the name brother and who persist in unrepentant sin.

When you see unbelievers acting like unbelievers does it make you angry? Christians often times seem to puff up in their self righteousness and condemn sinners for their wickedness. We write them off and avoid them and we talk down about or to them. How quickly we forget that we are them. The only difference between us and them is the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ that we do not deserve. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Tim. 1:15)

When we see unbelievers sleeping around or participating in aberrant sexual behavior we shouldn’t act like we are the better moral person. We aren’t. Christ who lives within us is. When we are attacked by unbelievers for our stance on salvation in Christ alone, or traditional marriage, or for any other kind of truth that offends the non-Christian mind we should not retaliate in anger or in witty slams against “those wicked pagans.” We should instead remember that they are just like me minus Jesus.

We cannot forget our role and our place in dealing with unbelievers. We are not their judge. Our responsibility is to love them unconditionally (a difficult calling to be sure). God has called us to love them, to share the gospel with them, to return good for evil. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20) “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary,bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Pet. 3:9)


It is truly possible to speak what is true, to not back down for a second or compromise our values and principles, and at the same time to not belittle those who are lost and pass judgment upon them. We recognize that God is their judge and he will judge them and that they deserve his judgment. But our role is not to play God, it is to be his ambassadors and to plead and reason with people to flee from their sin and to come and know life in Christ. We must hold our judgment and harsh words against lost people. We must judge rightly within the church and we must be strong and clear, but the way we deal with internal matters and the way we deal with our external obligations as Christian cannot be conflated or we become self-righteous judges playing God.

Speak the truth always. Love always. Judge only where it is your place to do so.







*As a side note, I had an experience as an unbeliever that deeply affected me. When I was thirteen I attended a church youth group as an unbeliever. I was skating on my skateboard outside afterwards and fell and banged my knee and let loose my limited vocabulary (if you follow). At that moment one of the youth workers just tore into me and told me that my language was sinful and wrong and that I wasn't welcome there if I didn't watch my mouth. So, guess what, I never went back. I was so turned off by what happened there that I wrote of going to hear about God and it was at least two years before I went to any kind of church again. My conduct was indeed sinful and wrong, and addressing it was permissible, but demeaning me pushed me away from the Lord when the goal should have been to plead with me to come to Christ.

 
 
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The following is an adaptation of a response I gave to a woman from a conversation I had recently on Facebook. The name has been changed to Michelle to protect her identity since I am posting this on my blog. I believe our conversation reflects a real problem in the church today and that problem is called Egalitarianism or "Evangelical Feminism." Essentially it is a rejection of the biblical affirmation of gender roles in marriage and in the church. I believe we need to stand firm and say what God has said about men and women without shame. Gender roles are not a question of value, intelligence or ability but about portraying the picture of God's creative order and the relationship of Christ and the church.

Michelle stated:

"Jacob, I'm not sure what the problem would be for me to teach a man scripture. What if I were just talking and making points during evening Bible study and a man happened to learn something from what said? My knowledge of scripture far exceeds most men at my church. My husband will ask ME my opinion of a passage and we talk about it. Sometimes I teach him something and sometimes he teaches me something I haven't thought of before.

I believe husbands and wives should submit to one another. I do not see where a man has authority over his wife, but I see the submission as mutual submission, as serving one another. In my marriage, my husband and I are both like the front wheels of a car. I'm the the left steer wheel and he's the one on the right. Jesus Christ is the driver and we are being steered together in one direction. We both sacrifice for one another, it should not just be my husband in the sacrificial role."


My response:

Michelle,

I detect an irritation in your tone, I am not trying to be needlessly combative. I respect you and you are my friend but I think you are wrong on this matter and I think you have bought into a rebellious mindset that our culture has pounded the church with. Essentially what I understand you to be saying is that there should be no difference in role between your husband and yourself but this is anti-biblical.

