ISSUE 5 SUMMER 2010
THE ZACHARIAS TRUST MAGAZINE
INSIDE THIS ISSUE... Why can’t I just be a Good Person? PAGE 16
Huxley v. Wilberforce:
The Legendary Encounter
What is the relationship between Evangelism and Apologetics?
NEW Website Launched!
Z AC HA R IAS T RU ST
THIS ISSUE... Michael Writes… Huxley v Wilberforce: The Legendary Encounter
Dates for your Diary Training at the OCCA
Welcome to the fifth issue of Pulse, the apologetics
7 8-9 10
What is the Relationship between Evangelism and Apologetics? 11-13
magazine published by the Zacharias Trust. This includes all of the latest information about our ministry, including articles on Christian evangelism and apologetics, information about training
Around the World: Asia-Pacific
Why Can’t I just be a Good Person?16-17
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opportunities and much more.
Meet our Associates
l e a h c i m The New Year has started well and the first ministry opportunities of 2010 have been ones of great joy for me and for Amy.
Also of great significance has been the strength that the European team has gained in our recent staff additions. We are already feeling the benefit of
having the new members of staff on board, and we are in a strong position for the coming year. Our vision, to reach the thinking sceptic with the Gospel, remains our primary focus. The meetings that Vlad Criznic (Romania) and Amy Orr-Ewing have had in the past few months and the opportunities that they continue to have are remarkable. The OCCA is increasingly becoming part of Amy’s focus, and some of the exciting developments are mentioned on pages 8 and 9. Tom Price had a significant series of meetings in London at All Souls that won a ringing endorsement from Rico Tice. Vince Vitale – who we hope may be our key OCCA man in terms of the University – also has a strong evangelistic vision, and some of the reports we hear
from the Associates are truly heart-warming. John Lennox’s and Alister McGrath’s ministries continue apace – and Michael Green continues to preach and live with all of the conviction of a newly-won convert! Ravi also continues to be involved in many exciting evangelistic opportunities across Europe. Thank you again for all of your prayers and support.
RZIM Zacharias Trust was founded in 1997 as the European office of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Our mandate is to engage people’s hearts and minds for Christ in an increasingly secular Europe. Working alongside the church, the Trust seeks to address the many objections and questions about Christianity so that lives can be transformed and renewed through the gospel message.
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As you may be aware, Ravi Zacharias has had an exceptionally heavy load to carry these past years, together with Margie. For many years they have both been praying for someone to come alongside to share that load with them and to provide leadership for the organisation as we go forward. So we are now pleased to announce that Rick Pease has been appointed as a new President of RZIM (with Ravi remaining as the organisation’s CEO). Their confidence in Rick is well placed and I am convinced that the Lord has put the right person in place, at the right time.
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The Legendary Encounter 1 This article is based on a number of sources including a lecture by John Hedley Brooke (see footnote 2), a paper by J.R. Lucas (see footnote 3) and various newspaper articles (footnotes 4 – 9). The first two can be found easily online and they provide a comprehensive overview of the exchange. The popular legend was largely shaped by Isabella Sidgwick’s account, which was written decades after the event (Macmillan’s Magazine, LXXVIII, no. 468, Oct. 1898, `A Grandmother’s tales’, pp. 433-4) 2 Lecture by John Hedley Brooke at Emmanuel College (26 February 2001) on Darwinism and Religion: A Revisionist View of the Wilberforce-Huxley Debate.
