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Author Topic: Simple Christian Apologetics.  (Read 2713 times) Average Rating: 0
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Bogoliubtsy
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« on: April 15, 2004, 04:01:39 PM »

An agnostic friend and I have made a deal. I have to read Daniel Quinn's Ishmael and in return she has to read one Christian Apologetical work of my choosing. I was sold on C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, but I'm wondering if anyone has any other suggestions.

Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2004, 04:18:51 PM »

The Law of God by Fr. Seraphim Slobowsky

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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2004, 04:19:32 PM »

hmm or maybe the first edition of The Orthodox Church by Bp. Kallistos?

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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2004, 04:26:18 PM »

Crime and Punishment.

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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2004, 04:38:14 PM »

Let me rephrase that.
Works which will convince an agnostic of the basic truths of Christianity.  
Crime and Punishment might not be a bad idea actually... but I think I'm looking for something a little more straight forward. Something along the lines of Mere Christianity.
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2004, 06:06:45 PM »

I will give it some thought.  I think, Joe, that the lady in question, being agnostic, should be given Christianity in a basic form rather then the EO church.  It is possible that she might regard that as (it being Bogo's Church) more hard sell.  "Mere Christianity" is a good choice, I think.  It is written in plain language and works on basic concepts like "Who is Jesus?"  Whether any work *will convince* is an open question, people having free will and all that.
 
Ebor
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2004, 08:01:49 PM »

Mere Christianity is the best one I know. Be sure to invite her to church too.

Matt
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2004, 02:50:07 AM »

I will give it some thought.  I think, Joe, that the lady in question, being agnostic, should be given Christianity in a basic form rather then the EO church.  
Ebor

 :cwm35:

What could be more "basic" than the Orthodox Church?

Demetri
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2004, 11:00:09 AM »

"Is there a God?"  
"Who is Jesus?"

Basic

Ebor
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2004, 12:03:01 PM »

"Is there a God?"  
"Who is Jesus?"

Basic

Ebor

Exactly my point, Ebor.
Peter introduced his friend as an agnostic; not an atheist or a pagan. One can presuppose "basic" rudimentary concepts are held already. It has been my experience in dealing with agnostics (and even atheists) that their denial of 'knowability' stems from negative reactions to the concepts they have been previously taught.
One of the most difficult things for us Orthodox is to use the same or similar words used in the west to describe BASIC Orthodox ontology and soteriology. Given that Peter's friend is probably not agnostic by being intellectually lazy (obviously not), one MIGHT assume that western concepts were tried and found wanting.
Hence, what is more basic than the teaching of the Orthodox Church?

Demetri
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2004, 12:20:03 PM »

Demetri,

You would be shocked to learn who very little people who classify themselves as "agnostic" know about Christianity, even the most BASIC things.  As someone who grew up thinking everyone was Catholic (for the only people i ever knew were Catholic), I was shocked around the age of 10 to learn there were "other Christians" and then when I got to college at 18, flabbergasted to discover how ignorant people are of simple basic facts (not even Truths) that we as Christians take for granted.

I'd go with Mere Christianity.
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2004, 12:41:16 PM »

I can't argue with your reasoning. I just have not read the works cited nor do I know Peter's situation well enough to suggest others.
My problem is that Orthodoxy is fundamentally different from what western Christianity has become.

{BTW, I was shocked when I was 10 and my father stated that we were "Catholics" - just not 'Roman Catholics'...and so began my studies 45 years ago}

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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2004, 12:48:50 PM »

I can't argue with your reasoning. I just have not read the works cited nor do I know Peter's situation well enough to suggest others.
My problem is that Orthodoxy is fundamentally different from what western Christianity has become.

{BTW, I was shocked when I was 10 and my father stated that we were "Catholics" - just not 'Roman Catholics'...and so began my studies 45 years ago}

Demetri

Your dad sounds like a pretty smart guy!

I think Mere Christianity is good but rather simplistic; it may not be enough for a hardened agnostic.

I don't know, though. God can use anything when the time is right.
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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2004, 02:15:58 PM »

First of all, I enjoyed the book your friend will have you read.  Ishmael is an interesting work that can most likely be categorized as fantasy, yet through the fantastical elements, it has a different viewpoint of western history than what we normally have.  You should enjoy it.  Also, the movie Instinct with Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr is loosely based from Ishmael.  It should be noted that Daniel Quinn was not an author prior to Ishmael, and that he wrote the story to win a contest for environmental fiction sponsored by Ted Turner.  

