Just a few quick notes to bring everyone up to speed on events here in London. I have arrived back in Wandsworth from a few wonderful days in Glasgow, ministering at the Reformed Baptist Church of Anniesland and staying with Pastor Jim Handyside and his wonderful wife, Chrissie. Remember that Jim and Chrissie are headed for the US in just a few weeks (see his schedule below).
The Campingites are spending their money attempting to get the Scots ready for May 21st. I took this picture in the Partick train station in Glasgow (you know, where you have to change after taking the Milngavie train if you want to get to Central Station!). I saw it along the line as well at various stops. I wonder if their contract ends on the 21st of May? I’d love to take a picture of one of these on the 22nd. And let’s remember, I offered to do a week’s worth of programs on Family Radio on “how to actually interpret the Bible in a meaningful fashion without turning it into your own private playground of prophetic speculation” when I debated Camping. I wonder if he will take me up on my offer? Remember, Christ could indeed return on May 21st. But He could also come on May 20th, or May 22nd, as well. I truly feel for the gullible, deceived folks who have been taken in by this false teacher and enemy of the truth. It is truly a shame, for I know you will hear stories of folks “losing their faith” after May 21st. And well they should—since their faith has been placed in a false prophet.
Apostasy is good business at HarperOne Publishers, to be sure. They love cranking out books against Christianity, and they love apostates who help them in their task, and here’s their newest offering. Bart Ehrman is back, rehabilitating hundred and fifty year old liberalism, slapping the sticker of “New and Improved—All the Scholars Love It!—Did You Know I Studied Under Bruce Metzger?” on it and making a mint in the process. While I would not wish to bring Dr. Ehrman’s burden into the afterlife to answer for before a holy Judge, I have now been through enough of these experiences to know that God even uses the disbelief of apostates for His good. Lord willing this frontal attack upon the Scriptures, like Misquoting Jesus and Jesus, Interrupted did, will result in sound, conservative responses, and may well cause some semi-conservatives to rethink their blind acceptance of the “flow” of much of NT scholarship that so easily dismisses such works as the Pastoral epistles as second century pseudonymous works. I hope someone will launch a counter-offensive, pointing out how circular most of the reasoning used to argue these points is. Example: “Well, the pastorals speak of a time when the church is established and organized, unlike what it would have been like during Paul’s day. Therefore, they represent a later stage.” Such argumentation, common as it is, is based upon flawed and fully challengeable assumptions. It requires us to believe the form and function of the church was the random result of evolutionary processes, not a divine revelation and part of the very purpose of the formation of the church at the outset. Further, it assumes what it cannot prove, i.e., that the primitive form of the church lacked elders and deacons, etc. It assumes its own conclusions, operates on the basis thereof, and then, in most liberal institutions, closes down dissent and moves on, having “established” its argument. The same can be said of the word-frequency/vocabulary studies so often referred to, which tend to ignore such simple considerations as “You know, you use different vocabulary when writing to someone you know well than you do when writing to a group of people” and the like. Simple considerations, rarely given voice in today’s context. I can guarantee you, Forged will be one of the most cited books by enemies of the faith for years to come. Just be ready to reply, “Ehrman? Why not cite the 150 year old German liberals who came up with this silliness long before he slapped a new coat of paint on it and retired to the Bahamas?”
A Night at Leicester Square
Made the trek to Leicester Square last night to join some brothers and sisters in ministry amongst the thousands who walk the sidewalks in that gorgeous area. Wasn’t quite as magical as last year for the simple reason that they are doing some kind of major construction project in the square for the 2012 Olympics, and hence the entire center portion is blocked off by a large wall. Cut down on discussions, I think. In any case, last year I had three major discussions out there. The second was with a short, thin Muslim man who prides himself on being some kind of a philosopher. I recall our conversation lasted 30-40 minutes, but I did not time it. In any case, he kept using terms like “rational” and “irrational” while insisting upon ignoring the very categorical definitions that are so vital in any honest review of Trinitarian thinking (specifically, categories of being versus person). I made my best effort to get through what I at first thought could be honest misunderstanding, but once I realized it was not misunderstanding but stubborn refusal to allow the Christian to even define his own position, I ended the conversation and moved on.
This year I started out talking to a young Muslim man and some of his friends. I discovered quickly that post-modern liberalism exists amongst the Muslims as well, as he was anything but an orthodox Muslim, Sunni or otherwise. He liked to talk a lot, and I was only able to get a few comments in, seeking to direct him to the cross and to the truth. At one point I did utilize my white goatee to point out that he is five years younger than my youngest child, and hence, sometime over the next ten years or so, he might get to the point where he actually wants to stand upon something more than his mere feelings.
Then a man around my age, standing nearby, joined the conversation. He was a more orthodox, and knowledgable, Muslim, and we were able to get into the text of Surah 5:47. I felt like I was just about to make clear the point I had been laboring on for a while, when he moved off into the subject of the sonship of Jesus. Just then a man to my right piped up, and as soon as I glanced over I realized it was the same pseudo-philosopher from the preceding year, holding a video camera at his chest (running, just as it had been last year—I wonder where those videos are on YouTube?). Within the first sixty seconds he lied twice, including claiming that the preceding year I “had not desired to talk about the Trinity.” As I pointed out,when you spend at least half an hour talking to someone about a subject, only to end the conversation when they refuse to reason honestly with you, that is clear evidence that you did indeed have such a desire. Now, when someone starts off being dishonest, I have no interest in investing time speaking about something as important as the revealed nature of God with them. It is one thing to have a different set of beliefs. It is one thing to be confused about the Trinity. It is another to be a dishonest opponent. He did not like the fact that I would not indulge his gamesmanship, but I refused to give in to his taunting. One of the other brothers engaged him, and was still talking to him when I left. I shook my head, remembering a day, about a decade ago or so, when I would have done the same thing.
After leaving that conversation I talked with some of the brothers who had come out to witness to folks. They had excellent questions for me, not so much about apologetics, per se, but especially about how to remain balanced as one who engages in evangelism and apologetics. I was encouraged to hear their questions and to engage them on the importance of being in the local church and teaching on subjects outside of the apologetic realm. We had a great conversation there in the clear and cool winter evening in Leicester Square.
The debate with Bassam Zawadi is in just a matter of hours here in London. Tomorrow I preach in the morning and evening at Trinity Road Chapel, then I will try to get everything into my bags (may take an Engineering degree to do that this time) and get to Heathrow for my flight home on Monday. And yes, I fully intend, Lord granting health and safety, to do the regularly scheduled DL on Tuesday!