Questions, questions, questions

Leave a comment

22/10/2012 by Chris Green

Os Guinness told a tale of an earnest young apologist trying to convince a sceptic that Jesus rose from the dead.  After hours of argument about bodies and empty tombs, the sceptic caved in.  “OK, you’ve persuaded me,” he said. “Jesus rose from the dead.  So what?”

Apologetics is about much more than arguments over empty tombs and big bangs. But I don’t think we’ve moved on from that into other issues instead.  Postmodernity doesn’t mean people don’t ask the truth questions; it means they ask other ones as well.  Actually, I reckon they’ve always asked them but our Apologetics has only been tooled up to answer one.  That’s why it needs a refresh. There are, I reckon there, three questions that any audience has of any of our sermons.  These apply to Christians as well as non-Christians:

1. Is it true?  Does what this person is saying check out with the evidence and cohere with what scientists and historians are saying?  Can it handle intellectual probing? This what we have traditionally called Apologetics.

2. Is it real? Is this person some kind of charlatan, offering some psychological equivalent of snake oil, or am I actually going to encounter God here?  What would meeting this God feel like, compared to what art, music or other religions say?

3. Is it viable?  Will what this person is telling me, make a difference in my world, such that I can see how I can put it into practice?  What kind of world would it be if we all did this?

If you read my previous post, Easy as 1,2,3, you’ll see how these fit with the three aims of a sermon

The truth people want to know stuff, and you tell them what to know and why they need know it

The reality people want to encounter God, and you need to describe to them what actually knowing him is like, and what the marks of genuine godliness are.

The viability people want to know what they are supposed to do, and why.  They want to see if the gospel put to work, works.

The young sceptic who caved in over the resurrection actually needed more information about the truth area, so perhaps something on the reason for death and the significance of Christ’s resurrection might have helped.  But Jesus’ present and future victory, and the defeat of sin and death for the believer would be a start as well.

In the next few posts I want to see how we handle those three questions theologically, and as I hinted last time, I reckon they hang together around Christ’s offices of Prophet, Priest and King.

Think about your last sermon:

  • Did you answer the ‘Is it true’ question?  What evidence did you offer to your sceptical listener? Would what you said have answered your own questions convincingly?
  • Did you answer the ‘Is it real’ question?  Did you promise an encounter with the living God? Did what you said match with your experienced reality?  
  • Did you answer the ‘Is it viable’ question?  Did you show how obedience to Christ would play out as a better series of choices than any alternative? Did what you said work in your own life?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Publication of The Goldilocks Zone

Launch dayJanuary 18th, 2018
3 months to go.

Living as a Christian in the 21st century means we face constant battles to please God. That’s why I wrote ‘PURITY: Living to please God in an impure world – 15 daily readings in 1 Thessalonians.’

There’s only way to get it – by subscribing to my  email newsletter here.

Index

God, Suffering and Joy

A conversation between me (with cancer) and Michael (with Multiple Sclerosis)

Terms and conditions

This blog does not share personal information with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyse and optimise your content and reading experience. I am not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without my permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

I welcome your participation on the Ministrynutsandbolts site, and invite you to share ideas elsewhere on what you learn and read here. At the same time, I ask that you respect my intellectual property rights in the process.

You are welcome to link to my site or any specific post on my site, extract and re-post less than 200 words on any other site, provided you link back to my original post, or print my posts in any non-commercial publication (e.g., company newsletter, class syllabus, church newsletter, etc.), provided you include this copyright notice: “© 2017 Chris Green. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.ministrynutsandbolts.com.”

Please do not do the following without written consent: Re-post one of my posts in its entirety anywhere else on the Internet, use this content for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of my content, or alter, transform, or build upon this work.

If you have some use for my content that is not covered here, please contact me. If you would like me to do a guest post on your blog, email me at ministrynutsandbolts@gmail.com

Copyright does not apply to the titles of books, but transparency means I should own that the title of the blog is taken from the excellent ‘Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary ‘ by Aubrey Malphurs (Kregel: 2nd edn. 2009)

© 2017 Chris Green

%d bloggers like this: