Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ask Them Why

Ask Them Why
by Jay Lucas

I received a copy of this book at the NCEM general conference last Fall. Our guest speaker, Brian Catalucci from Answers in Genesis touched on some issues very pertinent to the work we are doing with NCEM. Worldview evangelism is very much a part of the Biblical principals and practices that NCEM is engaged in. Brian recommended this book and distributed it among the NCEM membership.

This book, Ask Them Why, written by Jay Lucas, certainly highlights some very important aspects of Worldview evangelism and some of the rather academic approaches that can be taken when communicating with people of various standpoints. Initially I found the book a bit cumbersome to read, as the author asks you to read appendices as they become topically relevant. But once I got my bearings I found the insights and experiences of the author to be invaluable. Most compelling for me was a debate in which the author was engaged. Under the heading of "Appendix C; my Debate With an Atheist", Jay shares a transcription of his opening remarks in the debate. His use of logic and the "Ask Them Why" method draw a compelling picture of how we might best communicate the truth of the Gospel.
"This book has been written to help Christians of all ages and abilities proclaim and defend the claims of the gospel. The task is not as difficult as many Christians perceive." ~ p. 18
"Ask Them Why", as a model of how best to communicate in the context of postmodernity, is an excellent example of taking into account the worldview of the hearer in evangelism and apologetics in general.
"Ask Them Why reflects an awareness that postmodernism, a dominant worldview, must be addressed... We Christians can be confident that God's truth will stand the test of time and that whenever the next major paradigm shift occurs (post-postmodernism!), the gospel of Jesus Christ will still be rescuing the hearts and minds of men and women, boys and girls." ~ p. 20
The book (the "ATW" method) outlines "the Power of Questions" as a way of communicating within the context of worldview. By communicating through questions you will have great opportunity to allow someone to expose the errors of their position using their own words. We are called to disciple and to teach, this book simply offers us a tool for doing this as effectively as possible.
"(2 Corinthians 10:5) We must rely on the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of unbelievers, but let us fulfill our obligation to speak the truth and expose error." ~ p. 25
Ask Them Why is broken into three main sections; you first read of the method and the Biblical supports and examples that go with it. The author builds a strong case for both worldview evangelism and the "ATW" method in this portion of the book. The second section of the book is accompanied by a CD that you may or may not listen to. These are dramatized examples of the "ATW" method in action. Using various scenarios and conversations with a variety of standpoints, the author demonstrates the concept in action quite effectively. The final section of the book includes the appendices which offer further insights and examples to help clarify this approach to evangelism.

An issue that arises with both worldview evangelism and more specifically with this sort of communication style is the idea that we must not reason with the World. The idea that we must simply get out there and "preach it" and allow the Holy Spirit to work with whatever words hit the ears of those in need of the Gospel. Yet we are called to know and understand, and prepare ourselves to communicate the Truth;
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;" ~ 1 Peter 3:15
Indeed, God Himself does not reject reason;
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool." ~ Isaiah 1:18
 I like how Lucas deals with this subject in his book, this excerpt is taken from "Appendix E; The Centrality of Logic";
"When Christians disparage the importance of logic, they are not demonstrating Biblical thinking and are not honoring God. When Christians construct arguments through the use of faulty logic, God is not honored. Of all people, Christians should reject faulty arguments no matter how much the conclusions appeal to them. The God of truth is not served by irrationalsim." ~ p. 249
 This idea that logic and reason are of little to no import is not in line with scripture. The Gospel is offensive and confrontational and will be met with debate, question and rejection. As Christians we must be prepared to engage with the world in these respects whenever we dare to present the Gospel. To abandon logic and reason is unwise, and rather contrary to the cause of the Gospel, and to scripture.

The following quote is taken from "Appendix E" of Ask Them Why, and is a quote from the forward to Gordon Clark's book Logic.
"...The laws of logic are the way God thinks. He makes no mistakes, draws no unwarranted conclusions, constructs no invalid arguments. We do, and that is one of the reasons why we are commanded by the apostle Paul to bring all our thoughts into captivity to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We ought to think as Christ does - logically." ~ p. 250
This book is encouraging and enlightening, the concepts and methods outlined in it's pages are thought provoking and certainly of great value to the Christian. It is so important for each of us to know what we believe and why and be able to communicate that in any context; meanwhile taking into account worldviews. I highly recommend this book as a read for anyone who is sold out for the Gospel and wishes to prepare themselves to engage the World with the truth. It is a packed book and I will need to read it once again to get a firmer grasp on all of it.

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