If you are interested in the science – religion debate, it is likely that you know about the famous encounter between Bishop Samuel Wilberforce (“Soapy Sam”) and Thomas Huxley (“Darwin’s bulldog”) that occurred in Oxford’s Natural History Museum. 1
This celebrated clash is often portrayed as a pivotal moment in history, when science registered a telling victory over religion in the ongoing power-struggle that has been raging ever since the Enlightenment. At least this is what some commentators would like us to believe. As we approach the 150th anniversary of this encounter, it is perhaps useful to look at this contest again to try and establish what the events of 30 June 1860 really tell us about science and religion, and whether it really deserves the notoriety it has subsequently been given. Perhaps the most startling fact is that there was actually no formal one-on-one debate between Huxley and Wilberforce. Instead, the exchange was more of an animated discussion that occurred in response to a scientific paper presented by Professor Draper on the intellectual development of Europe with reference to Darwin’s views. Although they were reported to have been the main
contributors, a whole host of notable characters joined in, including Admiral Robert Fitzroy (who had accompanied Darwin on the Beagle), Dr Brodie, Dr Beale, John Lubbock and Dr Hooker. Wilberforce, however, had made it known that he was going to comment and this helped to attract a large enough crowd to require the event to be moved to the museum’s more spacious library.3 The paper was given during the British Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting and it was one of numerous academic lectures that were presented over the course of two consecutive weeks.4 Therefore, the reports at the time focused on some of the more interesting scientific discoveries that had been made, whilst Wilberforce and Huxley’s discussion received little attention apart from passing comments in a number of national newspapers. In fact, there was no verbatim recording of the exchange, meaning that it is difficult to make any definitive pronouncement about what exactly was said, especially as some of the subsequent reports were made decades after the event. What is notable about the debate is that there were eminent scientists on both sides of the argument. In fact, two days earlier Huxley had had a similar discussion with Professor Owen,5 a leading biologist, which has largely been forgotten, partly because it was scientist versus scientist, but also because of Wilberforce’s
eminence. It is important to realise that Darwin’s Origin of Species had been in print for less than a year and many scientists were reluctant to embrace it, because of a lack of supporting evidence. One eyewitness even suggested that Wilberforce may have asked Huxley how long it would take before he had proofs of his theory and his supposed reply was around twenty years.6 Therefore, it is wholly incorrect to portray the Bishop of Oxford as someone who was deliberately ignoring the science. Although Huxley branded him an “unscientific authority,”7 Wilberforce was very familiar with the debate and had only just submitted a lengthy scientific article on Darwin’s ideas to the Quarterly Review. In this, he argued, amongst other things, that no new species were known to have developed during humankind’s existence, that selective pressures, although having an effect, did not produce new species, and that the sterility of hybrids supported the notion of the fixity of species. Rather than being unfair observations, Darwin himself, who was too ill to attend the debate, described Wilberforce’s article as “uncommonly clever” and he subsequently used a number of these criticisms as a catalyst for further research.2 By contrast, the monkey comment appears not to have been a central point in Wilberforce’s scientific address. Instead, J.R. Lucas argues it was likely to have been a joke possibly one that back-fired for being overly personal - that was added at
3 J. R. Lucas, Wilberforce and Huxley: A Legendary Encounter. 4 Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 30 June 1860, p. 4. The Association was founded in 1832 largely through the work of Revd William Vernon Harcourt and by 1860 it included many clergymen in its ranks (including Presidents of two of its seven sections). 5 Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 4 August 1894. The paper recalled details of the previous Oxford Meeting.
It was during this exchange, according to the legend, that Wilberforce was supposed to have made the famous quip as to whether Huxley thought he was descended from a monkey on his grandfather’s or grandmother’s side. This apparently prompted the equally memorable riposte from Huxley, that he would rather have been descended from an ape than a bishop who obscured the truth – a response which apparently caused one lady in the audience to faint.2
the end of his speech to emphasise that it was a good thing that it wasn’t backed up by evidence, because it was also degrading to humankind. As the Bishop of Oxford, he certainly had strong ethical concerns about how Darwin’s ideas might have been used by those wishing to undermine the Christian worldview. This is in keeping with one eyewitness who suggested that he questioned why anyone would be so jubilant that his great great grandfather was an ape or a gorilla.8 Another account, however, suggests that he may have said that it was of little consequence to himself whether or not his own grandfather might be called a monkey or not.9 Whichever is the case, according to the later legend, Huxley is supposed to have reacted to this by whispering “The Lord hath delivered him into my hands” before rising to deliver his famous rebuke.3
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Although this helped to propagate the impression of a Huxley victory, there are a number of sources that call into question this version of events. Writing to Darwin after the debate, Dr Hooker, for example, made no mention of the monkey retort and instead noted that although Huxley had “answered admirably” he “could not throw his voice over so large an assembly”. Therefore, instead of vanquishing Wilberforce who incidentally was known to be a formidable orator - Huxley had “failed to allude to Sam’s weak points” and was unable to “put the matter in a form or way that carried the audience.” Instead, Hooker claimed that it was actually he, rather than Huxley, who had made the most successful response to the Bishop – a version of events that is supported by a number of other sources.3 The newspapers suggest that both sides received warm applause and 6 7 8 9