Mere Christianity is a very good book.  It was the primary instigator for me to investigate Christianity when I was a senior in high school.  I don't find very much of Lewis' writings contradicting Orthodox teachings, and from knowing dozens of Orthodox who credit Lewis with starting them on the path to the Church, I think this would be a safe bet.  In fact, a priest friend of mine tells me that during his studies at SVS in the early 80s, a few of the seminarians created a Troparion for C.S. Lewis as a joke.  As Linus said, it can be simplistic, so if your friend reads a lot of agnostic/atheistic arguments, this might not be the best place.  If they have a fairly open mind, it would be a nice book, though.

A few others that come to mind...

Between Heaven and Hell by Peter Kreeft.  This is a fictional debate between C.S. Lewis, JFK, and Aldous Huxley on the existence of God and Christianity as it relates to both secular humanism and pantheism.  All three men died on November 22, 1963, so the book has them meet just after their death in a limbo where the debate must be carried out before progressing.  The arguments here are a bit more developed than in Mere Christianity, but of a similar nature.  I enjoy reading this book, but some may not.

Crime and Punishment.  I think this a good idea, but not for the book exchange.  Wait until the next time your friend asks for a novel reccomendation.

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton.  I'm not an expert on this text, but seems like the sort of thing that would help.  Others here can probably provide more info or read Amazon reviews.
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Bogoliubtsy
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2004, 03:38:13 PM »

Thank you all for the suggestions, especially David.
Just to give you some background. This is a girl who formerly did mission type work in central America and was "in love with Jesus". She was raised Catholic, but her Catholicism seems to have had an evangelical slant to it somehow. Anyway, with the death of a close friend, and I guess just "growing up" she began to view her Christianity as superficial and meaningless. She turned more towards science and humanism to explain away the world. So, that's where she stands now. She's pretty intelligent, and is one of the few agnostics whose position I can almost sympathize with to some degree. I'll check out the first book you mentioned, David...as well as the Chesterton book. I almost forgot about him!

Thanks again...
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« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2004, 03:44:26 PM »

In that case, I would suggest a book that presented in a clear format the fullness of Christianity--the Orthodox Church.  For this I would suggest The Law of God.  Its an awfully thick book, but an easy read and very good IMO.

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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2004, 03:52:51 PM »

In that case, I would suggest a book that presented in a clear format the fullness of Christianity--the Orthodox Church.  For this I would suggest The Law of God.  Its an awfully thick book, but an easy read and very good IMO.

Joe Zollars

But is not an apologetics book and will not convince anyone to become Orthodox (it is still a great book).

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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2004, 03:54:44 PM »

It's doin a pretty good job  convincing me, of course I was already convinced.

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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2004, 05:03:41 PM »

That's the point, Joe. You're already convinced.  The lady in question has doubted and one gathers is doubting now.  Big thick books that aren't apologetics probably won't convince most agnostics, but more likely intimidate or bore or feel like Too Much.

If someone wanted to learn French, I wouldn't just thrust "Larousse" into their hands, nor for Math a volume of Einstein.  New ideas and new beliefs have to take into account the individual person learning.  Recall the Epistles reference to "milk" vs "meat". If I were RC, I would not be recommending the "Summa Theologica" in this case, nor as an Anglican Hookers "Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity".

Considering that the lady drew away from Christianity due to a friend's death, "The Problem of Pain" or (though very personal) "A Grief Observed" would be a possibility.  Then there's "Screwtape Letters".  There's a work by Dorothy L. Sayers that I can't recall the title of... I'll have to look on the basement bookshelves.

A mythopoeic APA that I'm in, had a Daniel Quinn book "The Holy" as its topic a couple of months ago.  I wasn't able to find a copy to read.

Well, Demetri, some people are against Christianity due to an "allergic" reaction, as it were, but often they don't actually *know* Real Christianity, but just what some people have done/said.  

Ebor


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« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2004, 12:02:31 AM »

Excellent points Ebor.  Now that Josh has given us a bit more info on his friend, I think "The Problem of Pain" or "A Grief Observed" would be excellent ideas as well.  What I would reccomend doing is going to a bookstore and read the first couple of chapters of each book looking for particular subjects that might make your friend "tune out".  Whichever one that might get through to her is the best one to use.
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