What Is Your Style?

What Is Your Style?

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Above Image by Mircea – See my collections from Pixabay

I finished a book titled “Contagious Faith” by Mark Mittelberg where is explains five common or natural styles of evangelism Christians have. 

When I first heard of this book on a podcast, I immediately thought of Gary Chapmans 5 Love Languages. Though they don’t correlate in any way, the five styles of evangelism are our go-to natural ways of sharing our faith, just as the various love languages resonate with each of us and are the most natural way we feel loved and secure. 

For most Christians, sharing their faith is daunting, even if they are serious about their beliefs. Besides, churches are full of nominal Christians who, aside from any particular Sunday, never discuss their faith with others. Couple that with their lifestyles, and sometimes, you can’t tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians, myself included. 

Most of us can relate to doing things our own way without giving any consideration to God. Like everyone, I want to live my life my way. I think back 50 years to Frank Sinatra’s hit song, I Did It My Way. My rules, my exceptions to the rules, bend them or break them as needed. 

Thankfully God can use us where we are, new or old Christian, actively sinning or walking in His forgiveness. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to clean up your act before God can use you. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. You will never lead a perfect, sinless life this side of Heaven, and if you are waiting to arrive at that spiritual level of enlightenment before you share your faith, you will have a long wait. 

We all want to do things that count, to make a difference in this world. We want to matter to others and positively impact their lives. In that process of working toward doing things that ‘really’ matter, we often get caught up in the things of this world and forget that the car, boat, motorcycle, house, etc. can’t go with us. Mittelberg points out, “Deep down, we all want our lives to count for things that last. But think about this: the only things in this world that we can take with us into eternity are people.”1

With that in mind, it would be good to know your natural style of evangelism. Mittelberg covers five styles, and I will briefly touch on each one. 

Friendship-Building 

Friendship builders enjoy being around people and, as a rule of thumb, get along with almost everyone. They would much rather hang out with some friends having some coffee, tea, or lunch together than go on a hike by themselves or spend any time alone. 

Some may like large groups of people, mingling in and out of the clusters in a large party. Others who are friendship-builders may prefer a smaller setting and focus on one or two people at a time, but the common denominator is being around others. 

Mittelberg gives the example of Luke 5:29 when Levi held a large banquet for Jesus in his home. People don’t have parties or banquets unless they enjoy being around people. If you read the whole chapter, you will see Jesus calling his first disciples. Simon Peter caught more fish than his boat could hold; Jesus healed a man with leprosy and a paralyzed man. Miracles were happening, and no doubt word was getting out, so when Jesus called Levi to follow Him, Levi did just that. Then he threw a party. Colossians 4:5

Mittelberg encourages those who are friendship-builders to not only start new ones but work on the old ones, something friendship-builders may not do naturally. There is an old saying in teaching circles that says, ‘Students don’t care what you know until they know that you care.’ A wise saying and applicable to this style of evangelism. In time as you develop a relationship, you can bridge the topics of conversations to spiritual ones.

Finally, I should point out you are not becoming someone’s friend so that you can share Jesus with them. Making friends is what this type does naturally. It is not forced, but they genuinely care about others and want to get to know them. Making friends is what they do naturally. 

Selfless-Serving

Those who have this natural style don’t like to be the center of attention, but they are tuned into the needs of others around them. Helping others feeds their soul much like friendship-builders are energized by being around people. Selfless servers are often working in the background and find joy and satisfaction in serving behind the scenes. Mittleberg puts it this way, “…because they are others-centered, they don’t mind serving without a spotlight or any kind of fanfare to keep them motivated. They find joy in simply serving…”2

Serving others and meeting their needs sends the message they are valuable and loved. Mittelberg shared the story of a wealthy Jewish man named Morris and his family that lost everything during Hurricane Harvey when it dropped about 60 inches of rain on Houston, Texas. A mother and her daughter named Grace reached out and began to help this Jewish family. Over the weeks and months, God’s love became evident through this woman and her daughter. The two families became close, and eventually, Morris and his family began to attend church with Grace and her mother and ultimately gave their lives to Christ. 