Ephesians 5:22-33 says:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

God’s purpose in our marriages is to reflect the relationship Christ has to the church. Just as Christ is the head of the church so is a husband head of his wife. Just as Christ sacrificially loved and led the church so a husband should sacrificially love and lead his wife. And just as the church submits to the will and leading of Christ so God desires wives to submit to their husbands. If a husband loves his wife as he ought and seeks not his own good but hers then submission will go well for her.

By denying that your husband is the leader of your home and arguing that you two lead together you are denying the picture that God wants your marriage to portray to the world. Our culture would like for the church to cave in and say that there are no distinctions in the roles of men and women and husbands and wives but this not in agreement with God’s revelation. It is true that men and women are equal in value and worth, ability and intelligence, etc., but the issue is what role has God commanded that they play in respect to one another for the purpose of his glory.

There are plenty of women who are more capable of delivering a good sermon than many men are, but that is not the point. Ability, intelligence, value, etc., are besides the point. The point is that God desires to portray Christ’s relationship to the church through our marriages and that involves one leading sacrificially and the other submitting with respect. This isn't domineering leadership or chauvinism, this is godly lay down on the wire and die for my wife if necessary leadership.

Now that is marriage, what about the church?

1 Timothy 2:8-14 says

8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Now like it or not we have to take the Scripture seriously here when it says “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.” What does this mean? A wrong response is certainly “Well, it doesn't mean I can’t teach or exercise authority of men because that’s sexist.” If we respond with that attitude we call God sexist, something which he explicitly denies in Galatians 3:28 when he says that he doesn't play favorites based upon race or gender when it comes to salvation and all it entails. So what does it mean? It means just what it says.

Now what is the context? It seems to be referring to teaching in the gathered assembly. So the most clear prohibition here is that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the church assembly. When the church gathers together for worship and instruction then it is to be men teaching over the assembly and not women. This does not seem to have in mind a conversation between a man an woman outside of the gathered church and it doesn't seem to have in mind teaching math or history, but theological instruction.

Why is it that men are those who are to teach in the assembly and not women? Paul gives two reasons (neither of them have to do with the culture of the day in Ephesus either). 1. Because Adam was formed first and then Eve. 2. Adam was not deceived but the woman was and became a transgressor.

So on the one hand we have God saying that the relationship of men and women was set by the creation order. From the beginning God always intended there to be differences in gender roles and relationships (something that took a hit in the Fall of man in Genesis 3). Men were always supposed to have headship in the relationship and Paul applies this to the church also.

On the other hand Paul points to the fact that Eve was deceived and transgressed. Here I do not have much insight into what he means to communicate by this but only that there is something about this that disqualifies women as leaders in the church.

But it is not just any man that can lead in the church. 1 Timothy 3 then goes on to give the qualification for the type of person a man has to be if he wants to take up the role of pastor and teacher in the church. It’s not for everyone (James 3:1).

So, Michelle, the issue is a matter of submitting first to Christ and his revealed will in Scripture on this matter and then beginning to apply this teaching to your life for your good and God’s glory. The Scripture is not unclear at all.

 
 
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I’m a natural skeptic and doubt comes incredibly easy to me. When I was 22 or so years old I came very close to losing my faith. I had been blogging about my study in the Bible for a year or two by that time when an atheist (and I mean the most aggressive kind) got on my blog and tore me to pieces. He raised objections I’d never heard, used words I didn’t know the meaning of and quickly batted down all my responses. I realized that day that I didn’t really know whether or not what I believed as a Christian was true. I came home to my wife and asked her in earnest “What if nothing we believe is really true?”

Well thankfully, by the grace of God, I was able to take a class at Moody Bible Institute soon after called “Apologetics.” I had never heard of apologetics before that and the first book I read in the course was Paul Little’s Know Why You Believe. Well it didn’t answer all my questions that I now had but it gave me a good starting place and hope that I could continue to believe and keep my mind at the same time. I began to consume apologetics books and lectures and when I found out that Luther Rice University had launched a B.A. in Religion and Apologetics I promptly transferred from Moody Bible Institute to LRU. From there I was able to really get onto solid ground with my faith once again.

There are some things that I wish I had known before (and during) the time I was struggling with doubt that I would like to share with you in case you ever find yourself in this place. While I hope the Lord may allow you not to go through the fire, so to speak, I hope that you will find this helpful if indeed you do or if even now you are in such a place.

1. Don’t freak out.

It’s very unnerving when you feel like the ground you are standing on is suddenly not as solid as you once thought. When I say that it was God’s grace that led me to some answers to my questions I do not overemphasize that point. I was panicking because I did not know where to turn. If it were not for the fact that my current course of studies led me to an apologetics class I don’t know where I would have landed.

All of that said, I would encourage you to remain calm and think clearly about a logical way to seek out answers to the questions that are causing you to doubt. Emotional responses don’t often lead us to clarity of mind. Accept where you are struggling and then seek out people and books that tackle those issues head on. See if there is an answer before you throw up your hands in despair and abandon what you have been believing.

2. Have humility and patience.

A little humility can help you here. Realize that the reason you cannot currently answer an objection or question in your mind may have less to do with there not being a good answer and more to do with your ignorance. You, me, everyone, all of us together are limited and finite human beings and there is no way we can master the entire realm of knowledge. You simply cannot know everything, you simply cannot know how to answer everything that comes your way and you do have a lot to learn. Finding answers involves admitting ignorance and beginning a process of seeking answers which may take time. Be willing to be a patient student as you look for answers. It is the height of arrogance to assume that if you can’t answer an objection there must not be a good answer. Don’t be that guy. Seek out answers patiently and persistently by talking to people smarter and/or more experienced than you.

3. Don’t go it alone.

One gigantic mistake on your part is to tell no one that you are doubting your faith. I know that it is scary and people might judge you, but if you keep it to yourself you are less likely to find satisfying answers and more likely to succumb to discouragement and walk away from the faith. It is true that not everyone will be understanding and not everyone will be helpful but you need to find a small group of godly, intelligent Christians who will walk through these things with you.

If you find that you are in a church that is not equipped to answer your questions or which does not meet you with understanding (which is unfortunately all too common) then try to reach out to someone outside of your church. Write an email to the head of an apologetics department at a university or seminary and tell them you need help and ask if they can walk with you through some things or hook you up with people who can. Make sure you dialog with thoughtful believers who love God, his word, and you and who are willing and able to wrestle the hard questions with you. Such men and women are far too sparse I admit, but they do exist and if you are doubting you need to find some of them to talk to (I officially volunteer to help you if I can).

4. Be careful about how you read what you read.

When you are struggling with doubts you often find yourself wanting to better understand the non-Christian position that is plaguing you. This is understandable. Someone has challenged you about “Bible contradictions” or the “Problem of Evil” or something else and you find yourself compelled to read more about these things from critical scholars because you have to know the truth no matter where it takes you. Even if it means walking away from the faith, truth alone will satisfy.

I am not telling you not to read those critical scholars and to understand their arguments against your faith, I think you ought to. If we are to hold our faith in earnest then we must do so intelligently and be able to reckon with our greatest critics. But I do want to tell you that you are being foolish if you are reading those sources in a vacuum, cut off from the other side. If you spend your time reading Dawkins, Hitchens, Hawking and Ehrman without reading Craig, Copan, Licona, Wallace, etc., then you are asking for trouble. There is a basic proverbial truth that “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33) and this is true not only of people we spend physical time with but of the books we fill our heads with. Proverbs 18:17 also tells us “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Do not spend your time unevenly in one side of the story or you’ll be led away before you ever hear the other side.

5. Be careful who you doubt in front of.

This is not to contradict what I said before about being honest about your doubts. You really do need to find mature brothers or sisters in Christ to walk through this with you, but I want to emphasize that they should be “mature”. The last thing you want to do is to come out on the other side of your doubts having found the answers you needed just to realize you have left a wake of doubt and destruction behind you.

