Apologetics for Hipsters & Other Secularists
"Although They Knew God ... They Suppressed the Truth..."
The opportunities are wide open for Christians to speak with secular people these days, especially if you live in a metropolitan area. The average hipster you may meet in the medium to big sized city is a secularist who may listen to NPR, has a liberal, ecological, and/or anti-capitalist political ideology ... wears vintage clothing from a thrift store and consumes ethically. He or she often either rides a bike, uses public transportation or even may be driving a hybrid or bio-diesel vehicle. This person is deeply concerned with the ethical treatment of animals, is strongly against slavery, torture, racism and political oppression against women. In other words, he takes morality very seriously. Another characteristic of this individual is that he/she thinks Christianity is irrelevant at best.
Since we deeply care about the eternal destinies of such individuals how should we go about reaching such a person with the gospel? Where would you start?
Once of the more effective ways, I have found, is to remember that that your secular friend already knows God exists. He/she knows God exists and lives as if He does. In Romans chapter 1 Paul clearly teaches this about all people when he says, "For although they knew God" (verse 21) "...by their unrighteousness suppress the truth" (verse 18).
But how can we demonstrate to your friends that they already believe in God, when intellectually they deny His existence?
While there are many ways this could be done, I would like to suggest one way that I have found to be quite persuasive: The knowledge of God through their own morality.
The Plan of God
by J. I. Packer
MEN and women today feel lost and astray in this world. A glance at our modern art, poetry or novels, or five minutes’ conversation with a sensitive unbeliever, will assure us of that. In an age that has won a higher degree of control over the forces of nature than any before, this may seem odd; but it is not really odd. It is God’s judgment, which we have brought down on ourselves by trying to feel too much at home in this world.
For that is what we have done. We have set our faces against the idea that one should live on the basis that there is something more than this world to live for. Even if we privately thought that the materialists were wrong in denying God and another world exist, we have not allowed our belief to stop us living on materialistic principles: treating this world as if it were the only home we should ever have, and concentrating exclusively on arranging it to our comfort. We thought we could build heaven on earth, and tried. And now God has judged us for our impiety. In less than half a century, we have had two “hot” world wars and one “cold” one, and now we find ourselves in the age of such horrors as nuclear warfare and brainwashing. In such a world, it is not possible to feel at home. It is a world which has disappointed us. We expected life to be friendly (why? — but we did); instead, however, it has mocked our hopes and left us disillusioned and baffled. We thought we knew what to make of life, but now we do not know whether anything can be made of it. We thought of ourselves as wise men, but now we find ourselves like benighted children, lost in the dark.
A Summary of Henry Scougal's 'The Life of God in the Soul of Man'
By Justin Taylor
The short classic The Life of God in the Soul of Man originated as a private letter of spiritual counsel to a friend, but Scougal allowed it to be published in 1677, a year before his death. Sixty-eight years later, in the spring of 1735, Charles Wesley (1707-1788), whose mother Susanna had commended it to her sons, gave a copy of this little book to his friend George Whitefield (1714-1770). Upon reading it, Whitefield was convinced: “I must be born again, or be damned.” Whitefield testified that he “never knew what true religion was” until he read this book.
Who Was Henry Scougal?
Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was a Scottish minister, theologian, and author. Upon his graduation in 1665 from King’s College, University of Aberdeen, the 19-year-old was appointed professor of philosophy at the school. In 1673, after a one-year pastoral stint, he became professor of divinity at King’s, where he served until he died of tuberculosis five years later, just shy of his 28th birthday.
What Scougal Means by “True Religion”
By “true religion” Scougal means something like authentic spirituality or genuine Christianity. He is at pains to defend the term from common misconceptions among Christians. “I cannot speak of religion,” he writes, “but I must lament that, among so many pretenders to it, so few understand what it means.”
3 Places Where Religion Does Not Reside
Scougal identifies three places where religion is incorrectly located.
(1) Theological correctness. Some place religion “in the understanding, in orthodox notions and opinions; and all the account they can give of their religion is, that they are of this or the other persuasion, and have joined themselves to one of those many sects whereinto Christendom is most unhappily divided.”
Test Your View of the Cross
by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Cross does not merely tell us that God forgives, it tells us that that is God’s way of making forgiveness possible. It is the way in which we understand how God forgives. I will go further: how can God forgive and still remain God? — that is the question. The Cross is the vindication of God. The Cross is the vindication of the character of God. The Cross not only shows the love of God more gloriously than anything else, it shows his righteousness, his justice, his holiness, and all the glory of his eternal attributes. They are all to be seen shining together there. If you do not see them all you have not seen the Cross. That is why we must totally reject the so-called ‘moral influence theory’ of the Atonement — the theory which says that all the Cross has to do is to break our hearts and to bring us to see the love of God.
This is the God Whom we Adore!
by John Newton
“I know that the Lord is great — that our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever pleases Him — in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!” Psalm 135:5-6
God rules all! And though He is concealed by a veil of second causes from common eyes, so that they can perceive only the means, instruments, and contingencies by which He works, and therefore think He does nothing; yet, in reality, He does all according to His own counsel and pleasure, in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.
Who can enumerate all the beings and events which are… incessantly before His eye, adjusted by His wisdom, dependent on His will, and regulated by His power!
If we consider the heavens, the work of His fingers, the moon and the stars which He has ordained; if we call in the assistance of astronomers to help us in forming a conception of the number, distances, magnitudes, and motions of the heavenly bodies — the more we search, the more we shall be confirmed that these are but a small portion of His ways! Without His continual energy upholding them — they would rush into confusion, or sink into nothing! They are all dependent upon His power, and obedient to His command.