This kind of selfless serving often ministers to the hardest of hearts. Many of us sometimes serve with the hope of getting something in return, but those who serve selflessly and genuinely, serve others because it brings them joy and satisfaction. They set aside their concerns and worries about the world to help others. Mark 10:43 Philippians 2:3-4

A quality that is inherent to those who serve selflessly is empathy. They are sensitive to the needs of others and understand naturally what their needs may be. Over the years of teaching, I have met several teachers who would fall into this category, most of whom I have found in special education or working with special needs children. 

Often greatness is not measured in what you have but in what you give to others. 

Story-Sharing

Is it easy to share what is going on in your life with others? Do you look forward to telling someone about your day? Those with this style are good at telling stories. They generally are good at communicating and can share details and experiences with others and hold their interest. 

Many of us have a testimony, and Revelation 12:11 says that often spiritual battles are won because of our testimony. Testimonies are powerful, and I think of the 2017 movie, The Case for Christ where Lee Stroble, an atheist, came to believe in Christ due to his investigation of the claims that He rose from the dead.

J. Warner Wallace is another example of an atheist who shares his story in Cold-Case Christianity of being a cold-case homicide detective that decided to use the tools of his trade to bury the absurd claims of gospel accounts. 

Both of those men shared their stories and impacted millions with their experiences, which is one of the positives of the story-sharing approach. We live in a culture that often values experience or feelings over facts. Ben Shapiro wrote, Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings, a look at American politics and culture, but as our progressive culture evolves, and this is especially true in Gender Ideology, we are finding that feelings don’t care about the facts. 

Aside from the cultural shift, a scriptural example of the story-sharing style is found in John 9, when Jesus healed the blind man. The blind man, who had been healed by Jesus, was brought repeatedly before the religious leaders who did not believe him. He had already explained what happened twice, and even his parents were brought in to testify. He finally says, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” John 9:27 After that, the Jewish leaders just insulted him and accused him of being a follower of Jesus. The blind man shot back, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” John 9:30-33 

The Jewish leaders became angry, insulted him, said he was a sinner (my mom used to tell me once someone insults you, you have won the argument), and threw him out. 

Mittelberg points out that before any of this happened, Jesus’ disciples asked if the sin in the blind man’s life or the sin of his parents caused him to be blind. Back then, when someone was blind, it was believed to be due to sin in their life, but Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:3 Mittelberg writes, “I believe this included not just the restoration of his sight, but also the testimony this man would be to his fellow countrymen – especially to the religious leaders who were sure to take notice.”3

All of us have a story, a testimony we can share. If you are not a natural storyteller, you can use a simple three-part sequence to share yours. Think of your story in terms of what did you discover, what did you decide, and finally, what difference did that make in your life?

Reason-Giving

1 Peter 3:15 Is the apologists go to verse. People who fall into the reason-giving style of evangelism are often are more interested in what people think than what they feel about something. The montra, facts don’t care about your feelings resonates with the reason givers. Both Lee Strobel and J Warner Wallace are reason givers despite my example of their sharing their stories. So I will state the obvious, most of us will have more than one dominant style of evangelism. 

This is the style that suits me because when I have conversations with people, I always enjoy asking questions, and I am genuinely interested in what they know and why they believe it. 

The need for reason-giving is rising to new levels in our culture today. In 2011 David Kinnaman published You Lost Me looking at why Christians are leaving the church. He found that 59% of young adults leave the church and are no longer involved in any kind of Christian activities. Eight years later, after interviewing thousands, that rose to 64%.4

Another example can be found in the Pew Research Center. In 2012 75% of the U.S. population identified as Christian. Ten years later, 63% of Americans self-identify as Christian.((Smith, Gregory. “About Three-inTen U.S. Adults Are Now Religiously Unaffiliated.” Pew Research Center, pewresearch.org, 14 December 2021, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2021/12/14/about-three-in-ten-u-s-adults-are-now-religiously-unaffiliated/))

