Dear ITEM Partners,
It should be obvious that different groups have different problems with or questions about Christianity. And today was a reminder of that. I spoke first. It was my role to introduce apologetics and define what it means to be a Christian apologist. Throughout my 45-minute talk, I gave examples of potential topics that we might be asked where we live. Then Ebenezer gave his talk on apologetics in Africa. The list of issues he brought up are not the issues we would think of where we live.
The examples that I brought up were related to Africa. They included “Why God allows the war in Cameroon to go on when the churches are asking Him to stop it.” Or, “Why did God allow the genocide in Rwanda in 1994?” Or, “Why did God allow the drought in Kenya that killed so many people and livestock.” Or, “Why did God allow my mother to suffer so much before she finally died?”
Then Ebenezer, the conference organizer and founder of “Seasoned Apologetics,” got up to speak on contextualizing apologetics to Africa. And the topics he listed came mostly from the different spiritual reality presented by the traditional religions of Africa, poverty, injustice, the prosperity of the unrighteous, and the cults.
We use the phrase, “no brainer” to describe something we think is obvious. So, here goes. When doing apologetics, it is a “no brainer” to realize it is not a one size fits all. Ebenezer was focusing on the average African who has been raised in the traditions of Africa where spiritism and animism is blended into pure Christianity to create a hybrid, syncretistic form of Christianity. My mind was thinking of the emerging generation preparing to finish high school and head off to a university or those who are already at one.
The third speaker spoke on the theme “A Wake Up Call to the Church to do training in apologetics.” I whole heartedly agree. In my opinion, the church needs to be intentionally educating believers not what the believer ought to believe BUT also, WHY they ought to believe it. Answering the “why” is doing apologetics and every follower of Christ needs to know the “why” not just the “what.”
That brings up one final thought. After the talks were complete, took questions from the attenders. The questions were: How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do some say we should use the King James Version of the Bible only? How can we do apologetics with our prayers and music? The last question brought to the surface what had been buried inside of me. Question: “How do we get people in our churches interested in doing apologetics when the word scares them away?” That is a paraphrase, but you get the idea. The words apologetics and apologist sound so scholarly or official like the titles of apostles, prophets, evangelist, and pastor-teacher in Ephesians 4. And I’ll admit that some questions require so serious thinking and reasoning to answer effectively.
As part of my talk I tried to address this by pointing out that whenever we are asked a question about God, Jesus, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, etc, and we give an answer, we are doing a form of apologetics.
There is another issue. To answer questions effectively, one needs to have a certain amount of Bible knowledge and when the Bible is not being taught, there is no source from which to build a biblical, reasonable answer. And if you have been follow ITEM’s ministry for a while, you will know that there is a real shortage of good Bible teaching in Africa.
All of that to say that I am ruminating (like that word?) about what we could replace the words apologist and apologetics with? And as we continue to challenge people here to prepare themselves to be able to answer the questions that will certainly be coming from the emerging generation here, we are going to need pastors to join the effort.
Tomorrow, Sunday, I fly west to east, Nigeria to Kenya, a 5+ hour flight. Monday I will head back to Rwanda for a seminar on Tuesday and part of Wednesday before starting the three day journey home.
Pray for those here who want to see followers of Christ equipped to answer the questions and challenges being posed by Islam, traditional religions, the cults, and even postmodern philosophy. Pray that they can find willing participants who want to be equipped.
Continue to pray for safe travel and adequate rest for me.
Pray for the upcoming day-and-a-half seminar in Rwanda that will give me five sessions with around 100 evangelical leaders and one evening session that the organizer defined as “Campus Crusade” and a potential audience of 1000-1500. Pray it will be a well received and beneficial time. The organizer thinks a good topic for both groups would be the LGBTQ movement; where it came from, what it is trying to establish, and how it completely violates God’s plan for men, women, having babies, creating families, and using nature’s resources to bring about human flourishing.
There are new pictures in he album but more to come when they are sent to me.
You can CLICK HERE to see the new ones from today.
Thanks for your interest and for your prayers.
By His grace,