Why Make the Case for Christianity, If God Is in Control?

I’ve written a Christian apologetics book that makes the case for making the case. I argue that Christians ought to embrace a more evidential, thoughtful faith and accept their duty to become Christian case-makers. Many people, after reading the book and thinking about this call to become better case makers, have asked, “If God calls His chosen, can’t He achieve this without any case-making effort on our part?” I also pondered this question as a new Christian, and I think the following analogy is helpful, although certainly imperfect.

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In This Day and Age, Evangelism Is Spelled: A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S

On Saturday morning I woke up to find God’s Crime Scene ranked as the #1 Best Seller on Amazon’s list of “Evangelism” books. I will admit I was excited and humbled, but truly surprised. Saturday was the first day the book was available to the public, and prior to this publishing date I saw it was doing well in pre-sales in a variety of Amazon classes. God’s Crime Scene had been listed in the #1 “Hot New Release” spot in the Apologetics, Physics, Metaphysics and Philosophy categories at one time or another in the weeks prior to its release. It is, after all, an apologetics book that utilizes scientific and philosophical evidence to make the case for God's existence (from the perspective of a homicide detective), and I was delighted to see it was doing well in those expected categories. But evangelism? I really didn’t anticipate people would see it as an attractive alternative to the many other titles more traditionally written as evangelism books. But the early success of God’s Crime Scene may simply be a reflection of a new and important reality: In this day and age, evangelism is spelled A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S.
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If Religious Freedom Is So Important, Why Do So Few of Us Exercise it?

Religious freedom has certainly been in the news over the past few years, given the controversy over many elements of President Obama’s healthcare program and the recent religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas. But if I am honest, I sometimes wonder why we, as Christians, are so concerned about religious freedom. Especially when don’t seem to exercise our freedom very often.

As I travel around the country making the case for the Christian worldview, I sometimes ask my audiences about their own efforts to share the gospel or defend the faith. In most settings (at churches, Christian conferences and schools), there are only one or two attendees who say they regularly share their Christian beliefs in any setting. Think about that for a minute. When was the last time you shared the truth about Jesus with someone at work, at school, at family gatherings or (dare I say) in public? I bet if you are honest, it’s been a while. For the majority of us (yes, the majority) it’s probably never happened.

I’ve written about evangelism quite a bit at ColdCaseChristianity.com, and I think there are several obstacles (either real or imagined) that keep us from sharing what we know to be true. Here is my list, hyperlinked to articles I’ve written to help you overcome whatever fears may have:

1.    We mistakenly think our beliefs about Christianity are entirely subjective

2.    We think we have to be a theologian or apologist to share effectively

3.    We aren’t sure who we should share with

4.    We are simply afraid to take the first step

5.    We think we have to know someone well before we can share the truth

6.    We’re not sure how to engage people (especially people we don’t know well)

7.    We’re afraid of feeling uncomfortable at any point in the process

8.    We hold pessimistically low expectations of being successful

9.    We have been conditioned to speak a Christian language foreign to the secular culture

10. We think our success as evangelists is entirely dependent on our individual effort

Take a look at that list; I bet your hesitancy is represented somewhere. It’s time to get busy, folks. Don’t let your excuses become obstacles. If we want to be consistent in our concerns and objections related to the shrinking religious freedoms we are about to experience, we need to be a people who actively exercise our religious freedom on a daily basis. We can’t simply complain about losing something we never used in the first place. Exercise your freedom. Speak up. Share the truth.

I’ll post these ten evangelism obstacles later this week in the form of a free Bible insert.

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Why the New Pew Report Ought to Energize Us As Christian Case Makers

Yesterday’s release of the Pew Research Center’s report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” affirms what most of us already know: Fewer and fewer people in America identify themselves as “Christian”. I’ve been reading the reaction to the poll with great interest. Many of us seem to still be in denial about this continuing trend away from the Church; some interpret the statistics as little more than movement away from traditional denominations (and not necessarily a departure from Christianity). The interactive data doesn’t support this optimistic view, however. Fewer people appear to believe Christianity is true today than seven years ago, and this should energize all of us to become better Christian Case Makers. Here is what I see in the 2014 Pew Research Center Report:
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What's New? The Lausanne Global Analysis Publication

“To deliver strategic and credible information and insight from an international network of evangelical analysts so that Christian leaders will be equipped for the task of world evangelization.”

A new publication was released today from the Lausanne Movement with the underlying purpose of the statement above. Some of the titles found in the first issue include Where Next for the Arab Spring?, People and Their Religions on the Move and Choosing to be Salt & Light: Can the Church in India be a Model in the Fight for Anti-Corruption?

The Lausanne Global Analysis will be released every other month. Publisher of the LGA and Chairman of the Lausanne Movement Doug Birdsall writes that the LGA is the result of a “gap between the massive amount of information that surrounds us 24/7, and the ability to process that information and access credible analysis from an evangelical perspective.” You can read more about Dr. Birdsall’s publisher’s note here.

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Miraculous Movements

Jerry Trousdale is Director of International Ministries for CityTeam International, an organization he joined in 2005. Jerry co-founded Final Command Ministries, an organization dedicated to establishing church planting movements among Muslim people groups. 

In his new book, Miraculous Movements, Jerry recounts an amazing change taking place within Muslim communities where the truth of Jesus Christ is turning around the lives of many thousands of Muslims. This close look at what the Lord is doing to spread the gospel highlights the key scriptural principles that help Christian reach out in love to share the gospel in their own community and around the world. 

Jerry answered Five Questions about CityTeam, its ministry to Muslims and Miraculous Movements.

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A John Stott Tribute Video

Billy Graham responded to the recent death of Evangelist John Stott by saying, "The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen, and I have lost one of my close personal friends and advisors. I look forward to seeing him again when I go to Heaven."

This video tribute to John Stott provides a glimpse into his life and and ministry. 

 

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Cape Town 2010: A Short Documentary

I enjoyed getting a glimpse into what all took place at the 2010 Lausanne Congress gathering and I hope you do too. 

Release of The Cape Town Commitment

Rev Dr Doug Birdsall, Executive Chair of The Lausanne Movement, said: 'In advance of the Congress we gathered a group of senior theologians, drawn from each continent, to compile a clear and engaging declaration of belief. With this as our basis, we wrestled with some of the toughest issues imaginable - within the Church, in global mission strategy, and in the public arena. The Cape Town Commitment's Call to Action, coming out of those discussions in South Africa, is our roadmap for the next ten years.'

Dr. Birdsall is quoted here referencing The Cape Town Commitment, the third document of its kind. Before the Cape Town Commitment,   The Manila Manifesto  was written after a global Lausanne movement conference was conducted in Manila, Philippines in 1989.  Prior to the Manila gathering, the first global conference was held in 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Out of that gathering, where some 2,300 people attended representing 150 nations came the first document of its kind called The Lausanne Covenant

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The Effectiveness of Imperfect Evangelism

In a world of “experts” and “expert opinions” do you ever shrink back in your evangelistic efforts because you do not perceive yourself an “expert” in Christianity?  Do we need to be?  Today we have experts at Best Buy for your new television.  At Apple computer stores there might be a computer expert to fix your problems.  There is an expert salesperson for your car, expert lawyers, politicians, doctors, food critics, psychologists, sports radio or television experts, mechanics, and an array of financial advisors.  In fact we are so used to living in the company of experts, we’ll sometimes say after our point is made, “But I’m no expert, so what do I know?”

There are two examples I would like to share where God’s strength was made perfect in weakness.   The first is the conversion story of Frank Pastore, and the second is the evangelistic efforts of Moody Bible Institute professor Dr. Michael Rydelnik.

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