John Stonestreet points out in his book, A Practical Guide to Culture that kids today are growing up in an information overload environment. “Access and exposure to new ideas are just a billboard, commercial, song lyric, or mouse click away. A questioning and spiritually vulnerable child who might never have encountered atheistic arguments in another day and age may very well come across a Richard Dawkins video on Facebook feed… That’s why it’s more critical than ever that parents, church leaders, and mentors create an environment where kids can ask tough questions and wrestle with controversial topics.”5

Jesus suggested to those who did not believe him to look at His works, His evidence, as reasons to believe He was the Son of God. See John 10:37-38. In other words, believe in what they saw, the miracles that Jesus performed. There are multiple examples of Jesus giving examples and reasons for doubters to believe in Him. 

When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one or should John be looking for another. Jesus’ response was to perform miracles and give evidence to John’s disciples and then told them to go back to John and report what they had seen and heard. Matthew 11:3-6 

Just remember, the goal is to win people, not arguments. 

Truth Telling

Those who are truth-tellers are often bold, confident, and direct with those they encounter. More often than not, they enjoy the encounter and are not afraid of conflict. They don’t like small talk or beating around the bush but say what they have to say and wait for a reaction. 

Peter was a truth-teller and the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem is an excellent example. The Jews were questioning the wonders of God and recognized that something supernatural was taking place. Peter stood and addressed the crowd. He was bold and direct, pointing out the miracles Jesus performed and how Jesus was handed over to the leaders and then put to death by nailing Him to a cross. 

Peter went on to explain that death had no hold on Jesus and God raised Him from the dead after three days. Peter quoted Old Testament passages that were references to Jesus and that He was the Lord and Messiah they were all waiting for. Peter ended his message with, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Acts 2:36 

Scripture records that God used Peter’s bold truth telling to bring over 3000 to Christ.

Another example was in Acts 4, when Peter and John were brought before the Jewish leaders and told not to talk about Jesus. What was their response? They asked which was right, to do what God tells them or what they tell them? Peter and John explained they couldn’t help but talk about what they had seen and heard. Acts 4:18-20

Someone once said evangelism is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. Mittelberg writes, “It reminds us that we are not better or smarter or more deserving than the other person – we’re just fortunate enough to have received a great spiritual blessing, along with the privilege of sharing it with others.”((Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached By God To Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Zondervan Reflective, 2021, pg. 140))

Those with this style can make the mistake of encouraging others to be bold when talking to others when it would make them uncomfortable. Every style has strengths and tools that can be used depending on the individual they are engaging or the situation they encounter. 

Most Christians will gravitate toward one of the styles I mentioned above. Learn what your style is and look for opportunities to use it. Ephesians 3:20-21 Naturally, those will work best because it is the one you are most comfortable with and enjoy using. Would you like to take a quick assessment and see which one is yours? You can take the simple assessment here and see what style fits your personality. 

 

  1. Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached By God To Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Zondervan Reflective, 2021, pg. 5 []
  2. Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached By God To Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Zondervan Reflective, 2021, pg. 65 []
  3. Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached By God To Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Zondervan Reflective, 2021, pgs. 84-86 []
  4. Kinnaman, David. “Church Dropouts Have Risen to 64% But What About Those Who Stay?” Barna, barna.com, 4 September 2019, https://www.barna.com/research/resilient-disciples/ []
  5. Stonestreet, John. Kunkle, Brett. “The Information Age.” A Practical Guide To Culture, David C Cook, 2017, pg. 82 []

Free Will and Temptation

Reading Time: 3 minutesIf God is omnipotent, why does he not just show himself to all of us, all at once, thereby ending this game of free will and temptation?

This is number 18 of the 50 questions Christians can’t answer.

The first thing that came to my mind was Romans 1:20. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Even if God was to show Himself what makes you think that you or anyone else for that matter, would suddenly have a change of heart and want to worship Him? Following Christ comes at a cost, and if unbelievers know anything, they recognize that. For many, that is the principal reason they choose not to believe.

