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First Wild Card Tours: The Blood of Lambs by Kamal Saleem

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Blood of Lambs

Howard Books (April 7, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kamal Saleem was born under another name into a large Sunni Muslim family in Lebanon. At age seven, he was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood and immediately entered a Palestinian Liberation Organization terror training camp in Lebanon. After being involved in terror campaigns in Israel, Europe, Afghanistan, and Africa, and finally making radical Islam converts in the United States, Saleem renounced jihad and became an American citizen. He has appeared on CNN, CBS News, and Fox News programs, and has spoken on terrorism and radical Islam at Stanford University, the University of California, the Air Force Academy, and other institutions nationwide.

Collaborator Writer, Lynn Vincent: Lynn Vincent, a U.S. Navy veteran, is features editor at WORLD Magazine, a national news biweekly. She is the author or co-author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller, Same of Kind of Different as Me.

This true story of an ex-terrorist reveals the life and mindset of radical Muslims. Now a US citizen, Kamal heralds a wake-up call to America.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $23.99
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (April 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416577807
ISBN-13: 978-1416577805

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Beirut, Lebanon

1963

1
It was at my mother’s kitchen table, surrounded by the smells of herbed olive oils and pomegranates, that I first learned of jihad. Every day, my brothers and I gathered around the low table for madrassa, our lessons in Islam. I always tried to sit facing east, toward the window above the long marble sink where a huge tree with sweet white berries brushed against the window panes. Made of a warm, reddish wood, our table sat in the middle of the kitchen and was surrounded by tesats, small rugs that kept us off the cool tile. Mother sat at the head of the table and read to us from the Koran and also from the hadith, which records the wisdom and instruction of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad.

Mother’s Koran had a hard black cover etched ornately in gold and scarlet. Her grandfather had given the Book to her father, who had given it her. Even as a small boy I knew my mother and father were devout Sunni Muslims. So devout, in fact, that other Sunnis held themselves a little straighter in our family’s presence. My mother never went out without her hijab, only her coffee-colored eyes peering above the cloth that shielded her face, which no man outside our family had ever seen. My father, respected in our mosque, earned an honest living as a blacksmith. He had learned the trade from my grandfather, a slim Turk who wore a red fez, walked with a limp, and cherished thick, cinnamon-laced coffee.

Each day at madrassa, Mother pulled her treasured Koran from a soft bag made of ivory cloth and when she opened it, the breath of its frail, aging pages floated down the table. Mother would read to us about the glory of Islam, about the good Muslims, and about what the Jews did to us. As a four-year-old boy, my favorite parts were the stories of war.

I vividly remember the day in madrassa when we heard the story of a merciless bandit who went about robbing caravans and killing innocent travelers. “This bandit was an evil, evil man,” Mother said, spinning the tale as she sketched pictures of swords for us to color.

An evil bandit? She had my attention.

“One day, there was a great battle between the Jews and the sons of Islam,” she went on. “The bandit decided to join the fight for the cause of Allah. He charged in on a great, black horse, sweeping his heavy sword left and right, cutting down the infidel warriors.”

My eyes grew wider. I held my breath so as not to miss a word.

“The bandit fought bravely for Allah, killing several of the enemy until the sword of an infidel pierced the bandit’s heart. He tumbled from his horse and died on the battlefield.”

Disappointment deflated my chest. What good is a story like that?

I could hear children outside, shouting and playing. A breeze from the Mediterranean shimmered in the berry tree. Mother’s yaknah simmered on the stove — green beans snapped fresh, cooked with olive oil, tomato, onion, and garlic. She would serve it cool that evening with pita bread, fresh mint, and cucumbers. My stomach rumbled.

“After the bandit died,” Mother was saying in her storytelling voice, “his mother had a dream. In this dream, she saw her son sitting on the shore of an endless crystal river, surrounded by a multitude of women who were feeding him and tending to him.”

I turned back toward Mother. Maybe this story was not so bad after all.

“The bandit’s mother was an observant woman, obedient to her husband and to Allah and Muhammad,” my mother said. “This woman knew her son was a robber and a murderer. ‘How dare you be sitting here in paradise?’ she scolded him. ‘You don’t belong here. You belong in hell!’ But her son answered, ‘I died for the glory of Allah and when I woke up, He welcomed me into jannah.’ ”

Paradise.

My mother swept her eyes around the kitchen table. “So you see, my sons, even the most sinful man is able to redeem himself with one drop of an infidel’s blood.”

The Blood of Lambs © 2009 Arise Enterprises, LLC

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First Wild Card Tours: Go Back and Be Happy by Julie Papievis

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Go Back and Be Happy

Monarch Books (November 4, 2008)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

In Julie Papievis’ words:

Traumatic brain injury is the number one killer of persons under the age of 44. Every twenty one seconds, someone suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States. As a result, 5.3 million Americans are living with a disability from TBI. This non-discriminatory injury changes life in an instant.

On May 10, 1993 my life was changed forever because someone ran a red light. Featured on Lifetime’s “Beyond Chance”, CNN, Woman’s Day Magazine, and top ranked WB’s WGN News, my story is gaining national attention. After a life-threatening car accident, I suffered a severe brain stem injury and medically died, rating a “3”, the lowest number possible on the Glascow Coma Scale. According to medical experts, 96% of the people with such a severe injury either die or remain permanently comatose. The few who survive typically face a non-functional life. I completely beat the odds even though I remained in a coma for over a month.

Paralyzed and unconscious, I was transferred to the locked brain injury wing of a rehabilitation facility, where I awakened with vivid memories of my near death experience. During “death” I saw my grandmothers in heaven. They instructed me to “Go back and be happy” and assured me that my body would heal. Although medical experts said I would never walk again, or be able to take care of myself, I didn’t listen. I believed the words of my grandmothers.

Through extensive therapy, I relearned how to stand, walk, and swallow. However, I faced the daunting challenge of facing the able-bodied world as a disabled person. After overcoming paralysis and battling severe depression, I embraced my gift of recovery as a true miracle.

In 1999, I ran in a 5K race near Chicago on Mother’s Day! In February 2007, I completed my first triathlon. I have become an advocate for other survivors looking for hope and guidance. I work with the Brain Injury Association of Illinois, the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Illinois, and am a peer advisor to the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse. As a VIP member (voice for injury prevention) for the national program of ThinkFirst, I speak to students about injury prevention and safe driving. I volunteer at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in their Peer Support Program. I currently work part time as a community relations advisor for a top Chicago law firm.

I hope my story of faith and determination offers an inspirational and practical approach to dealing with sudden changes in life. Like an oyster, I transformed the unexpected “grit” in my life into a precious pearl.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (November 4, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825462762
ISBN-13: 978-0825462764

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A Wrecked Life: May 10, 1993 at 6:55 p.m.

Pulling her short brown hair, Toni Rapach screamed over the blaring song on the car radio, “Honk your horn, TJ! Hurry! Honk your horn!”

The couple watched in disbelief as a large burgundy Oldsmobile Cutlass ran a red light and violently struck the driver’s side of a small, white Mazda sports car turning left out of a shopping mall in a Chicago suburb.

Toni jumped from her car and shouted “Somebody call 911!”

An older couple raced toward the accident scene. The wife shouted over to Toni, “We’re calling 911 right now on our cell phone, and my husband’s a doctor!” In 1993, a mobile phone was not a common item.

Toni burst into tears when she looked into the Mazda and saw an unconscious young woman with a mane of blonde hair. She watched helplessly as the woman’s head lay against the chest as if it was disconnected from her body. Toni turned around and shouted, “Please somebody help!” “This poor girl and her family,” she sobbed. “They will never be the same.”

The gathering crowd rushed to the crumpled car and tried to open the driver’s door which was streaked with burgundy paint from the Oldsmobile. The forceful impact left both axles broken on the Mazda. A man ran to the other side of the car and managed to climb into the tangled debris. As he reached behind to pick up the young woman’s head, the doctor instructed, “Don’t move her.”

“I’m an off-duty paramedic,” the man answered in a calm and confident manner. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Go ahead then. I’m here if you need anything.”

The off-duty paramedic happened to be a block away from the accident scene getting his tires fixed. He lifted the woman’s head from her chest and cleared the airway so oxygen could pass to the brain. At 6:57 p.m., just two minutes after the accident, firefighters and paramedics arrived in a whir of sirens and flashing lights. Realizing the severity of the accident, Lieutenant Jim Streu radioed in a call to the station, “Extrication equipment is needed at the scene. Send in the fire truck.”

Paramedics Greg Sauchuk and Randy Deicke leaped out of Ambulance 61. Racing to the scene with his first aid box, Greg said, “Oh, man. This is really bad.”

They faced a “Trauma Red” and time was a major concern. Two minutes of the “Golden Hour” had already ticked away. Comprehensive medical treatment within that golden hour was imperative to offer any hope. Opening the first aid box, Greg removed some medical instruments to assess the woman’s condition. He recognized his off-duty paramedic friend who was holding the woman’s neck from the back seat of the car. Chips of sparkling glass surrounded the Mazda like Mardi Gras beads. Reaching through the blown out window, Greg said, “Tom, how did you manage to even climb into this pretzel? Thanks for stabilizing her neck and clearing the airway.”

Greg checked the woman’s breathing and said, “Amazing. I feel a pulse. She doesn’t need CPR.”

Lifting the woman’s eyelids, Greg checked the pupils with a small flashlight. They didn’t react. “Pupils dilated and fixed,” Greg reported to Randy and then shouted, “Hey, Miss! Can you hear me?!”

The woman remained silent. With his large six foot three, 245 pound frame, Greg pressed his fist into the woman’s chest. She didn’t even flinch.

“Patient is unresponsive to pain with sternum rub,” Greg said. “She scores a 3.” Greg rated the woman on the Glasgow Coma Scale, a quick, practical and standardized system developed in 1975 for assessing the level of consciousness and predicting the ultimate outcome of a coma. A three was the lowest score out of a possible fifteen.

