Questioning evangelism

QuestionsHas anyone ever asked you:

“Why are all Christians homophobic?”

“Why should I worship a God who allows children to starve?”

“If Jesus is so great, why are so many of His followers jerks?”

Tough questions, to be sure. And making matters worse is the questioner’s tone, implying that he or she is not really looking for an answer.

So how should we reply?

Questioning evangelism

That’s a topic Randy Newman addresses in his book, Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did.

Newman, who has served in ministry on college campuses, at the Pentagon, in churches, and in various academic settings, writes that a diverse audience requires diverse approaches. “If Jesus teaches us anything about evangelism, it’s that He used a variety of methods with a variety of people,” he notes.

Newman says any evangelistic approach requires three skills: (1) declaring the gospel; (2) defending the gospel (Christian apologetics); and (3) dialoguing the gospel. That third skill is the focus of his book.

“Often neglected, difficult to master, but absolutely essential, this skill of giving and taking – asking questions and bouncing ideas back and forth – might be just what our postmodern audience needs,” he writes. “We need all three skills if we’re to be Christ’s ambassadors in the twenty-first century.”

Reading the Gospels, we see that Jesus often responds to questions with a question of His own. His goal is to get beneath the question to the heart of the matter – whether strict legalism, as in the case of the Jewish religious leaders who chide Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, or a faulty view of Christ’s divinity, as in the case of the rich young ruler.
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Finding the real Jesus in the New World Translation

This is the third in a series of columns addressing Jehovah’s Witnesses and their understanding of Jesus.

Previously, we saw how the Watch Tower has effectively scrubbed the deity of Christ from its official version of Scripture, the New World Translation (NWT).

If Jehovah’s Witnesses are leery of using any other translation, what hope exists for them to find the real Jesus in the NWT? Have any passages survived the Watch Tower’s theological sanitizing, so we may point our Witness friends to an eternal and divine Jesus who took on flesh to save us from our sins?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. We may begin by raising sincere questions and seeking answers in the New World Translation.
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Will a man rob God?

Does the Bible command tithing?

If we don’t tithe, are we robbing God?

Doesn’t the Old Testament teach tithing, while the New Testament stresses giving?

These are important questions, and every sincere Christian wants to get the answers right.

The Bible is our authority – and the last word on this issue. While it isn’t possible in this article to conduct an exhaustive study, we may highlight what the Old and New Testaments have to say.
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What is Christian apologetics?

For followers of Jesus, the term “Apologetics” simply means a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. The word is derived from the Greek noun apologia and means “a defense.” Apologia and its verb form apologeomai are used nearly 20 times in the New Testament, often in the classic legal sense, but more importantly to describe the call of God to all believers to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).

But how is sound doctrine applied practically? Put another way, what good is Christian apologetics?

Apologetics has at least four practical applications. We may use apologetics to:

Build. There is a positive case to be made for Christianity, and apologetics helps us get there.

The Bible, history, archaeology, and other sources help establish that a real person named Jesus burst onto the scene 2,000 years ago. He claimed deity, performed miracles, spoke the truth, modeled compassion, died on a Roman cross, was buried and rose physically on the third day. His coming to earth was the most important event in human history.

Further, apologetics helps us know who God is; who we are; why there is purpose in life; how we can be restored to a right relationship with our Creator; why we can face death without fear; and what God is doing about evil in the world.
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The Watch Tower’s has-been god

This is the second in a series of columns addressing Jehovah’s Witnesses and their understanding of Jesus.

Previously, we looked at how the New World Translation – the Bible Jehovah’s Witnesses use – offers a clear example of what happens when you start with doctrine instead of Scripture. Rather than align its teachings with Scripture, the Watch Tower generated an entirely new translation of the Bible, one that attempts to strip the deity of Christ from its pages.

Here are a few examples:

Jesus is “a god”

John 1:1

This verse in the New World Translation (NWT) 2013 reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god” (emphasis added). The Watch Tower goes to great lengths to explain why this is an accurate rendering of the Greek, citing grammatical rules and misquoting Greek scholars to support its belief that the Word is “godlike, divine, a god,” but not coequal and coeternal with the Father.

In truth, as the late dean of Talbot Theological Seminary, Charles L. Feinberg, noted, “I can assure you that the rendering which the Jehovah’s Witnesses give John 1:1 is not held by any reputable Greek scholar.”

Compare the King James Version (KJV): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV), and Christian Standard Bible (CSB) read exactly the same.
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