Andy Bannister explains that having an actual belief in something comes with a cost. More specifically, belief’s come with entailments and consequences.

For example, if I had a son, (and I do), and he was engaged to be married, (and he is), and he and his fiance were considering going to Hawaii for their honeymoon, (and they are), under my current set of beliefs I am comfortable with that choice of locations. But if I held a belief that King Kong lived in Hawaii and was in the habit of stealing away young brides to be tossed into a volcano then I would do everything in my power to stop them from going to Hawaii. My mistaken belief would have consequences and would probably land me in a padded room.

What if I believed that every man who would grow a mustache would become a Christian? Would that belief have consequences? Of course, depending on the intensity of this active belief I might be bombing all the Gillette and Philips Norelco plants I could find in the U.S.

So would denying God exists have consequences? Nietzsche thought so despite sporting a great mustache,  he was an atheist in the late 1800’s. Nietzsche wrote, “When one gives up on the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. The morality is by no means self-evident. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands.”1

Nietzsche understood that without God we have no foundation for Christian morality. Doing good would suddenly be based on the current cultural trends and beliefs.

I would go one further and ask what makes you think God is primarily interested in your belief? Belief in God does not guarantee someone becomes a Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Hindu. James 2:19 points out even the demons believe and tremble, but that does not mean they choose to follow Him. God is more interested in your obedience than your belief.

God showing Himself to us would not end our free will and desire to do what we want. Adam and Eve had some quality time with God, and they ended up donning fig leaves after a noon day snack.

Donald Johnson explains, “People can’t find contentment within themselves, they can’t find it other people, and they can’t find it in things. That’s the problem.”2 Sure, we may have moments of joy and happiness in our lives, but deep down, despite the wealth and luxury some have, they can’t find contentment. Worldly treasures or belief in God will not suddenly cure us of our fallen nature. We will still have desires outside of God’s will, and we will still struggle with temptation.

Question 18 does not even get out of the gate.

 

Sources:
1. Bannister, Andy. “The Scandinavian Sceptic.” The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist. Monarch Books, 2015, p39
2. Johnson, J Donald. “The World Is Not Enough.” How To Talk To a Skeptic. Bethany House Publishers, 2013. p191

 

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Free Will and Temptation by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

If I was born in Iraq…

Reading Time: 4 minutesI would probably be a Muslim. If I was born in India, I would probably be a Hindu. If I was born in Israel, I would probably be Jewish. If I was born in China, I would probably be a Buddhist. So? What follows from that line of thinking?

You may have heard of this reason to dismiss your religious beliefs. Yes, it is probably true, if I was born in Iraq I would most likely be a Muslim. So what? If I was born on Mars, I would be a Martian, but how that relates to the truth of Martianism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism is completely irrelevant.

This is known as the genetic fallacy and it implies that a person’s faith is irrelevant because he or she was, can I say brain washed, and they are now just parroting their parents’, their culture’s faith.

Gary Gutting in a New York Times article wrote, “Your religious beliefs typically depend on the community in which you were raised or live. The spiritual experiences of people in ancient Greece, medieval Japan or 21st-century Saudi Arabia do not lead to belief in Christianity. It seems, therefore, that religious belief very likely tracks not truth but social conditioning.” 1

If someone had been born in a Christian home they might very well be a Bible thumping Baptist believing southern conservative. So what follows from this? Of course our religion can be from social conditioning, but what does that have to do with the truth of our religion?

Take a college class in philosophy and you may hear this one day. Your faith, your religious convictions, stem from social conditioning and has little or nothing to do with truth. That is a bold claim. To put it another way is, no one investigates the truth of their religion or actually has reasons and evidence for their beliefs.

My mom used to tell me, “One way you know you have won an argument is when they start to insult you.” Her point was if someone starts to insult you, it is often because they can’t come up with any other reasons as to why you are wrong.

