In this episode, Kurt and Ted Wright discuss the critical aspect of pre-evangelism in cultural apologetics. This episode was held at the Apologetics in Evangelism conference in Hartford, CT.
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. If you’re noticing that something’s a little bit different here it’s because we are coming to you not from the Defenders Media Office, but from Calvary Church of West Hartford in the great state of Connecticut. We are pleased, yes, we’ve got a live audience here that’s joining us for today’s program. I am here joined by my friend Ted Wright and on today’s episode we are going to be talking about cultural apologetics and how in many cases, we aren’t called to preach, but to reach. Joining me on today’s program is Ted Wright. He is an international speaker. He’s been a professor of apologetics for many many years and an aficionado of archaeology and archaeological facts and so I’m very pleased that he’s here with us for today’s event, apologetics and evangelism, and on today’s program. Ted. Thanks for joining us.
Ted: Thanks for having me again. Good to be here.
Kurt: I guess it might be your third, maybe fourth time on the program.
Ted: Second or third. Something like that.
Kurt: Second time we’re doing a live interview.
Ted: A live interview.
Kurt: Today, I wanted to pick your brain on evangelism and the different ways in which people can evangelize. When I think of evangelism, I think of my friend David Montoya who gets up on a soapbox at NIU, Northern Illinois University, and does street preaching. Some contexts call for that and that can lead to some very beneficial conversations. Sometimes, people might pass out tracts on the sidewalk. That’s another form of evangelism. Sometimes there’s friendship evangelism where we can just befriend someone and over time be able to share the gospel with them. What are some other ways that you can think of? When you think of traditional evangelism what comes to mind for you?
Ted: We were talking about this earlier today. We mentioned Billy Graham, of course, just went to be with the Lord. Billy Graham, he preached these huge crusades. I’m not sure, maybe there’s a place for that, but you have the big evangelistic conference, but fifty years or so when Billy was doing his Crusades, most people would believe, they sort of had a knowledge, a latent understanding of who God was and Christianity and Jesus, but today in our American culture and in fact, cultures around the world, nobody really knows who Jesus was or at least they have this sort of politicized version of Christianity. You can do that, but I’m not sure if it would be highly effective. I know the Billy Graham Association still does some of those Crusades, but there’s certainly a place for it and I don’t think it’s an either/or. I think there’s a place for that as well.
Kurt: Especially in a pluralistic society as our country is today. There are people with many backgrounds. Some of them have that church background and maybe left the faith. Some of them don’t have that church background. Maybe different forms of preaching and evangelism might work for some people while for others, not necessarily the case.
Ted: No. Not necessarily the case. We were talking earlier today about this idea about preaching to the choir and I think a lot of churches today, not all of them, but in my experience, I’ve been a pastor before, and a lot of churches, a lot of the events if you look at the church calendar and the things that a church does are really geared toward really other believers and edifying, that’s great. You’ve got to do that, but we can’t forget that part of the mission of the church is to reach out beyond the four walls of the church to do evangelism so the question we want to ask is, “How do we do that? What does that look like today? What does that look like to do evangelism today?” One of the ways that some churches respond, at least in a lot of bigger cities, is they want to sort of make church inviting so that the unbeliever will then come to the church, have good coffee, good music, and good stage, things like that. We’ve got to be careful because it’s not about entertainment per se. It’s really about how to really engage the culture for Christ. There are all kinds of ways to do that. Earlier today we were talking about how the apostle Paul, there were three mandates that Paul did in reaching his world for Christ and it was the gospel mandate. That’s in the Gospel of Matthew 28 and then you’ve got the mandate to defend the gospel, 1 Peter 3:15, and then the third mandate is communicate the gospel, so proclaim, defend, and communicate, and I think all three need to be done today.
Kurt: Sometimes while we might do that sort of explicitly, sometimes it can backfire. There’s a term that’s come about called culture warring and how sometimes when we’re trying to say defend the Christian worldview of marriage per se, that can really butt heads against people of a different worldview fighting for different political legislation to occur. While we might be having good intentions, sometimes the results might not bring about what we want.
Ted: When you think about that Kurt, you think about what if some of the early church members like Paul or Peter, can you imagine if they went around, and not to say that some of those things are not good, you stand for truth and stand for things, legal things, moral things, but I can’t imagine Peter saying “We need to vote against Nero and what he’s doing in Rome. He’s destroying Rome.” They preached the gospel. They were all about the gospel. That’s what we need to be about. We need to be about preaching the gospel. It’s not either/or. I think there’s a place for being salt and light politically, but we can’t confuse preaching the gospel with standing up for moral issues or political issues. Very important to do that. I think the church should do that, but that’s not the same as preaching the gospel and proclaiming the gospel and by our actions as well as our words.
Kurt: While there might be times when taking sort of a political stand, can be good, can be winsome even, sometimes the culture warring doesn’t always occur just with the political aspect either. Christians have made attempts to make Christian movies and sometimes they don’t go over too far. They might come across at least to me as more like preaching. When a work of art preaches, it doesn’t seem to be very good art.
Ted: Right. Again, I think you’re right Kurt and I think it comes back to what we were talking about earlier today. It seems to be a recurrent theme, preaching to the choir. These movies are great. A lot of these movies, I know you and I, we can name two or three off the top of our head here, I don’t want to mention them right now. You can sort of imagine what some of these movies would be and they’re great movies and they’re well-acted and well-produced, things like that. Are they Steven Spielberg quality or Martin Scorcese? Probably not, but they’ll cause you to think and they’ll get some unbelievers to look at it, but they’re really kind of more preaching to the choir again, but can I, at this point, I want to interact, there’s actually a great article, I mentioned this to you earlier. She’s a professor out in Houston, Texas, Holly Ordway, and she wrote an article for Christianity Today and it’s actually based on her book and if I can, I’d like to read it.
Kurt: Yeah. Go ahead.
Ted: This sort of segues into what we’re talking about. The name of her article is why evangelism requires both logic and loveliness and so this is what she said. Just read a couple of paragraphs here that I think will really be relevant to what we’re talking about. She says, “Paradoxically, we live in an age of both unprecedented information access and widespread religious literacy. Never has there been more material on the rational historical grounds for Christian faith, yet our western culture’s becoming ever more secularized. Increasing numbers of people feel comfortable agnosticism or atheism and everyday we see evidence of hostility to Christianity, especially on topics related to sexual ethics. How are we to approach evangelism and discipleship in this strange new post-truth world with this ever-deepening cultural and political divisions?” Great question. How do we reach this post-truth world that has increasingly ever-deepening cultural and political divisions and then she says this and it gets even better. “The classical rational arguments for Christian faith based on evidence, philosophy, and history, are as sound as ever.” They are. I can vouch for that. This conference is a case for that, but they are effective only when people are interested in the questions and find our words and ideas meaningful. Today we cannot count on our listeners to be either interested or informed. Most people are not going to, in fact, in a lot of apologetics web sites…
Kurt: Other than our own.
Ted: Of course. Other than our own. A lot of the people who will look at those are really other Christians. It’s not to say that that’s bad, but we can’t confuse that though with actually engaging with atheists and their ideas. She says, and I think she’s right, they’re only effective only when people are interested in the questions. Today we cannot count on our listeners to be either interested or informed. Here we see the need for a new approach or rather to return to an older, more integrated approach to apologetics, that engages the entire human person. Many contemporary apologists, myself included, look to both reason and imagination to help us to lead people to know about and follow and love our Lord Jesus Christ. She says, “As an apologist, I appreciate the value of imagination in no small part because of the role it played in helping me to come to Christian faith.” She was once an atheist who came to faith in Christ and then she goes on to talk about novels and books and things like that like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien who wrote Lord of the Rings. Ordway’s point is absolutely well-taken and that is the only people who are, Christians certainly need to learn apologetics arguments, that is absolutely needed for sure, but we need to think of what are other ways in which we can engage this world for Christ and what Ordway says is we need to use the imagination and what creative ways can we do whether it’s works of art or music and literature and not just to say that we’re making Christian art or Christian sculpture, just make good art. Just make great art. There is actually an artist who happens to be a Christian. He’s a Japanese-American. Makoto Fujimura, and Makoto, Mako, I think as his friends call him, you may not like his art. Some people don’t like it. I like it. It’s really good, but it’s sort of modern art where he uses techniques in Japanese art, and he’s now displaying his art in museums in New York. Now he has a platform, and you can tell what’s inspiring his art. That’s kind of sort of the thing Holly’s talking about. Just make good quality art and make good quality and that way that sort of infiltrates. Kierkegaard talked about this. He talked about being God’s spies. We need to go out and be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, to infiltrate the culture and sort of undermine it from within the culture instead of letting the culture dictate to us how we should, we as Christians being salt and light and spreading the gospel I think is much more nuanced.