“I’ll check her vitals,” Randy said as he wrapped the vinyl cuff around the woman’s arm to check for blood pressure. He placed the stethoscope on the inner arm and pumped the rubber ball. No reading. He tried again. “I can’t even hear the blood flow,” Randy said and shook his head while placing his fingertips on the woman’s artery to check for a pulse. “Patient’s palpable blood pressure is only eighty. Not good. Looks like a traumatic brain injury. Probably brain stem. Elevated heart rate is 120. This is bad guys. She’s in shock. Possible internal damage. After this car door is off, let’s do a ‘scoop and run.’”

Within a minute, the fire truck arrived with the “jaws of life” equipment. Al Green, another paramedic was also on the truck along with firefighter, Tony Pascolla. Tony lifted the forty pound Hurst equipment and steadied the hydraulic spreader as he ripped open the car door from its hinges. “I’ll be done in two minutes,” Tony shouted over the loud noise.

The paramedics decided against calling a helicopter since time was essential. Due to the severity of injuries, they agreed to take the woman to a Level I Trauma Center instead of the nearest hospital. Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois was fourteen miles away. They knew that neurosurgeon, Dr. John Shea was her only hope. The ambulance left the scene at 7:12 p.m and arrived at 7:25 p.m. Randy, Greg and Al pulled the stretcher out of the ambulance and ran into the emergency entrance to hand the woman over to the trauma team. “She’s posturing!” Randy said. They watched as the woman started extending her arms and legs in primitive reflexes, a sign that her body could not regulate itself. She then urinated all of the water from her body, soaking the stretcher, and started agonal breathing, the last breaths taken before dying.

As Greg walked back with Randy and Al toward the ambulance, he glanced over his shoulders at the lifeless body being carted away by the trauma team. “Dear God,” he prayed. “Please help her through this. Just help her through this.” He climbed into the driver’s seat and left the hospital. He’d seen it before. He knew firsthand that traumatic brain injury is the number one killer of people forty-four years old and younger.

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First: Bankruptcy of Our Nation by Jerry Robinson

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Bankruptcy of Our Nation

New Leaf Publishing Group/New Leaf Press (March 18, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Robinson is the president and founder of JRMI (Jerry Robinson Ministries International), a Christian ministry that “challenges believers to think and thinkers to believe.” This is accomplished through cutting-edge teaching on geopolitical, economic and cultural trends and how they relate to the Church. Jerry is a student of global economics, geopolitics and cultural trends.

He is the author of Bankruptcy of Our Nation, recently published by New Leaf Publishing Group, as well as the author of Classical Dispensationalism and its Eschatological foundations and The Mythic Roots of Iran’s Anti-Semitic Rhetoric. His website, jrmi.org, is internationally known with readers in 95 nations. His monthly emails are sent to subscribers in 36 countries. Jerry is a frequent guest on various national talk radio shows on topics ranging from global economics to Christian eschatology. His writings have appeared in serveral national magazines and newspapers. Jerry holds a degree in economics from the University of Tulsa.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group/New Leaf Press (March 18, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 089221693X
ISBN-13: 978-0892216932

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Welcome to the End of an Empire

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

— George Orwell

“History is a vast early warning system.”

— Norman Cousins

In an era full of doomsayers and gloomsters, it was my sincere hope that my first major book release would be on, let’s say, a milder topic. Maybe even something light-hearted, such as a book on how to leash train a Rottweiler, or a beginner’s guide to French wines. Or even better yet, a pictorial tourist guide for Southern Europe.

But instead I have written the following tome on the decline of the American experiment and how mankind is about to enter the greatest financial crisis in world history. Depressing, huh? Well, yes. But to those who are familiar with economic history, it is simply the natural ebb and flow of competing interests. According to the laws of physics, an apple thrown upward into the air will be pulled downward by the invisible force of gravity. And while history does not necessarily subscribe to a set of laws, it does teach us great lessons. And these lessons can even be forceful at times. It is often said that while history may never truly repeat, it does at least rhyme. And unfortunately, in the case of the inevitable American economic decline, we have a wide array of historical precedents, which we will examine in later chapters.

But even more than the lessons of economic history (which we will examine more closely in chapter 3,) we have even greater evidence that the global influence exerted by America, both economically and politically, will decline considerably in the not too distant future. Our source: the Holy Bible. Despite what the Western-centric thinker may suggest, the ancient writings of the Christian Bible are clear. They confirm that the biblical prophecies concerning the “last days” are Israel-centric and Middle East-centric. They are anything but America-centric. God’s Word clearly states that the global stage will be firmly transferred to this volatile region just prior to the return of Christ.

As a believer and follower of Christ, it is my earnest belief that hope is never completely lost, because God’s sovereign plan of the ages will forever prevail — no matter how desperate things may appear. But as a believer, I have also learned that only a fool places his trust in man’s ability to rule man. If history is a guide to anything, it is a guide to the consistent knucklehead acts of mankind throughout the ages. Mankind’s predicament stems from the fact that man was not designed, nor was he ever meant, to rule himself. According to an orthodox view of the Christian faith, mankind has rejected the omnipotent rule of his Creator. Instead, man has opted for self-rule. This ancient act of rebellion explains the last 6,000 years of pain and suffering and, more recently, why the 20th century was the bloodiest century on record. (Ironically ,the 20th century has also been labeled the “American Century.”)

America represents the culmination of all that man has ever aspired to: wealth, fame, self-love, self-importance, and freedom to do whatever the heck he wants, (otherwise known as independence). But as men have engaged themselves in this “American experiment,” the inward corruption of mankind has bubbled to the surface. Unable to rid himself of his true sin nature, man attempts in vain to cloak his deficiencies. Unfortunately, America is following the same path as every economic empire before it. And lest we confuse ourselves, Western Christians must quickly grasp this point: America is not the light of the world. The sun shone before America was here and it will continue to shine long after our self-inflicted demise. So let us

not proceed in shock or surprise at the complex webs that America has weaved for itself. Its fall is historically identifiable, though unfortunate. And it is all but certain.

The Excesses of Empire

Over the last few decades, certain economic trends have pointed toward an eventual day of reckoning for the U.S. economy. For example, over the last several years the United States has outsourced the majority of its domestic manufacturing to foreign countries, opting instead to specialize in consumption. This specialization in consumption has meant that for the first time in the nation’s history, the personal savings rate of Americans has dipped below 0 percent. Today, the U.S. credit industry has trumped the manufacturing industry in total revenues. This as the consumer-crazed nation purchases everything in sight through the use of high-interest credit in an effort to feed the hungry credit beast that they have created. And this “buy now and pay later” mantra is not contained to, nor did it originate within, the consumer credit market. Evidence of it is found in government as politicians promise the unborn grandchildren’s money to pay for the luxuries of the grandparents.

It is demonstrated in the poor monetary policy decisions that have systematically devalued the empire’s choice of currency, the U.S. dollar. Today, thanks to our nation’s fiat currency system, it takes one dollar to purchase what five cents could purchase in 1945.

Evidence of this “buy now, pay later” attitude that threatens America is demonstrated in American foreign policy as modern wars are fought without an appeal to national sacrifice. Instead, foreigners fund America’s wars through massive capital inflows that serve to prop up U.S. consumption and conquest.

America has reaped what it has sown by creating an entitlement generation that expects perpetually low tax rates and interest rates. It also expects unrealistically high government entitlement spending and investment returns. This new entitlement generation considers the

concepts of sacrifice and saving as unnecessary relics worthy of the dustbin of history as modern Americans refuse to deny themselves any delight or delicacy. The American economy represents nothing less than a feeble house of cards completely vulnerable to the inevitable external forces that await every declining empire.

Many authors and commentators have highlighted the striking similarities between modern America and former empires such as Rome and Great Britain. Those who are not familiar with such comparisons would greatly benefit from researching this material as it will provide a much needed historical context to the impending American economic crisis. Therefore, I will avoid belaboring the historical and cultural comparisons here. I do not believe, however, that one must

understand the historical cycles to appreciate the fact the America is facing great economic jeopardy.

The painful truth expressed in this book is that the end of the American experiment will, more than likely, come sooner rather than later. The reason behind this looming decline is due to the fact that the United States of America is standing on the precipice of a self-imposed economic calamity. America’s ascendance into the heady realms of economic empire began in the post-World War II Bretton Woods era when it was the world’s greatest creditor nation. Today, just over 60 years later, America now stands as the greatest debtor nation in world history. Decades of financial excess, coupled with an entitlement mentality, has left America as financially bankrupt as it has become morally. America clearly represents a reluctant economic empire in decline. And like all empires that have gone before it, its days are numbered. The death of an empire can be quick and painless; however, that is rarely the case. Instead, empires tend to die slow, painful, and humiliating deaths and their demise is usually accompanied by at least two things: an overextension of the empire’s military and extreme economic overindulgence and depravity. America exhibits excesses in both of these categories.

U.S. Military Overextension

To confirm America’s overextended global military presence, one must look no farther than the more than 700 U.S. military bases located in over 120 nations. That means that America’s military is located in over half of the world’s nations. The American obsession with maintaining global hegemonic power through military force is justified in the name of protecting the important causes of freedom, democracy, and justice worldwide. Or as former President William

McKinley put it, “The American flag has not been planted in foreign soil to acquire more territory but for humanity’s sake.” However, acting as the ever-vigilant and ever-present global policeman requires an annual budget over $600 billion.1

• That is 10 times larger than China’s $65 billion annual military budget.

• 12 times larger than Russia’s $50 billion.

• 120 times larger than North Korea’s $5 billion

• 140 times larger than Iran’s $4.3 billion.

• And that’s around 5,000 times more than Afghanistan’s $122 million

In fact, funding the American military machine costs more than all of the rest of the world’s military’s expenses — combined. And while these exorbitant costs spent to maintain militaristic dominance is typical of an empire, it also clearly unsustainable.

