Can apologetics get in the way of your witness?

chessChristian apologetics, a term that comes from the word apologia, meaning “defense,” is giving answer to those who question our faith.  It’s something I believe is part of what 1st Peter is talking about when it says we should be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks for a reason for our faith, although I think the scripture is referring to far more than logic, epistemology and debate like we see on social media.

While I think apologetics is interesting and important for Christians, I also see a danger if one focuses too much on this endeavor. This may seem like an odd statement from someone on a station that has so many features that focus on apologetics.  But I mention it here because of something very important: Faith that leads to salvation is a gift from God.  No one is saved because they concluded something through some formula.

Ephesians tells us saving faith is a gift from God, not of works, so that no one can boast of something they did.  Too be clear: I believe this means when we seek God, and ask him for salvation, we receive a faith that leads to salvation.  One does NOT receive this faith by some lab experiment. Philippians tells us salvation leads to the peace of God, which “surpasses all understanding;” it’s certainly not from epistemology.

When you witness to non-believers, or discuss our faith with anti-theists, do you do so with meekness, or ego of your own intellect?

What are your thoughts?

Massachusetts man awaits trial for setting two fires inside church building

Prosecutors in Greenfield, Massachusetts are preparing their case for the trial of a man accused of setting two fires inside a Catholic Church building last year.

Trevor J. Defrancesco, 21, was arraigned in Franklin County Superior Court Thursday for an Oct. 19, 2019 fire at Our Lady Immaculate Church in Athol, Mass., according to a report in the Greenfield Recorder. Prosecutors have not said what they believe to be his motive.

A report filed by WHDH television shortly after the fire says the building sustained only moderate damage.

Hate crime charges pending against man who smeared feces on California church building

A California man police say has a history of yelling obscenities at church members has been arrested after U.S. police say he smeared feces and threw eggs at a church building.

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Danny Lee Terpin (Tulare County Sheriff’s Office , U.S.)

Tulare County sheriff’s deputies arrested Danny Lee Terpin, 48, after they say his actions were caught on video at the Iglesia Christiana Fuente de Vida on Friday. The Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page that the video surveillance and a history of incidents led deputies to a nearby home where they made the arrest.

A sheriff’s office spokesperson on Sunday said Terpin faces felony hate crime vandalism charges.

Stolen cross returned to Digby church

A 100-year-old cross that was stolen has been returned according to a report published by StAlbertaToda.ca.

The Yarmouth Conty Vanguard reports the brass cross had been taken in a burglary around 10 a.m. Christmas Eve at the Trinity Anglican Church in Digby, N.S.  A press release issued by the RCMP says a woman brought the undamaged cross to the church and gave it to an employee.

PHOTO: Trinity Anglican Church, Digby, N.S.

Officials say nothing else was taken in the burglary.

No arrests have been announced.

The Digby RCMP is asking anyone with information about this incident to contact them at 902-245-2579. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please call Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477), submit a secure web tip at http://www.crimestoppers.ns.ca, or use the P3 Tips App.

Federal Court: Church of Atheism is not a church

A federal court has ruled a group called the “Church of Atheism” is not a church; therefore, can not be treated as a church for tax purposes.

CTV reports the Federal court of Appeal upheld the minister of national revenue’s decision to refuse the Chruch of Atheism of Central Canada as a charity.

According to a report in The Toronto Star, Justice Marianne Rivoalen said the organization, “… did not demonstrate that its belief system is based on a particular and comprehensive system of doctrine and observances.”

The decision was unanimous and and the appeal was dismissed, with costs.

US agents investigating attacks against church buildings in Texas, reward offered

The FBI is trying to find out if four cases of church vandalism in El Paso, Texas are related. The latest incident happened Dec. 5. A criminal smashed windows at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.  Fire officials told the El Paso Times a small fire at the church that night appears to be intentionally set.

The church pastor posted on social media that no one was hurt.  He said federal agents are investigating the attack against the church as a hate crime.

Fernando Ceniseros, a spokesman for the Diocese of El Paso, encouraged anyone with information on the crime to reach out to the police, FBI, or Crime Stoppers.

“If you see something, if you know something or if you hear something we are asking our people to say something,” he said, according to the KVIA television.

The vandalism at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church includes the burning of a Bible, Satanic symbols left on church property and around $75,000 of non-specified destruction, according to a followup story from KVIA.

The FBI in September announced a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in previous attacks against church buildings in El Paso. Other rewards offered to help find the person or persons responsible bring the reward total to $15,000 for the arrest of those who are responsible.

Is it possible my faith isn’t as strong as I thought?

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A self-proclaimed “exvangelical” made a candid social media post questioning why people are surprised that atheism is such a big part of his self-identity.  He said he was never asked why faith in God was an important part of his identity when he identified as Christian. He also wanted to know why Christians found it odd that he would talk about his disbelief so often.  The answers to his questions depend on several things. Is atheism non-belief and nothing else? Is there a premise hidden in the “exvangelical’s” questions of which even he is unaware? Can one discuss his or her faith often without anyone asking questions?

 There are atheists who simply have no belief; that is, to them, atheism is nothing beyond not being convinced that God exists.  This group has no motivation to “prove” God’s non-existence; therefore, they have no position to defend or one they wish to prove wrong.  The “exvangelical’s” question implies he is not among this group of atheists because opposition to belief in God would not an important part of their identity.  There are other non-believers who proselytize for atheism. They make it a point to bring up the topic of disbelief often and even try to get others to abandon their faith. This group goes beyond saying, “I don’t know.”  They take the position there is no God. Would it make sense to say I don’t know if God exists but I oppose belief in Him? The “exvangelical’s” question is based on the idea that non-belief is part of his identity and that he is part of this group.

 God is part of a Christian’s identity by definition.  Christians believe the scripture that says if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old one has gone.  Christians accept The Great Commission; the command to tell others about Christ. It should not come as a surprise that someone who believes they are commanded to spread the Gospel would do so. Wouldn’t these things make being a Christian a bigger part of one’s identity than something about which the individual has no belief?

 Consider, I don’t know if life exists anywhere but Earth. While it may exist, I have not seen evidence sufficient for me to form a belief on the matter.  But my non-belief in extraterrestrials is not part of my identity. I don’t go out of my way to find people who believe in ET so I can debate the issue, and I don’t mock those who believe life is out there. I’ll wait for explorers to answer that question before I form a belief.  The point I’m making is this: If a person has a strong belief, it is only natural for it to be a part of his or her identity. If a person has no position to defend, why would it be part of their identity any more than non-belief in exterritorial life? 

 The words on this page should not be taken as a slam of the “exvangelical.” He wrote a very frank description of his experience as an atheist.  If anything, this is a warning to Christians to constantly turn to God for self-understanding. The “exvangelical” has no doubt that he was a committed Christian who has now abandoned his faith.  But do you know any person who regularly talks about his or her faith who hasn’t been questioned about it? How often on social media have you seen someone reference their faith on a public post without an anti-theist chiming up?  Yet the “exvangelical,” who believes he had strong self-identifying faith when he was a Christian says he was seldom questioned. Doesn’t this at least imply he was wrong about his own commitment to Christ?

 The Bible tells us there are those who believe strongly in their own faith.  They will tell God that they prophesied, drove out demons and even worked miracles in God’s name; yet they never had a relationship with God even though they had a very strong false self-image of someone firmly grounded in faith.  The “exvangelical” obviously felt his own Christian faith was so strong others should have taken note, yet the questions he posted are grounded on his observation that no one gave his faith a second thought.  

Isn’t this a good reason for Christians to ask God to help us understand our own motivations and open our eyes to any self-delusion we may have?