This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Category: Apologetics

How to disagree agreeably

This video from The Gospel Coali­tion with Tim Keller, Matt Chan­dler and Michael Hor­ton was pub­lished in 2011, but reposted by TGC on Sep­tem­ber 18, 2015 on Facebook.

I wish I had found it ear­lier. It sums up the issue I have with a newly-published book. I’ve been debat­ing whether or not to review it.

This sums up what the author did not do: “Be able to describe the other person’s posi­tion in a way that they would under­stand it before you earn the right to cri­tique it.”

Per­haps that’s enough of a review.

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Setting things straight on ‘contextualization’

The folks at Grace to You fre­quently con­demn the con­cept of “con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion” and do so by defin­ing it in light of those who abuse the term. John MacArthur and Phil John­son in par­tic­u­lar have por­trayed con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion as water­ing down the mes­sage so peo­ple aren’t offended by it.

Ed Stet­zer cor­rectly defines con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion and the need for it on his blog today:

I have said it many times, but it always seems to bear repeat­ing — con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion is not water­ing down the mes­sage. In fact, it is exactly the oppo­site. To con­tex­tu­al­ize the gospel means remov­ing cul­tural and lin­guis­tic imped­i­ments to the gospel pre­sen­ta­tion so that only the offense of the cross remains. It is not remov­ing the offen­sive parts of the gospel; it is using the appro­pri­ate means in each cul­ture to clar­ify exactly who Jesus was, what He did, why He did it, and the impli­ca­tions that flow from it. Often­times, it is unclear com­mu­ni­ca­tion (and a lack of con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion) that con­tributes to some reject­ing some­thing they do not under­stand. If the feet of those who bring the gospel are beau­ti­ful upon the hills, it is at least partly due to the fact that those who hear the gospel under­stand and appre­ci­ate its life trans­form­ing truth. This often occurs through crit­i­cal contextualization.

My often-used def­i­n­i­tion of con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion: com­mu­ni­cat­ing in a way so as to make the offense of the gospel most clear.

Piper: How do you talk to people for whom God is unreal?

John Piper posted a video — which looks like he recorded him­self in his study — about talk­ing to peo­ple for whom God is unreal. They say “don’t give me that God talk. This is a real prob­lem.” It’s an “over­flow” from his ser­mon of this past weekend.

When Talk­ing to Folks for Whom God Is Unreal from John Piper on Vimeo.

Love for those we evangelize: no strings attached

I’ve read and enjoyed two pre­vi­ous books by Randy New­man (no, not that Randy New­man) called Ques­tion­ing Evan­ge­lism and Cor­ner Con­ver­sa­tions. Randy, on staff at Cam­pus Cru­sade for Christ since 1980, has just released his third book (which I’m now read­ing), Bring­ing the Gospel Home: Wit­ness­ing to Fam­ily Mem­bers, Close Friends, and Oth­ers Who You Know Well (Cross­way, 2011).

In the chap­ter “Love: Always Craved and Yet Sel­dom Con­veyed” he writes about the need to truly love peo­ple and not just use the appear­ance of love as a means to evangelize:

We need to love peo­ple sim­ply because they are peo­ple, fash­ioned by God in his image; we should not show them love just as a way to evan­ge­lize them. Surely, we can find traits, com­mon ground, unique gifts, per­son­al­ity nuances, and expe­ri­ences we can affirm, and, bet­ter still, enjoy. But we must not love them merely as a manip­u­la­tive pre­lude to preach at them. They’ll smell such nonlove miles away. Instead, we must ask God to enable us to love them. Period. No strings attached. If they’re wait­ing for the other shoe to drop — a shoe in the form of a gospel pre­sen­ta­tion — they won’t feel loved by us because, in fact, they’re not.

Manip­u­la­tion as a means to the gospel is not evan­ge­lism — and risks cre­at­ing a false con­vert. And that “com­mon ground” — that’s the “point of con­tact” Fran­cis Scha­ef­fer advo­cated, a place where con­ver­sa­tion can begin.

More impor­tantly, that love does absolutely need to be gen­uine. As Albert Mohler said at a Desir­ing God con­fer­ence whose topic was Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, we need to love them — the sin­ner, the uncon­verted — more than they love their sin.

After all, God showed his love for us, “in that while we were still sin­ners, Christ died for us.” ()


but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sin­ners, Christ died for us. (ESV)

Apologetics That Brings Glory to Christ

Pas­tor Dustin Segers

I had the great bless­ing of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 2011 Earth Stove Soci­ety Think Tank this week with sev­eral pre­sen­ters, includ­ing Pas­tor Dustin Segers of Greens­boro, N.C. He is an active evan­ge­list on the streets of his city and on col­lege campuses.

One of his two pre­sen­ta­tions was on the topic of Apolo­get­ics and New Covenant Theology.

Dustin reminded us to “defend the Bib­li­cal God and the Bib­li­cal gospel with the Bible. Stand on the Hill of God’s word to defend that self­same Hill. Jesus and the apos­tles did it, and you should too.”

You can read a sum­mary of what he pre­sented on his blog, Grace in the Triad.

Video of his pre­sen­ta­tion will be avail­able soon. I rec­om­mend both.

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