U.S. Consumption Levels Require Foreign Creditors

The American empire’s economy has become grossly indebted to foreign creditors through a shameful lack of sound fiscal stewardship. The empire’s total current national debt stands at a colossal $9 trillion and is growing by the billions every single day. Foreign countries own

more pieces of America than ever before. Not only do foreigners own a large amount of America’s real wealth (real estate, corporations, etc.), they also hold vast amounts of our government bonds. The repercussions of this large foreign ownership of American interests will be discussed at length in upcoming chapters.

As this book will seek to demonstrate:

• American prosperity is denominated in a debt-based and debt-backed currency, the U.S. dollar. But this illusion of prosperity in America is hardly recognized or highlighted by the financial elite or the nation’s media.

• U.S. over-consumption, coupled with American military adventurism since the Vietnam era, has been financed by foreign creditors. With huge trade deficits and a growing national debt, indebtedness to foreign creditors leaves the United States in a highly vulnerable position.

• U.S. and global demand for energy resources are increasing at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, global energy production is not going to be able to keep pace with global demand. A growing depletion of cheap energy resources, coupled with a threatened petrodollar system, will more than likely force America into becoming militarily aggressive in future resource wars with other growing nations (i.e., China, India, etc.)

• American consumer debt has reached all-time highs. This year, more Americans will declare bankruptcy than will divorce, graduate from college, or get cancer; 43 percent of American

households spend more every month than they earn. Clearly, this lack of fiscal discipline must eventually end. Behind all of this lies a monetary system that is based upon debt. This book will explain in stark details how the monetary system of the United States of America is a debt-based system. In fact, money is debt. To understand this concept, we will examine the Federal Reserve system and the mind-blowing money creation process that they employ.

An Illusion of Prosperity

Despite these facts, the majority of America’s government’s institutions, along with their sidekick, the American media, exploit the lack of economic understanding of the masses. In the face of a weakening U.S. economy, those with the loudest voices and largest platforms within the empire have rushed to the nearest microphone urging Americans to continue their over-consumption. They gently assure Americans that the economy is “resilient” and “strong”

enough to weather any storm. As the Titanic coasted through the Atlantic that fateful night, no one believed that the mammoth ship would ever meet its demise on such a routine voyage. Nevertheless, as the Titanic began to sink, the majority of its passengers remained in disbelief. The horror of that fateful evening unfolded against the backdrop of big band music, dancing, and free-flowing cocktails. The music played until the very end. Likewise, everything is perpetually

peachy on the inside of a declining empire. But to believe that the current excesses of the American economic empire are eternally sustainable is about as wise as taking time to rearrange the furniture on the sinking Titanic.

It is understandable why some Americans would still feel optimistic about the nation’s economic future when one simply looks at the recent performance of the U.S. stock market. Over the last several years, the nominal returns on many domestic stocks have been extremely healthy. Since 2000, for example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has provided the average investor a return on investment of around 36 percent. However, all of the returns reported to American

investors are calculated based upon the empire’s currency, the U.S. dollar. What the typical American investor does not realize is that the gains that he has made in his U.S. stock portfolio have actually been losses due to the declining purchasing power of the U.S. dollar. So in the past, when the average American examined their 401(k) plan statements, they may have seen a positive return on investment but, in all reality, their investments have lost value, internationally speaking, due to the declining dollar.

We can see more clearly how much the U.S. dollar has been devalued through a series of bad monetary policies by simply considering an example using the aforementioned Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow Jones, of course, is denominated in U.S. dollars and has increased 36 percent over the last seven years. But if we compare the Dow Jones to other prices besides the dollar for the last seven years, here is what we find:

• If the Dow Jones had been priced in Euros rather than dollars for the last seven years, the Dow would have been a losing investment. In fact, it would have lost 40 percent. Therefore, Europeans who have invested in the Dow Jones for the last seven years have not gained 36 percent, but rather, have lost 40 percent.

• If denominated in milk prices, the Dow Jones now buys 35 percent less milk than it did just seven short years ago

• If denominated in wheat or corn, the Dow now buys 40 percent less wheat and corn than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in gold, the Dow now buys 50 percent less gold than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in silver, the Dow now buys 55 percent less silver than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in oil, the Dow now buys 70 percent less oil than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in copper, the Dow now buys 80 percent less copper than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in uranium, the Dow now buys 90 percent less uranium than it did seven years ago

A sign that you are living at the end of an empire is that you think you are making money while instead you are losing money. The illusion created by the American economic empire has become

extremely deceptive to millions of hard-working Americans. It is a lot like driving a beautiful luxury car with a broken fuel gauge. When the gas tank nears the empty mark and you are running on fumes, you will receive little warning, but you sure do look great. Today, many Americans look rich on paper, but the purchasing power of their dollars is rapidly decreasing. A simple jaunt to any American grocery store will confirm this bit of data. Grocery prices, gas prices, oil prices, and commodity prices are all increasing at remarkable rates and testify to the economic uncertainty fueled by a declining dollar. The inflationary pressures hitting the U.S. consumer have been anything but subtle.

For example, in 2000:

• Gold was $273 per ounce

• Oil was $22 per barrel

• National gasoline prices averaged at $1.46

• The Euro was worth $.87 per dollar

• The Canadian Dollar was worth .68 per dollar

In 2008, just a few years later:

• Gold soared to well over $900 per ounce

• Oil broke through $140 per barrel

• National gasoline prices averaged nearly $4.00 per gallon

• The Euro reached $1.46 per dollar

• The Canadian dollar reached parity with the U.S. dollar.

Of course, in the face of such obvious inflation, the U.S. federal government has assured U.S. consumers that consumer prices are under control and are being “tightly monitored.” In fact, according to the Feds, the U.S. economy is strong and inflation is low. But the price of gold, oil, and gasoline do not lie. The purchasing power of the dollar is declining, and it has been for years. In the last 5 years alone, the U.S. dollar has lost 35 percent of its value against the Euro. Open any newspaper and you will find that your hard earned U.S. dollars are hitting all-time lows against other global currencies nearly every week.

Of course, average everyday consumers pay little attention to gyrations in the global currency markets. But they do understand that when the price of milk or bread goes up, they are able to buy less of it. So the price of gold is hitting all-time highs. Oil is hitting all-time highs, causing gasoline prices to rise. Food prices are rising. It appears that the price of everything is going up. However, the point is that prices are not rising as much as the purchasing power of the dollar is declining. Thus, the illusion of the dollar is simply that: a glorious illusion.

A “Global” War on Terror

In addition to economic illusions of prosperity, declining empires also tend to become rather ambitious in their military aims. The 21st century began with the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil when occupied airplanes were used as missiles against the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. In response, the Bush administration launched a global war on terror. Admittedly, hunting down those responsible for these egregious attacks upon thousands of Americans should

be a priority of the U.S. government. But upon closer examination, an even larger problem exists: war is expensive. And initiating and conducting a worldwide war on terrorism is terribly expensive, even for the richest nation in world history. This is why every previous war in this nation’s history has required some economic sacrifice on the part of its citizens. For example, in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt ended production of new

automobiles, new homes, and new appliances in an effort to free up American manufacturing and labor resources for military trucks and tanks needed for the war. Food and gasoline supplies were rationed as the country mobilized for an expensive war that nearly all agreed was necessary for the future peace of the nation. Additionally, the federal government promoted and sold war bonds to the general public to obtain the funding necessary to pay for the ongoing costs associated with war. Understanding that wars cost money, U.S. citizens from that “great generation” sacrificed many of life’s conveniences in order to prevent America from going into massive debt. Even in Vietnam, which was an American financial nightmare, a military draft ensured that sacrifice was exacted from American families.

In contrast, after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush encouraged Americans to go shopping and to take vacations. In our modern era, little economic sacrifice has been requested from American citizens. So while the bombs drop and the rockets fly, most Americans yawn and turn off the television. The nightly news brings reports of war and chaos that might as well be happening on a different planet. Ask yourself: Where is the economic sacrifice in this new massive worldwide war on terrorism? Which of our nation’s leaders are asking you to curb your consumption in an effort to fund our current global war? Oddly enough, in the midst of a costly global war, the nation’s taxes have been lowered while government spending has increased. The sheer absurdity of this should be obvious. But apparently it is not, as clearly witnessed by American citizens who have apparently bought the government’s line that “Americans can

have their cake and eat it too.” To tell the American voter anything to the contrary is too politically risky.

Since Americans are not being asked to fund the extravagant expenses of a global war with no end in sight, who then is footing the bill for America’s war on terrorism? The answer: Foreign countries, namely China and Japan. How are they funding the war, you might ask? Through their purchases of U.S. government debt, such as U.S. Treasury bonds. Since 2000, China and Japan have been rapidly increasing their holdings in U.S. debt instruments, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. In other words, China and Japan are financing America’s war on terrorism.