Facebook, Twitter, or even in certain church Bible studies and small groups are not the place to openly air your doubts. While you are posting questions you are struggling with and quotes from skeptical scholars because you are seeking help with them you may also be planting seeds of doubt in the hearts of other believers just as ill equipped (if not more so) as you are to answer them. You may have the best of intentions in seeking to hash these things out but if you are not careful you may hurt other people in the process who now have experienced your doubts but do not find the answers that you might now have gotten.

6. Consider the alternatives.

I don’t feel like I have every question answered to my satisfaction about my faith. There are certain things that still bother me that sometimes still cause doubt to flare up within me. I wish I could say this were not so, but it is. But there is something else we have to consider when we think about whether or not we are standing in the right place, namely, if I leave here where else do I go?

It is impossible to be devoid of a worldview. There is no Switzerland when it comes the matter of beliefs. You cannot help but believe something and even saying “I believe nothing” is still taking an affirmative position of some kind. The question is, if I move from my Christian faith, what will I embrace in its place? Agnosticism? Atheism? Buddhism? Islam? Do these worldviews better answer the questions of life? Are they more defensible evidentially and philosophically? I know for me the answer is no. No matter how many unanswered questions I have that I might like to put to rest in my Christian faith I find the alternatives even more untenable because of what I do know for sure.

In conclusion, I hope these thoughts will be helpful to you or someone you know at some point (although ideally you may never need them at all). As someone who has studied objections to the Christian faith for about eight years now I feel comfortable telling you that the majority of objections to the faith are not nearly as powerful as they might seem to you when you first hear them. The objections that are most common are usually relatively easy to answer.

For those objections that are more difficult I will encourage you that we ought to look at our faith as a cumulative case. Some areas of our defense will be stronger and others weaker and there may always be some things that we can’t answer to our satisfaction. But one good argument against something we believe does not overcome the total positive case for Christian faith. When one steps back from individual issues and considers the worldview of Christianity as whole and the case that can be made for it as a whole then they will see a very solid and defensible position.

 
 
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I started reading C. S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader today which has what I thought to be a profoundly clever opening line. “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” This got me thinking about how a stellar opening line can be very important. If you nail the opening line on the head then it almost guarantees that your reader will keep on with your story for a while to see what comes of it. I mean, who doesn't want to know why Eustace almost deserves that awful name? Furthermore who doesn't chuckle at the wit of that opening line and feel assured more good writing lies ahead?

I, myself, have not been much of a storyteller up to this point. I’ve written quite a bit of research papers and my share of articles on Christian apologetics, theology and some on contemporary cultural issues, but as of late I have been growing in my desire to start writing fiction and to integrate theology and apologetics into narrative stories that awaken the imagination of the reader and invite them in towards the Christian faith via a different medium. I believe one of the things that made Lewis so great was his comfort in both the realm of academic writing and imaginative fiction and, in both, he seamlessly pointed people to the same truths in each. All of this to say, while thinking more about some of my own ideas for stories I had an idea for an exercise that might help me in the creative writing process. I thought it might be fun to share it with you. Here is the idea:

Write ten of the most interesting opening lines you can come up with and ten of the most intriguing endings as well. Do not, initially anyway, try to create any kind of story to fill in the in between. Just think, purely disconnect from story, what sounds like a really good way to start a story and what sounds like a really good way to end a story? Once you have a set of ten (or really any number you prefer to create) then, and only then, you can start brainstorming how you might get from point A to point B. It may just be the case that in creating a perfect beginning and a perfect ending that everything else may come sprining into your imagination as you think about how you could start a story that says “____________” and/but ends in that culminating line “______________.”

Here are my ten. No stealing. If you win awards with my opening and ending lines I’ll find you and take you down.


1. “He was a rather intelligent boy and yet unbelievably stupid.”


“And after that he never killed anyone again.”


2. “This is the kind of story that you will probably only read one time and, once you have, you will be glad that you did all the while wishing you never had.”


“I told you so.”


