Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Should Christians Just Share Their Testimony?

A lot of Christians like to think that sharing their testimony is the best form of witnessing because "people can't argue with it." I have not found that to be the case. People may not be able to argue with someone's subjective personal experience, which might make the conversation easier on the sharer. But I don't see why people should believe it just because someone claims to have had a personal experience. 

I mean, there are plenty of people who tell their personal experience of why Mormonism is true or about how they saw aliens in a space ship, but that doesn't make me believe them. You have to be able to provide evidence, not just that Christianity works for you, but that it is actually true. Otherwise people are going to tell you (or think in their minds, even if they don't say it) that they're glad you're so happy, but they just don't think it's right for them.

The other problem that happens when you only tell your personal testimony is that you risk teaching people that Christianity is just an opinion - something that works for you. A lot of people think choosing a religion is a lot like choosing a favorite ice cream flavor. Everybody has a little bit different taste, so just pick the one you like. When you only give your personal experience, you are telling them that you like Christianity and maybe they should try it, but you aren't telling them why it's the ONLY way. It's of no more importance to them than you telling them you like one brand of something better than another and suggesting they try your brand. That's the way people see it when you only give subjective, personal experience - as a statement of your preference and maybe a recommendation, but not as objective truth.

But when you give that impression - that Christianity is just your favorite flavor of religion - you aren't actually sharing the gospel. The gospel is radical and exclusive. Christianity claims to be the ONLY way, not just one way of many. And that claim to be objective truth requires evidence. God doesn't want people to just "try" Christianity - going to church, being a good person, saying prayers. He wants them to believe it to be actually true. He wants them to believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved from the sin that is killing them spiritually and to place their trust in Christ alone for salvation. That's the gospel. Anything less is selling Jesus short and doing no favors to those we are speaking to.

Of course, we don't have to share the entire gospel with every person in every conversation we have. Most of the time, we won't have the opportunity to tell the whole thing. But we do have a responsibility to do what we can to leave them with some evidence that makes them question some aspect of their false worldview or have a better understanding of the Christian worldview. We have a responsibility to speak of Christianity as objective and knowable truth, not just our subjective preference, whether our conversation is long or short.

There is also a proper time to share our personal testimony. That should certainly be a part of what we do as Christians. However, it should not be the only thing we do or even the main thing we do. There is much more to the gospel than our personal experience of it. And Christianity is much more than simply what works for us. It is truth, not mere preference.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

For Women Whose Husbands Are Withdrawing From Church

Many Christian wives with Christian husbands are concerned because their husbands are withdrawing from church and refusing to attend or to be involved. The number one reason that men are becoming disillusioned with church is that the church has become highly feminized. Worship services often focus on emotional things like singing praise songs and sermons are often more of a pep talk or Christian psychology instead of deep doctrine. And, above all, faith is very commonly spoken of in terms of how you feel rather than reasons and evidence.

Most men instinctively withdraw from Christianity that is focused on feelings. They don't want Jesus to be their boyfriend. They don't want to sing mushy love songs to Jesus or talk about their feelings about God. So a worship service that seems like just feeling happy thoughts about Jesus is going to grate and, over time, push them away.


The answer to getting men involved and passionate about church is apologetics. Apologetics is the study of the reasons and evidence for the Christian faith. It's based on facts, not feelings. And men will engage with a Christianity focused on believing something they have evidence for and then going on a mission to change the world (or at least their corner of it).

For more information on men withdrawing from emotional church activities and engaging with apologetics, take a look at this article.

My suggestions for wives whose husbands who are withdrawing from church or other Christian activities are these.

1) Buy some good apologetics books and read them and offer them to your husband. I would start with Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. Not only does it provide good evidence that makes a compelling case for the resurrection, but it's written by a man who is a cold case homicide detective and who doesn't talk about feelings and emotions, just facts.

Other good apologetics books include How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, Reasonable Faith and On Guard by William Lane Craig, Is God A Moral Monster by Paul Copan, Tactics by Greg Koukl, Christian Apologetics by Doug Groothuis, and Love God With All Your Mind by J. P. Moreland.


2) See if you can find another church that places less emphasis on feelings and that has some sort of apologetics ministry. It is difficult to change churches, but if another church would be a better fit for your family by engaging your husband, it will be well-worth moving to another church.

3) Learn some apologetics yourself and share what you're learning with your husband. Even if your husband isn't interested, at first, in going to church, talking about evidence for Christianity and asking him what he thinks about it can help tremendously. If you can build his faith (and your own) with the evidence for the Christian faith, that's an important step.

4) Stop talking about church and Christianity in terms of feelings. Talk about what God's word says. Talk about what's right and wrong. Talk about how we know the Bible is true and about the evidence for the resurrection. Talk about the history of the church and the persecution that people have withstood in order to hold on to what they knew to be true. But stop talking about how church makes you feel good or how much you "love" Jesus. No doubt church does make you feel good and no doubt you do love Jesus, but talking about Christianity in those terms will not help with your husband.

5) If you do devotions as a family, make them more evidence-based and read the tougher, less fluffy portions regularly. Don't just read the happy, emotional parts of the Bible. Don't read devotions like you would a fairy tale. Read about David slaying Goliath because of his faith in God. Read Hebrews 11 about all the heroes of the faith who stood firm in the face of danger and would not give up. Read Paul's exhortation to fight the fight and run the race to the finish. Read about the armor of God.

