One of the ways in which the damned will be condemned is that they will see themselves condemned by their own reason, by which they claimed to condemn the Christian religion. — Blaise Pascal. Penses. ed. and trans. A. Krailsheimer (New York: Penguin, 1966), 175/563, p. 84.
InÂ To skim or not to skim: A â€˜caseâ€™ study of â€œChristian Apologeticsâ€, I share my initial response toÂ Douglas Groothuis‘Â newly released 752 page caseboundÂ Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for the Biblical FaithÂ (IVP. 2011). As we begin a new term and jump into the daily grind, some readers may wrestle with the question of “why apologetics?”Â Although the Chapter 2 (The Biblical Basis for Apologetics)Â quotes included in my previous post address this concern, what I came across inÂ Groothuis‘ Appendix 1: Hell on Trial also deserves attention. Â Please join me in taking a few minutes to prayerfully consider and respond to some of the material inÂ Appendix 1: Hell on Trial.Â
GroothuisÂ opens the section with the above quote from PascalÂ and by stating “Christianity is the highest-stakes proposition imaginable” (653). After looking at Jesus and HellÂ (with significant attention to Bertrand Russell) and The Logic of Hell over the course nine pages,Â he concludes with these compelling words:
An apologetic that denies or shies away from the doctrine of hell is not a truly Christian apologetic. Yet this teaching must be done with compassion and tears. Such was exemplified by Francis Schaeffer, a man who believed in eternal punishment and who gave his life to rescue people from it and to lead them into the abundant life that only Jesus Christ delivers (John 10:10). When asked why he continued to defend and proclaim the gospel, even while afflicted with what would become terminal cancer, he replied that it was “sorrow for all the lost” that drove him to be a faithful witness, “regardless of the cost.” To believe in the “eternal lostness of the lost without tears would be a cold and dead orthodoxy, indeed.” Since each lost person is one of our kind, it would be “totally ugly and opposed to the biblical message” if we did not give our all to this task of evangelizing them. — Appendix 1: Hell on Trial, 661. Note: Schaeffer’s quotes come from a letter to the Rev. David H. Bryson, January 14, 1983, quoted in Peterson, Hell on Trial, p.55.
- affirm our call to love God with head, heart and handsÂ as part of the people of God on campus and to the ends of the earth. Note: Did you know, 1 out of 300 students in the world are part of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (of which InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USAÂ is a member)?
- love others, including our fellow students in our labs, classes, halls, living quarters, and campus activities who do not yet embrace the Way, the Truth, and Life found in Christ alone.Â Ask for the grace to humbly share the Gospel in tears with head, heart and hands as part of the people of God on campus and to the ends of the earth.
In my next post, I dig into Mary Poplin’sÂ Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service. But I encourage you
- take a peek atÂ Christian ApologeticsÂ viaÂ Google preview.
- post what you think are the most significant pros/cons regarding the practice of Christian apologetics.
- post what questions regarding the faith most require attention on campus as we seek to humbly invite/call others to consider the Way, the Truth, and Life found in Christ alone.
Updated: 11/2/2011. 10:49 AM.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!