Huxley’s own comments, made shortly after the event, suggest that neither could claim outright victory:
The importance of the Oxford meeting lay in the open resistance that was made to authority, at a moment when even a drawn battle was hardly less effectual than acknowledged victory. Instead of being crushed under ridicule, the new theories secured a hearing, all the wider, indeed, for the startling nature of their defence.3 According to Lucas, this statement provides the key to understanding why this event gained such notoriety. He argues the “quarrel between religion and science came about not because of what Wilberforce said, but because it was what Huxley wanted.” Therefore, the event subsequently underwent “substantial retrospective re-interpretation and indeed distortion,”2 because it served a distinct purpose for those who wanted to attack the authority of the church. The University, for example, had only recently started accepting undergraduates from outside the Church of England (1854) and there were many individuals intent on trying to challenge and reduce further the power of Anglican Orthodoxy (this included not only agnostics such as Huxley, but also liberal Anglicans and nonconformists).2 Lucas explains that “in the later years of the century scientists were increasingly jealous of their autonomy, and would see in Huxley’s retort a claim they were increasingly anxious to assert.” This explains why the “event almost completely disappeared from public awareness until it was resurrected in the 1890s, as an appropriate tribute to a recently deceased hero of scientific education [Huxley].”2 Therefore, the subsequent reporting tells us very little “about what actually happened in Oxford on 30 June 1860, … but
about currents of thought in the latter part of the last century it tells us a lot.”3 One must therefore conclude that it is both simplistic and misleading to portray the Huxley – Wilberforce debate as being part of an on-going war between science and religion. As John Hedley Brooke explains:
… in many of the disputes that have been conventionally analysed in terms of some notional relation between science and religion, the underlying issues were principally about neither science nor religion, nor the relationship between them, but were matters of social, ethical or political concern in which the authority of either science, religion or both was invoked (often on both sides) to defend a view held on other grounds … 2 This is a crucial point to make, as it highlights the importance of being alert to any attempt to twist and use the past to serve a particular agenda. As David Clifford says, “Pro-Darwinian (and often atheistic) historians of science might not sympathize much with Bishop Wilberforce, but few of them will tolerate bad history as a means of gaining a political advantage.”2 Unfortunately we may never know exactly what was said that evening 150 years ago, but we can at least say, with certainty, that it really does deserve its reputation as a truly legendary encounter. Simon Wenham Research Coordinator
Glasgow Herald, 4 July 1860. The writer of the letter is identified as “a well-known townsman” with the initials J.S. Birmingham Daily Post, 2 July 1860. The Morning Chronicle, 9 July 1860. The writer of the letter calls himself Harpocrates Glasgow Herald, 4 July 1860.
Wycliffe Hall Science and Faith Day, Oxford (John Lennox)
4 – 6 JUNE
Cumbria (Michael Ramsden)
Southern Counties Baptist Association (Michael Ramsden)
13 – 18 JUNE
RZIM Wheaton Summer Institute, Chicago (John Lennox)
OICCU Big Issues, Oxford (Michael Ramsden)
St John’s, Nottingham (Michael Green)
24 – 26 JUNE
Truth Search, Canada (Michael Ramsden)
Wycliffe Hall Summer School, Oxford (Michael Green)
4 – 10 JULY
Zacharias Trust Oxford Summer School, Oxford (Team)
24 – 30 JULY
FOCUS, HTB (Amy Orr-Ewing)
2 – 6 AUGUST
Keswick Convention (Amy Orr-Ewing)
Seattle (Michael Ramsden)
St Paul’s, Ealing (Michael Ramsden)
Cirencester Baptist Church (Michael Ramsden)
1 – 3 OCTOBER
Berkeley, California (Michael Ramsden)
1 – 4 OCTOBER
Irish Evangelical Fellowship (Michael Green)
16 – 25 OCTOBER
Lausanne, Cape Town (Team)
29 – 31 OCTOBER
RZIM Founders Event, Florida (Team)
4 – 5 NOVEMBER
Trinity College, Bristol (Michael Ramsden)
10 – 14 NOVEMBER
Washington, D.C. (Michael Ramsden)
Christchurch New Frontiers, Piccadilly Theatre (Amy Orr-Ewing)
For further information about any of the above events, or to be added to our email list to be notified about upcoming events, please contact our Oxford office. All of the events listed are correct at time of print, but some may be subject to change.
The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics is pleased to announce the appointment of Vince Vitale to the position of Senior Academic Tutor for the 2010/11 academic year. This is part of the ongoing strategy to strengthen the faculty of the OCCA, as well as to help foster closer ties with the university during the course’s first year of accreditation. Vince Vitale is currently finishing a doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Oxford, having completed an Oxford MPhil in Theology. He is secretary of the Joseph Butler Society for the Philosophy of Religion and an Associate Editor of Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy. He previously taught with rank of Lecturer in the Philosophy and Religion Departments of his alma mater, Princeton University, where he committed his life to Christ. Vince writes: “Our vision is for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics to excel as the premier centre of its kind, one that attracts leading Christian thinkers from around the world and equips the Church to engage at every level of cultural and intellectual challenge with integrity and with success. The last 50 years have witnessed an unparalleled resurgence of Christian influence in academic philosophical theology. What is yet to occur, however, is a substantial integration of this historical turn into the witness and mission of the Church generally, and into its evangelistic and apologetic efforts in particular. The OCCA – abetted by both the leading evangelical seminary and the leading philosophy and theology faculties in Britain, a country accessible to both the East and the West – is ideally positioned to be a forerunner in meeting this need. To my mind, the scope of the OCCA – due to its historical, intellectual, and geographical location, the faithful foundation its founders have laid, and the divine blessing upon it – is tremendous. I am humbled and honoured to be part of a centre that is growing by leaps and bounds and to participate in an effort which promises to have such an impact for the Kingdom of God.”
