Sunday, March 15, 2009

Burden of Proof

I really don't have any conscious "rules" for my own blog as far as what I will or will not post. I guess I try to keep it about things relating to missions, church planting and evangelism. But sometimes I'll write about other stuff just for the fun of it. I recently wrote an extended comment on a blog post talking about Christian apologetics. After posting it I thought I would copy what I wrote and share it here, for what it's worth. So, here it is...

Sometimes I feel like we try to prove Christianity is true as if God himself was dead. We look down our nose at the subjective reasons people believe because we have more objective arguments we have come to understand. We ignore the fact that most of us “Objectivity Snobs” did not BECOME Christians after considering objective reasons, but after experiencing subjective events. However, over time, we were cemented in our faith after thinking about it objectively.

The same is true for people in other religions… their reasons for believing in their religions in the first place are mostly subjective (or regional/cultural) too. So, we tend to think that the only thing that will bump them over to our faith is an objective reasoning approach they have never considered since they only have believed for subjective reasons. I think this may be true some of the time and it is worthwhile making an objective appeal.

But remember the last thing Jesus said in Matthew? “I am with you always…” If Jesus is with us, and if that is really TRUE, then we can assume he is with us to do something, not just observe us. He is not dead. He is not just a theory. He is alive and active. And if that is the case, then I think God’s actions will and SHOULD influence people to believe in him.

I know without a doubt my grandpa lived. Why? I might explain objectively that if he had not lived then I wouldn’t be here. (Which would be completely legitimate and true.) But long before I ever considered the objective truth of that statement I would have said with passion that my grandpa once lived because I KNEW him. It was my very experience with my grandpa that makes his existence the most relevant to me. Now, if I want someone else to meet and know my grandpa... well, it is too late. He is dead. But if we introduce people to Jesus… shouldn’t we think that Jesus will somehow interact with them UNLESS he is NOT really alive?

But we have this sneaking feeling that God will not do any personal revealing anytime we tell someone about him. So, because we can’t know that God will give someone an experience with him or not, we go to our more dependable and reliable objective reasons for believing in God. Because God is not reliable we do not depend on him.

I think it would do us well, though, to remember that Jesus called his disciples to be witnesses. Not lawyers. Not judges. Not jurors. But witnesses. What do witnesses do? Testify to what they have seen and heard. Testify to their experience. And it is up to people to decide if the witness is credible or not.

The burden of proof for God lies with God. I am called just to be a witness.


  1. WARNING: VERY LONG COMMENT (Actually, it's a quote by Rich Mullins. But it's probably one of my all-time favorites.) Come to think of it, I've probably already left this quote here or parts of it anyway. Oh, who cares? I dig it:

    The only thing worse than the joke you don't get is the explanation that is bound to follow: an explanation that, while it may help you see why you should have seen the humor that you so lamely missed, is little likely to make you laugh. It may provoke you to muster a sympathy snicker so as to avoid more of an already tedious and misdirected lecture. It may inspire a mild giggle of recognition, but it will hardly ever raise a real belly-laugh, which was the original desired effect.
    And so, here I go -- me and a dozen thousand other people -- trying to explain a joke that we would do better to learn to better tell. I am setting out to explain again why Jesus is the only true hope for the world, why we should put faith in Him, and what all of that won't mean. I am collecting the information, selecting from what I hope will be usable as evidence, arranging my findings into arguments, framing it for presentation and recognizing that, while it may be fine as far as it goes, it doesn't go far enough.

    But then I remember two things. The first thing I remember is how I once won an argument with a heathen friend of mine who -- after I had whacked away his last scrap of defense, after I had successfully cut off every possible escape route that he could use, after I backed him into an inescapable corner and hit him with a great inarguable truth -- blew me away by simply saying, "I do not want to be a Christian. I don't want your Jesus Christ." There was no argument left to be had or won. Faith is a matter of the will as much as it is of the intellect. I wanted to believe in Jesus. My friend wanted to believe in himself. In spite of how convincing my reason was, my reason was not compelling.

    So the second thing I remember is this: I am a Christian because I have seen the love of God lived out in the people who know Him. The Word has become flesh and I have encountered God in the people who have manifested (in many "unreasonable" ways) His Presence; a presence that is more than convincing, it is a Presence that is compelling. I am a Christian not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be the nuts and bolts, who through their explanation of it, held it together so that I could experience it and be compelled by it to obey. "If I be lifted up," Jesus said, "I will draw all men unto me."
    So, here I offer what is possibly the worst thing that can be offered: an explanation of a joke. And, what makes this more inexcusable than the fact that this is that, is the added fact that this is an explanation of a joke you've already gotten. I offer it anyway. I offer it in the hope that it might somehow encourage you to live out your lives and, by your living, tell the joke that I, in my writing, so feebly attempt to explain. Love one another, forgive one another, work as unto God, let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. Make it your ambition to lead quiet lives. Obey. Greet one another with a holy kiss. No one will argue with that.

  2. Yes, I really like that. Like it a lot. You did leave me a link to a post you once had with this quote on it. I think you asked me to comment, too, and I did. Remember? :-)

  3. Koffijah,

    I loved your comment too.

    My wife reads my blog, and the comments, and she has never before asked me to print anything from it...until she read your comment. She has your comment in her journal.

    I subscribe to your blog now, and read every post! Thanks

  4. Hey Jeremy,

    Thank you so much! I enjoy reading your blog and the thought-provoking questions and issues you discuss there. I'm glad you do because I think you are dealing with things at the junction of the rubber and the road, and that is where we need to be. Thanks! Welcome to the Koffi House!