Kurt: So here we have what are almost competing philosophies on how to engage the culture. When I hear Christian art or Christian music, I think this is in addition to this other stuff we’re doing. Right? This is a subgenre.
Kurt: Maybe we have it on a different standard. We think of the objective standard of what makes something beautiful. Here we’ve got this other Christian sub-culture X for whatever field, if it’s fine arts or music or movies, but we want it to be art that fits in with everything else and we want to say, subvert, the culture. Here I think for me growing up in the 90’s, Newsboys, DC Talk, that was the good Christian music. Now as I’ve grown and I’ve learned more about how culture functions and maybe even thought about how culture ought to function, I can think of, U2 the band, they have done more work for the kingdom than DC Talk has. When you think about their reach and their message and the subtle messages of the gospel within their music and yet non-Christians just soak it all up.
Ted: Absolutely. But yet there’s a Christian message there too in U2’s music. I wrote an article several years ago for another web site and it’s based on a U2 song and it’s actually a very biblical Augustinian and you can even say from the Old Testament. The name of the song is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Everybody knows that song, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, I’ve climbed the highest mountain and I’ve done all this stuff, but there’s something not quite, something is not quite there, missing something. In the article, what I said is basically what Bono is saying, they even admitted on an interview that Bono did, I think it was, it wasn’t Bono, it was the Edge actually, he said that they wrote that song as a gospel song, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, like an old spiritual where you’re longing, this world is not our home. C.S. Lewis talked about this. C.S. Lewis used the word Sehnsucht, which is a German word which means unfulfilled longing. People know that there’s something missing, there’s gotta to be something more to this life. U2 song talks about that. Augustine said our hearts are restless and we won’t find anything in this world that satisfies our heart until we find our rest in God. Pascal talked about the God-shaped vacuum. Our culture is a culture that is starving for meaning, starving for significance. They may not think they are, but they are. The drug addiction problem is out of the roof in the country. In certain pockets in the U.S. and around the world, there’s the Opioid epidemic and people are into drugs. Why is that? Why are people so hooked up on drugs? There’s just emptiness and the atheistic worldview, the secularistic worldview, just cannot give meaning. It doesn’t have the capacity to give this ultimate meaning. Does that make Christianity true? Not necessarily, but that’s not my point here. The point is that this is the culture in which we are called to preach the gospel. We’ve got the answer. We’ve found the answer and that’s Christ and we believe that there’s good solid reasonable objective evidence that Christianity’s true, so we can give those reasons and evidence and we can proclaim the gospel, but we need to realize the culture that we are living in. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9, to Jews I become like a Jew to win the Greeks. To the Greeks I became like the Greeks to win the Greeks. The question we have to ask ourselves I think today is how do we reach this culture for Christ in this world that we live in. I think one way is, I don’t think it’s really one way. I think it’s multiple ways.
Kurt: We’ve probably actually already have to take a break here, but when we come back I do want to talk more about that cultural engagement, and for me my reflections upon what Christians need to do in the political realm as someone who’s interested in politics, how we have to have that witness in our culture. Stick with us through this short break from our sponsors.
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Today I’m coming to you from Calvary Church of West Hartford in Connecticut, and I’m joined by my friend Ted Wright and we are talking about cultural apologetics, how we as Christians are called not just to preach, but also to reach and how sometimes our methods for doing so can vary from person to person, people to people, and sometimes when we say one thing in one context it might not be as winsome or engaging as it might be in other contexts. It’s our job as apologists and evangelists to be aware of those situations in those contexts. We have to be discerning. We have to become all things to all people. Sometimes, we shouldn’t just tell someone, “Just read the Bible and you’ll see it’s true.” While that might be the case, and I want to encourage to read the Bible and to recognize those deep truths therein, sometimes we’re called for what we’ve talked about at this conference already, pre-evangelism, and how cultural apologetics plays that pre-evangelistic role. It works the soil before you plant the seed. It can really subvert the obstacles to faith even, how C.S. Lewis for example, is known not for writing Mere Christianity or Miracles or some of those other wonderful works that I like to read. He’s known for the Chronicles of Narnia. Right? That’s a cultural work where he doesn’t preach at people. The story is not about how XYZ person has to repent for their sins in order to be saved, but you see a message and you see the beauty of it and you read about how Aslan dies for the children and it speaks to you.
Ted: Could I speak on that?
Kurt: Go ahead.
Ted: He is absolutely right about Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia and if you think about this, can you imagine if a major movie making production company makes this movie about Jesus and the movie’s all about Jesus except Jesus is a lion and there was a lady who wrote and that is the case in the Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan is Jesus. Lewis actually read an interview that he did, some of his letters and other writings, and he had a lady that wrote into him, she says, “Professor Lewis. I’m really worried my daughter loves Aslan more than she loves Jesus.” He says, “Miss. You don’t have to worry. Aslan is Jesus.” It’s the same person. He laid down His life for His friends and sacrificed Himself for that world, so it’s an imaginative way of doing this. We were talking earlier about this idea of longing and to continue what Holly Ordway, we mentioned her earlier and her article on using imagination and we’re talking about this longing and she says she talked about using the imagination and being creative and she says, “Imaginative apologetics takes a range of forms, one of which involves the human experience of longing. We deeply desire and restlessly search for what is good, meaningful, and beautiful, even if we’re not quite sure exactly what we’re seeking.for or where we can find it. We long for love, for connection, for meaning in our lives and yet complete fulfillment is always just out of reach. Lewis argues that this deep-seated unfulfilled longing is an indication that we are not merely material creatures. As he writes in Mere Christianity, he says, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” The human desire for meaning and joy is never fully satisfied by material things and thus points to a possible non-material dimension to this world. That’s a great way to really reach your people who would never step foot in a church, to engage them on a spiritual level is to say, “You know what? There’s something that’s not quite right. People kind of know, sort of like a hazy memory of Eden, there’s got to be something more.” And if people are not on it. It’s not one of those arguments where you’re just going to convince someone. Either people see it or they don’t.
Kurt: Yeah. Lewis’s remarks there just remind me of the passage in Ecclesiastes that tells us that God has written eternity on their hearts. All people have that longing and it’s something that God has engrained in everyone and they’re going to be seeking for that meaning. They’re going to be seeking for that deep truth which they can finally say, “Yes. That’s right. You look in the mirror and say, “Yes. That’s right. That’s accurate.” It’s something that appeals to everyone and in that respect, that’s why cultural apologetics is so important because instead of going up and say badgering someone, saying you just gotta change this, change that, it’s another way to go around those obstacles and to have someone experience those things where they might get to the point, they might come up to you and ask you, “Why do you do that? Why are you so nice to that person? Why is it that you get along with that guy?” 2 Thessalonians, Paul writes to the people to live a quiet life which is interesting when you’re thinking about evangelism. Live a quiet life so you can win the respect of outsiders. When you win the respect of outsiders, they’re going to start asking questions. I think for some of us, we might live in that Thessalonica. We might live in that town, that atmosphere, where we just have to live our quiet lives and not be rash and upfront with people, but just be winsome.
