I’m Smart, but I’m No C.S. Lewis - page 1


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From the Spring 2014 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

I'm Smart, but I'm No C.S. Lewis:
How Can I Intelligently Discuss My Faith with Others?

by Joel S. Woodruff, Ed.D.
Vice President of Discipleship and Outreach, C.S. Lewis Institute

 

imagine that if you are reading this article you’re pretty smart. God has given you a good mind. You may have done well in school, or you may be blessed with good common sense and the street smarts to excel in the modern world. And yet when you compare yourself to bright followers of Jesus, such as C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, or Tim Keller, you don’t feel all that competent when it comes to talking knowledgeably about your faith in Jesus around smart nonbelievers. I can relate. I consider myself intelligent, but when it comes to thinking quickly on my feet to respond to people’s questions or statements about religion, I often flounder. (And I even went to seminary!) I’m like those politicians who can sound and look great when they have Teleprompters in front of them to help deliver prepared and rehearsed remarks. But if they have to go off script–look out! You just never know what’s going to come out of their mouths, and usually it doesn’t come off sounding all that erudite. In fact, to use a bad “S” word that my daughters tell me I shouldn’t say, it sounds stupid. And I must admit, I don’t like to feel or look stupid, especially in front of my bright friends.
  If you are like me, this may give you some consolation: you and I are in the majority. Not very many followers of Christ have the unusual gift of Evangelism with a capital “E” or the gift of Apologetics with a capital “A.” And yet I want you to know that there is hope for us. Believe it or not, God can still use us in amazing ways to help others get closer to being reconciled with the Creator of the universe. In fact, even though we may not have the gift of Evangelism or Apologetics, God has given us a very important role and calls us to be actively involved in evangelism and apologetics. Relatively few are called to be evangelists, but everyone is called to be a witness (Acts 1:8) and make disciples (Matt. 28:18–20).
  The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18–20 is given to all disciples of Jesus. None of us is exempt from the command to go into all the world and to make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. This isn’t optional for the follower of Christ. And as Peter puts it so well, you and I should “Have no fear of them [non-Christians] . . . always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:14–15 ESV). These two scriptural passages make it clear that you and I are to be involved in evangelism and apologetics. This is to be a part of the normative life of a believer.
  One of the best definitions of evangelism I ever heard was that it’s one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread. If Jesus, the Bread of Life, has saved you and me from spiritual starvation and death, it seems only natural that we should share this good news with others. And apologetics can be simply defined as giving a reasonable explanation or defense of our faith in Jesus. We shouldn’t feel sorry or ashamed to believe what we do; rather, if we take time to learn about our beliefs, we’ll discover that the wisest Being in the universe, God, has given us logical, thoughtful reasons for putting our trust in Him. While faith is involved in trusting Jesus, it isn’t a blind faith with no rationale or thinking behind it.  
  I’m not saying that doing evangelism and apologetics is going to be easy. Peter goes on to say that when you are giving a defense for our faith, you are to have “a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3:16–17). In other words, while we hope and expect that God will work in people’s hearts and that some people become part of the Lord’s family through our words and testimony, others will react negatively to our convictions and belief in Jesus.

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