Q+A – 1st August 2017
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Question: How is philosophy related to being a Christian?
Answer: Philosophy is examining God’s reality and discerning His unspoken truths. It is an attempt to ask questions about ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘what’. Whereas theology is to be grounded in God’s revelation through the Christian Scriptures, philosophy considers answers to questions that may not be directly given by the Bible. Of course, my definition here is given from the perspective of a Christian – after all, most philosophers would not agree with my first sentence.
As a Christian, philosophy can help us to examine our beliefs in light of what the world has to say and to consider our reasoning for those beliefs. A philosophy that becomes more determinative over our beliefs than God’s word can lead us astray. However, I have personally always been reaffirmed in my faith as a Christian as I continue to study philosophy, reminded that all truth is God’s truth since He is the source and creator of all reality.
Question: Is it possible to be a Reformed Evangelical Christian without evangelising?
Answer: I’m taking the word ‘evangelising’ to refer to the act of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In short, yes. Christians can live in disobedience to God’s word who has called us to be ambassadors of Christ and the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). Now, it could be argued that these commands/words are referring first to Paul and the apostles, and then to the twelve disciples, respectively. That is absolutely correct when we are considering the original context.
However, the testimony of the New Testament is that the life of the Christian is to embody these sorts of commands. For example, Christians are called to be ready to give a reason for the hope that they have in them (1 Peter 3:15-16). Also, we see that the ‘ordinary’ Christians of the early church would preach the word wherever they went (Acts 8:1-4). Even in the passage of Matthew 28:16-20, as Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make disciples He also commanded them to teach the disciples to obey everything He commands. This would include the command to make disciples of all nations! So the call to evangelise is given to all Christians. Not everyone will do it the same way, but we are all called to be involved in God’s mission to be His witnesses throughout the world (Acts 1:8).
Now, a Christian can hear this command and fail to obey. It is possible. Christians still sin and fall short of God’s righteousness.
But I’ll tell you this: it’s a worrying sign. If a ‘Christian’ hears the commands and deliberately ignores them, then that may be a sign that their faith is not genuine. Evangelism is a lifestyle and way of relating – not an activity that has to happen 24/7. But it should mark a genuine Christian’s life.