Ted: That’s exactly right and to your point, Kurt. We have a representative from Reasonable Faith, William Lane Craig, and Craig’s book “Reasonable Faith”, this is really interesting and this is something a lot of people just really skip over and if there’s anybody that can present rational amazing philosophical scientific evidence for Christian faith, it’s Bill Craig, but in the end of this book, if you’ve read the book you’ll know what I’m talking about, the very last chapter of the book, the most important apologetic, you know what Dr. Craig says? Your life. Your life is the most important apologetic because that’s at the end of the day, people are looking at you, that sounds so, it sounds like a platitude or something, but it’s actually true, it really is true, and I know a lot of guys, myself included, I love apologetics. I love reason and rational evidence and historical archaeological, philosophical, that kind of gets me going, but really you can’t assume that the other person gives a rip about that. They may not. They may or may not, but they know and they can sense how much you care. You can give them that. That’s the doorway which you can then open up and give them the answers they’re looking for, but you gotta have that. It’s interesting, the apologetics passage, 1 Peter 3:15, the whole context of the passage is this. Peter saying “Set apart Christ as Lord”, the church is being persecuted, and he says, “Set apart as Christ as Lord in your heart.” In other words, be holy. Be holy, and be able to give a reason for the hope that’s within you. In other words, when people look at your life and they say, “Why are you the way you are?” Just like you were saying.
Kurt: Yeah. And Peter follows up with it doing so in gentleness and respect. It’s about the behavior. Even the way we act is a part of our cultural apologetic.
Ted: It really is.
Kurt: I was emailng with a fellow who, I’m not exactly sure how to categorize his worldview, but we were talking about the relationship between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Orthodoxy being right belief, right doctrine. Praxis being right and proper practice or action. For him, it was interesting because I noted how sometimes when people don’t have that right practice, even if they have the right doctrine, if you have the right orthodoxy, but you don’t carry and exemplify the orthopraxy, people will not believe. They’ll find that you’re unwinsome, that even if you preach XYZ, but if you do those things that Jesus taught against or something, it’s not going to be very winsome to people, so the act of living a holy lifestyle is itself an apologetic.
Ted: That’s exactly right. I think another point to make Kurt and I totally agree with that, is that we have to connect the dots for people and we can’t forget that at the end of the day, it’s really about, we have to give the gospel. We can’t assume that people understand who Jesus is, we said this earlier, and that is living a holy life and the imagination and the arts and all these things are great. Those sort of things are doorways, they get people into the door. When I thought God was calling me into ministry and my first sermon I ever preached was actually on 1 Corinthians 1 which at the time engaged my own heart and mind and it kind of stuck with me over the years and as a pastor I read again and again, the apostle Paul says some pretty profound things there and I come back to it now here, after studying apologetics for years and being a professor and being a pastor. It’s a very important point to make and that is God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those. In other words, preaching to the world, the Jews look for signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God. At the end of the day, we can’t get around the preaching of the gospel. It’s essential. It’s not optional. We have to preach the gospel. You can’t avoid it. As much as we want the world to like us and accept us and think we’re cool and all that, Jesus said, “Keep in mind the world hated me first.” We’re not here to, as Zig Ziglar said, win friends and influence people, but that’s not really the point. The point is we have to preach the gospel. We have to preach the truth, but we can do it in a loving way. We can do it in a graceful and loving and compassionate way, so I don’t think it’s mean-spirited.
Kurt: I like what you said, there’s only so much we can do. We have to be prepared. For those of us who are interested in apologetics. We have to be prepared that we’re not going to convince everyone. That’s why I like to take comfort in knowing the role of cultural apologetics, because in as much as I’ll have these analytical intellectual discussions, that won’t win anyone over, but the work of cultural apologetics is therefore so important because no matter what you can say to someone, it may not convince them, but if they’re reading a book, if they’re watching a movie and they have to reflect upon some idea that resonates deep in their soul, that’s going to do more than me arguing with them on Facebook for three hours. Plain and simple.
