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19 March 2009

The Bible and Plaid Grass

This morning during prayer time, I felt deeper concern and compassion for people return. That sounds horrible, I think (because it sounds like I've totally lacked it), but I haven't been devoid of concern and compassion. I just seem to have dug a bit of a spiritual hole for myself, and mercifully, when I put my hand out for God to pull me out of it, He did so. I want to say thank you. I appreciate your prayers in response to my post the other day.

Something's a little odd to me when I step back and read the first sentence of this post. Most of you call yourselves Christians, but I know that some readers wouldn't call themselves that. Matter of fact, they don't believe that God exists. I wonder, then, if they feel the same way about my first words, "This morning during prayer time," as I'd feel about, say, a Muslim offering prayers toward Mecca. That version of god doesn't exist. Or maybe they feel like I would about someone praying to Krishna -- it's nice that they're devout, but in the end it's pointless.

Do you ever try to put those lenses on? Do you ever think that the person you're talking to may believe that you're a good person and all, but at the same time they may think you're extremely deluded with all that "Jesus and God" talk? If I begin talking to them by saying, "The Bible says..." their mental response would be, "Fine, and your point is...?"

I'm not sure how I got spun off into this idea this morning, but isn't "witnessing" to some people -- not all, but some -- by starting with the assumed belief that the Bible is the literal Word of God just about as logical as making the assumption that the person inherently believes that the grass is colored plaid? Starting on that footing, what would you do then? Or hopefully more accurately, what do you do then?


Christy said...

God's word does not return to Him void. So I believe merely speaking the Truth will have some effect, if not immediately, then somewhere down the road. I refuse to NOT speak God's truth just because I know the person there doesn't believe it. Belief has to start with something and there's nothing better or more powerful than hearing the Word of God. It all comes down to obedience. I'm responsible for obeying God in telling others about Him. I'm not responsible for their believing it or not.

Dean Lusk said...

I absolutely didn't say that we should hold off on talking to people from the Word of God or from telling them what it says. For a follower of Christ, that would be like deciding you wouldn't breathe. What you're saying is straight out of Romans 10, and I'm not at all arguing against that!

Acts 17:16-34 is one example of a Christ-follower talking to people about Jesus Christ and starting it out on terms they understood. That's more along the lines of what I was talking about.

Tony M said...

I was thinking Acts 17:16-34 as well (I hyperlinked it for the lazy). Also, think about Jesus' ministry - how did He teach others? Not necessarily by starting, "The Bible says"... such as when He talked with the woman at the well.

Are there times to begin "the Bible says"? Sure. Are there times to begin, "Can I buy you a hamburger?" Probably. Sometimes it works well to simply live they way a Christian should live, pique the interest of an unbelieving observer, and have them ask you, "What's so different about you?"

Maybe. Not sure I'm really addressing the original post.. what was it you asked? Oh, yeah... how do you witness to someone who doesn't believe the Bible? I guess you listen to the Holy Spirit. (Yes, slightly different context in that verse, but I'm not going to limit when and where and why the Holy Spirit may choose to talk to/through me.)

Hope some of that makes sense.

Preston N said...

Dean - a good paper to read on this particular issue is by Charles Finney - called the 1st Truths of Reason. It addresses the whole issue of not necessarily starting with the Bible, but with the principles of Reason and Truth.

Leroy said...

Ummmm, plaid grass. I would never cut it. I like plaid - good '80s flashback I suppose (or bad depending on who you ask).

One thing I learned several years ago is that if the person you are witnessing to (discussing with, etc) doesn't believe the Bible is the word of God, then you are pretty much talking to a wall. Just another reason why it's important to walk the talk.

Jake Woods said...

you hit the nail on the head, Dean. when people would try to witness to me, it usually started out with "the Bible says 'X', the Bible is the word of God, therefor you are wrong and are going to hell." My response was, "You're an idiot!" I didn't believe the bible was the word of God because, frankly, i didn't see the morals and lifestyles that Jesus taught being lived out among those claiming to be Christians. I knew more about the Bible than those who tried to shove it in my face! Something wasn't adding up, and therefore I deemed the Theological aspect of the Bible as false.

For an arguement (or debate) to be present, there has to be common ground. Both sides have to agree on premise 'X'. The debate comes when side 1 says "X, therefore, Y" and side 2 says "No, you're wrong. X, therefore, Z." When you're debating with someone who doesn't believe the Bible is the word of God, there is no 'X'. You must back up to 'V'- a premise that you both agree on - and work your way up from there.

Did I explain that right?

Dean Lusk said...

Jake, totally get it and agree.

Lest someone take issue with your word "debate," I'd say that in order for two people to have dialog that has hope of getting anywhere, common ground of some kind has to be present.

Preston, still have not listened to the Finney sermon!! Argh...

Tony M said...

In the recent book I got from Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program (The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns), there is a quote at the beginning of Chapter 1 that, when I read it, reminded me of this blog discussion (the quote link goes to the first page on the Google search for the quote so you can research it yourself if you want; the name link goes to the Wikipedia page on the quotee):

"Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning." - Frederick William Faber

(Yes, I know, it's the Holy Spirit that does the actual work, but you get the point of the quote, I'm sure.)

I think this goes right along with Jake's comments, too: you have to ensure that your testimony is accurate before you can even begin to consider throwing "the Word" at a "committed unbeliever" in order to witness to him/her. Also fits well with the text of our evening service, from Titus 2 (in particular, vss. 6-10), where Paul is instructing Titus on how to lead/teach the members under his influence (I've removed the verse markings in the following for readability):

-- begin Titus 2:6-10 --

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

-- end Titus 2:6-10 --

"Witnessing" - that is, to give an account of. Doesn't have to start with the scripture - it can start with your daily living, showing the change that God has wrought in your own life, and go from there into explaining the change. Eventually maybe you'll get to scripture... hopefully by then the witnessee (the one to whom you're witnessing) will be prepared to listen and perhaps even believe the truth since it's been portrayed - displayed - witnessed about by - your life, even before your words are heard.

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