God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Showing posts with label Emerson Eggerichs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emerson Eggerichs. Show all posts

Monday, August 5, 2019

4 Questions to Ask Before You Hit SEND

Introduction

As someone who loves to engage people in deep worldview conversations and steer unbelievers towards the truth of Christianity, my ability to communicate is vital. Whether I am conversing in person or commenting on a post on social media, it is important that the words I speak or write glorify God and work towards the end of bringing more people to the Truth. In 2018 I read and reviewed an important book that helps the reader to accomplish this goal. Communication expert Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (known for Love and Respect) published his book on general communication, called "Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache and Heartache" to challenge his audience to exercise wisdom and discernment before "hitting send" on their communications to others- whether verbal or written. Because of the insight offered throughout the book, it was included in my Top 5 Recommended Books for Productive Conversations. Eggerichs encourages people to ask four questions of what they are preparing to say or write to ensure that the words will accomplish the goal of the speaker or writer. Today, I am going to highlight those four questions and their importance for the Christian apologist. 


Is It True?

Because the Christian worldview is true and people's eternal destinies depend upon their recognition of this truth, ensuring that as we defend the truth of Christianity we also speak truthfully about other matters is of utmost importance. It is natural for us to doubt someone's truthfulness when they speak something false. I have written many times about the importance of apologists' studying and defending non-essential doctrines, and in those posts, I emphasize this very concern of unbelievers.

For instance, many people have issues with origins and the Bible, and while not all aspects of origins are essential issues, it is important that the apologist be able to speak truthfully on the origins issue. If we speak falsely and the person knows that we are speaking falsely (whether we mean to or not), then we give them a good reason to doubt our trustworthiness when it comes to the more important matter of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Is It Kind?

One of the big issues that I see with Christians, especially on social media and when discussing hot-button issues such as origins, is the unkind attitude with which the Gospel is presented. While we defend the truth, we cannot defend it with contempt for the person we are presenting it to. They are created in the Image of God and are worthy of our love, respect, and kindness no matter what they have done or how frustrated they make us. If we truly wish for them to repent from their sins, accept Christ's sacrifice, and live with us for eternity, would we not want to present the truth in the most kind and loving way so as to encourage them to accept the truth we speak?

Unlike what many think about speaking kindly, it does not require that we speak untruthfully. "True" describes the content; "kind" describes the attitude with which content is presented. If we present true content unkindly, we do damage to the truth by making it appear repulsive.

Is It Necessary?

The necessity of what we speak has two sides. The first is that we must speak what is necessary, and the second is that we must refrain from speaking what is unnecessary. Many Christians refrain from speaking what is necessary because they are fearful that they are not equipped to defend what they believe. They know that the time is right and that it is necessary to say something. They want to defend the truth of the Resurrection and the Christian worldview, and they know that they need to. Doing so is necessary in many of our conversations with friends, family, and coworkers. This is why studying the defense of the Christian worldview (asking the question "Is It True"- apologetics) is important for all Christians.

The second side is that we also tend to speak unnecessarily. For instance (I have to really watch out for this one), if an unbeliever is not struggling with science/faith issues, then bringing up the whole creation/evolution debate is unnecessary and may actually introduce a stumbling block for the unbeliever. No Christian ever wants to introduce more reasons for an unbeliever to reject (or even delay accepting) Christ. We need to listen carefully to the unbeliever's concerns and address those with truth and kindness and do our best to not bring more unnecessary matters into the decision-making process. This is not to say that these issues are not important; they are; but that particular conversation may not be the time to discuss them with a particular person. If the person brings up a non-essential matter, then it is now necessary to address, and we need to be prepared to do so or to refer them to a resource that can address it (all the while reminding them that it is not an essential issue and not a reason to reject Christ).

Is It Clear?

While everything that we speak can be true, kind, and necessary, we may still fail in our communication by not communicating it clearly. Many Christian apologists are familiar with the work of Greg Koukl. In his book "Tactics: A Game Plan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions" he encourages Christians to engage in conversations by asking questions. When we ask ourselves "Is It Clear?" we are essentially taking Koukl's questions and asking them of ourselves: "What do I mean by that?" and "How did I come to that conclusion?" When we answer these questions for ourselves, we are more likely to be able to clearly communicate to others.

