From the Sun Belt of America to the Prairies of Canada, the North American landscape is changing quickly. While demographics isn’t destiny, it does indicate that the diversity in America and Canada will soon be at unprecedented levels. Now, and even more so in the future, planters and networks must learn how to navigate through a plethora of diversity issues in an increasingly post-Christian and post-European North America.
As someone who has benefitted from apologetics and am an outsider to the discipline itself, I want to offer a few words of encouragement to apologists—which ultimately includes all of us at some level. As I see it, if our apologetics isn’t rooted in sound theology, reliant on the Holy Spirit, and formed by Christian character, it won’t be effective.
Almost every Christian knows what it’s like to question whether they joined the “right church.” After an initial “honeymoon stage,” we begin to see our church’s problems with greater clarity than we see its strengths. The sermons start to seem too intellectual, or not intellectual enough. The church begins budgeting for ministries that don’t seem deserving of the dollar figure on the spreadsheet. The small groups don’t meet our needs in the ways we’d hoped.
Here’s why Burke’s writings made my patriotism great again: they remind me that America is the greatest governmental experiment to ever happen. He wasn’t writing about America, no, but no other nation was founded on principles like this—principles of self-worth, the importance of vocation, honor and dignity found within every individual. Under no other system of government can a representative of the state truly consider himself “an instructor of his fellow-citizens in their highest concerns.”
Your temptation probably doesn’t look a lot like mine. But, somewhere in the darker parts of your heart, I’ll bet that the same motivation is there. We want to please people. So when someone asks us to fill out a reference form so that their kid can get into school, we do it and get it back to them in record time, all the while hoping that they’re impressed with our promptness. And when we visit someone, we make sure that someone else knows about it. And when we preach a sermon, it has to be nominated for a Grammy. Or maybe just impress our old seminary professor and the authors of the books he made us read.
Like many in the Internet age, I’ve been discipled by women and men I don’t actually know. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but as I’ve grown into adulthood I’ve sensed it has left me malnourished in certain ways.
While I’ve been the recipient of countless bits of counsel and truth from flesh-and-blood people over the years, I haven’t always fully appreciated it. In many instances, I’ve missed the blessing of deeper wisdom because I failed to seek a deeper relationship. Instead, I settled for the ease and comfort of a book or podcast.
A favorite from the archives:
Tuesday night, the UPS guy arrived at the door with our latest Amazon order. I secreted away the box as quickly as I could in order to avoid too many “What is it Dads”. (I was only partially successful.) I opened the box, and pulled the two books out. Perfect, I thought, we’re going to have fun reading these.
“Hey, Abigail,” I called into the living room. “Want to see what we got today?”
This is one of the things I love about being a dad. I love being able to share the things I loved as a child and youth with them (like comics, which I still enjoy). But more than that, I love being able to expose them to as many different kinds of books as possible (as does Emily). There are a few reasons for this: