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Ask Louis Phillips (July 13-17, 2020)

Greetings, @Interested_In_Ask_RZIM fam!
We’re excited that the Q&A forum is back this week with @lou.phillips in the hot seat. :fire:

Lou is a fulltime OCCA fellow based in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Grove City College and graduated with a bachelor of science degree, double majoring in molecular biology and political science. Lou also received his certificate of theological studies from Oxford University (Wycliffe Hall) and was trained at OCCA, the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA).

He first discovered his love for evangelism and apologetics while briefly working in Washington, DC, as a legislative correspondent for a Senator from Oklahoma. This passion grew further when he traveled across the United States for three years as the main speaker for a teen evangelistic outreach.

Since then, he has played a role in RZIM’s student and young adult initiatives like REBOOT, ReFresh, and university event weeks all throughout the US, Canada, the UK, and the Middle East.

Lou is most interested in topics such as meaning, identity, and purpose as they relate to the Christian worldview, especially in the lives of students and young adults. Additionally, having been raised in a Christian household, he is passionate about equipping and challenging Christians with the truths of their faith. Lou is convinced that it is essential for Christians to find ways to discuss the most controversial issues of today but in a respectful and compassionate manner.

Just reply below with your questions for him! :question: :arrow_down:

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Hi! I would like to ask, how do you reach out to a friend who just recently had suicidal thoughts after a painful breakup(he said he can’t live without his ex) but does not want to hear anything about the love of Jesus nor the promises from the bible(for he thinks it’s all religion, even after explaining that the offer is a relationship not religion)? Thank you in advance😊

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@lou.phillips thank you for your time.
With your background in biology may I ask what you beleive currently about human evolution? Do you think the evidence that is taught in school biology text books is accurate? It states that some humans evolved from apes.
I would appreciate your personal opinion on this.
Once again, thank you very much.

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Hi! I am new to this and it’s awesome that I get to hear from Louis and ask questions to Him. :blush:

I’ve been reaching out to some people who I’ve met in my university, I’m not really close with them but I’ve been praying that God would open opportunities for me to share the gospel to them.

I chatted with this person who is part of the LGBT community, she knows that I am a Christian. I asked her what are some of her deepest questions about life. She’s open to responding and even included her girlfriend’s. She and her girlfriend are wondering about these:

  • what’s the difference of existing and living?
  • what’s life’s purpose?
  • do we have control over our life or is everything pre-planned?
  • what happens when we die?

I asked her why those questions interest her but she hasn’t responded. What response could you recommend for me? Honestly there is also some fear in me that what if they ask me if their lifestyle is wrong, how should I respond? I’m sorry this has been long, but thank you :blush:

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@lou.phillips my question is this- is sex the only thing to distinguish between close friendship and marriage?

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Louis, thank you for taking time to answer questions this week. My son is going on 8 years old. He is very intelligent and spiritually insightful. He also is a very loving and sunny soul. If you were me, how would you start to prepare him for entering an increasingly spiritually hostile academic world ten years from now?

Hi Lou, thanks for joining us again to answer our questions. You are a great bible teacher. I was inspired by your ‘Take Five’ and your response to my question to you the last time you were with us.

I am considering establishing an organization to help young people in their walk with God. At the core of our activities will be, holding captive the tools for negative peer pressure. In this vein, I would like to hear your responses to the following questions.

  1. What are some things I should consider in the formation of the organization?
  2. What are your tips on engaging youths in our present age?
  3. Please suggest the names of people that would be a great ministry mentor to me.
  4. What are some resources you would recommend for me?

Thanks,
Charles

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Brian,

Thank you for your question. Firstly, let me say I am no scientist or biology expert. In fact, I specifically studied molecular biology which almost never gets into evolutionary biology. The understanding I learned most about was micro-evolution which we know is verifiably irrefutable, as in we can still test this today with the scientific method. But with macro-evolution, which is what most people mean when they say evolution, in some of its understandings it can conclude that some humans had a common ape ancestor.

