The ultimate apologetic — just try SOMETHING!

“The ultimate apologetic — that is to say, the ultimate lifter of doubt — is the believer acting in faith in an interactive life with God. That’s it. People need to see individuals living in daily interaction with the kingdom of the heavens: praying and saying. If we want to really attack doubt, what we have to attack is our own hesitancy to step up.”  — Dallas Willard, The Allure of Gentleness 

Dallas Willard on God’s GOOD purposes in human history

“What God is going to bring out of human history in his people is going to be the greatest reflection of God’s own glory, wisdom, and love. That is what human history is about. It is to make a society of the redeemed that will be the crown jewel of creation. And when we look at the terrible things that happen in human history, when we look at the extent of human evil in it, we want to remember what would be lost if human history had not happened. What would be lost is precisely this crown jewel of creation, which consists of Christlike people living together with the kind of love that the members of the Trinity have for one another and enjoying that full, shared, self-subsistent being that characterizes God himself as God dwells in those people.”
— The Allure of Gentleness, pp. 95-96

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Why NOT take Jesus with you?

For the day, for your job, for the conversations you have, for the problem you need to solve at home… why not take Jesus with you?

Paul says this about Jesus:

in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:3)

The One who made everything “probably” actually knows everything. He really does know how to make things work.

Dallas Willard puts it this way:

Regardless of what you’re working on, Jesus has the knowledge required to solve your problems.

Why NOT take Jesus with you today?

Attitudes in apologetics

In The Allure of Gentleness, Dallas Willard leads the reader in a path I wish I had offered to me when I was a teenager. I grew up with the concept that apologetics was winning the argument. My “rightness” would overwhelm their “wrongness” and then they would somehow just bow to Jesus.

Over the years I have adopted more of what Dallas writes about here, but more by fits and starts than a purposeful plan.

He lays out three basic attitudes to take in the subject of apologetics:

1. Have confidence in God and his truth. We need to understand God is on the throne and Satan can’t do a thing about it. No one can. Have confidence.

2. We are to be humble, generous, and open toward other people. Nothing is more damaging than telling a Muslim, for instance, what he believes, before HE has a chance to tell you what he believes. We need an openness to listen and walk with that respect toward others. Then, in kindness, we ask that same respect in return. I have watched Tim Keller do this time and again. It is marvelous to watch.

3. We need a true desire to lovingly serve.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 is a great example:

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Apologetics isn’t about being “right”

I am back to Dallas Willard’s book, The Allure of Gentleness, and find myself challenged yet again by his careful words.

Apologetics for Christians isn’t about proving we’re right. We’re not saved because we’re “right.” We’re “right” because we’re SAVED. It’s about grace stepping in to show what is right.

That’s why so many churches have “Grace” in their name. Not many people want to go to “Right Church,” but we’ll gladly go to “Grace Church.” I’ve been to Right Church — you may have been there too — it’s a tough place. There are a lot of dead people at Right Church, because life comes by grace.

The value of being “right” is found in helping us deal with reality. When we see what is truly right, we integrate life much easier. But it’s not about proving our “rightness” to someone else.

The gentle apologetic

There is no way to contain my joy in getting to read more words from Dallas Willard. I am so thankful his daughter is putting together his notes and lectures. This latest book is called The Allure of Gentleness, and takes up the cause of living out the apologetic of Christianity rather than simply trying to engage in and win an argument.

Some early gems:

It is because in suffering for righteousness’s sake you know the reality of the kingdom of the heavens in your life. that reality comes into you, and you find that you are leading a supernatural, deathless life.

And this:

If you do not exhibit the presence of a life that is above this world, something that is coming into you and giving you joy, peace, and strength in a situation that looks very bad from outside, there isn’t going to be anything for people to ask about.