Emerging Nations as the New Global Consumers

Americans are “expert” consumers, and American consumption — until February 2005 — had been the highest in the world in nearly all categories. On February 16, 2005, a report was released by the Earth Policy Institute that confirmed what most of the world already knew: China is rapidly replacing the U.S. as the world’s largest consumer. The report stated that “among the five basic food, energy, and industrial commodities — grain and meat, oil and coal, and steel — consumption in China has already eclipsed that of the United States in all but oil.” China’s insatiable appetite for commodities is both obvious and frightening. The enormous nation has 1.3 billion people who all desperately desire the same luxuries that Americans now enjoy and they are willing to work hard to obtain them. Of course, one of the Welcome to the luxuries of a modern wealthy nation is automobiles. And automobile sales are increasing rapidly in China as the nation continues its industrial revolution — 21st century style. Therefore, the price of oil is

intricately linked to China’s emergence from an agrarian society to a highly developed nation. And while China trails the United States as the world’s second largest oil consumer, it is now the world’s fastest net importer of oil. China’s demand for oil is growing each year and government estimates have stated that by 2030, China’s demand for oil will eclipse U.S. demand for oil. In addition, China now boasts five of the world’s ten largest companies, including oil production giant PetroChina. In November 2007 it was announced that PetroChina had become the first company in history to be valued at over $1 trillion, thus, making PetroChina twice as valuable as the world’s previously largest company, American oil giant, ExxonMobil. China today is viewed by many as simply an economic bully. This may be true. But Americans do good to ask themselves: How long before China’s economic power turns into political power? In fact, what else is a superpower if not an economic powerhouse with tremendous political prowess. As the Earth Policy Institute report concludes: “China is no longer just a developing country. It is an emerging economic superpower, one that is writing economic history. If the last century was the American century, this one looks to be the Chinese century.” It is amazing when you think about it. America’s population of just over 300 million has consumed more than China’s 1.3 billion citizens for decades. This statistic alone displays America’s staggering wealth and our consumption-driven economy. And China is not an isolated case. India, and its 1.1 billion citizens, is experiencing its own economic revolution as many of its impoverished citizens successfully embrace the tenets of capitalism in an effort to increase their standard of living. Add to this other countries such as Brazil, Russia, and a host of other nations that are all emerging as major global economic players onto the world’s stage. They all come ready to compete for their share of the world’s limited resources. Clearly, insisting that American hegemony is sustainable is not only unreasonable, it is highly irresponsible.

The Life Cycle of Democracies

Consider how the Scottish historian Alexander Tyler documented the typical life cycle of a democracy: A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From

that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

Tyler continues with this amazing statement:

The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.

Does this sequence sound familiar? Where does this dependence upon others to pay the bills place the fragile American experiment on this life cycle?

So let us summarize our conclusions thus far:

• The purchasing power of our U.S. dollar is declining in value

• The U.S. government continues to print more money

• We are engaged in an expensive and endless global war on terror

• We are obsessed with cutting taxes

• We are raising government spending to all-time highs

• We have requested little, if any, economic “sacrifice” on the part of our citizenry

• Our trade deficit and budgetary deficits are at all-time highs

• Our national debt is at an all-time high and growing exponentially

• We are completely dependent upon foreign nations to fund our over-consumption through the sale of our debts

As long as foreign countries purchase our massive debts, perhaps we can extend this madness. But what happens if foreign countries begin to decrease their funding of our debts? And what if America’s foreign creditors decide to diversify their currency holdings into other currencies? The truth is, the American public is living in massive monetary deception. The direction that the American economy is heading is extremely difficult to swallow. However, if our aim is truth, then we will willingly embrace the facts and take the necessary steps needed to shelter ourselves and our families. Undoubtedly, the only real way out of the mess that has been created will also be the hardest. A glimmer of hope remains that the difficult steps that need to be taken will be embraced, especially by Christians. But regardless of whether this happens or not, there is still hope for the informed citizen. The message of this book is one of great hope. But it is not a hope that the global economy will never awaken to the harsh realities awaiting it. God’s Word has clearly stated that man cannot rule man. Our failed attempts in this area continue to prove his point. Our hope is in knowing which direction the trends are taking us. It is in this knowledge that you will be able to protect and shelter whatever wealth you have already accumulated, and in addition profit from the greatest financial crisis that the world has ever witnessed. As you read the following chapters of this book, be of good cheer. Despite man’s best efforts, God is still in control. And with God, the end is only the beginning.

Endnotes

1. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm.

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Read and Share DVD – Volume 1

dvdbible2


Read and Share DVD Bible Volume 1
Read by Gwen Ellis
Illustrated by Steve Smallman

Share the joy and wonder of God’s Word with the children in your life.

I am so excited that I am able to review the Read and Share DVD Bible: Volume 1 movie for you all as part of Thomas Nelson Book Reviewers team .

I’m a christian, and I’m always looking for wholesome ways to share the word of God with others, especially children. I feel a special calling on my life as to work in areas where children are involved. So, I’m nit picky as to what christian curriculum or biblical resources that I present and support aiming that it’s all  biblically accurate.

After watching the Read and Share DVD Bible: Volume 1, I must say I am very pleased, I rated it 5 stars! This is probably best for younger children as the stories are meant to stick to the span of younger children, very simple but stick to the general point. The viewing experience is wonderful as it looks as if we are seeing an actual story book come to life! The colors are bright cheerful which is key when presenting something to young children.  The characters in the movie act out what the narrator explains and the music is a perfect fit, light and gentle.

Stories include: The Beginning, Adam & Eve, The Flood, Abram, Isaac & Rebekah, Jacob & Esau, Rachel, Jacob & God, John the Baptist, Jesus is Born, Jesus is Tempted, Jesus Love Children, and One Lost Sheep.

This video is great for family devotion time and even for  Sunday School. As each segment you can stop and discuss with your children and answer any questions that they may have.

You can purchase this DVD: (Retails $14.99) at Christianbook.com for $10.99, if you are looking for a steal.  It’s also available at many Christian bookstores, Powell’s Books,  Barnes & Nobel, Amazon and many other places online stores.

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FIRST: Christianity in Crisis: The 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Christianity in Crisis: The 21st Century

Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (March 3, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hank Hanegraaff serves as president and chairman of the board of the North Carolina-based Christian Research Institute International. He is also host of the Bible Answer Man radio program, which is broadcast daily across the United States and Canada, as well as around the world through the Internet at http://www.equip.org/.

Through his live call-in radio broadcast, Hanegraaff equips Christians to read the Bible for all it’s worth, answers questions on the basis of careful research and sound reasoning, and interviews today’s most significant leaders, apologists, and thinkers. Widely considered to be one of the world’s leading Christian apologists, Hanegraaff is deeply committed to equipping Christians to be so familiar with truth that when counterfeits loom on the horizon they recognize them instantaneously.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (March 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0849900069
ISBN-13: 978-0849900068

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

1

Cult or Cultic?

“The word cult may be defined from both a sociological and theological perspective. From a sociological perspective it describes a group of people who are controlled by their leader(s) in virtually every dimension of their lives potentially resulting in illegal, immoral, and anti-social consequences. From a theological perspective, a cult may be defined as a modern-day movement that claims to be Christian but compromises, confuses and contradicts essential Christian doctrine, such as Christ’s atonement upon the cross.”

While the Faith movement is undeniably cultic—and particular groups within the movement are clearly cults—it should be pointed out that there are many sincere, born-again believers within the movement. I cannot overemphasize this crucial point. These believers, for the most part, seem to be wholly unaware of the movement’s cultic theology.

I have personally met several dear people who fall into this category. I question neither their faith nor their devotion to Christ. They represent that segment of the movement which, for whatever reason, has not comprehended or internalized the heretical teachings set forth by the leadership of their respective groups. In many instances, they are new converts to Christianity who have not yet been grounded in their faith. But this is not always the case.

I remember with great fondness, for example, the kindred spirit I shared with two ladies who participated in my Personal Witness Training class in Atlanta, Georgia. Year in and year out, these ladies would diligently and faithfully work to equip church members to effectively communicate the good news of the gospel. They were as committed to Christ as any two people I have ever met; yet they were both staunch supporters of Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin. I can still recall the conversations we had in 1985 concerning this topic. What stands out most vividly in my mind was their honest conviction that these men did not teach what I claimed they did.

Over the years I have received hundreds of letters from people immersed in the Faith movement who were completely oblivious to the rank heresy they were being fed—individuals who have said, “Until I saw the evidence with my very own eyes, I was not willing to accept it.” For this reason, we must take care to judge the theology of the Faith movement rather than those being seduced by it.

What Makes a Cult?

Christ Himself, in His magnificent Sermon on the Mount, taught us not to judge self-righteously or hypocritically. As frail mortals, we can only look on the outside; it is God who discerns the intent of the heart (1Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 17:10).

Having said that, let me reiterate that those who knowingly accept Faith theology are clearly embracing a different gospel, which is in reality no gospel at all. Let us never forget that Scripture admonishes us in the strongest of terms to test all things by the Word of God and to hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21; cf. Acts 17:11). As Jude exhorts us, we must contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3).

By the time you finish reading this book, you will have come face-to-face with detailed documentation which conclusively demonstrates that many of the groups within the Faith movement are cults. Therefore we need to understand exactly what is meant by the term “cult.” For the purposes of this writing, I will focus on two primary ways in which a cult may be defined.

First, a cult may be defined from a sociological perspective. According to sociologist J. Milton Yinger, “The term cult is used in many different ways, usually with the connotations of small size, search for a mystical experience, lack of an organizational structure, and presence of a charismatic leader.”1 For the most part, sociologists have tried to avoid negative overtones in their descriptions of cults. The same cannot be said, however, for the media-driven public at large.

According to religion observer J. Gordon Melton, the 1970’s saw the emergence of “secular anti-cultists” who “began to speak of ‘destructive cults,’ groups which hypnotized or brainwashed recruits, destroyed their ability to make rational judgments and turned them into slaves of the group’s leader.”2 Cults of this variety are viewed as both deceptive and manipulative, with the groups’ leadership exercising control over virtually every aspect of the members’ lives. Furthermore, converts are typically cut off from all former associations—including relatives and friends—and are expected to give their complete devotion, loyalty, and commitment to the cult.3 Examples of cults labeled as sociologically destructive range from the Hare Krishnas to Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church to the Family of Love led by “Moses” David Berg.

A second way to define a cult is from a theological perspective. A cult, in this sense, is deemed a pseudo-Christian group. As such, it claims to be Christian but denies one or more of the essential doctrines of historic Christianity; these doctrines focus on such matters as the meaning of faith, the nature of God, and the person and work of Jesus Christ. Years ago, Denver Seminary professor Gordon Lewis succinctly summarized it this way:

A cult, then, is any religious movement which claims the backing of Christ or the Bible, but distorts the central message of Christianity by 1) an additional revelation, and 2) by displacing a fundamental tenet of the faith with a secondary matter.4

Christian Research Institute founder Walter Martin adds that “a cult might also be defined as a group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s misinterpretation of the Bible.”5 From a theological perspective, cults include organizations such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and the Church of Religious Science.

A primary characteristic of cults in general is the practice of taking biblical texts out of context in order to develop pretexts for their theological perversions.6 In addition, cults have virtually made an art form out of using Christian terminology, all the while pouring their own meanings into the words.7 For example, while practically all cults laud the name “Jesus,” they preach a Jesus vastly different from the Jesus of the historic Christian faith. As Jesus Christ Himself put it, the real litmus test is “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

Mormons answer the question by saying that Jesus is merely the spirit-brother of Lucifer. Jehovah’s Witnesses assert that Jesus is Michael the Archangel. New Thought practitioners refer to Jesus as an avatar or mystical messenger. As blasphemous as all of this is, however, many Faith adherents actually reduce Jesus to an even lower level. For them, He is no more an incarnation of God than is any believer.

The Difference Between “Cultic” and a “Cult”

Given these definitions of a cult, it is completely justified to characterize particular groups within the Faith movement as cults—either theologically or sociologically or, in some cases, both. However, in classifying the Faith movement in general, it is more precise to use the term “cultic,” which essentially means “cult-like. “This distinction clarifies that “cults” (from a theological perspective) refer to groups with uniform sets of doctrines and rigidly defined organizational structures; they are monolithic. Movements, on the other hand, are multifaceted and diverse in their beliefs, teachings, and practices. Thus, while certain groups within the Faith movement can be properly classified as cults, the word “cultic” more aptly describes the movement as a whole. To put it another way, the “Faith phenomena” collectively reflects the sort of diversity found in movements (like the New Age movement), as opposed to mirroring the homo-geneous and relatively static character of cults like the Mormon Church and the Watchtower organization. The Faith movement, as all other movements, is composed of various groups, each with its own distinctives, but which share a common theme, vision, and goal.8 For this reason, the numerous Faith churches, teachers, and adherents should be judged on an individual basis. Each should rise or fall on his or her own merits. Kenneth Copeland Ministries, headed by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, for example, bears all the marks of a cult. First, it has a formalized hierarchical structure; it boasts a centralized organizational facility; and it is equipped with a publishing arm complete with a distribution mechanism. Additionally, as will be fully documented, the Copeland’s bludgeon many of the essentials of historic Christianity, preaching their own deviant brand of antibiblical theology that the vast majority of their devotees accept without question. Furthermore, fervent followers consider the Copeland’s to be the final authority in matters of faith and practice. Thus we can legitimately characterize the Copeland’s as being cult leaders who, in the vernacular of the apostle Paul, represent “a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6,7).

The Error Continuum

In combating the errors which confront Christianity, it is important to understand that all errors are not created equal; some are clearly more damaging than others. It may be helpful to picture these errors as resting on a continuum that stretches from the outright silly to the gravely serious. Benny Hinn’s comment about women originally giving birth out of their sides, for example, can be considered a silly statement—which, while nonbiblical, poses no direct threat to essential Christian doctrine.9

On the other hand, such teachings as God possessing a physical body, humans created as exact duplicates of God, and Christ’s transformation into a satanic being fall squarely on the other end of the “error spectrum.” They are heretical, which is another way of saying that they directly oppose the clear teaching of Scripture on matters of essential importance as highlighted in the creeds and councils of the church.

Classifying errors can oftentimes be a tricky business, as a sizable gray area exists between the serious and the not-so-serious type of error. Nevertheless, such difficulties should not discourage us from judging whether certain teachings and practices are faithful to the Word of God and the doctrines of historic Christianity. If anything, they ought to move us to spend more time in carefully thinking about the things we hear daily and hold dearly.10

You, the reader, will inevitably need to decide whether you think the Faith movement is cultic or Christian. You must decide whether these doctrines are true or false or some muddy mixture of both.

If you decide that this movement is a valid expression of Christianity, then in all fairness you should also embrace as fellow believers the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian Scientists, and a host of other groups normally thought of as cults.

That is the choice before you.

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FIRST: Apologetics for a New Generation by Sean McDowell

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Apologetics for a New Generation

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Sean McDowellis a popular speaker at schools, churches, and conferences nationwide. He is the author of Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World and the co–author of Understanding Intelligent Design and Evidence for the Resurrection.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925201
ISBN-13: 978-0736925204

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Introduction:

Apologetics for a New Generation

by Sean McDowell

The voice on the other end of the phone was familiar, but the question took me by complete surprise. “You teach your students to defend their faith, right?” asked John, a close friend of mine. “Tell me, how do you know Christianity is true?” John and I have had a special relationship for more than a decade, but this was the first time he had shown any real interest in spiritual matters. And he not only wanted to talk about God, he wanted an apologetic for the faith—he wanted proof, reason, and evidence before he would consider believing. John later told me his interest in God was piqued when his younger brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 16 years old. His younger brother has since had surgery and experienced complete recovery. In John’s own words, this experience “woke him up to his own mortality.”

A few weeks after our phone conversation, John was heading back to school in northern California, so we decided to meet for a chat over coffee. As we sat down at the Starbucks across from the historic San Juan Capistrano Mission, John jumped right in. “I’m scientific minded, so I need some evidence for the existence of God and the accuracy of the Bible. What can you show me?” For the next hour and a half we discussed some of the standard arguments for the existence of God, the historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the basis for the reliability of the Bible. I did my best to answer his questions, trying to show that Christianity is rationally compelling and provides the most satisfying solution to the deepest longings of the heart. John didn’t become a Christian at this point, but he confessed that he was very close and just needed more time to weigh the cost of his decision.

When I reflected on this discussion, comments I have heard over the past decade by young leaders came rushing to my mind:

“We live in a postmodern era, so apologetics is not important anymore.”

“Young people no longer care about reasons for the existence of the Christian God. What matters is telling your narrative and being authentic.”

“New generations today no longer need ‘evidence that demands a verdict’ or a ‘case for Christ.’”

“Conversion is about the heart, not the intellect.”

Of course, these statements are oversimplifications. Still, we must ask, is scientific proof an important part of faith? Do we live in an era in which people still have questions that demand a truth-related response? Is John the exception, the norm, or somewhere in between? If we are going to be effective in reaching a new generation of young people, few questions, it would seem, are more pressing and important than these.

Postmodernism

In the early 1990s, interest in postmodernism exploded in the church. Bestselling books and popular conferences featured seminars about doing ministry in a postmodern world. People disagreed about exactly what is meant by “postmodernism”—and they still do!—but many agreed that the world was leaving the modern era behind and wading into the unknown waters of the postmodern matrix.

According to many, postmodernism marks the most important cultural shift of the past 500 years, upending our theology, philosophy, epistemology (how we know things), and church practice. Some compare postmodernism to an earthquake that has overturned all the foundations of Western culture. Thus, to be relevant in ministry today, we must shed our modern tendencies and embrace the postmodern shift. According to many postmoderns, this shift includes replacing a propositional approach to the gospel with a primarily relational methodology.

To be honest, for the past 15 years I have wrestled profoundly with this so-called postmodern shift, reading books about postmodernism, attending conferences, and engaging in endless conversations with both Christians and non-Christians about the state of culture today. As much as the next guy, I want my life and ministry to be biblically grounded and culturally relevant. If the world is really undergoing a profound shift, I want to embrace it!

The world is certainly changing fast. Advancements in technology, transportation, and communication are taking place at an unprecedented rate. But what does this really mean for ministry today? Certainly, as postmoderns like to emphasize, story, image, and community are critical components. But does it follow that we downplay reason, evidence, and apologetics? Absolutely not! In fact, as the contributors to this book all agree, apologetics is more important than ever before.

Postmodern ideas do influence the worldview of youth today, but their thinking is most deeply influenced by our predominantly modern, secular culture. This can be seen most clearly by comparing the way they think about religion and ethics with the way they think about science. Youth are significantly relativistic when it comes to ethics, values, and religion, but they are not relativistic about science, mathematics, and technology. This is because they have grown up in a secular culture that deems science as the superior means of attaining knowledge about the world. In Kingdom Triangle, philosopher J.P. Moreland writes, “Scientific knowledge is taken to be so vastly superior that its claims always trump the claims made by other disciplines.” Religion and morals, on the other hand, are considered matters of personal preference and taste over which the individual is autonomous. This is why, if you’ve had a discussion with a younger person, you’ve probably heard her say, “That may be true for you, but it’s not true for me,” “Who are you to judge?” or “If that’s what they choose, whatever.” This is not because of their postmodern sentiments, but because their thinking has been profoundly shaped by their modernist and secular culture.

Popular writers such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins have written bestselling books attacking the scientific, historic, and philosophical credibility of religion in general and Christianity in particular. Their writings have wreaked havoc on many unprepared Christians. This has taken place while many inside the church have neglected the need to be able to defend the faith intellectually. Christians today are regularly being challenged to set forth the reasons for their hope. And with the ubiquity of the Internet, difficult questions seem to be arising now more than ever before. As professor David Berlinski writes in The Devil’s Delusion: “The question that all religious believers now face: Show me the evidence.”

I am convinced that C.S. Lewis was right: The question is not really if we will defend the Christian faith, but if we will defend it well. Whether we like it or not, we are all apologists of a sort.

The Apologetics Renaissance

During research for The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel was told by a well-known and respected theologian that no one would read his book. Lee was informed, “People don’t care about historical evidence for Jesus anymore. They’re more persuaded by experience and community than facts and reason.” Disappointed and frustrated, Lee returned home and told his wife that his efforts were seemingly in vain. Yet according to Lee, the largest group of readers who became Christians through his book has been 16- to 24-year-olds!