One way to help you view and recognized the Genetic Fallacy is to compare it to the ad hominem, or personal attack. An example of the ad hominem, (which is Latin for ‘to the man’) would be, “Martha Stewart spent time in prison; I am not going to listen to her ideas on home decor any more.” What does her time in prison have to do with the quality or truthfulness of her advice in home decor? The ad hominem attacks the person, not the reasons. The genetic fallacy attacks where the belief came from.

There are several variations of the Genetic Fallacy. Here are a few examples that might help you recognize them.

1. Jim: Women should not serve in the military.
Tom: You don’t agree with the idea of women in the military because of your Christian conservative upbringing.

2. Jim: If you want to learn self-defense Kajukenbo is the best martial art out there.
Tom: You say that because you are from Hawaii, and that is where Kajukenbo was founded.

3. Jim: I just bought this book on how to start a business by Bill Gates. Have you read it?
Tom: Why would you listen to Bill Gates on how to run a business? He was arrested in 1989.

4. Jim: Did you read this article on gay marriage written by GLAAD?
Tom: I would not believe a word of it, because it was written by homosexuals.

5. Jimmy: I don’t believe in Santa Claus.
Tommy: My mommie said Santa Claus is real, so he must be real.

6. Jim: Hey Tom, have you met Tony yet?
Tom: I would not trust Tony because he is a Muslim and he might be a terrorist.

7. Jim: Everything on that shelf is only a dollar! What a deal!
Tom: I wouldn’t buy anything on that shelf; all of it was made in China.

Click on this link for  a very short clip of Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, committing the genetic fallacy.

Notice, as in #5 the genetic fallacy can go both ways. That is, you can commit this fallacy by believing something is true because of where it came from. Look at the idea and judge it on its merit, rather than the source. If you accept or reject an idea because of its source, you commit the genetic fallacy.

Got Questions.org put it this way, “The problem with the genetic fallacy is that the truth of a statement is in no way based on the origin of the concept. A philosophical or theological concept is true or it is not; it does not matter how a person came to believe the concept or who, in the past, held that concept to be true.” 2

Christians who investigate their faith find support from a variety of venues. We have arguments from origins, design, morality, astronomy to name a few. Greg Koukl put it this way, “Biblical faith isn’t wishing; it’s confidence. It’s not denying reality, but discovering reality. It’s a sense of certainty grounded in the evidence that Christianity is true – not just ‘true for me,’ but actually, fully, and completely true.

God does not want your leap of faith. He wants your step of trust. When you realize you’re not just wishing on a star about eternal things, that step becomes a lot easier.” 3

Abe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

1. Gutting, Gary. “Beyond ‘New Atheism.” Opinionator 14 September 2011 New York Times. Web. 15 March 2015.
2. “What is the genetic fallacy?” Got Questions Ministries, n.d. Web. 20 March 2015
3. McDowell, Sean. Morrow, Jonathan. Is God Just a Human Invention? Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2010. Print.
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If I was born in Iraq by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog.

How do we know the New Testament writers told the truth?

Reading Time: 6 minutesUp until 7th grade, this girl showed great promise, despite her having an absent father and several family members who were drug abusers and alcoholics. Once she started in 7th grade, she began to slip and and her grades were dropping. By the first trimester of 8th grade, she was failing in all her classes.

Just so poor grades will not be a surprise to parents, at least those who are involved, I print up progress reports every Monday, hand them out to my students who are to take them home, have their parents sign them, and return them the very next day on Tuesday. If they are not returned signed, I have a variety of consequences to pull out of my hat. I have been doing this since my first year of teaching, and this practice has thwarted many potentially uncomfortable situations between teacher, parents, and students.

This one young lady had been diligently returning her weekly progress reports since she started 8th grade. At the end of the first trimester, it was time for parent teacher conferences. When the mother gazed at the report card, she was silent for a moment and then expressed anger and shock because of the D’s and F’s. Her instinct kicked in and she immediately defended her daughter, and was astounded I would not communicate these grades with her. I raised my eyebrows and pointed out to her that she had been signing the progress reports every Monday.