We must also not resist if others ask the "Columbo" questions of us. If the questions are asked, it is because we are not speaking clearly enough for a good understanding. In this situation, it should not frustrate us to have to clarify, it should excite us that the person values what we say enough to ask for clarification. When we are given the opportunity to clarify, we are given the opportunity to get the unbeliever intellectually (and many times, emotionally and spiritually) closer to accepting Christ.

Conclusion

As evangelists (Matthew 28:19) and defenders (1 Peter 3:15) of Christianity, it is vital to our purpose to be able and willing to communicate the Gospel in the most effective way possible. And in today's culture, stopping to think carefully about what we say or write is not necessarily encouraged. However, that is what is necessary to be successful ambassadors for Christ. I encourage you to pick up a copy of "Before You Hit Send" and make the decision to consciously exercise the advice provided within it pages, for the benefit of Christ's Kingdom.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Top 5 Books on Having Productive Conversations

Introduction- How To Have Productive Discussions With Those With Whom You Disagree

In today's cultural climate, discussions of great importance, such as politics, worldview, morality, and science, often get heated. All sides are trying to convince the other sides that one view is correct and all others are incorrect. Usually, the sides reject the others due to their seeing that it does not match with the world as it is and/or that it violates some universally recognized, objective moral value. Those who strongly desire to be on the side of reality and morality have a deep conviction of the falsehood of the violating views and a deep conviction of the truth of their own views (assuming that view does not also violate reality). These deep convictions often cause discussions about which view is correct to get quite emotional. Each side accuses the others of either being unwilling to deal with reality and/or of being pure evil.

Unlike what some people may believe, the reality of the world and morality are not at odds with one another, so if all sides are truly committed to truth and morality, there is nothing to fear from discovering that our views need tweaking or are completely wrong and need to be jettisoned. But how do we get from staunchly believing that our view is the only possible true view to thinking that we could be wrong, and how do we converse with others who do hold to a wrong view and need to change their view? For Christians, we are given the command to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do so with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Wounded Healer: Finding Ultimate Purpose in Your Suffering

The Wounded Healer: Finding UItimate Purpose In Your Suffering

Introduction

The other day, I heard a podcast that I want to highlight for anyone who is a victim of the evil and suffering of life and questions God's purposes, His love, or even His existence. Whether our experiences are singular traumatic events, day-in and day-out pain, or a combination of the two, suffering often feels completely unbearable. These experiences can be so painful that many people are compelled to honestly question and seek legitimate answers to how an all-loving and all-powerful God could and would permit the suffering that we experience in our lives and see others experience in our world. This is called the logical problem of evil and has been long recognized as having been resolved, even by atheists (click or tap the link to see how).

Some, though, have wondered if that given the amount of evil and suffering, it is likely that an all-powerful and all-loving God does not exist. Simply stated: "There is too much gratuitous suffering in the world for an all-loving and all-powerful God to exist." While this is a more modest concern that seems reasonable, if it is to be granted, such a denial of God's existence based upon gratuitous suffering is necessarily reliant upon the idea that God does not have reasons to allow the amount of suffering that He does. Further, that depends upon knowing God's purposes (or lack thereof) and how those purposes could (not) be accomplished. However, both the purposes of God and the methods of their fulfillment would have to be extremely limited for one to reasonably conclude that the amount of evil and suffering in the world is gratuitous. God's purposes and methods are not so limited, so evil and suffering cannot be used to reasonably conclude that God does not exist. Yet, even though this answer is reasonable, it does not really answer the question of what the purpose of evil and suffering actually is. That is where I believe that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs picks up from the logical answer to the problem of evil and suffering and makes a deeply personal connection to their purpose.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Top 5 Books For The College-Bound

Introduction
The time is coming soon for a new chapter of our children's lives to begin: college life. This can be quite an apprehensive time for both Christian parents and the teens. The parents are preparing to let their kids go out into the world, unable to be protected by Mom and Dad from the various dangers that they experienced too at that age. The students are preparing to get a better taste of independence, learn more about the world and prepare for their future career and lives as individuals. Through exposure to new experiences and new ideas, they will be challenged mentally and intellectually.