Philosopher William Lane Craig’s 2008 cover story for Christianity Today, “God Is Not Dead Yet: How Current Philosophers Argue for His Existence,” is a sign of things to come. Craig ties the awakening of apologetics to the renaissance in Christian philosophy that has taken place over the past 40 years. Science is more open to the existence of a Designer than at any time in recent memory (thanks to the intelligent design movement), and biblical criticism has embarked on a renewed quest for the historical Jesus consonant with the portrait of Jesus found in the Gospels.

The apologetics awakening can also be seen in the number of apologetics conferences that have sprouted up in churches all over the country. Tens of thousands of people are trained at apologetics events through efforts of various church denominations and organizations, such as Biola University, Southern Evangelical Seminary, Focus on the Family, and more. Resources on apologetics have also exploded in the past few years. This is good news because America and the church continue to become more and more secular. Those who describe themselves as “religious nonaffiliated” have increased from 5 to 7 percent in the 1970s to 17 percent in 2006.

Why Apologetics Matters

To say that apologetics is critical for ministry today is not to say that we just continue business as usual. That would be foolish. Our world is changing, and it is changing rapidly. More change has happened since 1900 than in all prior recorded history. And more change will occur in the next 20 years than the entire last century. But God does not change (Malachi 3), and neither does human nature. We are thoughtful and rational beings who respond to evidence. People have questions, and we are responsible to provide helpful answers. Of course, we certainly don’t have all the answers, and when we do provide solid answers, many choose not to follow the evidence for personal or moral reasons. But that hardly changes the fact that we are rational, personal beings who bear the image of God.

People often confuse apologetics with apologizing for the faith, but the Greek word apologia refers to a legal defense. Thus, apologetics involves giving a defense for the Christian faith. First Peter 3:15 says, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense [apologia] to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and respect.” Jude encouraged his hearers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). The biblical evidence is clear: All Christians are to be trained in apologetics, which is an integral part of discipleship. This involves learning how to respond to common objections raised against the Christian faith and also how to positively commend the gospel to a particular audience.

We have certainly made mistakes in the way we have defended our beliefs in the past (as chapters in this book will illustrate), but this hardly means we should abandon apologetics altogether. Rather, we ought to learn from the past and adjust accordingly. Beyond the biblical mandate, apologetics is vitally important today for two reasons.

Strengthening Believers

Apologetics training can offer significant benefits in the personal life of Christians. For one thing, knowing why you believe what you believe and experiencing it in your life and relationships will give you renewed confidence in sharing your faith. I have the privilege of speaking to thousands of young people every year. Inevitably, whenever I speak on topics such as moral relativism, the case for intelligent design, or evidences for the resurrection, I get e-mails and comments on my Facebook page from students who were strengthened in their faith. One recently wrote, “I was at the [youth event] this past weekend and absolutely loved it! All the information was so helpful, but I connected the most with yours. All the scientific proof of Christianity and a Creator just absolutely amazes me!”

Training in apologetics also provides an anchor during trials and difficulties. Emotions only take us so far, and then we need something more solid. Presently, most teens who enter adulthood claiming to be Christians will walk away from the church and put their emotional commitment to Christ on the shelf within ten years. A young person may walk away from God for many reasons, but one significant reason is intellectual doubt. According to the National Study of Youth and Religion, the most common answer nonreligious teens offered for why they left their faith was intellectual skepticism. This is why David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, writes in his book unChristian, “We are learning that one of the primary reasons that ministry to teenagers fails to produce a lasting faith is because they are not being taught to think.”

The church is failing young people today. From the moment Christian students first arrive on campus, their faith is assaulted on all sides by fellow students and teachers alike. According to a ground-breaking 2006 study by professors from Harvard and George Mason universities, the percentage of agnostics and atheists teaching at American colleges is three times greater than in the general population. More than 50 percent of college professors believe the Bible is “an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts.” Students are routinely taught that Darwinian evolution is the substitute creator, that the Bible is unreliable, that Jesus was like any other religious figure, and that any Christian who thinks differently is at best old-fashioned and at worst intolerant, bigoted, and hateful. These ideas are perpetrated in the classroom through reason, logic, and evidence. The church must teach students to counter these trends.

This was exactly the experience of Alison Thomas, a recent seminary grad who is now a speaker for Ravi Zacharias Ministries (and the author of the chapter “Apologetics and Race”). As a college freshman, her faith was immediately attacked from every direction. Combine the intellectual challenges with the lack of nutrition, sleep, and Christian mentors, and according to Alison, it was a recipe for disaster: “I almost abandoned my faith in college because I was not sure if the difficult questions people asked me about Christianity had satisfying answers.” Alison is absolutely convinced that had she been prepared for the attack on her faith, she could have been spared much doubt, sin, and heartache. Her story could be multiplied thousands of times, but unfortunately, too often with different results.

Reaching the Lost

The apostles of Christ ministered in a pluralistic culture. They regularly reasoned with both Jews and pagans, trying to persuade them of the truth of Christianity. They appealed to fulfilled prophecy, Jesus’ miracles, evidence for creation, and proofs for the resurrection. Acts 17:2-3 says, “And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.’?” Some were persuaded as a result of Paul’s efforts.

According to pastor Tim Keller, this is similar to the method we should adopt today. Keller is the avant-garde pastor of Redeemed Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and the author of The Reason for God, an apologetics book which has soared atop the New York Times bestselling nonfiction list. In an interview for Christianity Today, Keller responded to the claim that rationality is unimportant for evangelism: “Christians are saying that the rational isn’t part of evangelism. The fact is, people are rational. They do have questions. You have to answer those questions. Don’t get the impression that I think that the rational aspect takes you all the way there. But there’s too much emphasis on just the personal now.” Tim is right: Evangelism today must be both relational and rational.

Greg Stier agrees: “Any claims concerning the death of apologetics have been greatly exaggerated…Those who believe apologetics aren’t important for evangelizing postmoderns have misdiagnosed this generation as purely relational; these young people are rational, too.” According to Greg, this generation of young people is more open to spiritual truth than any generation in recent history. (See my brief interview with him on page 124.)

Does this mean young people are walking around with deep spiritual questions at the forefront of their minds? Not necessarily. But it does mean that many young people are open to spiritual truth when motivated in the right way. The problem is not with apologetics but with our failure to motivate people. Much ministry today is focused on meeting a felt need, but the real difficulty is to take a genuine need and make it felt. If done in the context of a relationship, apologetics can be one effective means of accomplishing this. For thoughts on how to motivate young people in this regard see the chapter “Making Apologetics Come Alive in Youth Ministry” by Alex McFarland.

In my experience, people who criticize apologetics have often had one or two unsuccessful attempts and written off the entire enterprise. Rather, we need to put apologetics into perspective. Considering that a minority of people who hear the gospel choose to become followers of Christ in the first place, we shouldn’t be surprised that many people are unmoved by reason and evidence. It’s unrealistic to expect most people to respond positively to apologetics, just as it is unrealistic to expect most people to respond to a presentation of the gospel. The road is narrow in both cases (Matthew 7:14).

If only a few people will respond, why bother? For one thing, those who respond to apologetics often become people of significant influence who are deeply committed to the faith. This has certainly been the case in the life of my father, Josh McDowell. He became a believer as a pre-law student while trying to refute the evidence for Christ. I’m deeply humbled by the number of doctors, professors, politicians, lawyers, and other influential professionals who have come to Christ through his speaking and writing. He has spoken to more young people than anyone in history, and his books have been printed in millions of copies and translated all over the world. Honestly, I can hardly speak anywhere without someone from the audience sharing how instrumental he was in his or her coming to Christ. I’m proud to be his son.

Apologetics for a New Generation

Apologetics is advancing like never before, and a few characteristics mark effective apologetics for a new generation.

The New Apologetics Is Missional

There is a lot of talk right now about being missional, that is, getting out of our safe Christian enclaves and reaching people on their turf. This mind-set must characterize apologetics for a new generation. Each spring Brett Kunkle and I take a group of high school students to the University of California at Berkeley to interact with leading atheists from northern California. We invite various speakers to challenge our students and then to participate in a lively period of questions and answers. The guests always comment that our students treat them kindly, ask good questions, and are different from stereotypical Christians. This is because, in our preparatory training, we emphasize the importance of defending our beliefs with gentleness and respect, as Peter admonishes (1 Peter 3:15).

In Western culture today, Christians are often criticized for being exclusive, closed-minded, and intolerant. Missional apologetics is one way to help shatter this myth firsthand. Interestingly, one of the atheistic presenters from Berkeley spent 45 minutes arguing that the skeptical way of life is the most open-minded and the least dogmatic. I kindly pointed out that it was us—Christians!—who were willing to come up to their turf and give them a platform to present their ideas.

This is not the only perception of Christians that can be softened by missional apologetics. In his book unChristian, David Kinnaman paints a sobering view of how Christians are viewed by those outside the faith. For example, nearly half of young non-Christians have a negative view of evangelicals. Six common perceptions characterize how young outsiders view Christians: hypocritical, too focused on getting converts, anti-homosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgmental. To help overcome these perceptions, says Kinnaman, Christians must build meaningful, genuine relationships with non-Christians and live out their faith consistently. It is in the context of a loving relationship, says Dan Kimball in his chapter, “A New Kind of Apologist,” that we most effectively reach the lost today.

The New Apologetics Influences How We Live

Though I do not agree with his philosophy of pragmatism, one insight of William James has practical importance for apologetics training today. James said that when considering any idea, we should always ask, what difference does it make? If it makes no existential difference to the way we live whether it is true or false, then according to James, we should not bother with it. When training in apologetics, we must regularly ask, so what? How does belief in the historical resurrection of Jesus affect my relationship to myself, to others, and to God? How does belief in creation influence my view of the environment? How does the Incarnation affect my self-image?

Much of the criticism today is not with apologetics per se but with our failure to connect apologetics to the way we live. Some of this criticism is deserved. If we don’t apply the truth to our relationship with God and others, what’s the point? Brian McLaren, a leading voice in the Emergent church, is right: Having right answers that don’t lead us to better love God and our neighbors are more or less worthless.