3. “It’s always daylight when they come and rip people from their homes but despite their screaming for someone to save them from these nightmarish wretches, when next you see them will be one of them.”


“Now I understand. Now I know what they are. Now I am one of them.”


4. “At the end of Mike’s first day in his Introduction to Philosophy class and he knew only one thing for sure, God must not really exist.”


“As he stepped back into his own world he arrived just in time for his next philosophy class and he only knew one thing for sure, God really does exist.”


5. “I never knew I was capable of magic, I mean real magic, not the kind you buy from a magic store.”


“There’s only one thing certain now, I can never go back home. I can never even go back to earth.”


6. “It was the most beautiful sunset that humanity would ever see and it would also be the last.”


“And as the sun sunk into the horizon, humanity breathed its last.”


7. “Our society has long since let primitive things like religion and morality fade into history and now we are truly free.”


“It’s not just a desire I have, it’s a responsibility that has been given to me.”


8. “He had lost all will to live, but that is only because he did not know what tomorrow held for him.”


“By the time he realized what was happening it was too late to stop it, he was in love.”


9. “I had, of course, considered the idea that we might not be alone in the universe but to discover that we were not alone in this kind of way had never crossed my mind.


“As the door slammed shut I knew, no matter what, I had to find a way out.”


10. “This is a story about two brothers and their two journeys that led them down very different paths.”


“It was all he could do to let him go. He didn’t want to but had to nevertheless.”


So there they are. Now do me a favor, tell me which three stories you would most want to read based upon the opening and closing line and what you liked about it. Also, if you would like, share some of your best ones that you can come up with!

 
 
 
 
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Something that greatly concerns me as an apologist is how much I see other Christian thinkers who have voices "out there" on the internet who have little respect for the one to whom they are reacting against. There is one person in particular whom I have in mind that seems to have quite a following and is gaining more and more followers all the time. I see his posts light up my feed on Facebook and Twitter all the time. Usually his post is shared along with a statement something to the effect of "He totally destroyed them!" or "They just got owned!" or some other kind of triumphal pronouncement.


I've thought seriously about writing this person and encouraging them to re-think their methods a bit but since I've seen others do the same just to have their email published on his site without their permission in order "own them" too, I've decided not to engage him. As such, I share no name here as to whom I am referring to because I don't want to be guilty of calling someone out I have not first addressed personally. But suffice it to say, you have probably read one of his posts and you have quite possible shared one and you may even have made a triumphal statement about how he decimated his enemy. But regardless of who it is I have in mind, it is not so much the person that I want to talk about, but the attitude with which he and others who follow his approach use in arguing the Christian case for __________ (you name it).


I would hope that in times past, and in times future, when you read things that I write on my site that you might leave here thinking "He destroyed their argument" or "That is a rock solid rebuttal" or "What a strong case for the truth of the Christian worldview." What I hope you never get from reading an article on my site is "He totally just humiliated that person." Because that is something we ought never to be able to say about a Christian apologist, at least not that they did so intentionally. Don't get me wrong, when you destroy arguments, sometimes the person championing that point of view might feel humiliated, but hopefully it is not because they were attacked or made to look stupid intentionally, rather, it is because they had been standing on a foolish idea and now have nowhere to stand.


When I see Christians rebutting arguments of non-believers on any given issue in a way that seems to intentionally make them look stupid I really cringe at this. It's not because Christians should be doormats or we can't stand firm against illogical thinking, but because our goal is not to merely win arguments. Our goal is to win people. People who are lost but who are image bearers of God all the same. People who are sinners but no worse than you or I apart from the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:15). What good is it my brothers and sisters if we destroy not only the argument but the arguer? How have I, in so doing, brought that person closer to the Lord? I have not. I have probably given them more resolve than ever before to hate Christians because they are such arrogant jerks who think only they have truth.