Ted: It is. It’s true. We go back to C.S. Lewis, and if someone has ever read, and a lot of people have read the Chronicles of Narnia, you already have a connection and if they understand who Aslan is, you’re going to say, “Listen. Lewis was actually a Christian believer, and Aslan represents Christ” so you already have a ready-made connection with that person that you can share Christ with them if they’ve ever read it. Just say, “This is really what I believe. Aslan was sort of an allegory of Christianity.” That’s a way. What I’m saying is we need to think of other things, other ways. We don’t need to just let C.S. Lewis. We need other Christians to write great works of literature. I know I’ve got friends who have written books, I wish them, I hope that their books are successful, fantasy novels. Things like that.
Kurt: This is my next question. It was what are ways the church can get better at say supporting the arts?
Ted: Oh wow. That’s a great question. That opens a can of worms. Think about the church and it’s connection to the arts. Most churches today, it’s not a slam on church or anything, but a lot of them sort of reflect what they value, what the value is. I don’t think it’s either/or. Understandably, again, this quote I gave earlier, Rick Warren said this several years ago. It’s worth repeating here. Rick said that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. I understand that some churches are, they’re in a storefront or they’re in an old theater, things like that. It’s practical, but the church, we worship the God that created beauty. We worship the God who created the nebula and the galaxies and yet our buildings and our architecture and even some of our worship services are boring. God is anything but boring. We represent Him. We are His ambassadors, as though God is making His will for us. I think that we need to value the arts. Pastors need to, if there are artists, and I’ve actually seen, there’s some good very encouraging things, some churches actually have artists or graphic designers on staff and so they’re using and utilizing the arts in very creative ways. What are some practical ways? Having a beautiful meal, inviting the lost. I was involved with a ministry a couple of years ago, a friend of mine back in Charlotte, he works with a YMCA and they had a thing where they actually fed the homeless and they washed their feet and they didn’t expect anything out of it. They didn’t try to get them to join a church. They just wanted to share the love of Christ. Think it had an impact on those people? What if churches did that and beauty, we have this tendency to think that beauty, it has to be the visual necessarily because the Old Testament and the Jewish concept of beauty, there’s the beauty of holiness as well. Holiness is beauty. Christ living in us is beautiful. In fact, Paul says that we are God’s poiema, God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. We, the church ourselves, we are works of art. We are literally word walking works of art and the Greek word is poiema, we’re God’s walking poems, beautiful poems. A person doesn’t have to be an artist to support the arts. You can be beautiful and again, it’s not trying to say “Look at me”, but there is a sense in which we want people to see Christ in us, not to glorify ourselves obviously, but as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount of being salt and light, you’re a city on a hill. Let them see your good works that they may praise your heavenly Father. That’s what we want to do. We want to point people to the Father and point people to Christ so in the arts, obviously music, meals, those kinds of things, make it beautiful. Make it wonderful.
Kurt: I like when you said just sharing a meal with people. Inviting someone over, especially a non-Christian over, to see how you live your life. Invite them into your home.
Ted: Bring out your best silverware. Bring out your best plates. Make them feel like an honored guest. That’s the gospel. That’s what God does. It’s a banquet. All are welcome. God loves the world and we represent him. The gospel is open to all who would trust and believe in Him.