A remarkable number of outspoken critics of Christianity have backgrounds of personal disappointment with Christians and the church. Pastor Tim Keller explains how our personal experience influences our evaluation of the evidence for Christianity:

We all bring to issues intellectual predispositions based on our experiences. If you have known many wise, loving, kind, and insightful Christians over the years, and if you have seen churches that are devout in belief yet civic-minded and generous, you will find the intellectual case for Christianity more plausible. If, on the other hand, the preponderance of your experience is with nominal Christians (who bear the name but don’t practice) or with self-righteous fanatics, then the arguments for Christianity will have to be extremely strong for you to concede that they have any cogency at all.

The great philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once commented that Christians have no joy. No wonder he found the evidence for God unconvincing. The sad part about his observation is that Christians, of all people, have the best reason to be joyful. If Christ has not risen, says Paul, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). But if Christ has risen—and the evidence for this is compelling—then even though we go through pain and difficulty in this life, we will share eternity with Him. Christians joyfully living out their faith in the power of the Holy Spirit provide one of the most powerful apologetics at our disposal.

The New Apologetics Is Humble

I failed miserably to act humbly a few years ago when getting my hair cut in Breckenridge, Colorado. The hairdresser noticed I was carrying a copy of The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Leslie Newbigin. So she asked, “Are you a Christian? If so, how can you explain all the evil in the world?” I proceeded to give her a ten-minute lecture about the origin of evil, the nature of free will, and the Christian solution. My reasons were solid, but I lacked humility and sensitivity in my demeanor. I had a slick answer to her every question, but I missed the fact that her needs went beyond the intellect to her heart. Eventually she started crying—not because she became a Christian but because she was so offended by my callousness. To be honest, it was a bit unsettling having a hairdresser, who held sharp scissors in her hand, crying and lecturing me while cutting my hair. But the point was well taken.

In retrospect, I should have first asked her some questions to try and understand why evil was such a pressing issue in her life. What pain had she experienced that caused her to question the goodness of God? Sometimes questions are primarily intellectual, but more often than not they stem from a deeper longing of the heart.

From the beginning, Christian apologists have exemplified the importance of humility in presenting our defense of the faith. There is a reason why 1 Peter 3:15 begins with “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” and ends with “gentleness and respect.” Before presenting a case for the Christian faith, one must first submit to the lordship of Christ. The heart of the apologist is the basis of all apologetic training. People still don’t care how much you know if they don’t know you care. The only way we can truly demonstrate the love of Christ to people is by first having our hearts humbled by God. When our hearts are not right, we can do more harm than good.

As you will see throughout this book, these are not the only factors characterizing the emerging apologetics awakening. The rest of the chapters in this book will spur you to think creatively about how apologetics fits into the many critical components of effective ministry today. Authors will tackle issues such as race, gender, media, homosexuality, Jesus, brain research, culture, youth, spiritual formation, and more—all with an eye on how we can effectively minister to new generations today.

Conclusion

In the fall of 2007, Christianity Today International and Zondervan partnered to conduct attitudinal and behavioral research of American Christians. Leadership Journal discussed the findings with leading pastors and religious experts to ascertain implications for ministry today. Three critical issues emerged:

The local church is no longer considered the only outlet for spiritual growth.
Churches must develop relational and community-oriented outreach.
Lay people have to be better equipped to be God’s ambassadors [apologists].
The third point on this list took me by surprise, not because I disagree with it, but because it’s refreshing to hear leaders emphasize the renewed need for apologetics. In the article, Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland church in Longwood, Florida, said, “We need to preach with apologetics in mind, with a rational explanation and defense of the Christian faith in mind.” One of the best ways to counter biblical illiteracy, claims Hunter, is to equip active Christians as teachers, ambassadors, and apologists. Yes! Ministry today certainly includes much more than presenting a case for our hope, but this is one critical piece we must not neglect. The time has never been greater for a renewed focus on apologetics.

You may be wondering what happened to John, my friend I mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. He has not become a Christian yet, but he is still inching along. We continue to have good discussions about God and the meaning of life. I trust and pray that someday he will choose to follow Jesus. Had my youth pastor, parents, and teachers not trained me in apologetics, I couldn’t have helped him at all. You and I can’t be ambassadors without having answers to tough questions. So I’ve assembled this team of (mostly) young apologists to help you develop a biblical and culturally relevant approach for reaching this new generation. Let’s go!

Chapter One:

A Different Kind of Apologist

by Dan Kimball

Apologetics is desperately needed more than ever in our emerging culture. But I believe that a different kind of apologist may be needed.

I realize that some may disagree with me. I hear fairly often from some church leaders that emerging generations are not interested in apologetics: “In our postmodern world there isn’t interest in rational explanations regarding spiritual issues.” “We don’t need logically presented defenses or offenses of the faith.” These kinds of statements always confuse me. The reason is simple: In my dialogue and relationships with non-Christian and Christian young people for more than 18 years, I am not finding less interest in apologetics, but actually more interest. The more we are living in an increasingly post-Christian and pluralistic culture, the more we need apologetics because people are asking more and more questions. We desperately need to be ready to answer the tough questions of today’s emerging generations.

This increased interest and need for apologetics in our emerging culture fits very nicely with one of the classical and well-known Bible passages on apologetics:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander (1 Peter 3:15-16 niv).

Over the past couple of years I have heard apologists emphasize “gentleness and respect,” which is an absolutely wonderful shift. Some Christians who are drawn to apologetics can have temperaments which may not always come out with gentleness and respect as they engage non-Christians. But this passage includes something else that, oddly, we don’t hear much about. Yet it is critical for our discussion of apologetics for new generations.

People Can’t Ask If They Don’t Know Us

The passage in 1 Peter 3 says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Let me ask you, have you ever been standing on the street or in line at the supermarket and had a stranger walk up to you and say, “Excuse me. Can you tell me the reason for the hope that you have?”

That doesn’t happen, because strangers do not generally walk up to people they don’t know and ask questions like this. Strangers also don’t know the other person, so they wouldn’t be able to know if someone has hope or not. So how does someone know and trust Christians well enough to see the hope that they have and trust and respect them enough to ask them about it?

This is the biggest missing component in many of our approaches to apologetics today. It is one of the biggest shifts we are seeing with emerging generations. Apologetics is still needed today, but the apologist isn’t necessarily trusted in our culture today. In the 1960s and 1970s, many younger people left the church because they (rightly) felt the church was often irrelevant. The critical questions that younger generations had at that time were not being answered. The music and various approaches to preaching and worship were becoming outdated and not speaking to new generations at that time. So when churches revamped their approaches to worship and preaching and developed clear answers for some of the questions people had, many people (even if they weren’t Christian) became interested.

The culture still had a general respect for Christianity. So it was easier to communicate and also have a voice that folks would listen to. For those who grew up in a church but walked away, answers to their critical questions were extremely valuable. But today, Christians and the church aren’t trusted like they were. Before, we were hoping to see people return to the church. Today, many have never been part of a church in the first place.

Times have changed. But the Spirit of God is still alive and active. People will always be created with questions about life, meaning, purpose, and God. Apologetics are still important today for new generations, but our approach must change.

Hanging Out with the Wrong People

In my early days as a Christian, I constantly read books on apologetics so I could share with my non-Christian friends about my newfound hope. My friends were concerned that I was following a religion and reading a book (the Bible) that they felt was written by primitive, ancient, and uneducated people. So this challenge kept me studying to respond to their concerns. The more I read and studied, the more my confidence in Christianity grew.

I eventually joined a large, wonderful church and made some friendships with others who also liked apologetics. We spent hours talking about theology, reasons why we could trust the Bible, and ways to respond to common objections such as the problem of evil. I bought almost every apologetics book available and attended many apologetics conferences. I loved having Christian friends whom I could talk to about apologetics, but something slowly dawned on me: I wasn’t really talking to any non-Christians anymore about apologetics. I realized that I was hanging out all the time with Christians who loved discussing apologetics and the tough questions about the faith. But I wasn’t spending time with the non-Christians who were asking these tough questions.

As I began exploring this further, I discovered that many people who like apologetics primarily socialize with other like-minded people. Certain temperaments and personalities cause some Christians to become more interested in apologetics than others, and they connect with each other. Having community with other Christians who share common interests such as apologetics is a wonderful thing. But I realized that my Christian friends and I weren’t using apologetics to engage non-Christians. We were only talking with each other.

I discuss this in They Like Jesus but Not the Church, where I included this diagram, which lays out a typical pattern: The longer we are Christians, the less we socialize with non-Christians. We may work with non-Christians or have neighbors who are non-Christians. But the types of conversations we have and the trust that we build changes dramatically when we actually befriend and socialize with those outside the faith.

The danger is that we don’t do this on purpose. It happens unintentionally. But because we have limited time and we enjoy hanging out with others who think like us, we can remove ourselves from the very ones we are sent by Jesus to be salt and light to (Matthew 5). As the Spirit molds us to be more like Jesus, the majority of people who benefit from our growth are already Christians. We are salt and light to each other, not to the world. The more skilled in apologetics we get, the fewer people we know who actually need it.

You may resist hearing this, and I hope I am wrong about you. But let me ask you a question or three:

Think about discussions you have had about apologetics with people in the past six months. How many have been with Christians, and how many have been with those who aren’t Christians yet?
Let me make this more direct and personal:

Who are your non-Christian friends?
When was the last time you went out to a movie or dinner or simply hung out with a non-Christian? If people are to trust us in order to ask us for the hope we have, we must spend time with them and build relationships. The typical answers I get from Christians quite honestly scare me. Again, I hope I am wrong about you. Do you intentionally place yourself in situations or groups where you will be likely to meet new people? For me, music often provides an open door. So whether I’m with the manager of a coffee house I frequent or the members of local bands, I try to have the mind-set of a missionary and meet new people. This sounds so elementary and I almost feel silly having to type this out. But this leads to a deeper question:

Who are you praying for regularly that is not a Christian?
Our prayers represent our hearts. What we pray for shows us what we are thinking about and valuing. When the unsaved become more than faces in the crowd, when they include people we know and care for, we can’t help but pray for them. And we must remember: We can be prepared with apologetic arguments, but the Spirit does the persuading. Are you regularly praying for some non-Christian friends?