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The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) is a joint partnership between Wycliffe Hall, a permanent private hall of Oxford University, and RZIM. With a commitment to academic excellence and effective evangelism, the OCCA provides cutting-edge training for those with a passion to make Christ known. The teaching faculty comprises some of the world’s leading apologists and the students are provided with an unparalleled opportunity to be stretched, envisioned and equipped.
This month we ask you to pray for the OCCA • • •
For the lecturers and tutors – Alister McGrath, Michael Green, Amy Orr-Ewing, Michael Ramsden, John Lennox (Adjunct Professor), Tom Price, Sharon Dirckx and Jacob Waldenmaier (Research Assistant). For Vince Vitale, the newly-appointed Senior Academic Tutor, who will take up his key role later this year. For the administrative staff – Katie Law, Alanna MacLeod and Rosemary Peel (maternity cover for Katie).
One year full-time certificate in Christian Apologetics This course is designed for those who wish to dedicate a whole year immersing themselves in evangelism and apologetics. The emphasis of the course is upon training in practical evangelism and, as well as in-depth teaching in apologetics, students are given the opportunity to use what they have learned in real ministry settings (see report to the right). An integral part of the course is the close mentoring of our students to equip them according to their specific gifting.
Eight week full-time programme This course is designed for those who wish to dedicate themselves to an intensive period of apologetics. It covers teaching in evangelism, apologetics, Biblical studies and workplace evangelism. Students attend both the annual Oxford Summer School and the European Leadership Forum.
• • • •
One of the particular strengths of the one year OCCA certificate is that, in addition to the academic teaching, it provides students with the opportunity of gaining real practical experience, by being involved in various missions led by experienced evangelists. At the beginning of 2010 a number of current students were involved in various outreach events across the UK and excerpts from one student’s reports are shown below: Many more people are making commitments to Christ. About 200 people have already filled out questionnaires and we’ve actually run out of a whole box of Knowing God Personally booklets, because so many people said Yes to “If you could know God personally, would you be interested?” I’d guess that around half of those people have been prayed personally for as well. Most of the fruit we’re seeing is in the organic events – last minute tea parties, supper parties and the like. Still, the lunch bars are attracting well over 100 people (mainly non-Christians), and have a real buzz to them … It really feels like this city has been saturated in prayer … Last night Dad and I did a grill a Christian event … 62 people came, and probably under 15 of those were Christians. There was such energy to the evening (which started at 7.30pm) that Dad and I had to split down into discussion groups of 15 each to carry on after it. I went through the Knowing God Personally booklet with all my group(!) and they were intrigued about Jesus’ death, again, like on Sunday night. I prayed with a girl from Thailand afterwards and she’s been hooked up to the link-group there now and wants to join their weekly bible study. I didn’t leave there until 11.30pm! We have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with literally over 100 people each this week! It’s been so wonderful.
For further information about the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and for details about applying, see: www.theocca.org
For the 18 students beginning their final term of the One-Year Programme. For the new students on the Eight-Week Programme (that they might be refreshed in the Lord and re-engaged with the world around them). For Michael, Amy, Tom, Sharon, Nick Chatrath, and Vlad Criznic (from our Romania office), as they teach at the annual European Leadership Forum (ELF) in Hungary, helping to equip emerging evangelists from throughout Europe with apologetics skills. For the necessary finance needed to support the work of our apologists.
The courses offered are:
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This last term has involved some profoundly challenging and exciting events, including speaking in Washington D.C. and at the US Naval Academy in Anapolis, where we saw leaders and future leaders deeply stirred by the person of Christ. I was personally challenged by the urgency of the gospel message when I received a message a couple of weeks after a meeting to let me know that a twentythree year old young man, who had responded to Christ with tears and genuine repentance, had died less than two weeks later. It has caused me to reflect and remember that the message of salvation through Christ and our entrustment to make Him known must be at the forefront of our minds – in every conversation, meeting, talk and event. It is so easy to be distracted into focusing on other things and to forget the simple and beautiful truth that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
reasoning is unable to conform to Hume’s analytical and empirical tests and is thus “sophistry and illusion” – in other words they operate in the sphere of faith and not the real world.