Unfortunately, during the years at the university, many Christians become less convinced of the truth of the Christian worldview and many give it up entirely. This is a scary thought for Christian parents, as they know their kids may not be prepared to properly think through the philosophical challenges that this new world will put before them. That is why I have put together a short list of books that parents can go through with their college-bound kids as they prepare to enter this exciting new world. Whether you have been actively preparing your teens for these challenges or have not been so focused on them, I believe these books will prove to be vital resources to read before attending college and throughout the college years. Click the titles to see my full chapter-by-chapter review of the books. They are:
  1. Tactics: A Gameplan for Sharing Your Christian Convictions- Greg Koukl
  2. Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey- Jonathan Morrow
  3. Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels: J. Warner Wallace
  4. Legislating Morality: Is It Wise, Is It Legal, Is It Possible- Frank Turek and Norman Geisler
  5. Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache and Heartache- Emerson Eggerichs

Why Did I Choose These Books?

1. Tactics: A Gameplan For Sharing Your Christian Convictions

My first recommendation is "Tactics: A Gameplan For Sharing Your Christian Convictions" by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason. I begin with this book because it is an easy read and will help ease apprehension in the reader about how to discuss what they believe. Skeptical questions from friends and others they respect will be common in college and can be intimidating, especially when they do not know the answers right off the top of their heads. The advice offered by Koukl in this book will allow the student to carry on a conversation about their beliefs without necessarily being "in the hot seat." This is the best place to start as it will prepare the student for any "awkward encounters" no matter their level of knowledge. Koukl offers wise advice throughout the book for the apprehensive student (and the over-zealous one), so it is

2. Welcome To College: A Christ-Follower's Guide for the Journey

This second book is by Jonathan Morrow and specifically targets the college student. Morrow not only discusses the intellectual challenges to the Christian worldview that will be faced in the university but he also covers that normal day-to-day challenges of campus life. The book certainly will not remove all surprises from the campus experience, but it will definitely reduce them and help the student to maintain focus. This is a great book for the student to keep on their bookshelf and reference from time to time or even revisit between semesters throughout their college career.



3. Cold-Case Christianity

The third book focuses on one of the major challenges that the Christian will face from both professors and fellow students: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of the fact that the entire worldview of Christianity rests on this single historical event (1 Cor 15:14), understanding the evidence for its happening in history will be necessary for any student who wishes to show evidence of the truth of Christianity in a college setting. "Cold-Case Christianity" was written by cold-case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace. He uses his years of experience working murder cases where no existing eye-witnesses are still alive ("cold" cases) to investigate the death and resurrection of Jesus- the most important claimed event that also has no living eye-witnesses. He takes the reader through the process of investigating cold cases and shows how the same methods can be applied to investigating the Resurrection. If you really enjoy this book, you may also want to check out Wallace's book that uses the same methods to investigate the case for God's existence: "God's Crime Scene."

4. Legislating Morality: Is It Wise, Is It Legal, Is It Possible

Fourth, Christian politics will be constantly challenged not only in the classroom but also in the student's life apart from the classroom. Because politics are dependent upon ethics and morality, these are also under constant attack. Drs. Frank Turek and Norman Geisler wrote the book "Legislating Morality: Is It Wise, Is It Legal, Is It Possible" specifically to address many of the common challenges Christians face regarding politics. Turek and Geisler demonstrate how anyone who claims to be against the legislation of morality is actually guilty of doing just that. They also demonstrate how the protection of human life via laws can only be grounded in the Judeo-Christian doctrine of the Image of God. Even if college students can avoid discussing politics with their friends, they will be challenged by professors, and they need to know how these challenges are resolved within the Christian worldview.

5. Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache and Heartache

Finally, the book that I want to be freshest in the memory of the college-bound student is Emerson Eggerich's "Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache and Heartache." While the other books help the student to analyze, internalize, and begin to articulate the case for the truth of the Christian worldview, this book focuses on the presentation: the communication. Eggerichs describes eighty different ways that communication can go wrong and presents four questions to always ask before speaking or pressing "send" on the internet.  for ensuring that what the student communicates is effective: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it clear? It is important that the college student use discernment when speaking to friends or in class or communicating on the internet. Ensuring truthful, kind, necessary, and clear communication with friends and professors will help maintain friendships and establish trust with those around them. This book will not only be helpful in communicating the case for Christianity, but it will help in all other interactions. This is another book that the college student will want to keep on their shelf and revisit often.

Bonus: A Secret Weapon

And, I want to add one bonus title to the list for the student who wants an extra "secret weapon" in his or her arsenal. Learning how to think logically provides anyone who wishes to discover and defend the truth an incredible advantage over those who do not take the time and effort. The bonus book is not the most entertaining to read and is definitely the dryest in this list, but it does provide this most valuable tool. "Come, Let Us Reason" by Norman Geisler takes the reader through both deductive and inductive logic. He explains how arguments are formed using each method and what level of certainty (necessarily true or probably true) each provides. This will help the student to properly form their arguments when speaking to others and to be careful not to overstate the certainty level of their conclusions. It will also help the student identify when professors and fellow students make fallacious arguments and/or claim a greater level of certainty about their conclusions than is warranted by the argument they are presenting.

Conclusion

While there are many books that would be helpful for the college-bound to read to prepare for their journey, as I've read each of these, I wished that I had had them available to me during that those crucial years. If you want more great books on other topics that will benefit the college-bound, please check out the other Top 5 Books lists. I also recommend that the student join their college's chapter of Ratio Christi (if available on your campus) to have a place where they can go to discuss the many other challenges that they will encounter. Other apologetics ministries that have local chapters that the Christian student can find encouragement and support from are Reasons to Believe and Reasonable Faith. And, of course, the Christian student MUST remain in the Word of God and in prayer throughout their years in college. The challenges that they face will be powerful, and they will not only be intellectual. The student must not only know that Christianity is true but trust and dedicate his or her life to following Jesus Christ. It is as much a heart issue as it is a head issue, and it is only in Christ that the student can find (and show to others) that both the head and the heart can be fulfilled.

I have written other posts that the college-bound may find useful as various challenges arise. Please check them out and save them for when that time comes:

Monday, April 30, 2018

Book Review: Before You Hit Send

Introduction

I was first introduced to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs' work about a decade ago when my wife and I were at the local Christian bookstore, and one of his books about communication in marriage was on sale. I picked it up and found that it was on target with what Scripture taught about male and female communication and what my wife and I had experienced in our own marriage. After reading his flagship book "Love and Respect: The Love She Desires Most; The Respect He Desperately Needs" and listening to the podcast he produced for a couple years, I (along with many others) realized that the communication principles he drew from Scripture rang true in all relationships, not just marriage.

When I found out that he wrote a book on general communication in all relationships and focused on communication in the age of social media, I was ecstatic! As a defender of the Christian worldview, I am constantly engaging skeptics and presenting the evidence for the truth of what I believe. The common passage of scripture that is quoted to support this aspect of evangelism is 1 Peter 3:15: "Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, and do so with gentleness and respect." This passage emphasizes not merely the content of our defense but also the delivery of the content: "with gentleness and respect." Learning to be wise communicators is necessary for anyone who wishes to obey Peter's command in full. That is why I chose to review "Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache and Heartache" on Faithful Thinkers. As with my other reviews, this one will be a chapter-by-chapter summary. Eggerichs describes eighty (yes, 80) unique pitfalls in communication, and while I will not attempt to describe each one, I have added bold type to emphasize their particular applicability to those defending the faith. Before I get to the review, here is a short interview with Dr. Eggerichs about the content of the book: