Pressureless Apologetics

A friend recently sent me an interview that Joe Rogan did with Stephen C. Meyer (above). Stephen Meyer is a leading scholar in the field of origins, with a phd from Cambridge. In the interview, he and Rogan discuss the topic of Evolution vs. Intelligent Design. It was a brilliant interview, one in which Stephen Meyer clearly demonstrated the scientific failures of the theory of Darwinian Evolution, and the scientific strength of creationism. I give Rogan credit for holding this interview. It’s not often that intelligent Christians are granted a platform to speak with credibility in a respectful way. What I found so interesting about this interview though was how Stephen Meyer would continually lay out a well organized scientific argument to respond to Rogan’s questions, but Rogan seemed incapable of hearing them, not due to any lack of intelligence (Rogan was following the conversation probably better than most of his listeners as can be told from Rogan’s questions). Rather, Rogan would not be convinced no matter the amount of evidence to the contrary of his worldview.

What is going on here is somewhat to be expected, and let me explain why.

When many people think about engaging another person in a Spiritual Conversation or in an Evangelistic Encounter, they often believe that in order to defend one’s faith effectively, one must be quite an expert at communicating the truths of the Scriptures as well as an expert at navigating any number of modern cultural challenges to Christianity. In other words, people think they have to be as smart as Stephen Meyer if they are going to discuss spirituality meaningfully with another person. Embedded in these false beliefs is the idea that all the pressure is on them as an evangelist to either answer the unbeliever’s questions and therefore win them to Christ, or to fail at answering their questions and therefore push them further away from Christ. This creates a very powerful barrier of entry that limits many faithful Christians from ever engaging another person on issues about Jesus. They simply feel that the work of evangelism and apologetics is better left to someone more trained and more knowledgeable than they. But as the Rogan interview above displays quite clearly, there is more than sound logic and argumentation that is required to help a person believe in the God of the Bible.

When we understand what the Bible actually teaches about how a person is saved however, we quickly realize that the pressure is off you as the evangelist. The pressure instead is on God to save those whom He will save at the moment he has chosen. The Christian is aware that no amount of knowledge or persuasion could ever change a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. That work lies solely on God. What this means is that when we engage in meaningful spiritual conversations with someone who does not believe in Christ as Lord, we simply do not know if God has deemed that moment for that person to believe in Christ. The situation is not such that if we can only just find the right words to powerfully persuade them, then they might truly believe. Rather, the situation is that God has called us to be faithful witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection to any and all who will listen. We are to do that work faithfully, humbly, and unashamedly. And as we go about our work of scattering seeds (Matthew 13:3) God will use our meager humble efforts, to transform hearts in his way and in his time. There is a mystery to this which is part of the beauty of God’s saving work.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

John 3:8

This does not mean that we do not take our work as evangelists seriously. Nor does it mean that we do not study and grow in our knowledge and effectiveness of communicating gospel truths. Learn the arguments. Be able to communicate them effectively. God can and does use these things. But as powerfully as God can use great argumentation, he can also use the simple lay Christian who doesn’t have all the answers but does have a mustard seed of faith. Most people are won to faith in Jesus not because of the powerful logical case for Christ (though that case is there for all to see). Rather, most people come to faith in some kind of mysterious way where God uses simple things to penetrate their hearts. He uses all the small seeds that had been scattered in their lives from faithful witnesses, to suddenly and powerfully bear fruit, often when least expected.

Very often, the process of coming to Christ includes a personal growing sense of one’s own guilt before God’s law, an inward sense of the reality of their own judgment to come, and a sensation that something in their heart and life is not right. God is using all of that in what the Puritans used to call ‘Preparatory Grace.’ God is at work long before the evangelist shows up, tilling the soil of the soul preparing it to receive the fertilizer of the faithful witness.

Whether we are an experienced evangelist or a new believer who has never spoken to another person about Jesus, we are all in the same position of being incapable of convincing a person of the reality that Jesus is Lord and worthy of worship. Pressure’s off. Our job is simply to be faithful witnesses of that which we have believed. Let God do the rest.


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