The mother’s eyes narrowed and she hissed at me, “What progress reports!?”
I asked her, “You have not been getting the progress reports every Monday?”
“No!” She was indignant. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
I pulled out the file of signed progress reports and handed them over, “You did not sign these?”
She flipped through several and I watched her shoulders sink. “No, these are not my signature, some look like it, but no, I did not sign them.”
Both our gazes turned to the daughter who was looking like death warmed over in her chair. Our little triangle in the front of our room was very quiet for several long moments.

This young girls had two main reasons to have forged her mother’s signature for several weeks.
1. It was an embarrassment to have D’s and F’s when she had always been an A and B student.
2. She was avoiding the obvious consequences from having poor grades.

So what do those have to do with our knowing the New Testament writers told the truth? One of the several criteria that historians consider when researching the truthfulness of an ancient author is called, ‘the principle of embarrassment’. Simply put, if an author reveals embarrassing details about himself, they are likely telling the truth. Who is going to take the time to document a story, and not make themselves look good? At the very least, they will not make themselves look like an idiot.

A few examples in Scripture where the New Testament authors included embarrassing details are Mark 9:32 and John 12:16. Anyone who has spent any time reading the New Testament should recall the numerous times the disciples did not understand what Jesus was telling them. Some accounts suggest not only were they uncomprehending of his lessons, but they were afraid to ask him to explain it. Makes me wonder if they sensed Jesus was frustrated with their lack of understanding and was tired of explaining. As a teacher of algebra, I can certainly understand that. Matthew 17:16-18

Two other obvious examples are when Peter was rebuked by Jesus, “But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (NIV) Also included was when Paul confronted Peter, considering Peter’s position, and then documenting any conflict with one of the original apostles, it would suggest truthfulness. Galatians 2:11

The second reason we can believe the New Testament authors told the truth were the consequences they faced by telling the truth. Just like the young girl up above who had been forging her mother’s signature for weeks to avoid punishment, if we are avoiding punishment or persecution, we certainly don’t proclaim the truth, if punishment and persecution is what truth will bring.

The student above was not proclaiming, “Look at the D’s and F’s I am earning, Mom!” Why? Because she was avoiding the obvious consequences to truth. Yet, the apostles continued to proclaim the truth despite the consequences. Insulted, whipped, beaten, stoned, arrested and some crucified. If this is the result for telling the truth, then calling it a significant truth would be an understatement.

For the apostles, proclaiming the truth of Christ, His birth, life, death and resurrection, punishment and persecution is exactly what they received. How many of us can think of a truth we would die for? I think of my own children, and if the outcome of my telling others that I love my own children was death, I would become silent about it. I would just quietly, when no one else was around, tell them I love them and show them devotion and affection privately.

What would be the point of publicly proclaiming my love for my children if I was going to be beaten, arrested, imprisoned, or put to death? I would think they would rather keep me around for those private moments of love and support. Yet, the apostles would have none of this. After the resurrection they were not only bold, but very public in their belief and commitment to Christ.

J. Warner Wallace wrote, “The New Testament accounts repeatedly use words that are translated as ‘witness’, ‘testimony’, ‘bear witness’, or ‘testify’. They are translated from versions of the Greek words marturia or martureo. The modern word martyr finds its root in these same Greek words; the terms eventually evolved into describing people who, (like the apostolic eyewitnesses), remained so committed to their testimony concerning Jesus that they would rather die than recant.” 1

After presenting those arguments for the truth of the New Testament, someone might say, “So what? They were willing to die for what they believed. The 911 terrorists also died for what they believed and dying for what you believe, does not make it true.”

That is an excellent point. People die all the time for something they believe to be true; those who flew planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon are perfect examples. So are the deaths of Jim Elliot and his other missionary friends who died in Ecuador at the hands of Huaorani warriors. They all died doing what they thought was what their God wanted them to do. Martyrdom is not proof to the truth of a religion, Martyrdom is proof to the trust individuals have in their religion.

