Questions, always questions
Where is that in the Bible? Where did you get that interpretation from? Has anyone else ever taught this in the Christian Church? What Scriptures back this teaching up?
Such were the many, many questions that ran through my mind as I sat on the beautiful oak pews in the church I grew up in. If you’ve read my blog you have seen that my theological travels (some may say travails) began in the Pentecostal church in which I grew up. In 1986, though, after years of not attending (my parents instead attending a bible church in upstate NY), God saw fit to convict and convert me and I became a believer. That is when and where it began; The questions…and, sadly, not being given satisfactory answers. So, most of the time I would keep those questions to myself but they never quite went away.
A few months after my conversion to Christianity, working in Mid-Town Manhattan, I had to take the subway to and from work and walk through the long corridors of Grand Central Terminal. Along those walls would be men and women of different religions holding out their books and trying to garner the attention of quick-walking folks trying to catch their train. When I would go home I would make it a point to stop by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and show them their errors from the Scriptures. Though ill-equipped and a baby in the faith, persistence drove me to ask them, Where is that in the Scriptures?
Eventually I was responding to those who rang my doorbell and would ask them the same questions: Where is that in the Bible? Has anyone in the Church ever taught that before? It did not matter whether I was sitting through sermon in my own church or sitting on the steps in front of my apartment with someone from another religion or cult (e.g. Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon or Seventh Day Adventist), questioning their belief, their teachings, their ideas was what I did.
Not Critical but Thinking Critically
“Nancy, you’re too critical.” “You ask too many questions.” “You think too much, you should just take it by faith.” “You have a religious spirit and need deliverance.”
Fast-forward 20 years and God’s providential leadings brought me back to school to earn my degree. At first, I went back to work on a Biblical Counseling degree, but it was the remark made by the grader on my first paper which both caused me to question and actually answered why I question. “You wrote this paper like a legal brief. Have you ever considered apologetics?”
I had never heard this term before. Quickly, I looked it up to find that it means defense, defending the faith. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “a systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine)”.
To my amazement there was a term for what I had been doing since the Lord converted me: questioning everything. I then discussed this with my husband and changed my concentration to Theology & Apologetics. Thus began the 10 year journey from a Bachelors through to a Doctorate in Philosophy and Apologetics. Those first years I would listen to lectures by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery and learned that the “evangelism toolbox has apologetics as one of its tools.” Not only would I learn about this great tool and what it can do, but under Dr. Montgomery’s teaching, lectures, exams and challenges (viz a vis online lectures) I became equipped to use this tool. So, after all, it turns out that I wasn’t critical but was actually thinking critically!?
A Generous Gift
A little over a year ago, a friend from church (Faith Lutheran, Mtn Home ID) came to me, having looked up Dr. Montgomery, to ask if I had heard of his Academy in France? Yes, indeed I had. The next moment would completely catch me off-guard and overwhelm me: She asked, “Would you like to go? Dorcas (the Ladies Group at church) would be willing to pay the tuition.” My heart leapt at the opportunity and was overwhelmed by her love and the generosity of the Ladies Group. Of course, I would need to ask my husband, Bobby and he gave a resounding, “Yes!”
Preparation began with applying for the International Academy of Apologetics and Human Rights in Strasbourg France. Once accepted, the ladies took care of the tuition and paid for many of the books on the reading list. Over 150 books were on that reading list along with about 45-90 hours of lectures to listen to in preparation for this Academy. Copious notes, annotations and reviewing of the resources kept me quite occupied this past year. However, the fire of passion to share the Gospel and defend the faith, which had waned under the austere teachings of Calvinism and nearly put that flame out, began to blaze boldly again. (“Whoosh!” As my friend Sally would say.)
Tomorrow I leave for Strasbourg, thanks to the generosity of family and friends (who I love as family) and to say I am excited for this journey is to come far short of my full emotions. Finally, after all those years (2005-2010) of studying online the lessons of Dr. Montgomery, reading nearly all his works and listening to recent debates, I will meet him and many other men, experts in their fields from Apologetics to Science, History to Philosophy and Human Rights to Law. I have much to learn and please pray with me that I will retain much and learn new tools to serve our Savior with.
Pivotal Moments in Life
There are certain moments in life that are epic: When God converted me to Christianity, meeting and then marrying Bobby, missions trips (Mexico, Guatemala when I was single, then Ghana West Africa with Bobby and friends) and the move from NYC to Idaho and through God’s Providential charge converting from Reformed to Lutheran (see: The Accidental Lutheran, Coming this Fall).
Sometimes you know when something is life-changing and sometimes you get the nudge that it won’t only change you but will impact others as well. This appears to be one of those pivotal moments and I cannot wait to see how our Lord God and Heavenly Father of our Savior Jesus Christ will use this going forward. Since becoming Lutheran, the desire to share the Gospel and defend the One True Faith has not only been re-ignited but has been fanned into an intense blazing, fiery passion (“Whooosh!”). I can only imagine how that fire will be fanned further and become laser focused, equipping me further to serve my Blessed and Merciful Savior in His harvest field, which is ripe and ready to harvest.
It is with the deepest gratitude that I thank the Ladies of Dorcas (Barb, MaryJane, Tara, , Mary and Sally [who started this journey]) for their love, support, prayers and encouragement, along with others who gave sacrificially in order to make this trip. Thanks to my Pastor (Rev. Kellerman) and the Elders for their support and prayers as well.
To my husband Bobby, thank you for allowing me to attend this Academy and encouraging me to learn all I can to serve our Savior better each day.
I hope to be able to blog regularly while in attendance so be sure to join as a member for posting notifications.
Les plus riches bénédictions de Dieu, which means God’s Richest Blessings.
 “Define Apologetics,” Merriam-Webster, accessed July 6, 2019, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apologetics.