Hello. My name is Scott, and I live in Virginia. I took the core module several years ago. I found it to be interesting and sometimes helpful, though I challenge its assertions in places. I decided to join connect because I enjoy hearing other people’s stories. I am currently in my fourth semester at Union Presbyterian Seminary, formerly Union Theological Seminary, in Virginia. I hope to connect with other people and their stories by listening, and by sharing my own.
I’m glad you’ve joined - I look forward to growing to maturity in Jesus with you.
Welcome, and bless you for being honest about feeling challenged.
May God bless you, far above and beyond…all you can hope and think…as you earnestly seek after Him.
Thank you for your words of welcome, Billie. To be clear, I do not feel challenged in the sense that what I hear from RZIM challenges my faith. On the contrary, I find myself challenging some of the things I hear coming from ministries such as RZIM. Don’t get me wrong. I have a great appreciation for their ministry. I’ve spent countless hours over the last several years listening to Ravi, and reading materials the ministry references. But at this point in my life and in my education, I find myself evaluating other people’s theologies, which I believe is a good thing to do, and I often come away feeling that perhaps there could be a more helpful approach than what is being suggested, particularly for people who feel estranged from God or any concept of God and are unable to relate to ideas about God as they are often presented. I am here simply to join others in conversation, and I’m grateful for a space like this for honest discussion of faith-related issues. Thanks again for your kind response.
It’s always good to clarify and I appreciate understanding of your intentions and meaning regarding the word, challenge, in your post.
I think I am understanding what you are referring to.
This is what came up for me as I thought over what you have said.
“I wonder if what you are talking about would fall under the topic of the Spirit’s gifts to believers.” What do you think such a thought? Is it totally off base…missing the mark completely, as to what you were expressing? Or does it have some bearing?
RZIM has a particular gifting and calling…which seems beneficial… for many people’s spiritual good. But, this ministry is not suited for everyone. I definitely do not see RZIM or apologetics as a “one size fits all”.
Many of the people I know, do not have the education or the biblical knowledge to understand anything even remotely close to rational logic and it’s application or use in biblical apologetics. They are not “thinkers”. (And, in my opinion, there is a whole culture of people who have lost their ability to think rationally…if they ever did possess it.)
I see this to be the case, especially since post modern, post truth propaganda has completely removed the concept of absolute truth from within the minds of most people (in our present culture) and left in it’s place, relativism and personal experience as the touchstone for reality. (Hence, they fit the biblical description of… “while thinking themselves wise; they became fools.”)
That being said, I am not very gifted in this form of communication (Christian apologetics). I understand and deeply appreciate the affirmation of my faith which I receive…(through Christian apologetics); but, the people I have around me…mock all things related to faith, Christainity, the gospel…
I know and understand, they don’t know what they are talking about. They spew rhetoric without any real personal thought about what they are saying. Yet, this is what I face, and believe you me, there is no way they are going to let me get a word in edge wise…to have a real conversation with them.
Maybe others would have more success? Possibly. But, it is clear to me…this is not my gifting…Besides, my target audience…is definitely unwilling to listen to anything other than their own voices.
I wish I was more gifted…that is why I listen and try to absorb as much biblical wisdom and truth as I can. (“Whosever walks with the wise becomes wise, but, the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20)
So, I see RZIM as being called and gifted for God’s purposes for them…
My calling and gifting is different, in the Lord.
We are all in the body of Christ…members of His body and united to one another. Yet, I am not part of the mouth…
That is very clear to me!
To be honest, when I wrote what I did in my previous post, I did not have 1 Corinthians 12 and spiritual gifts in mind, but it is interesting to consider it in that context. I suppose if I think of my own path in the context of a gift or “calling,” it would be somehow related to dogmatics rather than apologetics, and by dogmatics I mean faith seeking understanding, or an understanding of what it means to talk about faith that is distinctly Christian. I have come to see that this kind of understanding varies depending on who you read or talk to. Yet even though most of the people I’ve spoken to differ in their particular views on the Christian faith, they would still not subscribe to a postmodern mindset. To say that any narrative is true for the one who believes it is, for many people, a little further than they are willing to go.