Yet, there is an important distinction between the apostles and those mentioned above. The apostles did not just believe in the resurrected Christ; they ‘knew’ there was a resurrected Christ because they saw Him. J Warner Wallace put it this way, “While it is reasonable to believe that you and I might die for what we mistakenly thought was true, it’s unreasonable to believe that these men, [the apostles] died for what they definitely knew to be untrue.” 2

Finally, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek list several other indicators the New Testament authors told the truth. I will briefly share those with you.

– They included embarrassing details and difficult sayings of Jesus. Mark 3:21, Mark 3:31, John 7:5 are just three examples.
– They left in the demanding sayings of Jesus. Matthew 5:28, Matthew 5:32, and Matthew 5:39.
– They include events that would not have been invented. Luke 8:2, and Acts 6:7 where a large number of priests became believers. This could have been easily checked out for accuracy. If you are making up a story, you want to be sure to cover your tracks. If you suggest you have a large number of witnesses, you better be able to produce them.
– New Testament authors include numerous historically confirmed people. Pilate, Caiaphas, Festus, and Felix to name a few. Again, if you are making up a story, you don’t want anyone to be able to check out facts by naming individuals who were not there.
– New Testament authors encouraged or challenged anyone to check out the facts of their story. 2 Peter 1:16, and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 3

Sources:
1. Wallace, James Warner. Cold-Case Christianity. Colorado Springs: David C Cook Publishing, 2013. Print.
2. Ibid.
3. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Print.

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How do we know the New Testament writers told the truth? by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/.

How to Create an Atheist

How to Create an Atheist

Reading Time: 5 minutesA Manual For Creating Atheists is the title of a book I purchased this week on Amazon. It was published in 2013, authored by Peter Boghossian, a philosopher professor at Portland State University. He even has a class on atheism, and I came across the syllabus online that skeptic.com published. I have only just started reading it, but I want to share some quotes and comments held within:

Boghossian wrote, “One of my students asked me if a person could be rational and go to church. I responded, ‘Can one be rational and sing songs? And read poetry? And play games? And read ancient texts? Of course. One can do all of these things and be rational.’ Religion is not necessarily an insurmountable barrier to reason and rationality. The problem is not that people are reading ancient texts. I read Shakespeare with my son. I don’t, however, think that lago, Hamlet, and Lear were historical figures. I also don’t derive my ultimate moral authority from Shakespeare’s works. I don’t want to kill people who have rival interpretation of Shakespeare’s plays. Nor do I attempt to bring Othello into decisions at the ballot box.” 1

Boghossian went on to say, “There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM [DSM stands for The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and is published by the American Psychiatric Association as the reference text for psychologists.] would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith.” 2

Boghossian shared prior to a public lecture, “The original title of my lecture was, ‘Jesus, Muhammad, the Tooth Fairy, and Other Evil Creatures.’ However, the organizer of the event politely asked me to tone down the title. I submitted the following, which was accepted without question: ‘Jesus, Mother Teresa, the Tooth Fairy, and Other Evil Creatures.”3   As we have seen before, insulting Jesus is acceptable, but insult Muhammad that is not politically correct.

Boghossian wrote, “Just as the body is exposed to toxins so is the mind. Faith is an unclassified cognitive illness disguised as a moral virtue. Each of us dreads the thought of becoming ill, and we take whatever measure necessary to regain our health. No so with the faith virus. People infected by faith feel gratitude and appreciation for their affliction.”4

In Chapter 9 of his book, Boghossian covers what he calls Containment Protocols. These are ways he suggests to contain or eliminate the Christian faith. I will touch on his list of eleven briefly below.

1. Use the word “faith” only in a religious context. – “…when the faithful are pressed on the definition of faith (when they’re shown they can’t and don’t really know Jesus performed these miracles), they usually retreat to the words ‘hope,’ ‘trust,’ and ‘confidence,’ abandoning knowledge and certainty.

2. Stigmatize faith-based claims like racist claims. – In the short term, one specific verbal technique to help contain faith-based justification is through the ‘Adult Table’ response. One can sit at the Adult Table if one has evidence in support of a position… Those at the Kids Table can talk about anything they’d like, but they have no adult responsibilities and no voice in public policy.”

