Prof taps Romans 1 for principles in reaching postmodern America
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Christians in America can no longer evangelize using only the Bible if they hope to reach people living in a postmodern nation, an evangelism professor said April 20 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"If you go to someone's house and you knock on their door and you try to share with them the gospel and the only presentation you know is six Scriptures from the Bible and they say, ‘I don't believe the Bible,' then what?" asked Frank Harber at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary.
The days of what he called "lazy evangelism," when Christians could present the gospel with the Bible and no supporting evidence, are gone, said Harber, assistant professor of evangelism at Southwestern who also leads citywide evangelistic crusades across the country.
"The time for apologetics and evangelism to come together is now," Harber said, noting the early church combined the two in its first-century preaching of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"Could the average Christian today prove that Jesus Christ actually lived, the historicity of Christ, or that he died on a cross or that he rose again from the dead?" Harber asked, asserting that these questions must be addressed.
"We've made the assumption in the past that Jesus is true because the Bible is true. But actually the Bible is true because Jesus is true," he said. "And when you convince somebody that Jesus is true, they're not going to have any trouble accepting the Bible.
"I believe today that as we go out into the modern generation we're going to have to be more equipped than ever before to tell people why Christianity is true," he added.
Examining Romans 1, Harber said God has revealed himself to humanity and that Christians can use three principles drawn from the text to help people looking for God to find him.
The first is for people to look up.
"[Romans 1:18-20] says, ‘God is clearly seen.' If you want to know if there's a God, simply look through a telescope," Harber said.
People who do not believe God created the universe must come up with an alternative explanation, he said.
One of the most popular explanations is the Big Bang Theory, which, according to Harber, is only acceptable if the bang was orchestrated by a big God.
"If you have a big bang without a big God, what do you have? An explosion," he said. "And what do explosions create? They create destruction."
The universe is a marvel of orderliness, he said, and "when you look out at this incredible cosmos, what you see is not the remnants of an explosion but the results of a gigantic God."
Harber cited the 11,500-degree average temperature of the sun -- which if it varied by just 50 degrees -- would make the earth uninhabitable, as one of the "millions of miraculous coincidences" that had to take place to make life on earth possible.
The second principle for people searching for God is to look around, Harber said.
"Look around at the world of nature. Look at the 11 million species on this planet. Look at a microscope and see a microscopic world that boggles the human mind," he said.
"God is not hiding. He is clearly seen," Harber said. "Can't you see him in creation? Nature is preaching thousands of sermons every day. Can't you see it when you see the sonar of a porpoise, the radar of a bat, the wings of a bird -- [that] nature is preaching about the clearly seen God?"
Naturalistic evolution, or evolution from species to species, is the leading popular alternative to supernatural creation, Harber said, noting it’s a theory many scientists are moving away from.
Citing the book "Darwin's Black Box" written by biochemist Michael Behe, Harber said the author demonstrated that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is impossible.
"Darwin assumed that everything that is complex evolved from the basic building block of the cell," Harber said, adding Darwin underestimated the complexity of the cell, or the "black box" as it was known in Darwin's day.
Modern science has shown that the cell consists of "irreducible complexities," Harber said.
If any of these complexities, or complex structures, are removed, the cell cannot survive, which means that "a cell could never have evolved from anything simpler than itself, rendering naturalistic evolution impossible," he said.
Comparing DNA to computer programming code, only much more complex, Harber said, "The greater the program, the greater the programmer."
The fossil record, Harber said, is not a record of evolution but a record of extinction.
"We're really not looking for a missing link; we're actually looking for a missing chain," he said. "Millions of species suddenly appeared in the Cambrian layer and we don't know where they came from."
The final principle is for people to look inside, Harber said.
There are no true atheists, he said, because Romans makes it clear that everyone knows God exists. Atheists, he said, are those who have suppressed the truth.
"You see verse 19 says that God has revealed it in them," Harber said.
"We really don't have to convince anybody that there's a God," he said. "Really deep down inside they know. They've simply suppressed the truth."
In a world of growing relativism, Christians need to act on the fact that people want more truth, not less truth, Harber said.
"Are we really answering the questions that secular people need today?" he asked in conclusion. "If you learn the right answers, I believe you will see the right response."