But how can we credibly hold out the gospel in a way that will connect with people? Aren’t we just another “faith community” peddling our superstitions on the outskirts of society? This language surrounds us in public life, suggesting that we are somehow different from everybody else. This is of course complete nonsense – everyone has faith or worldview, either secular or religious. Whether we like it or not, we all adopt a framework of presuppositions. The confusion brought by the language of faith communities is further complicated by two elements: philosophical materialism and religious relativism. For the materialist, the language of faith communities confirms the idea that Christians are not capable of rigorous thought, since their
For the religious relativist, the language of faith communities confirms the idea that all the religious faiths are equally true or untrue. There is no space for one truth or one orthodoxy, because faith is merely faith, you believe whatever you want to believe and this has no impact on the beliefs or claims of others. Whether confirming the misconceptions of the materialist or the religious relativist the language of faith communities is increasingly unhelpful, as Christians seek to speak up for Christ in the public sphere. Biblical faith cannot be written off so easily – since the evidence for Christ whether historical or contemporary is deeply compelling. It cuts through all the preconceptions and competing worldviews out there, to challenge every human heart, whatever our culture, skin colour, prejudices or status.
What is the relationship between Evangelism and Apologetics? lives many of us ask: “If I don’t tell someone the whole gospel in an evangelistic conversation, have I therefore failed?” I want to introduce you to a model of evangelism and apologetics that Andrew Fellows (L’Abri) calls
the “Apologetics Spectrum”. It is both practical and Biblical. Andrew says that there are three kinds of activity: 1 Subversion 2 Persuasion 3 Proclamation
How do they work together? In the area of evangelism and missions there is a big discussion going on. Just what constitutes mission? What is evangelism? Should I be sharing reasons for believing before or after evangelism? And in our own
At the subversive stage, the believer is interested in loosening the chains. His aim is to ask questions or present reflections in the form of film, music, literature and art that will enable the sceptic to have the relational and social scaffolding to be able to doubt his or her underlying, yet opposing ideas and beliefs. The aim is to “shake the cage”. Try watching the news with a sceptical friend, and then catch their moral reaction to one of the stories of injustice, by asking, “Do you think that your sense of moral outrage points towards real right and real wrong?” Jesus used this kind of approach a great deal and his questions showed that he listened closely. Jesus’ questions were subversive because they opened up the issue, bringing it into the brightest of lights and getting to the heart of the matter. If you want to improve at this stage, then you’ll need to focus less on gospel outlines and more on developing an understanding of art, philosophy and contemporary culture.
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be creative with how you reach people Discussing films can be a good vehicle for introducing the gospel. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a favourite film of mine, because it has such a real view of love. This often prompts
questions of what I mean by this, which allows me to explain that the whole film builds towards the corridor scene at the end, when two people agree to love each other even though they know they will get fed up sometimes. It’s a kind of warts and all view of love, which I like, because it points to what I think real love is all about; something that still wants us in spite of our faults. You may not always get all the way to the gospel, but that doesn’t matter. I will follow up the conversation with questions like, “Love must come from somewhere – Where do you think it comes from?” You don’t have to feel pressured to tell them everything about the gospel right away, because the idea is to nudge their worldview a little bit nearer, one idea at a time. If they can understand how God loves them, for example, then perhaps they might find it easier to be honest about their need for him? The persuasion stage involves both listening and giving reasons for the truth and reliability of the Christian worldview. This involves defending your own position by sharing the reasons behind your belief. Perhaps this might take the form of presenting a sceptic with some of the excellent reasons we have for accepting the Bible as an accurate picture of the historical Jesus. Alternatively, it might be as simple as sharing how much difference having a relationship with God has made in your own
life. Try to stick to facts rather than feelings. One of my favourite approaches is to present people with the evidence for Jesus himself. I often say something like this, “If Jesus really did and said the things that the Bible records him doing – raising people from the dead; knowing secret things about people; growing back limbs; teaching with incredible insight; predicting his own death; coming back from the dead; healing incurable diseases; demonstrating power over nature – then it seems to me that any reasonable person has to say, ‘I need to listen to what Jesus tells us about reality, and I probably need to re-orientate my life around his teaching better’.” Finally I say, “So the real question is this: Is the Bible an accurate and reliable picture of what Jesus said and did?” Since the answer to this, even after 2000 years of sceptical criticism by the toughest scholars in the world, is that the Bible does present an accurate picture of Jesus, then that suggests to me that I should view Christianity as true and therefore I should try and follow Jesus myself to the best of my abilities. Give this a try in a conversation with a sceptic sometime, as you will find this is a very engaging approach to take. To grow better at persuasion you’ll also need to delve deeper into the areas of apologetics, philosophy and critical thinking. Get an understanding of what a logical
Finally, the proclamation stage requires unpacking the core gospel message. We want to communicate the revealed message of Jesus and the golden theological truths of creation, fall, incarnation, atonement, resurrection, salvation and sanctification. Summaries of the gospels are useful for helping people to understand the central concepts of grace and truth that lie behind the ultimate price that Jesus paid for humankind on the cross. If you want to improve how you communicate this, then it is best to examine the theology in more depth and to apply this to your own life first. It requires careful handling of scripture to unpack the message of the Bible faithfully and it is helpful to ensure you really understand what the gospel actually is – you’ll find a summary of it in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus spoke to many different people, but he always got to the gospel message sooner
or later. He conveyed the need for people to actually put their trust in the one who would die for them on the cross in order to rescue them from everything that their sins meant that they deserved. Proclamation can be extremely difficult and sometimes we feel let down when our evangelistic events disappoint. That doesn’t mean that we need to edit the battle plan, but sometimes we may need to make more of an effort.
