Ask Jose Philip (May 14-18, 2018)

josephilip

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

Jose Philip, a member of the RZIM speaking team based in Singapore, is available to answer our apologetic and evangelism questions this week!

You can read his biographical details below. I know from personal experience that you will find Jose to be a warm, caring, insightful guide to the challenging questions of the heart.

Carson

Jose’s RZIM Biography

Jose Philip was born in Kerala and grew up in Chennai, India. He graduated from Loyola College in 1992 and went on to complete his Masters degree in Zoology from the same institute in 1994. He was the first student from Loyola to be awarded the Tamil Nadu State Science Council Scholarship for his Masters Research in Prawn Biology. Jose worked as a Prawn Biologist in India before going to the Middle East to join a software firm in 2001.

Jose became a follower of Jesus Christ when he was fourteen. However it was only after moving to Dubai that he discovered nothing satisfied him more than “teaching and preaching the Word”. In 2005 he resigned from his position as Head of Operations and left to pursue his theological studies in Singapore. During his studies at the Singapore Bible College, Jose distinguished himself by becoming the first student in the history of the institution to have secured two masters simultaneously. He completed both his Masters of Divinity in Biblical studies and his Masters of Theology from Singapore Bible College in May 2008.

Jose is currently serving as an Evangelist and Apologist with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (Asia-Pacific). He also lectures on Apologetics, Christian Ethics, and Gospel & Culture at Singapore Bible College, Baptist Theological Seminary and Bible College Malaysia. Jose is married to Cinu, a special educator by training and they are blessed with two children Jayden and Yaira. They are currently based in Singapore.


(Carson Weitnauer) #2

Hi Jose,

This weekend I was talking with a new friend at a kids’ birthday party (our kids were invited to be there, I was just the chaperone). One of the fathers shared with me that he believes in ‘the secret’ or ‘the law of attraction.’ As he explained it, the main idea seems to be, whatever you set your mind on, it will come to you.

I shared with him that I believed he was successful in life because of his intelligence and hard work ethic, not because of a law of attraction. As well, I shared that I believed there was too much suffering in this world for the law of attraction to hold true. What about the homeless, the imprisoned, those suffering from medical problems? This seemed to give him food for thought and at least momentarily reconsider his beliefs.

However, I was wondering how you might have approached this situation. In advance, thank you for any guidance.


(Carson Weitnauer) #3

Hi Jose,

Another question. There seems to be an incredible volume of material to study in a wide range of fields! How do you personally approach the discipline of focused study? What advice do you have for us as we seek to grow in our expertise and preparedness as evangelists?


(SeanO) #4

@Jose_Philip Hey Jose, still remember getting to hang out with you at the EAP program. Hope you’ve been drinking that coffee, because I’ve got a zinger for you :wink:

I’ve had a few chances to discuss religious things with Hindus over the course of weeks or months and both cases were very different.

With one of the young men, he agreed with everything I said about Jesus as if there was no issue. With the other, it seemed like no matter what type of question I asked he always went back to what his strand of Hinduism had to say about the matter and challenged the Christian response.

These encounters were so different and yet in both cases I struggled to ask questions that would help these guys step outside of their own worldview for just a second to take a critical look at what they believed.

In your experience, what are a couple of effective strategies for helping Hindus to reevaluate the beliefs of their culture as you build a friendship with them and they show interest in understanding your perspective on God?


(Anthony Costello ) #5

Hi Jose,

I’m preparing an Apologetics course for a local church in southern California. The audience will be made up of high school and college age students. Here is my question/concern:

In teaching Apologetics today (as opposed to say 30 years ago), it seems to me that the epistemological landscape has shifted drastically with the rise of technology and the instantaneous access to information. What I mean is that let’s say you were at a church in 1985 listening to an evening talk on apologetics by J.W. Montgomery or someone comparable. You receive a heavy dose of arguments and evidence for the Christian faith. You feel confident in the rationality of your belief and perhaps even over-confident since you aren’t aware of any challenges to the material that has just been presented to you. You go home, watch the Incredible Hulk on TV and never think much about it again. If you were, by chance, an extremely curious Christian maybe you would try and find some counter-evidence or counter-arguments to the talk you just heard, but to do so you would literally have to go down to the library and start looking for books on atheism, agnosticism or what-not. Perhaps you find Russell’s “Why I am not A Christian” but by that point you’ve probably jumped through to many hoops to really care about reading it. You’re content with what the speaker presented to you at church the night before. You can rest assured that your faith is reasonable beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Flash forward to today. You (or me) are giving a similar presentation in a church (whether in India or the US, it probably wouldn’t matter too much, at least not with regard to the level of access to the Internet and Youtube, etc.) I present a version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It goes well, but within seconds some member in the audience has googled the KCA and found Graham Oppy (or someone elses’) response to the KCA. They don’t need to necessarily understand it, they just need to be aware of it to bring it up as a contention to what I have just taught. Now, Graham Oppy is far more intelligent than I am, and I cannot really respond (at least not right away) to his contention. So, my point is this, how can we present evidence and arguments for the Christian faith that 1) does not overstate the case, and 2) that takes into account the reality that our audience will be able to almost instantaneously access counter-arguments and counter-evidence by atheists, agnostics, or other types of skeptics. This is what I mean when I say that I think the epistemological playing ground has shifted dramatically. Counter-evidence to any apologetical position I teach can be produced right away simply by using a smart phone.