I agree with you about RZIM. The people in their ministry undoubtedly have a particular calling, and I’m glad it exists.
I am sorry to hear that those around you mock your faith and aren’t open to at least dialogue with you. This makes me think of how Augustine interpreted scripture to say that to have faith is itself a special gift from God. What are your thoughts on that?
You said you do not feel apologetics is your calling, but you mentioned the body of Christ. If I may ask, what do you see as your gift?
I am glad my response wasn’t too off base for you.
I am not quite sure I am understanding accurately what you are saying… “I suppose if I think of my own path in the context of a gift or “calling,” it would be somehow related to dogmatics rather than apologetics, and by dogmatics I mean faith seeking understanding, or an understanding of what it means to talk about faith that is distinctly Christian”… but, I will make a stab at what I think you may mean.
It sounds like theology is a strength for you? That you have a need for things to be expressed in biblically sound language. Is that what you mean as “dogmatics” . (I think I picked up some humour in that word.)
When talking with believers, are you someone whose alarm bells go off when bits/pieces aren’t quite lining up with your knowledge of scripture and reality? Or did you mean while conversing with non believing folks, as well?
When in conversation with a Christian, are you someone who recognizes what is status quo, inorganic, inauthentic…and questions (challenges) it? When these characteristics show up on your radar screen (within the Christian community), do you instinctively sense this type of communication verges on Christian rhetoric? (And, it may be exactly that.)
If so, your gifts are just as needed within the universal body of Christ, as those who are gifted to give a sound defence or reason for the claims of scripture, or for the gospel. As king Solomon said, “Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom: with all your getting get understanding.”
Yes, I would definitely agree with Augustine… “faith is itself a special gift from God”. Thankfully, that gift (faith…as all “God’s good and perfect gifts”) is assessable to all believers… “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
In my life of faith, I believe God as given me, a number of quiet gifts…(Although, I have been called on by God to speak fearlessly, courageously within Christian and non Christian contexts.)
If I had to identify and articulate them…I guess I would say God has given me gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, insight, discernment, discretion and prayer.
God’s word has been the primary “lamp to my feet”, by which He has “rooted and grounded me in the truth.” (I have a solid knowledge of the whole of scripture; but, I am well read across many dimensions.)
But, He has also used many diverse means to instruct me, direct me and make me useful. My life experiences have been extreme and varied. The Lord has taught me much practical wisdom and insight through these, as well.
Through much suffering in life, God has gifted me with being able “to comfort (support) the brokenhearted, to encourage the weak, to lift of the hands that hang down, and to strengthen the weak knees.”
This is gift is manifest both within the world as my work calling…and with the people of God (loving the stragglers, the weary, the wandering, the wounded, the bitter, the grieving…).
I have been known to make a tongue and cheek joke about being part of the immune system in the body of Christ…but, in fact, it is no joke. (“The immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body.” Google. ) God has often revealed things to me…that seem to be hidden from others. Initially, I may not really know or understand what I am intuiting. But, usually whatever it is…it is of real concern. I have learned to trust it and wait for the Lord to make it clear. Then, I have to fulfill the responsibility of responding decisively and courageously.
Sometimes, in these areas, I see this gift along the lines of Exekiel 33: 6. (But, this is a calling to all believers within the body of Christ.) “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but, I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.”
Last, but, not least, is the gift of prayer…
God has taught me to trust Him deeply with everything.
I hide nothing from Him. I bring everything to Him. The seen and the unseen…internal reality…external reality…
I have hundreds of stories of answered prayers…some immediate…some taking decades to be answered…
Prayer is how we get experience God in real ways in our lives.
I hope I haven’t completely overwhelmed you with my response!
Thanks for such a thoughtful response.
While I am interested in theology, I’m not sure I would call it a strength. To be honest, I don’t have a need for things to be expressed in “biblically sound language.” I just enjoy hearing different believers understandings of what they mean by faith that is distinctly Christian. I also enjoy hearing theologies that aren’t Christian. I normally process these things internally, but it is nice to have a chance to process them externally in this setting.
Thank you, also, for sharing your understanding of your gifts. I admire your commitment to and passion for the work to which you feel called.