Getting Practical… Subversion •
Be a cinema-goer. Expect films, music and TV to communicate certain messages and be alert to what these are. See if you can work out what deeper questions are being asked (if you need help with this visit www.culturewatch.org).
Ask people questions, such as: What are your biggest questions?
So, the Apologetics Spectrum provides an understanding of mission that marries evangelism and apologetics together, but in all of the processes it is important that you also keep a conversation going with God, as the Holy Spirit may sometimes provide useful insights or may unlock the person from the inside. Social networking is also an important part of mission, although too often we just settle for this and never get to persuasion or proclamation. Likewise, sometimes we only focus on proclamation when other approaches maybe helpful too. Ideally, we want our mission work to be more friendly, more convincing, and more biblical and I think that the Apologetics Spectrum is an effective way of reaching the world for Christ. So get out there and be creative with how you reach people and always remember that God is so much bigger than your mistakes and he can always catch the ones you miss.
Where do you think our sense of right and wrong comes from? Did you have a religious upbringing?
Try to share facts rather than feelings.
Avoid arguing and discuss instead (one topic, for example, would be to discuss Jesus as a person in history).
Don’t preach, but be sensitive.
Express your enjoyment and ask lots of questions.
Proclamation • •
Know what the gospel message is (read 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Be down to earth and explain how the gospel affects you personally.
Tom Price Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and also evangelist/apologist for the Damaris Trust – www.damaris.org
fallacy is and learn to be able to recognise a few (Straw person, personal attack, genetic fallacy). Jesus was a great persuader and he was excellent at appealing to the common sense of the people he met. When we try this approach it is inevitable that some people will take more persuading than others and we can sometimes misread situations. I’ve done that a few times and it is good to know that God is bigger than the mistakes that I have made.
useful NEW Website Launched! Helping the thinker believe, www.rzim.eu u and the believer think The Zacharias Trust is excited to announce the long-awaited launch of our new website at
There are a whole host of apologetics websites in existence, each allied to different people, denominations, organisations or ministries. A number of the better-known sites are listed below: Evangelism and Apologetics www.rzim.org – RZIM’s central website, which includes many different resources www.bethinking.org – Arguably the UK’s most comprehensive apologetics site, run by the UCCF
www.eauk.org/idea – The Evangelical Alliance’s magazine, which includes apologetics articles
The site will not only provide a comprehensive overview of all the different aspects of our ministry, but is also intended to be an invaluable apologetics resource for both the believer and non-believer alike. Over the course of the year the website will undergo organic growth, as we look to greatly expand and develop ibl bl It is i designed d i d to t be b much h its scope to reach as many people as possible. more user-friendly and easy to navigate than the old website, so please visit it at www.rzim.eu to see the new site and its progression – and also feel free to give us any feedback about it. The content will be up-dated regularly and will include:
www.damaris.org and www.licc.org.uk – For ideas about evangelism in our modern cultural context
Apologists’ websites www.johnlennox.org – John Lennox: Science, ethics and general apologetics www.reasonablefaith.org – William Lane Craig: General apologetics http://users.ox.ac.uk/~mcgrath – Alister McGrath: Science and religion www.garyhabermas.com – Gary Habermas: The resurrection
Science and Creation There are many scientific websites from all kinds of perspectives. Two, from differing perspectives are: www.testoffaith.com
The latest ministry news, and messages from Michael and Amy
Apologetics articles with audio and video resources
Information (and dates for your diary) about forthcoming events and training opportunities Updates from the other RZIM oﬃces Information about new resources many of which will be available for download Reports from our Associates through Europe PULSE ISSUE 5
What other apologetics websites are out there?
www.care.org.uk – CARE provides information about political developments in Westminster and Europe that have a specific bearing on Christians
Medical www.cmf.org.uk – The Christian Medical Fellowship’s website that includes a section on ethics and public policy
News about the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics
The switch-over will involve the short-term suspension of our online shop, but we will put temporary measures in place to ensure those wishing to buy resources can still do so directly from us.