If you're really brave, read the grittier, less comfortable passages. For example, read Numbers 25 in which Phinehas saw that a man of Israel was having sex with a heathen and leading the children of Israel to sin and that God was punishing them with a plague, and so he ran the man and the woman through with a javelin and saved the lives of his people. Yep, that's right. The hero saved the day by impaling a man and woman in the act of having immoral sex.

You don't usually hear that kind of stuff on Sunday mornings at church, but the Bible and the Christian faith are not all about happy feelings. Make sure your family devotions give a balanced and accurate view of what the Bible teaches and what the Christian faith is all about. Ask the hard questions about God's character, even in the Old Testament.

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If you want to encourage your man to engage with Christianity, don't have a surface-level faith. Have a rigorous one that dives deep into the hard topics and that won't shrink from uncomfortable subjects. Be on a mission to discover God and serve Him as your commanding officer and share that vision with those around you - especially your husband. That is exciting to men. And really, it's exciting to everyone.

We women may often find the more emotional parts of modern churches more comfortable and inviting, but Christianity is about more than just being comfortable and having happy feelings about God while we're on our way to heaven. This earth is a battle ground for the souls of mankind. Sitting comfortably in our pews and singing praise songs, while certainly useful in some ways, does not equip us to fight the spiritual battles around us. Apologetics does. And for the warriors among us - our men - it is vital that they understand the mission and get on board with it. We women need to do our part to encourage them to fight for right and stand for truth, not just to sit happily in the pews every week.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why Are So Many "Christians" Supporting Same-Sex Marriage?

There have been a number of supposedly Christian leaders who have come out in favor of same-sex marriage recently. This has really been an on-going phenomenon, but only recently have we seen many from the evangelical camp jumping on the bandwagon to redefine marriage and to claim that homosexuality is not sin.

In most cases, the rationale given for the switch is something about people who have unchangeable same-sex attraction and shouldn't be hated or that Jesus would be more understanding of the desires people have.

The problem with this issue is that nobody takes the time to differentiate between same-sex attraction and same-sex sexual acts. It isn't necessarily a sin to be attracted to the same sex. It can be caused by sin, for sure. People who get into certain kinds of sin will just get deeper and deeper in until it affects their desires more and more to make them want to sin in even more harmful ways. But I do think some people were abused or confused about sexuality and thus have feelings of attraction to the same sex through no fault of their own.


The problem is when people lump the attraction in with the sin of acting on that attraction. Temptation is not sin. Having a feeling of attraction towards someone of the same sex is a temptation. When that thought is indulged in, it becomes lust, which is a sin. When it becomes acted upon in a same-sex act, it is sin. But merely having the attraction is not necessarily sinful.

The homosexual activists have been very clever at trying to remove the distinction between the desire and the action. They call all people who have same-sex attraction "homosexuals" - whether or not they actually engage in homosexual acts. With only one label for the desire and the action, they confuse the issue greatly in several ways.

1) They set up homosexuality as a way of being instead of a temptation to sin. This not-so-subtly encourages people with these attractions to sin because the idea is that if this is the way you are, you should indulge.

2) They pretend that people cannot deny their desires and should not deny them. The idea that someone could have a desire to do something and choose not do it is a foreign concept to them. Even crazier, in their minds, is trying to fight it on a continual basis for a lifetime. Their message is that if you have a desire, you must act on it - it's just who you are.

3) They make homosexuality sound like a special case where the usual rules about morality don't apply. After all, if it's just an in-built desire, how could we so mean as to say that it's wrong or that those people shouldn't be able to "love" like we can? They want it to sound like an exception to Christianity morality that isn't covered in the Bible because people back then didn't understand that some people are just made differently.

4) They cause people to identify with their sin rather than with Christ. Someone saying they are a homosexual is no different than someone saying they are a liar or an adulterer or a thief. But most people don't go around calling themselves these labels or using them to justify their sin. Can you imagine a perpetual liar claiming that being a liar is just who they are and you should accept them that way and not try to change them and that Jesus would be okay with it because they've been that way as long as they can remember? But people do exactly that sort of thing with homosexuality because they have confused the desire with the action and because they call it a "lifestyle" instead of just a sin. In so doing, people indulging a same-sex desire now see their sin as inherent part of them rather than a cancer that will destroy them spiritually.

5) They confuse Christians who might not be very informed on the issue into supporting homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Because same-sex attraction often begins at a fairly young age and because it is very difficult for many with same-sex attraction to eliminate those attractions, many people have believed that it is a "natural" thing that people cannot help. I do think many with same-sex attraction can be helped, but it is difficult and many will continue to struggle in this area. But because people conflate the attraction and the action, their acceptance of a deep-seated attraction in some people that may not be their fault often leads to an acceptance of the actions as being not their fault either - or perhaps not being a fault at all.

Thus, because we have conflated temptation with sinful actions in this area, we have allowed many to become confused and to fail to call sin sin or to uphold Biblical morality.

Of course, such people should have known better. They should have been studying deeper. They should have been distinguishing truth instead of falling for the smoke and mirrors. They should have been standing on what the Bible says instead of giving in to peer pressure and political-correctness. So, yes, they are at fault.

But given the society-wide and cleverly-marketed deception, it's not exactly surprising that so many have believed a lie. We haven't done a good enough job combatting the lies about homosexuality in the culture and now they have wormed their way into so many churches and hearts. We forgot that defending the faith means not only standing firm in our own convictions, but destroying the deceptions that would lead others astray. We have to do better.