Again, I feel almost embarrassed asking this. But when I started realizing that I had fallen into this trap, I wondered if I was alone. As I began asking other Christians about this, many seemed to be like me. I even asked an author of apologetics books to tell me about his recent conversations with non-Christians that included apologetics. But he couldn’t remember any recent examples. He was talking only to Christians! This isn’t bad, but it raises an important question: How do we know the questions emerging generations outside the church are asking if we are only talking with Christians?

I recently talked with a person who teaches apologetics to young people. As we talked, he shared how interested youth are in apologetics (and I fully agree). I asked about the types of questions he is hearing, and I was surprised that his experience seemed quite different from mine. I was working with non-Christian youth at that time, but he was speaking primarily with Christian youth at Christian schools and youth groups. Nothing is wrong with teaching Christian youth how to have confidence in their faith through apologetics. This is an important task we need to be doing today in our churches. But if we are focusing our energy and time listening mainly to Christians, how do we know what the questions non-Christian youth or young adults have? This brings me to my next point.

Providing Answers Before Listening to Questions

The effective apologist to emerging generations will be a good listener. Most of us have been good talkers. We Christians often do the talking and expect others to listen. But in our emerging culture, effective communication involves dialogue. Being quiet and asking questions may not be easy for some folks, but those are critical skills we need to develop in order to reach new generations.

A 20-year-old Hindu became friends with someone in our church. Eventually she began coming to our worship gatherings. I got to meet with her at a coffee house, and because I was sincerely curious, I politely asked her some questions. How did she become a Hindu? What is Hinduism to her? What does she find most beneficial in her life about it? She eagerly told me stories that helped me understand her journey and her specific beliefs. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t interrupt her or jump in to correct her when I felt she was saying things that may have been inconsistent. I didn’t interrupt and tell her that there cannot be hundreds of gods, that there is only one true God. I simply asked questions and listened carefully.

Eventually, she asked me about the differences between Christianity and Hinduism. I gently and respectfully tried to compare her story and what she said with the story of Jesus and the narrative of the Bible. But I didn’t try to discredit her beliefs or show why what I believed was true. She asked me about the origins of Christianity, and I was able to draw a timeline on a napkin that included creation, the Garden of Eden, and the fall. I explained that people eventually began worshipping other gods or goddesses, not the original one God. I then walked her through a basic world religions timeline I had memorized and explained where Hinduism fit in that timeline. It truly was a dialogue, as I would stop and see if she had any input or comments.

I didn’t show her why I felt Hinduism was wrong; rather, I let our discussion speak for itself. The differences between Christianity and Hinduism became obvious. A few weeks later, she told me in a worship gathering that she had left Hinduism and chosen to follow Jesus. My talk with her was not the turning point. She had many conversations with other Christian friends in our church. They knew her beliefs, loved her, invited her into community, and lived out the hope they have. She could see it and experience it, and eventually she wanted to know the reason for the hope in her friends. I definitely needed to be ready with apologetics when I met with her. But the reason she even met with me was that we built trust first. Trust was built with some of her Christian friends. Trust was built during conversations I had with her when she came to our worship gatherings. Eventually, this trust led to her being open to dialogue specifically about her Hindu faith and to ask questions. First she was valued as a person and listened to, and then came the questions about the hope we have. Let me ask you a few questions about this:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself as a listener in conversations about faith?
What are some of the questions you have been asked as a result of building trust and listening? Would anyone have asked those questions if you didn’t build trust and listen first?
Stockpiling Ammunition or Building Trust

I recently heard of someone who was taking church groups on the street to walk up to total strangers and strike up conversations and then use apologetics with them. I respect the passion to reach lost people, but I was saddened by the methodology. The leader chose this area because it was highly populated with homosexuals. From my perspective, this is almost the opposite of the methodology that is effective with new generations. We may have our apologetics gun loaded, but we haven’t built trust. We haven’t gained a voice in their lives, so they don’t trust us enough to listen to us. Walking up to total strangers and asking them questions about very personal things immediately puts them on the defense. The discussion begins in a semi-confrontational way. This reinforces some of the stereotypes of Christians we need to break. Non-Christians are often open to discussing personal beliefs about religion and worldviews, but this normally occurs in the context of trust and friendship.

I recently met a guy in his twenties who was working at a coffee house. I did my usual thing: I selected one place to frequent and eventually got to know those who work there. We eventually started talking about all kinds of things, mainly music at first. Eventually I told him I was a pastor at a church and began asking his opinion on things. I asked about his impressions of church and Christianity. I shared that I knew about Christians’ bad reputation and that I wanted to know how he felt about that. This wasn’t the first thing we talked about, and we had begun to build a friendship, so he was happy to talk to me about this. One of his main issues was that the Christians he met knew nothing about other religions, but they would tell him he should be a Christian. His concern was that Christians were naive about anything but what they believed, and he didn’t respect that.

As I listened, I didn’t try to butt in and comment when he would say something I disagreed with. Instead, I listened, asked clarifying questions, took notes, and thanked him for each opinion. I asked him what he believed and why he believed what he did. And then the inevitable happened—he asked me what I believed.

Knowing his beliefs, I was able to construct an apologetic that catered to his story and specific points of connection. As with so many people, the issue of pluralism and world religions was a major point of tension that he felt Christians are blind about. Eventually our conversation moved to the resurrection of Jesus, which he saw as a myth. I used the classical Josh McDowell resurrection apologetics, explaining various theories of the stolen body and why they fell apart upon scrutiny. I shared about the guards at the tomb and how they would defend the sealed tomb. I was ready (thanks to Josh McDowell), and my friend was absolutely fascinated by that. I could tell he had never heard this before, and as we ended our time together, he thanked me. I didn’t press him for a response.

The following week I went back to the coffee house, and he told me that he now believed in the resurrection. He had been totally unaware that there are actually good reasons to believe it is true. Over the weekend he got a copy of the Bible to read the resurrection story and had no idea it was repeated in each of the Gospels. This is why I am convinced that regardless of how postmodern emerging generations may be, they receive apologetic arguments when trust is built. Of course, it is the Holy Spirit who does the work in someone’s heart—not clever arguments. But God still uses apologetics in our emerging culture.

Consider these questions:

When you are studying apologetics, does your heart break in compassion for the people you are preparing to talk to? Or are you stockpiling ammunition to show people they are wrong?
When you have used apologetics with those who aren’t Christians yet, do you find your tone being humble, broken, and compassionate, or is your tone argumentative and perhaps even arrogant (although you would not like to admit that)?
Critical Apologetics Issues

I know that most apologists are not arrogant, ammunition firing, non-listening people who don’t have any non-Christian friends and only talk to other Christians. But at the same time, a little hyperbole may raise up some ugly truth we perhaps need to admit. As I shared, I know I have been guilty of these very things. We must all examine ourselves and be brutally honest about it. Too much is at stake not to.

As statistics are showing, we are not doing a very good job of reaching new generations. Our reputation is suffering. But at the same time, I have so much optimism and hope. Apologetics is a critical factor in the evangelism of new generations. That is why I was thrilled to be part of this book.

If you are a leader in a church, I hope you are creating a natural culture in your church of teaching apologetics and training people how to respond to others when asked for the hope that they have. But again, how we train them to respond is just as important as the answers themselves. The attitudes and tone of voice we use as we teach reveal what we truly feel about those who aren’t Christians and their beliefs. Our hearts should be broken thinking of people who have developed false worldviews or religious beliefs and don’t know Jesus yet. How we teach people in our church to be “listeners” and build friendships is critical. Here are some of the key things we must be ready to answer today:

The inspiration and trustworthiness of the Bible. Everything comes back to why we trust the Bible and what it says about human sexuality, world religions…everything. Why the Bible is more credible than other world religious writings is critical.
Who is Jesus? Emerging generations are open to talking about Jesus but for the most part, they have an impression that He is more like Gandhi than a divine Savior. This gives us a wonderful opportunity to share why Jesus is unique and to provide an apologetic for His resurrection.
Human sexuality. We need to be well-versed in why we believe what we do about the covenant of marriage between a man and woman, about human sexuality, and about sexual ethics in general.
World religions. We must have an adequate understanding of the development and teachings of world religions. I don’t meet many younger people who are hard-core Buddhists, but many are empathetic to Buddhist teachings. Many pick and choose from different faiths. They are often surprised to see that many religions are mutually exclusive.
The Most Important Apologetic

As I close this chapter, I want to remind us that the ultimate apologetic is really Jesus in us. Are our lives demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), such as gentleness, kindness, patience, and love? Are we being salt and light with our attitudes and actions toward people? Are our conversations filled with grace and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6)? Do our lives show that we are paying attention to the things Jesus would, including the marginalized, the oppressed, and the poor? People watch and listen. If they trust the messenger, perhaps they will be more open to listen.

We can have all the answers ready to give people who ask, but are they asking us? If not, perhaps we have not yet built the trust and relationship and respect that lead them to ask us for the hope we have. Maybe that’s where we need to start—with our hearts and lives. If we will, I can almost guarantee that others will ask us for the hope we have.

May God use us together on the mission of Jesus as we are wise as serpents but as innocent as doves. May God use our minds and hearts to bring the reason for the hope we have to others. And may God put others in our lives who will ask for the hope as they watch us live it out.

Dan Kimball is the author of several books, including They Like Jesus but Not the Church, and a member of the staff of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California.

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