I’m convinced that pre-evangelism is essential for reaching people with the gospel in postmodern settings today. But perhaps I need to make my case a bit more persuasively. After all, isn’t the gospel self-authenticating and powerful enough on its own? Do we really need to appeal to fallen people’s inadequate reasoning in proclaiming a message about rebirth? Perhaps my quoting of Schaeffer, Moore, and Keller still leave you wanting input from a higher authority.
Fifty years ago, Francis Schaeffer, the one-of-a-kind preacher and evangelist in postmodern Europe (before most people ever heard the term postmodern) told us, “Pre-evangelism is no soft option.” More recently, Russell Moore awakened us to the reality that “we can stop counting on the culture to do pre-evangelism” for us.
From Unlikely Converts, pages 13 to 15:
“Don’t you just love stories? We sit on the edge of our seats to hear them. We download podcasts that feature them. We pay money to hear comedians tell funny ones. We wake up when a longwinded speaker breaks from explanations, elaborations, and emendations and says, “This reminds me of a story.”
“Randy Newman has done it again! His latest book on personal evangelism is so captivating and inspirational that I read it in one sitting.” So says Dr. Lyle Dorsett, Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University Randy’s latest book is Unlikely Converts, the result of his doctoral research on how we can help non-believers come to faith. I’ve asked Randy to write a series of four guest blogs here to share some of what he discovered (and hopefully entice you to buy his book!)
Many argue the reality of pain and suffering proves God does not exist. But this is only true if the premises leading to this conclusion are correct. Last week I discussed why Muslims reject the first premise and why they are wrong. But others think the problem is elsewhere: either God is not all-powerful, or Evil is not real. Do either of these responses solve the problem?
I was surprised this topped the charts last year. It is on a very important topic, but is quite technical. I decided to write it because it needed to be written, but I didn’t think it would get many views. 560 people thought otherwise, making this the most popular post of last year. (It being promoted by someone else in December didn’t hurt either!)
A quick Google search of “Science and Faith” brings up 144 million matches in half a second. Many of these sites repeat the “conflict” narrative—science and faith are at war, and science will ultimately win because it has reason and evidence on its side.
This conflict narrative seems to be more and more common. However, it is the wrong story. In this series, I will identify three assumptions underlying this narrative. I will then share reasons why these assumptions are wrong, and therefore why there is no conflict between science and faith—we should be talking about the “and” not the “or.”
Last Tuesday I lost one of my heroes. Christian speaker, author, and editor Jim Sire passed “from the land of the dying into the land of the living” to a great reward at age 84. He not only had a massive influence on me and countless others through his many books (such as The Universe Next Door, which is one of four books I suggest each parent read with their children before college), he was also a friend and mentor to me and so many others. We can learn at least three lessons from Jim’s life.
“Why do you believe God is a person?” Bob asked me this during a recent flight to San Francisco. He is a bright executive and a Tibetan Buddhist. Over the next two hours, we discussed five reasons I believe God is personal. Last week I unpacked the first reason, from the fact that the universe began. The second reason I shared was that the design we see in the world is best explained as the work of a creative Person.
(As we look back on 2017 I'm posting the three blog posts which received the most views. If you missed these the first time around, hopefully you will enjoy these reposts!) Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)
We continue to search for a reason for the Las Vegas shootings. So far, no “traditional” reason has emerged. Last week I suggested that the reason may be no reason. I outlined a philosophy that is becoming increasingly popular in our culture: nihilism. Is this ringing any bells as we learn more and more about Stephen Paddock? Might it be that he had obtained all which he thought could bring him meaning “under the sun,” and found it was meaningless after all? Might he be someone who so thoroughly embraced the Enlightenment that he lived the nihilistic worldview consistently? And if so, what should we learn from this?
My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew and his friend were on their way to the Life is Beautiful concert in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1, 2017 when Stephen Paddock began shooting. Had they not been delayed while on their way by just a few minutes, they would have been in the line of fire. Though I am thankful they were running late, I continue to grieve over the 58 who were not so fortunate. In my grief, I ask the same question everyone else is asking: Why? The answer may be right in front of us, but it is not one we want to acknowledge.
Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)
Can we hope to find common ground in “the public square” over the critically important social issues of our day? Over the past seven weeks I’ve illustrated how the three different answers to “What are we” determines our answer to this question. But our view of what we are also determines our view of whether abortion and euthanasia are ever justified, whether the gospel makes sense, how Christians best grow in their faith, what constitutes “ministry,” and so much more. Let me explain…
The third answer to “What are we” is that we are essentially nothing. Therefore each person should define his or her individual “essence” and pursue whatever activities he or she believes will lead to individual flourishing. On this view promoting the common good is nothing more than ensuring everyone has the freedom and ability to pursue one’s own definition of flourishing and “the good life.” But is this right? I think not. Here are three reasons why not…
Understanding what we are determines how we treat one another. In this series I’ve argued we are essentially a soul-body combination (Substance Dualism). But some say we are essentially material—only a physical thing. Over the past few weeks I’ve discussed five reasons given for this view, and showed why these arguments fail. We now come to the final argument for Physicalism.
Are there any good reasons to think we are purely physical, and not a unity of soul and body? Last week I considered four reasons that fail. This week I’ll consider a fifth.
Some argue that we should have “blind” faith in science, believing that though now it cannot explain all we are physically, one day it will. I’ll share four reasons this is wrong thinking.
All disagreements about what promotes the good life—human flourishing and the common good—depend on one’s answer to the question “What is it to be human?” The last two weeks I’ve argued we are a unity of soul and body. This week I’ll consider the second answer: “To be human is to be a purely physical thing—a human body.” Here I’ll discuss four reasons people give in favor of this view, and next week I'll discuss another two reasons. I’ll also explain why I think these reasons fail--why physicalism is not the right answer to the question.
What we believe we are, determines how we approach life, how we define human flourishing, and how we think about political, cultural, moral and spiritual issues. Last week I offered three reasons to believe we have a soul, in addition to a body. This then grounds our equality and dignity as human persons. This week I offer three more reasons.
We want to believe in equality, human dignity, value and worth, and the possibility of human flourishing and the common good. But these ideas make sense only if we have a shared human nature that makes us all the same and equally valuable. This shared human nature is not part of our physical dimension (our physical “substance”), but is part of our immaterial dimension (our immaterial “substance”). Therefore Substance Dualism is the only way to ground and defend these ideas.