Chapter 3 is entitled, “The Common Case of Unbelief: A Biblical Perspective on Unbelievers” by Jonathan Rourke. The goal in this chapter is to have a better understanding of unbelief, a stance we all naturally held, and, by God’s grace, have left. This is to not only remind us of where we came from, but where many still are in, so that we wouldn’t be smug in our evangelism, but compassionate, calling them to leave their life of sin and rebellion. To quote Rourke, “those outside of Christ have a common case of unbelief marked by a common deception, a common destiny, and a common deliverer” (p.32). The natural man is deceived by Satan regularly, bearing the fruit of believing a lie and rejecting the truth that they know of God. All who do not believe in God is clearly destined for hell, of which only those in Christ have the means of escape. Everyone in this world has a common deliverer found in Christ, and so there isn’t a different savior for those trapped in different religions. This is a helpful chapter in reminding me that I do not need to be an expert in knowing all the arguments for God’s existence to make headway with a person. Though it may be useful, the truth of the situation makes me aware that the greatest need a person has is found in the Person of Christ. Knowing Him helps us point others towards Him.
Chapter 4 may be one of my favorite chapters of the book. “The Word of Truth in a World of Error: The Fundamentals of Practical Apologetics” by Nathan Busenitz is one of those chapters that packs a lot in such a small space. In a book on evangelism, you would think apologetics would not be important enough to have its own chapter. However, as is set forth by Busenitz, apologetics is a means to an end in relation to evangelism. The focus of apologetics should always be to win the person, not the argument. Giving nine fundamental principles, Busenitz writes a helpful primer on how to defend the faith appropriately. This came across as very disarming, and inviting the Christian to see apologetics not as a fun project only philosophers care about, but a tool that can be used by anyone who lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If you’re into apologetics, or know of the ministry of John MacArthur, the approach that is advanced is a presuppositional defense of the faith. [Funnily enough, I could not find a single book advancing presuppositional apologetics translated into Spanish. What is helpful to note is that this book has been translated into Spanish, so at least there’s a start.]
One principle I think is hardest to remember is “The Assumption: Unbelievers Already Know God Exists.” If you’ve read some works on apologetics, this is not a common assumption. Typically, the approach this is recommended by some of the leading apologists today is that of establishing the ability of gaining knowledge, then proofs for God’s existence, and finally to ruling out the other monotheistic religions towards Christian theism. Yet all of this assumes the ability of the unbeliever to rationally conclude that God exists, when all along they already know that, but deny its truth. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is a consistent application of the teaching of Scripture (Romans 1 is the definitive chapter on this).
There’s more that could be said on this chapter (and if you know me, you know I could go on…and on…), but suffice it to say that this was a helpful reminder that I shouldn’t be bogged down on the philosophical terms that people like to employ to try to weasel out of hearing the clear Word of God. If anyone enjoys what they read here, there is an article similar to this chapter by Michael Kruger (‘The Sufficiency of Scripture in Apologetics’). Again, our goal is to bring the good news of what Jesus accomplished on the cross to bear on the broken lives of those around us. This is to be done not only in Argentina, but in the areas that we live and work and serve. Pray that our team can move towards this end not only for this trip, but for the rest of our lives.