It's disturbing to see this so commonly on Christian blogs where people go beyond destroying the argument to destroying the person. It is equally disturbing to see the droves of people re-post these kinds of articles and cheering them on. Why is it that they cheer them on? I think it is because these people say what we all really want to say, you know, in our fleshly, sinful, knee-jerk reactions to these frustrating issues we all want to let these people know what we really think about them. But the reason you don't say it is because you know it's wrong to say those things that pop into your mind when you're angry or frustrated with people. But if you don't say it because it's wrong, then why do you cheer on others who throw away their filter and say it anyway? We need to think about who and what we are applauding when we cheer for the Christian who just let their opponent have it. That is not what we are called to brothers and sisters, we are called to a higher purpose than that.


1 Peter 3:15 says "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."


That gentleness and respect part is lacking in a lot of the responses I see out there today against the hot button issues. I agree that we need to stand firm and speak loudly and clearly about the truth concerning sexual ethics, abortion, and so many issues that the culture is pushing hard against us about, but we have to respond rightly. A right response does not only involve correct thinking but also correct delivery. These people whom so many Christians "fan-boy" because they are so good at "owning people" are often right in what they say as far as their logic or evidence is concerned but they are in flagrant sin for their delivery in which they arrogantly smack down people and not just their bad arguments.


We need to remember why we do what we do. We affirm the faith of believers by speaking and defending the truth, but we also are on a mission to reach the lost. We must strip away their false foundations and destroy their arguments but we should do so in a way that leaves the person's dignity in tact and invites them to leave their position behind and to come stand on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. If we are not in this to win people to Jesus then we are in it for the wrong reasons and, frankly, should go do something else. If we don't do apologetics with gentleness and respect then we are just fueling people's hatred of Jesus and those who follow him. Please think about what you are saying and who or what you are applauding. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
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I was given the assignment to somehow creatively use the story of Job and Waiting for Godot together. I decided I would try to write an alternate Act II for the play and infuse Job into the story and imagine how it might have gone differently under those circumstances. My brief Act II is obviously a Christian interpretation of the story of Waiting for Godot and what Vladimir and Estragon are really waiting for. This is my first attempt ever at writing anything like this and I have no self delusion that it's all that good but I thought I'd share my attempt at creativity with you anyway. Obviously if you know the play Waiting for Godot you will probably find this more meaningful and will be a better judge of what I've tried to do here. But hopefully it will be enjoyable all the same to those who have not yet read the story. You can get the book here.



An alternate Act II for Waiting for Godot.

Next day. Same time. Same place. Someone unexpected.

Vladimir and Estragon enter stage left, already busy in discussion, ignorant of their surroundings at present. A man sits by the tree and is admiring Estragon’s boots.


Estragon: What are we doing today?

Vladimir: Nothing, I expect.

Estragon: Seems like we had a reason for coming back here though, doesn’t it?

Vladimir: Things aren’t always what they seem though are they?

Estragon: Quite right. Quite right. But still I can’t help the feeling we were supposed to meet someone here.

Vladimir: Godot!

Estragon: God bless you!

Vladimir: What? No! Mr. Godot! That is who we are supposed to meet here.

Estragon: Ah! Quite right. Quite right. Oh, perhaps that’s him there.

Vladimir: Him where?

Estragon: Him there...trying on my boots he is. Sitting in my spot no less!

Vladimir: Surely not. (Turns around to face the stranger) Surely so! But surely that humble stranger cannot be Mr. Godot.

Estragon: Why? What does Mr. Godot look like?

Vladimir: I haven’t an idea.

Estragon: Perhaps he looks like that!

(Vladimir and Estragon stare each other in the eye for a minute and then simultaneously turn and stare at the stranger for minute then simultaneously look at each other again.)

Vladimir & Estragon: (In unison) Godot?

Vladimir: (Turning toward the stranger once again) You there sir! What is your name?

Job: Oh hello, I’ve been waiting for you.

Estragon: You say you’ve been waiting for us? How long?

Job: Oh just a short while now really.

Estragon: How do you like those boots?

Job: Not sure what it is but there is something not quite comfortable about them. They feel too tight and too loose all at once.

Estragon: (Hold his head in his hands and weeps) Finally someone who understands.

