I’ve been storing up a heap of questions for a while now, and I think if I don’t start writing them down, I’m never going to make the time to think them through! This particular round of questions has been prompted by several things- being involved in some Christian Union events weeks, some conversations that I’ve been both part of and heard about on the subject of apologetics and evangelism, and about 5 years worth of musings on how the Trinity changes everything! I’m not clear in what I think on all these matters, hence the questions, but I do have some basic foundations from which I’m starting… well, one basic foundation, really…
My basic starting point is that the God of Christianity is no abstact, impersonal/personal-but-lonely being, but that for all eternity past, the Father has loved his Spirit-anointed Son. People who know me well might be inclined at this point to gloss over the next few sentences, assuming I’ll be talking about the same old stuff I always waffle on about, but give me a chance! I think this starting point must change everything. And by change, I mean starting from the ground up, turn everything upside down and revolutionise the world kind of ‘change’! I think there’s a place for talking more about the Father, Son and Spirit, and I’m a big fan of the goal of ‘warming hearts’ to the good news, but those things can just be a superficial gloss on our pre-existing ideas of God. I know they can be for me. Whether rightly or wrongly, (I’d be interested to know what you think!) I’m saying something more. I’m claiming that knowing the Triune God must change how we understand … (these are listed in no particular order)
- creation: why did the Father, Son and Spirit create? What motivates this God? What would creation look like or be like if it’s made by a God like this?
- revelation: how would this God relate to his creation? How would he make himself known and for what purpose?
- sin: what would it look like to rebel/break God’s law/reject/suppress the truth about a God who is Father, Son and Spirit?
- salvation: what would rescue look like? What would it take? Why would God do it?
… I’ve stopped there but that’s not the limit to the scope of the difference Trinity must make – what does it mean to be human? To be community? To be creative? The list goes on…!
So with that in mind, my questions: (no, those weren’t the particular questions I was referring to- I have more! And again, in no particular order…)
1. What is ‘the gospel’ that non-Christians need to hear/know/see/understand? And which of those (if any) is most important? Or are they the same thing? (Probably depends on your answer to the first part of that question!)
2. What is the desired response to preaching this ‘gospel’ – belief? obedience? love? assent? intrigue? What will the end result look like?
3. What can people know of ‘goodness’, ‘love’ and ‘truth’ apart from Jesus?
4. When a person looks at creation, or listens to a beautiful song, or reads a wonderful piece of writing, can/does the Spirit use that to draw them to Christ? If yes, how? If no, what is creation proclaiming?
That’ll do for starters. I’m going to be working my way through some notes I’ve gathered from the following books/sources – feel free to chip in with more reading material & ideas!
John Frame – Apologetics to the Glory of God
John Calvin – The Institutes of the Christian Religion
C.S. Lewis – The Four Loves
Essays by Colin E. Gunton and Thomas F. Torrance (where I can get hold of them)
Tim Keller – articles, incl. Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs etc.
Plus talks and notes from training I’ve heard from the likes of Mike Reeves, Jason Clarke and some of my other UCCF colleagues.