3. Parrhesia [asking for forgiveness for what you say]: Speaking truth in the face of danger. – “Be honest. Be direct. Be blunt. Be unapologetic. Don’t complain, apologize, or mumble in the defense of reason. Don’t tone it down or talk baby talk. Never say, “I’m sorry but…”, or “Forgive me for saying…” or “You’ll excuse me for mentioning…” Instead, tell people exactly what you think and why you think it. Take a punch and give a punch.”

4. Stay Informed. – If you haven’t read their books already, I’d start with the Four Horsemen and Michael Shermer (I suggest beginning with Harris and Shermer and ending with Dawkins and Dennett)….If you must buy one of [the Christian Apologists] books buy it used and support a local bookstore, this way the author doesn’t receive any royalties. (Excellent advice actually, this is exactly how I purchased A Manual For Creating Atheists.)

5. Contribute. – If you don’t become a Street Epistemologist, you can still make a contribution to reason and rationality. If you’re an organizer then create groups to raise money or help established , reputable organizations like the Center for Inquiry or the James Randi Educational Foundation.

6. Experiment and publicize. – Develop and test your own strategies to fight the faith virus. Consider publicizing your particular contribution in an appropriate medium: books, magazines, YouTube, fiction, documentaries, plays, editorials and letters to the editor, songs, art works, etc.

7. Form academic-community partnerships. – The high school and university systems should be used as reason and rationality incubation chambers. One of the ways to do this is through the formation of academic-community partnerships. Individual teachers, professors, and entire departments can reach out to organizations like the Skeptics Society, the James Randi Educational Foundation. Other examples are the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, the Center for Inquiry, the Secular Student Alliance, Project Reason, or other well-respected organizations.

8. Treat faith as a public health crisis. – There are groups, institution, and organizations…(e.g., Alliance Defending Freedom, Alliance Defense Fund, American Center for Law and Justice, Christian Legal Society, Christian Law Association, National Legal Foundation, mega and micro-churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc.). I want to be clear that I’m not advocating making faith illegal, in the same way racism cannot be made illegal. I advocate conceptualizing the faith problem from a public health perspective and designing interventions based upon this model.

9. Financially cripple purveyors of faulty epistemologies. – A key containment protocol is to financially cripple any institution that propagates a faulty epistemology, starting with the most egregious perpetrators: religious institutions…Once these organizations are financially compromised, their reach and power will be greatly diminished. (He goes on to list goals to financially cripple faith-based institutions.)

10. Create skeptical (atheist) children.– Many children from religious households abandon and do not regain their faith. And, if trends of belief in God continue to plummet, both social acceptance of atheism and the number of atheists will continue to rise.

11. Remove religious exemption for delusion from the DSM. – It is crucial that the religious exemption for delusion be removed from the DSM. Once religious delusions are integrated into the DSM, entirely new categories of research and treatment in into the problem of faith can be created. 5

Are the above comments a cause for concern? They should be! Other bloggers have had some concerns about his book. Randal Rauser had a quality blog post about Boghossian and hate speech. Thinking Christian.net has published a brief on his book that will be worth reading. I think Tom Gilson has one of the best Christian blogs out there. You can download it for free. Tom has another article on the Strawman arguments Boghossian uses. Finally, Tom was interviewed by Greg Koukl not long ago. The interview is in the last hour of his 3 hour podcast.  I have been listening to Greg Koukl for about 2 years now and have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in apologetics from him, and his website str.org is a wealth of knowledge.

I encourage you to share this post with others. Be aware of the disdain some atheists hold for Christians and their efforts to marginalize our faith. But more importantly, research the claims of Christianity and the evidence for it and be prepared with an answer.

“…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15

Sources:

1. Boghossian, Peter. A Manual For Creating Atheists. Durham: Pitchstone Publishing, 2013. Print.

2. Ibid., 222.

3. Ibid., 223

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., 210-221

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