RZIM Zacharias Trust is not responsible for the content of material posted on other organisation’s websites – and the views may not therefore reflect those of the ministry.
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C I F I C A P
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Ravi Zacharias International Ministries has offices in the following places:
HEAD OFFICE Atlanta, USA
INDIAN HEAD OFFICE Chennai, India
CANADIAN OFFICE Toronto, Canada
ASIA PACIFIC OFFICE Singapore
EUROPEAN OFFICES Oxford, UK (Head Office) Arad, Romania
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Why can’t I just be a Good Person? “People are basically good,” wrote one poet, “it is only their behaviour that lets them down.” It is amazing to think that some people actually believe they are good enough to get into heaven. Perhaps it is because we read so much bad news in the papers about others that we are quick to conclude that by comparison we are superior, and so deserving of a place in eternity.
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It is even more amazing when you then consider that if a Christian were to stand in front of their friends and claim that they knew they were going to go to heaven, they would be regarded as being conceited, boastful and arrogant. How can they think that they are better than everyone else? The fact that the same person can think themselves superior to others, whilst at the same time criticising Christians for arrogance underlines one of the joys of living in a postmodern world. But how do we respond to the questions – Why can’t I just be a good person? Isn’t it unfair of God to say that you can’t get into heaven unless you believe in Him, even though you have been a good person? Who does He think he is! Jesus was once asked what we must do in order to please God and so gain
entry to heaven: “What must we do to do the works God requires?” (John 6:28) They asked the question in the plural – what works – they wanted a list of good things to do. Jesus replied in the singular, “The work of God is this – believe in the one he has sent”. But what makes belief so special? Surely what we do is far more important than what we believe? How can a good person, who is not a Christian, be denied access on the basis of belief? The difficulty with the question of why it’s not enough to be a good person lies in the assumption that is made in it, namely that there is such a thing as a good person. Jesus was once asked the question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18) The assumption is clear: Jesus is a good person, good people go to heaven, so what must I do to also be in the same group? Jesus’ reply is surprising – “Why do you call me good?”, he asks. Good question. Why is he good? Jesus goes on to answer his own question – “No-one is good but God alone”. Now, if we accept the common assumption that only the good go to heaven, and God alone is good, who on earth is going?
The simple truth is that the issue is not about good people not getting into heaven. Alas, the problem is much worse! The question really is who on earth can get in at all? It is not a question of being more good than bad in order to qualify for eternal life. Jesus seems to define goodness in terms of being like God, and on that basis there are no good people anywhere. However, the Gospel is good news. The good news is that getting into heaven is first and foremost about forgiveness. Christians can be sure that they are going to heaven, not because they are good, but because they have received forgiveness. Jesus did not come into the world simply to set a good example, tell us to lead better lives, or even to ask us to pray more and read our Bibles regularly. He came into this world primarily in order to make forgiveness for us possible. It is why, when he looked forward to the Cross, he stated that it was for this very reason he had come into this world. The real question as we have said is not about who is good enough to get in. The real question is how God makes it possible for anyone to get in at all. The answer is that we need to be forgiven, and that forgiveness is won for us through
the Cross. I recommend The Cross of Christ by John Stott as reading on this subject. It is his most important book and one of the seminal works on this issue. There is a second part to the question: Is belief important? Does it really matter? In our world, belief means little more than intellectual acknowledgment of something. However, the verb to believe in the New Testament signifies more than just that. Belief in Christ and faith in Christ mean much more than just thinking that He existed. They mean complete reliance and trust in him. In other words, it is about trusting in and relying on Jesus – His promises, His person, His life, His death and His resurrection. That is what makes salvation possible. Christians are not good people because they live morally superior lives to everyone else. They have been made good by having been forgiven what they have done wrong and by being given a goodness – righteousness, if you prefer – from Christ. Good people will go to heaven. However, the path to goodness lies not in religious observances, but in the forgiveness of a good God, given to us through the Cross of Christ. Michael Ramsden European Director of RZIM Zacharias Trust
The answer must surely be no-one – except God himself.
