Monday, March 17, 2008

Proving Easter

In seminary, I learned apologetic arguments for the existence of God, the veracity of the Bible, and the reality of the resurrection. This was all in a class called "Philosophy of Religion." In that class, we also learned basic tenets of other major world faiths, and how to interact with them biblically. I have to tell you, I loved that class. I found the material fascinating. My professor was Dr. Steve Lemke, and I enjoyed him so much that years later--after he had moved to New Orleans Seminary--I asked him to be faculty mentor on my Doctoral Project. I made an A in Philosophy of Religion. I still have the class notebook--all tattered and dogeared--and I occasionally refer to it.

Since I'm armed with this useful information, would you like to guess how many atheists, agnostics and members of other faiths I have successfully argued into Christian faith? If you guessed "zero," buy yourself a Reese's Easter Egg. You're right. Fact is, all of that apologetic information is fun to learn, and helps strengthen my faith, but unbelievers don't find it very compelling. Nor are they convinced by the reasons you and I first chose to believe in the empty tomb: Mostly summed up in the old hymn...

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!

Today's irreligious people will respond to that testimony by saying, "That's nice for you. But it's not for me."

So how can we prove to unbelieving people that the resurrection of Jesus--the most important historical event in history and the foundation of our faith--really happened? We should take a cue from the first Christians. They faced obstacles to belief that make ours seem like a preschool Easter Egg hunt. Yet they persuaded thousands to believe in the risen Christ in their generation. How did they do it? Read Acts 4 this week, and come Sunday for our Easter service. We'll talk more about proving Easter to those who need most to hear it.


Anonymous said...

Agree about the arguments. Most of the time using these approaches is more of an attempt to show we are smarter than the other person -- more about our own egos than concern for the other person's soul.

Jeff Berger said...

Well said. One of the best Christians I know once said, "It is just as important to be kind as it is to be right." I think part of our problem in dealing with unbelievers is that we're more concerned about winning the argument, proving we are "right," than we are about truly persuading people. It's the whole talk radio approach.