Vladimir: (To Estragon) Understands? Nevermind that. (To Job) What was your name then? And why should you be waiting for us?

Job: Oh, I’m sorry. How rude of me not to answer your original question.

Estragon: (To Vladimir in a whisper) What did we ask him again?

Job: My name is Job.

Vladimir: I see. I see. Like the biblical character?

Job: Oh yes. Very much like him. Identical to him actually.

Estragon: That’s who your parents named you after?

Job: No. That’s who I am.

Vladimir: You mean to say you are the very same man?

Job: The very one!

Vladimir: (Turns to Estragon) He’s mad.

Estragon: (Turns to Vladimir) Crazier than a sack of cats?

Vladimir: Delusional as the day is long.

Estragon: Perhaps... but he understands.

Vladimir: Understands? Understands what?

Estragon: The boots.

Vladimir: What?

Job: Gentlemen, gentlemen. I have been sent here to meet you.

Vladimir: Sent by who?

Estragon: What he said (gesturing at Vladimir).

Job: You must know!

Vladimir & Estragon: (In unison) Godot?

Job: He’s been called that before.

Vladimir: You mean to say he is called other things than Godot?

Job: Oh yes, he has gone by a great many names. Tell me, gentlemen, do you even know who you are waiting for?

Estragon: (Whispers to Vladimir) I thought we were waiting for Godot?

Job: Yes but do you know Mr. Godot? Do you really know who he is?

Estragon: (Bursts out laughing) My he has good hearing!

Vladimir: Doesn’t he?

Estragon: He does.

Vladimir: Doesn’t he!

Job: Well? Do you know him?

Vladimir: What difference does knowing him make?

Job: It makes all the difference I tell you. Why do you come here, this place, day after day?

Vladimir & Estragon: (In unison) We are waiting for Mr. Godot!

Vladimir: A slow one!

Estragon: Hard of hearing.

Vladimir: Short in memory!

Estragon: But still…

Vladimir: Still what?

Estragon: He understands.

Vladimir: Oh bother. Not this again!

Job: (interrupting their exchange) Gentlemen please! Why are you waiting for whom you do not know?

Estragon: If we were not waiting for him what would we be doing otherwise?

Job: Knowing him.

Vladimir: Knowing him?

Estragon: Knowing Him!

Job: I was like you both once. I waited too. The difference between you and me is   that he showed up. When he did...well...it changed everything.

Estragon: (Whispers to Vladimir) Who do you think showed up?

Job: Mr. Godot of course!

Estragon: (Falls to the ground laughing uncontrollably) Ears like a bat that one!

Vladimir: No, no, no. I’ve read your story.

Job: Good!

Vladimir: No, no, no. Mr. Godot does not show up in your story!

Estragon: (Stops laughing and sits up on the ground leaning on his arms) Who does then?

Vladimir: God!

Estragon: You know this is a biblical man, you might watch your language sir!

Vladimir: No, no, no! It is God who shows up.

Job: Exactly so.

Vladimir: But you said Mr. Godot showed up!

Job: So I did.

Vladimir: You make no sense.

Job: Do you know who you are waiting for?

(Estragon stands up and places his right hand on Vladimir’s left shoulder)

Estragon: Do you think…

Vladimir: Could it be?

Job: Why do you wait for Mr. Godot?

Vladimir: (Long pause) Purpose. It gives us some sort of purpose.

Estragon: (To Job) Not nearly enough. (To Vladimir) Did you bring any rope today?

Job: Do you know why you’ll never meet Mr. Godot here?

Estragon: Do tell!

Job: Because he already came. And as long as all you do is wait, you’ll never find him. (Pauses momentarily) You can know him though. You can meet him.

Vladimir: (Desperately and in tears) Where!? Where do we go? What must we do to find him!?

Estragon: Yes. Please tell us. We are so tired of waiting.

Job: Matthew 11:25-30

(Job hands them a New Testament and vanishes before their eyes)


 
 
 

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