Meet Our Andy Bannister
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is lead apologist for RZIM Canada and is a visiting lecturer for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is married to Astrid and they are currently in the process of relocating to Toronto.
I have Muslims to thank for my being an apologist! Unconventional, I know, but God doesn’t always lead us in the most straightforward of ways. Until ten years ago, I was a youth worker, working in secondary schools and churches in South London. Apologetics wasn’t something I’d given any thought to, although there’s some overlap: youth workers, like apologists, need the ability to think fast, communicate clearly, and have a near-infinite capacity for tea and cake. But then in 1997, I accidentally stumbled into a seminar on apologetics to Muslims. The speaker led a ministry at Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park and, wanting to find out more, I started going along. Annoyingly, the Muslims there insisted on asking difficult questions. Not wanting to look foolish, I began reading and learning so I was able to answer. Something profound also happened: I discovered a love of apologetics, of learning to be able to engage with people who think differently.
to put what I’d learnt and experienced into action. The icing on the cake was connecting with the Zacharias Trust and all that was happening in Oxford and eventually becoming part of the Associates programme. Something else had been happening during all this time. Fifteen years ago, Astrid felt God call her to Canada. All straightforward, but then she met and married probably the most parochial Brit ever born. I had no intention of leaving the UK and to say that I was “terrified” of flying would be to flirt dangerously with understatement. But as Astrid continued to pray, she felt God say to her that one day, an opportunity so exciting would present itself in Canada that it would overcome all of my objections. And that’s eventually what happened. Two years ago, a conversation began with RZIM Canada that ultimately led to my being invited to be their lead apologist. Relocating to a foreign country and culture is always a big adventure (although, God bless them, the
I have Muslims to thank for my being an apologist! Exploring this further led to some big life changes, in particular the decision to pursue full-time theological education. Taking time out like this to study and reflect made it even clearer that apologetics and, in particular, a focus on Islam would most likely be where the future lay. Emerging, blinking into the daylight, from the degree programme at London School of Theology, I soon found God opening up all kinds of speaking opportunities
Canadians can at least make a decent cup of tea), but we’re tremendously excited about all that God has ahead of us. RZIM’s vision is about engaging with the questions our culture is asking: for Canada, as for Europe, those questions concern not just secularism but Islam. I’m looking forward to engaging in those conversations and encouraging Christians to see that, with God’s help, they can have the tools and resources to do so too.
Associates Andrew Nedelchev is the Program Director of Crown Europe. He has a passion to see the church in Central and Eastern Europe become financially mature and take on the responsibility to fund its own ministries. He is married to Katrin and they live in Sofia with their son.
I gradually came to realize that I wanted to do something akin to what Lewis had done – help people discover the depth and beauty of truth. It was around the same time – the summer of 1999 – that I met Michael Ramsden and Stuart McAllister. In 2003 I helped found HARTA – in Bulgarian the name is an acronym for Christian Apologetics for Intelligent, Inquiring and Active Bulgarians – which is now a thriving ministry maintaining a popular electronic magazine, conducting public lectures and training events around the country. In 2008 I was invited to become the Program Director of Crown Europe www.crowneurope.eu, a stewardship ministry, whose vision is to see every person being spiritually and financially transformed through discovering and living in God’s economy. Working with business people has been tremendously enriching and has also opened many doors for me to reach people that I would otherwise never engage with.
Some years ago I read words that C. S. Lewis spoke at the Carmarthen Conference for Youth Leaders and Junior Clergy at Easter 1945. He said that non-believers will not be troubled by books on Christianity, but they would be troubled “if, whenever they wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science, the best work on the market was always by a Christian”. That vision of Lewis really resonates with me. As a result, I am in the process of establishing the Vassil Angeloff Christian Study Center. My vision is that – by God’s grace – it may eventually become the primary starting point for any Bulgarian who wishes to think through their studies or profession from a Christian point of view. The resource center already contains a few thousand books (probably the most up-to-date apologetics library in the country) and hundreds of audio and video resources. I’ve named it after my grandfather, who was a pastor, Bible teacher and editor of a Christian journal in the early years of communism. My friendship with Michael Ramsden and the Zacharias Trust Team through the years has probably been the most influential factor for my growth as an apologist. I have benefited from the training and books, but even more than that – from the personal mentoring. It’s a real blessing and honor to be among the Associates. PAGE 19
I have never really doubted God’s existence, since both of my parents were Evangelical Christians and I felt God was an everyday presence in our lives. During the years of communism our home had been one of the primary places which smugglers of literature came to. However, it was only after I read C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity in my mid-teens that I felt my mind was finally awake in Christ.
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