My quick answer to you is no, I dont find the evidence for this understanding of human development entirely compelling or convincing. I do say that with an open mind because I firmly believe that Science and the Bible are not enemies of each other. There are times that science has helped Christians read the Bible more accurately (ie earth revolving around sun versus sun revolving around earth), and so we as Christians need to make sure that we do not treat the Bible as a science text book. It is not one, nor was it ever meant to be one. I do however believe that Scientism, a worldview that says only science can answer the most important questions of life, is not only toxic but inherently false. There are many brilliant Christians who describe themselves as theistic evolutionists, and I think there is compelling arguments for how they see evolution being the mechanism by which God created the universe.
But the question on the origin of life is not primarily a biological question, but a historical one. Biologists have every right to weigh in and present their data as to what looks like may have happened; but the most honest biologists will say there is still mystery as to how it all worked out.

Also, we need to make sure we read Genesis the way the author intended us to read it, not just as 21st century readers. Genesis is a complex book full of different genres of literature. If we take Genesis purely to be literal, we run into our first problem in Genesis 2 which seems to depict a different creation account. We must have a humility in our approach to the authors intent.

But in saying that, here are my biggest take aways that I find to be essential and orthodox for Christianity, regarding creation:

  1. Ex nihilo - out of nothing. God is separate from creation and he is the cause of it all. Creation isnt some how “part” of God, it is categorically different. This is the first indication we are given in our understanding of our relationship to God. He is not part of creation. Also, this wasn’t some big cosmic accident with no design or purpose.
  2. Goodness of creation. Understanding of the goodness of creation allows us to completely dismantle the gnostic understanding of humanity and life. Its not just the spiritual that is good, so is the physical and this goes to show how we should view ourselves. We are embodied souls meaning both the physical and spiritual matter. We dont get to separate the two into dualism.
  3. Special creation of Adam and Eve. I think regardless of our interpretation of Genesis, its evident that the creation of humanity was different than everything else. I very much believe in a very literal and physical Adam and Eve, otherwise I am not sure how we could reconcile Romans 5 and much of the Pauline approach to this topic…. Also some of Jesus words. I am not saying that every Christian has to believe this as well, but I have yet to hear a compelling case as to how they are simply metaphorical.

I realize many people will disagree with my stance on this and like I said, I firmly believe that science was given to us by God to better understand him. Science should never be pitted against the Bible. But when (and this can be tricky) we are faithfully reading scripture and hopefully following the conviction of its truths, if at any point science and scripture conflict, I will land with scripture. Again, this can be hard because we know there have been times in history where we have misunderstood scripture. But with something like Adam and Eve and the essential role of their “literal-ness” all throughout scripture, I am not sure how to reconcile a “fake or metaphorical” version of them. And that puts me in the position to say I do not believe the theory that humanity shares a common ancestor with apes to be accurate. I do not believe it is arrogant to say that that theory is still problematic even outside of a christian approach. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if in 100 years science is saying something very different than what it is saying today with regards to human origin.

Finally, as Christians, we get to say our foundation to believing in the inherent value of human life is far deeper than any other worldview. A worldview that doesn’t adopt a special creation of man and woman is not a worldview that can eventually defeat sexism and racism and eugenics — that worldview will have to borrow capital from the Christian understanding of special creation. So God creating humankind in his image is good news for all of us, especially during a time when we are fighting to persevere why we value life.

I hope this helps and makes sense. This is where I currently am with regards to this topic. I think we must always be careful that we dont shut the door on science because it is a gift God has given us. But scientism is a naturalistic approach to the world we live and that is adamantly opposed to the gospel.

Let me know if you have anymore questions.

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Wow, thats such a difficult position to be in. Thank you for asking such an important question in this time. My answer is going to be fairly short, but please dont see that as a dis or because its simple, I just dont think there are many options. Firstly, if your friend is genuinely suicidal, I highly recommend that you encourage them to see a medical professional. I cannot emphasize this enough. There are Christian and non Christian men and women who are trained to help people in those tough spots, make sure your friend doesn’t feel ashamed to reach out for help.

But outside of that, here would be my approach to a friend who is suicidal after a breakup:

Presence. Time. And a lot of listening.
I think by far, more than anything, you can be a listening ear to your friend. When someone is in that much pain, they often dont want answers, they want someone who will be with them in the pain.
Show them how much you love them and value them by being willing to serve them at this time.

This sounds easy, but its quite difficult. Often people in such a state are hard to be around. But I would challenge you to think of creative ways to be their friend. If they are a close friend, you know what cheers them up. You know what makes them feel valued and supported. Your mission as a Christian at this point is to show the love of Christ through your actions, versus explanation (which can and will come later).

In doing this, I would also be thinking of great questions to ask him.
Some questions I might ask are:
What about being in a relationship made life worth living that you no longer have?
Do you have anything you are looking forward to?
Prior to this relationship, what brought you joy, peace, happiness?

Really think of questions that will get him to dig deeper. Its once those questions are answered that we can start talking about worldview and then bring the Gospel.

Also, if you have ever gone through a similar pain, be vulnerable and share it with him. Explain how you felt and what brought you out of it. Being vulnerable fosters vulnerability.

Finally, and most importantly.
Pray.
Pray daily for your friend.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would give you discernment and supernatural sensitivity.
Pray that that the God of mercy would save your friend.
Pray that if you can be used, that He would use you.

I am so grateful you are in his life. Do not think thats an accident. This isnt the most glamorous part of evangelism and the Christian walk, but it pleases our Heavenly Father and it matters so much!

Thank you for sharing, I hope this helped in some way.

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Wow! Thank you so much for this! I never thought of asking my friend those simple yet perspective changing questions. Honestly, I didn’t really know what to do. I just assured him of my presence as a listening ear(despite the 7hr time difference) if he needed to pour his heart out. I asked him to seek professional help but he’s unwilling as of the moment. Thank you for the honest reminder to share the gospel with our actions more than our explanation(for now). I’m reminded of what our local church shared to us to make the gospel go viral: to pray, care and share; whomever we meet, wherever and whenever.:blush:

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Thank you @lou.phillips. I have definately learned from your response.

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Hi @lou.phillips, thank you for your time and I trust you are well?
I need some different perspectives about talking to new believers or those seeking, regarding the sovereignty of God and that He lives outside of space and time, especially to those struggling with this topic.

What are some thoughts you have on this topic and your approach to the younger generations about God’s sovereignty?

Thanks again.

Roald

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Dear Lou,

Thank you for sharing your educational background! How do you personally use your knowledge of molecular biology in evangelistic conversations? I’m also intrigued about the way political science intersects with your ministry today.
Sincerely,
Kirk Kellogg

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Sadie

Good to hear from you. Another great question. I actually hadn’t thought too much about this question until I was asked it last year at MIT.

Very briefly, no, sex is not the only thing (within a christian context) that distinguishes between a close friendship and a marriage. Though sex should only be within a marriage, another thing (but not the only thing) that marriage demands is exclusivity (in a way that friendship does not). Here is what I mean:

True friendship should not be exclusive in the sense You shouldn’t be mad if your best friend acquires another close or best friend. In fact, the best kinds of friendships are inclusive and inviting to others. This doesn’t mean you cant have your closest friends, but when someone is jealous when their close friend gains another friend they are actually treating their friend improperly. Though you have limited amount of emotional capital and time, you aren’t solely committing yourself to friends like you are to a spouse. Just as Christ exclusively commits himself to his bride (the Church), we (in reflection of that truth) exclusively commit ourselves to our spouse. Even outside of sexual activity, there are somethings that are inappropriate for you to do with another person once you are married, why? Because of the exclusive nature of the relationship.

Another aspect of this exclusivity is that in marriage, your life is no longer just yours. You are now one with the other person. Meaning your decisions effect them and theirs effect you. You are not allowed to live like “I am only going to think about myself today.” But In some ways, you can actually do this with close friends because you are not exclusively bound to them in a covenant. Again this doesn’t mean that until you are married you are by default a selfish person; however, marriage is a surefire way to show you how selfless we need to become. When you are not responsible or bound so someone else, its pretty common to just have yourself in mind.

Finally, in that exclusivity, you must give of your time, resources, and efforts in a way you just wouldn’t necessarily for a friend. For example, last weekend I hung out with a group of my friends for like 3 days in a row. We had an amazing time and I am extremely extroverted so it was a haven for me. But at the end of that time, I was pretty exhausted and was looking forward to things going back to normal for a little bit. But There is no going back to “normal” in marriage. You live with this person and they get to know you, all of you, even when you dont want to. This isnt to say you cant have time alone or time by yourself, but it simply is not the same as friendship. This is why marriage, like nothing else, is one of the greatest forms of sanctification.

So yea, Exclusivity is what I would argue is the most important distinction. Though there are more, I think thats one of the most important. I hope that makes sense. Let me know if you need me to clarify anything.

