Friday, 9 May 2008

Red Letter Apologetics

I've been preparing this seminar on "Answering Tough Questions" for a UCCF South East training day, and I've been pondering something. A few people I know have bought new Bibles recently (I think there was a special offer at New Word Alive), and they have an interesting feature - the words of Jesus are in red. Nothing new there - people have been doing it for years.

The problem is, I believe that the whole of the Bible is God's word - whether it's the words of Jesus or a list of names and numbers. Apparently, there's a movement among Christians which seeks to get back to the 'important bits' - the words of Jesus, the bits in red. They call themselves 'Red-letter' Christians (which set me off on an amusing train of thought - what if they'd marked the words of Jesus in a different way - would we have had 'green letter' Christians, or 'italic Christians'? Anyway...). If the whole of the Bible is God's Word, this is a bit daft. I get the point, but it sends all kinds of wrong messages. Go and read what Dave has to say about it.

But in my seminar, one of the pieces of advice I intend to give is - if you can, use the actual words of Jesus. This sounds a bit dodge to start with, and I started to get a bit nervous about it. But the more I've thought about it, the more I agree (with myself). There are some good reasons for it...

  • When we answer people's questions, we aren't just trying to shut them up - we want them to meet Jesus. We can only do that if we talk about him. Using his words and actions is the best way to introduce people to the real Jesus.
  • When we use the words of Jesus, any issues are immediately between them and Jesus. Nick Pollard says he wants to spend as much time as possible talking about Jesus, so he tries to go straight to something Jesus said or did and works out from there.
  • In the 'climate' the students are living in, where a distrust of authority and propositional truth comes as standard, I think engaging with a real person is helpful. Also, the story-telling approach sits well with this sort of attitude.
  • There are some Christians who distrust 'traditional' ways of doing evangelism and dealing with people's questions. Like the red-letter chaps, they think there's a better way of doing things by getting back to what Jesus said. Surely it's helpful if we can show that they aren't exclusive.

    I'm sure there are more reasons - they're the ones which come to mind. Obviously I'm NOT saying only use the specific words of Jesus (bad idea). But I am going to be telling the CU peeps to try hard to get their friends to engage with Jesus when they're answering tough questions.

    Which is good, because I've already printed the handouts...
  • 1 comment:

    peterdray said...

    Yes I agree. There's a fair distrust of other Bible writers (especially Paul) and although we'd agree that his words are equally Scriptural, it seems pointless to beg the question.

    Also Jesus' parables are often a great way of connecting with postmodern people.