3 Suggestions for Apologetics Strategies into a Globalizing World (from Dr. Edgar’s Apologetics class).
1. Patience and Pace: A temptation today is the accelerated way that life moves. We’ve all experienced the temptation/oppression of emails (a sense of urgency because its on your screen). Emails have power over us. V. Havel (humanist and former Pres. Of Czech Republic) was put into prison for anti-communist views. In prison, he wrote plays and corresponded with his wife about the gray wet blanket of communism. Lots of great writing is done in prison…you realize what your values really are. The apostle Paul, Martin Luther King, for example. When Havel was elected president, within a year of his administration, he was criticized for not changing things fast enough. He was a very creative person, but what he said was, “If you keep this demand up, you’ll fall into same danger of communist oppressors…because they went so fast with their revolution.” Like a child with a flower, don’t pull it up to make it grow. Patience is important with things that really matter. It’s dangerous to wish for the old days, the best thing you can do is slow down, savor the moment. Life seems to get faster the older you get. They’ve studied this, and the best scholars say that this has to do with when your younger, everything is new so you process it much more slowly…like the first time you go to a new place. The older you get, you’ve seen a lot so you don’t process things as much. They say try to slow it down, take your time, savor things that really matter. Unless you do slow down and ask the big questions, you will not be prepared for the future, let alone be right with God…it takes time and patience, skills and meditation to cultivate a relationship with God.
2. Combine Working for Justice with Gospel Preaching/Heralding: One of Edgar’s favorite books by Harvey Kahn is called “Evangelism: Preaching Grace and Doing Justice.” He says you can’t have one without the other in our world today. If we only are communicating abstract ideas and not paying attention to people’s needs, then it’s a disincarnate Christianity. But if we’re only paying attention to people’s needs and forgetting words of Gospel, then we’re not faithful and doing them a great disservice. In The Grand Inquisitor chapter in “Bros. K”, they talk of why Christianity doesn’t stand…Jesus made a big mistake by not turning stones into bread. Eloisha answers we need both: Jesus was the bread of Life. You want to do it on God’s terms. You depend on the Word that comes out of His mouth. The lesson was to do it God’s way. We’ve been moving in a good direction, a pendulum swing, but now we’re going too far in the justice direction and forgetting there are ideas and the gospel. The church’s role is not to forget the poor, to act for mercy (one of Paul’s great missions was the collection in favor of Jerusalem), but church doesn’t have sole responsibility for social justice. There are agencies qualified, some may be gov. run, the church can pray for them and work side-by-side, but it’s both. Both and. Some are overly enthusiastic about social engagement, forgetting about preaching the gospel and nurturing people.
3. Prosperity Is Not Enough: A lot of us in the West are consumer driven that we tend to ground our identity in things we have rather than who we are. In a globalizing world, there’s an increasing division between the haves and the have-nots. “Haves” are computer savvy, live in cities, sit in boardrooms. “Have-nots” are immigrants and don’t have access to power, and when they look for it, all the have-nots want the power that the have’s have. We need to not live by bread alone. One of Edgar’s favorite 20th C philosophers/psychologists: Victor Frankel (Jewish psychologist) deported and sent to prison camps. His was a pretty severe camp, but because of his profession, he could do some counseling and therapy. He began to do counseling and even some of the prison guards came for help. He found the people most likely to survive, not to get freedom, but survive were not the well-born and wealthy or privileged, they had some kind of hope. And most often it was religious hope that kept them surviving. He did get free and developed “logo therapy” and in his last decades, he embraced Christianity. This counseling method was to draw out from people what they really hoped for and that really mattered. It could be aesthetics, loving a grandchild…he would simply pull out those things and reinforce them. A way to build bridges and get an entryway into someone’s life. It’s profoundly Christian. Just observe wealthy people. Many are miserable, they try to gain access to reality by things, and it won’t do that for you. In a globalizing world we have a great way to bring the gospel that brings ideas in the contextual surroundings. Ideas shape context and vice versa.