Any thoughts on this?

Tony

P.S. I have a MA in Apologetics from Biola and an MA in Theology as well, so I am fairly well informed with regards to counter-positions and counter-apologetics, but I am trying to develop a method that will not just present relevant arguments, but that will be more pedagogical for my students. Does that make sense?


(Jose Philip) #6

That’s a great response, Carson. I would have taken a similar approach. I would have, however, begun by agreeing with his idea of ‘attraction’ as quickly qualified it by adding that we tend to attract ‘like minded people’ who pursue, and/ or indulge, even acquire similar things. That is a sociological phenomenon. I would have then transitioned to challenging the ‘attraction’ idea by asking what he thought would happen if my idea of success was contingent on his failure, and vice-versa? How would ‘attraction’ work? And for who? And finally move to your point, people trapped in poverty most certainly don’t ‘want’ to be poor!

Hope this helps.


(Jose Philip) #7

Thanks for another great question, Carson. Let’s say I am studying a topic/ theme I am not too familiar with, as a rule of thumb, I begin with reading a dictionary article. I then follow this up with reading (or watching) at least 2 sources from the opposing views. This equips me with a broad introduction, and some of the key challenges that must be responded to. Then I draw from multiple sources to construct a response. And finally, take notes - journal, journal, journal!

Journaling (even mind mapping. If you are into that) is especially helpful for people like me, who enjoy reading/ reasearching multiple topics (often related) simultaneously. It helps integrate and synt different ideas well, quickly.

Hope this helps.

Jose


(Jose Philip) #8

Hi Sean. It’s good to hear from you! How have you been? Ah! Coffee😇

Your experience is not atypical, Sean. That’s the nature of Hinduism itself - a spectrum. I usually look for the ‘existential rub’. Everyone seeks after something (for any number of reasons) in this life. I try to uncover the ‘Why’!! And, more often than not, the ‘why’ does not sit well with their worldview.

Hope this helps, Sean.
Jose


(Jose Philip) #9

Dear Tony,
Thank you for your question. It’s such a crucial one.

One of things Dr. Zacharias keeps insisting, and we keep reminding ourselves of, especially when we are in our team huddles is that we are ministering to people, not just transmitting information. And so, we keep asking, ‘What will it take for this person to move one step closer to knowing the truth about Jesus.’

Now, it might sound daunting if one were required to ask this question as the baseline for every debate, lecture, talk, or even conversation. But, my experience (and that of many on our team) is that it not only becomes easier as we continue to seek to do this, but it is also a deeply soul-satisfying experience. It helps us bridge our intellect with our spirits, and open ourselves to staying in conversation with the Holy Spirit.

On a different note, this is also a reflection of, at a deeper level, the ‘post-truth’ culture. People seldom accepte anything because an ‘authority figure’ has said it. Like you have experienced yourself, if you go with Dr. Craig to establish your point, I will use ‘xyz’, and it matters very little whether that person even knows what he is talking about. I should, but sadly it does not.

Engaging at a ‘narrative level’ with propositions/ arguments, embedded in it is, in my view, the way forward. Actually, it is what we see in the Gospels, and in much of Church history. There is a draw towards because there is a willingness to step into.

Hope this helps, Tony

Jose


(SeanO) #10

@Jose_Philip Yes, hunting the ‘why’ would seem a useful place to start


(Anthony Costello ) #11

Jose,

Yes, thank you very much. As I work through preparing my slides and my approach I realize I really need to speak existentially to the students as much as cognitively. I think you are saying as much when you reference the “post-truth” culture and engaging at the “narrative level.” My goal will be not just to present arguments, but to use Apologetics to develop the mind and the spiritual life of my students. One of my professors here at Biola, Clay Jones, used to say that apologetics should be more like a spiritual discipline. I agree. I want to train students so that they can meet challenges on there own as opposed to just receiving a bunch of data.

And, as you pointed out, it is the Holy Spirit that bridges the chasm between the head and the heart. God bless you in you ministry.

your brother in Christ,
Tony


(Carson Weitnauer) #12