Wednesday, September 25, 2013

William Lane Craig Doesn't Live In Your Neighborhood

One of the most important lessons that I learned from my time in a band, is that the primary ministry happens when the band is gone. Let me explain what I mean. There are Christian bands that jump on stage, rock a couple of songs, and then share the Gospel before launching into the rest of their set. The trouble is that the venue is rarely conducive to such a presentation. The sound system is not set up for a speech, but for music. People are cheering, milling around, crowded and sweaty. Of course, there are people in the crowd who would react negatively if the band chopped out this portion, but the truth is that it is rarely effective. Obviously, there are exceptions, but I am simply speaking generally. The other reason it is problematic is that after the band signs a few autographs and takes some pictures, they load up and leave town. Even if someone is genuinely moved by the Gospel presentation, the band is not there to do any follow up. It is the local impact of the people who buy the albums, memorize the words, and wear the t-shirts, that is really powerful. They are there to develop lasting relationships when the band is off doing a tour in Africa. In short, the real ministry happens after the band is gone.

How does this have anything to do with everyone's favorite suspender clad apologist, William Lane Craig? I would like to suggest that what happens with bands is analogous to what happens with Christian case makers. There are what J. Warner Wallace calls, "Million Dollar Apologists", and then there are the rest of us who aspire to contend for the faith. J. Warner calls us "One Dollar Apologists." The truth of the matter is that million dollar apologists rarely (if ever) approach seven figure salaries. I would actually suggest that most one dollar apologists have considerably more resources to invest in the cause of apologetics than their more recognizable counterparts. And that is where I want to draw the parallel. 

I would actually be willing to go even further than J. Warner's claim that we need more one dollar apologists. I would say that the real ministry happens when Dr. Craig is not around. He speaks in venues that are much more conducive to presenting the gospel, but often in front of even more hostile audiences. In any event, he does not live in your neighborhood, hang out with your co-workers, and eat pizza with your friends. And most of them will never read anything that Dr. Craig puts out or watch any of his videos. They don't know him and he doesn't know them. But they would probably read something that you wrote, watch a video that you made, or come to hear a presentation that you were giving at the local college apologetics group. The largest impact made by the Craig, Geisler, McDowell, and company is not in their physical appearances or even in the books that they write. The larger, more lasting impact comes from the people who buy the books, memorize the words, and wear the t-shirts (I am sure they exist somewhere. If not, there is a lot of money waiting to be made from William Lane Craig "suspender-defender" t-shirts. Just saying.)

Of course, we need people doing research, writing books, and doing speaking engagements. We can't survive with out them. It is a symbiotic relationship. The ministry of the one dollar apologists depends on the ministry million dollar apologists and the ministry of the million dollar guys depends on the ministry of the one dollar guys. It is admittedly presumptuous of me to say so, but I think most of the million dollar guys would probably agree that even if they were selling thousands and thousands of books to Christians; they would hang up their suspenders in a heartbeat if they knew that the readers would never pass along the information. They would retire their argyle sweaters; even if they were selling out stadiums to believers; if it was entirely certain that every person who attended would take a vow of silence immediately afterward.

I say all of this to encourage those of you who, like me, are deeply indebted to the big names out there. Find some way to start sharing what you have learned. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of thinking "I won't say anything new" or "I can't say it as well as Dr. Craig." Your friends probably haven't heard it before and they don't care how well someone else can say it. Do not stay on the sidelines because you think, "I don't know all of the answers." Wanna know the shocking truth? Neither does Dr. Craig! And even if he did, he does not live in your neighborhood.

8 comments:

  1. This a great blog you've written Jason. I want to thank you personally for posting this as you've basically given me the confidence boost/momentum to take the extra step and start sharing some of my knowledge to my friends and other seeker's of the truth.

    I can relate completely with being the person that doesn't feel confident he can pull it off as well as Craig, McDowell, Moreland etc, or doesn't want to sound like a fool compared to them. Truth be told, there's plenty of people out there who haven't even heard of these guys and maybe never will, but that's where I (and all other One Dollar Apologists) come in, it's our job to spread their knowledge.

    Thank you once again, God Bless,
    Joash

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    1. Thanks Joash! Glad to know you are out there.

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  2. Great reminder. It's a lot like getting over the idea that you need to take some who is beginning to be interested in accepting Jesus Christ to your pastor to close the deal.

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  3. Thanks, Jason. This is great and I really love the idea of a Dr. William Lane Craig t-shirt. I can just picture it with a bow tie, suspenders and a superman like K for the Kalam Cosmological Argument. I think he'd appreciate the irony.

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  4. Maybe there are thousand dollar apologists too. I often imagine a community of believers who come together weekly to practice apologetics and evangelism. They can then go out and engage people with their other talents, e.g. slam poets ask the hard questions in their performance at an open mike. Their other apologist friends can be in the audience, ready with answers when the show is over. It's worth a shot.

    Brian

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  5. I am nit so sure that Dr Craig presents the gospel though?

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  6. Actually, he does live in my neighborhood.
    Dennis Fuller
    Marietta, GA

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