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Thank you so much!! Very helpful and helps me understand this better.

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Hi@louisphillips. Thanks for your time, the patience and willingness to respond to questions.
This question was asked by someone on a Facebook group “So… How could Adam & Eve know that disobeying God by eating the fruit was wrong, if they had to eat the fruit in order to know what was “right” or “wrong” in the first place?”
Pls what would be Ur response to it.
God bless you and keep you🙏

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Sadie,

Although I said this in the last post, as I read it again, I dont think I worded it correctly. With friendship, others are invited in. In marriage, its a closed system. No one is invited into your marriage, and when that does happen, it wreaks havoc. But within friendship, others can be invited in to enjoy and this actually can develop a better friendship. Does that make sense?

CS Lewis talks about this in The Four Loves:
“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets… Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, “Here comes one who will augment our loves.” For in this love "to divide is not to take away.”

But we would not say the same is true for marriage, because marriage is exclusive.

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Anna,

Amazing questions. I will be getting back to you soon. But as these questions are difficult I want to make sure I give them the appropriate time to write out and think about.

I will be answering you in the near future. Thank you for your patience.

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Brendan,

Thank you for your question. I admire you for asking me this question when I am not a father. Its very humble of you to ask a single guy what best way to prepare a son. I, hopefully with great humility, would do this if I were you:

More than anything else, your son needs to fall in love with Christ. Here’s the good news, that is not your responsibility! You can’t get your son to fall in love with Christ, only the Holy Spirit can; however, God has given you the unique role to guide your son in seeing Christ in all his beauty.

I love that your son is already intelligent and insightful (giving everyone lectures on the taxonomies of mushrooms and plants :slight_smile: ); but please dont mistake that as what you need to foster and help cultivate most. Those things are important, but not even remotely as important as understanding who God is and what He has done for us (and specifically for your son to know what God has done for him).

How can you guide your son to see Christ, encounter him, and stay the course?:

  1. Show your relationship with Christ on full-display, both the good and the bad. Your son needs to see real Christianity, not the fake stuff people put out. Show your son that you too need Grace. That you are not perfect, that you too are a sinner in need of Christs forgiveness. Nothing creates a self-righteous child faster than a household that demands perfection (though we are not perfect). And make sure to ask for forgiveness when you wrong your son. You are not a perfect parent, you will fail at times and thats ok. But make sure you acknowledge it so that your son knows what it means to repent and be in need of grace.
  2. In humility, show your dependance on God. Let him see you reading your bible every morning. Let him see that God isnt afraid of our questions. Be the spiritual leader in your household. Pray often as a family. Take opportunities to show your gratitude to God. One of the largest impacts on me in my life was coming down the stairs to go to school to see my dad on his knees praying every morning. He didnt do it for show, it was his real relationship on display. You cant fake it. Kids pick up inauthenticity faster than anyone. Let him see you love the Lord, and struggle to love the lord. The more raw and authentic your relationship is with God, the more compelling it will become.
  3. Be vulnerable yourself and share how you are doing. Share with him your struggles. Let him know that YOU are the person he can always come to when he is struggling with something. That he doesnt have to worry about what you think of him, but that you are always going to help him when he is in need. Offer him the grace that God has offered you when the time comes.
  4. Ask him thought provoking questions. Think creatively. Pay attention to what he is thinking about and think of questions that force him to think deeply on things. See if you can help him identify his idols at such a young age.
  5. Finally, and most importantly, PRAY. Pray for him daily and pray as often as you can for him.

Making sure your son is aware of all the apologetics questions/answers is important for college, but I know plenty of people who know the answers yet do not love the lord. Your son needs a firm foundation to stand on when he goes to college, he doesn’t simply need head knowledge of the arguments. The only true firm foundation is a real thriving relationship with the Author of our lives. Do everything you can to be a model of what it means to take up your cross and follow him. Show your son that Christianity isnt a set of rules that you add to your life, its something categorically different. Christ comes in and is LIFE itself, not some addition. Being able to actually defend your faith and stand firm in it comes only after it has taken root. Right now you are planting seeds in your son. May they take deep roots in his soul!

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man[a]
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2
but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

God loves your son far more than you ever could Brendan. Show your son the Love that Christ has shown you and let the Holy Spirit work in your son’s heart. I hope this helps. Like I said, I am not a father, but this is what I would hope to do!

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