Kurt: I want to segue into politics a little bit because it’s my field of interest. As those of you who interest to this show and might be Facebook friends, you’ll see that. I think for me, and I was speaking with some folks at lunchtime, I was reflecting on how the Christian witness is so important, especially to those that are unchurched, that don’t have the Christian background. That’s so important because our points of commonality are so different. Right? What sort of common ground do we have? Not much. Right? So our Christian witness in society today is so important. Who we support politically and how we show that can really be in some cases good, but in some cases detrimental to our Christian witness and especially given our current president, that’s been a challenge I think for the evangelical community in our nation where I know for many people who felt led to vote for Trump, they did so holding their nose. Other people unabashedly supported someone who, regardless of the policies that would be implemented, the moral leadership was the concerning factor and how that can just be difficult and how we are to, again, live out our lives with people. The last thing I want to do is to push people away even if my political views are XYZ. Regardless of where you might stand. You don’t want to push people away from the gospel. If you’re finding in your life that the way in which you are advocating for and representing certain political views or worse, I should say, parties, because historically the parties evolve on which, sometimes it evolves over four and eight years. Sometimes it takes longer. The policies change in where they’re representing the parties. That’s another interesting feature. To sort of pledge allegiance to a party I think is one of the things Christians have to be aware of because there will come a certain point, political parties wherever you’re at are not going to save this country. There’s nothing that would do that. The only thing that can save the nation is the love of Jesus Christ and so we have to exemplify that in our lives. That has to be our first priority and if we confuse that with political affiliations, that’s going to be a big problem for us.
Ted: Absolutely. Kurt. I couldn’t agree with you more. The danger is that a lot of non-Christians will think that if I become a Christian then that means I’ll have to agree with what Christians, who they support politically.
Kurt: That plays into stereotypes.
Ted: It plays into stereotypes and the same thing is true. I try not to go on the political route, but when I think about politics and I think about the relationship between the church and evangelism and apologetics, or evangelism and the church being effective for the gospel, I think about the early church and the first hundred or so years of Christianity was the most violent persecution of the church that’s ever been. The church in America experiences under no, there’s no even resemblance of the persecution the early Christians suffered, yet they turned the Roman world upside down. How did they do that? There were no Republicans or Democrats. Jesus wasn’t a Republican or Democrat. They were violently persecuted in the Roman Empire and one of the practices, one of the practices in the Roman Empire in the first century was if you had an orphan, you’d just leave it on the street and let it down, and what did the Christians do? They took them up. The first hospitals, the first orphanages were all founded by the church. They were working under the radar, out of the radar politics. They were just there in society.
Kurt: But wait. I thought religion poisons everything says Christopher Hitchens and others.
Ted: Your point earlier is you were saying this idea about politics. This is something I personally find a little disconcerting about the church today. We sort of, not everybody obviously, but there are a large segment of Christianity, especially evangelicals, I know because I’m a Protestant, that sort of think the only way to change America is by politics. It’s certainly important. We should be involved in politics and all that, but that’s not the only way to be involved. That’s not the only change. God can do anything and all things.
Kurt: So as someone who advocates for the politically pro-life position, it would be very ignorant to believe that if legislation were to change, Roe v. Wade would overturn, that no teenage mothers would be considering back alley abortions and we just are hands-off. Christians are still going to have to be called to go and love those people so even though as much as I love politics and I love thinking about it and I believe that the Judeo-Christian God is the foundation for human rights and all of that, it’s still, you can’t think if you win that political war that the battle’s over, not by any means. There would still be battles on multiple fronts, to continue playing in our communities, in our states, and so the work will still be needing to be done.
We’ve got to close up shop here, but before we end today’s program, let me just give you a teaser for next week. Last Tuesday, my colleague David Montoya debated a Jesus mythicist, that is someone who believes Jesus never existed. This is really a fringe view in the academic scholarship, but nevertheless, it’s becoming more and more popular in large part thanks to the internet which is what I talked about in my breakout session. More and more people are just believing a number of conspiracy theories on the historicity of Jesus. on next week’s program, David’s going to be joining me back in studio and we are going to be going through some of the slides and segments of that debate so we can devote more time to a number of the claims that Jesus mythicists make. I hope that you’ll be able to tune in next week at our normal time, Saturday 1 PM Central. This week’s program we started 1 PM Eastern time since we’re here in Connecticut. Got to stick to that 1 PM time, makes it easier for me. Ted. I want to thank you for joining us on the program today and I look forward to the next time you’ll be able to join us.
Ted: Thanks again for having me, Kurt. Great to be here.
Kurt: That does it for today’s program. I want to briefly say I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and the partnerships that we have with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Fox Restoration, Non-Profit Megaphone, and I want to thank our guest, Ted Wright, today, and last but not least I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.