December 3, 2020

Best of Michael Spencer: Real Apologetics

Maine morning

Note from CM: This was Michael’s final post on Internet Monk: Feb. 10, 2010.

• • •

A brief word from Michael

The ultimate apologetic is to a dying man.

That is what all those “Where is God?” statements in the Psalms are all about. They are, at least partially, invitations to Christians to speak up for the dying.

All the affirmations to God as creator and designer are fine, but it is as the God of the dying that the Christian has a testimony to give that absolutely no one else can give.

We need to remember that each day dying people are waiting for the word of death and RESURRECTION.

The are a lot of different kinds of Good News, but there is little good news in “My argument scored more points than you argument.” But the news that “Christ is risen!” really is Good News for one kind of person: The person who is dying.

If Christianity is not a dying word to dying men, it is not the message of the Bible that gives hope now.

What is your apologetic? Make it the full and complete announcement of the Life Giving news about Jesus.

Comments

  1. The link Robert F gave yesterday toward the end of the comments to a song by Merle Haggard called How Did You Find Me Here? is, in my view, a profound answer to the questions Michael raises. It pictures a man abandoned in a pit with no hope of escape when someone appears standing at the edge out of nowhere. I imagine there could be many interpretations, including being saved from ruin by the love of a good woman, but I took it that the pit was a dug grave and it was God who appeared to reach down and lift up. Whether this was happening on this side of death or the other seemed unclear and irrelevant. The song only finalized in the last few seconds.

    I’ve been thinking about it ever since and I ordered the album, which is called I Am What I Am. Merle never had much to say of interest to me before. His Okie From Muskokie was evidently intended as pretty much a joke but took on a life of its own and added to the hard feelings and division of the times, tho I did experience it being belted out with obvious enjoyment by a group of long haired freaks. I think it was only as Merle became an old man that I found him of real value, perhaps the same with Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, even Willie Nelson.

    I think you could put all that has ever been written on salvation and resurrection in one side of a balance, and this song by Merle Haggard, How Did You Find Me Here?, would outweigh them all. He came a long way thru a lot of pain and hard times, and from all appearances he made the turn, thanks to a loving God with a whole lot of patience. I would call that Good News.

    • Christiane says

      “I think you could put all that has ever been written on salvation and resurrection in one side of a balance, and this song by Merle Haggard, How Did You Find Me Here?, would outweigh them all.”

      Hi CHARLES,
      I think you are on to something here. It may not be ‘what is written by men on salvation and resurrection’ that speaks with the most clarity to our souls . . . I was once told that the part of the human brain that processes music lies adjacent to the part of the brain that deals with emotions, hence the power of music to move us when ‘there are no words’

      You might also this strange poem meaningful:

      The Convert
      By G. K. Chesterton
      “After one moment when I bowed my head
      And the whole world turned over and came upright,
      And I came out where the old road shone white.
      I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
      Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
      Being not unlovable but strange and light;
      Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
      But softly, as men smile about the dead

      The sages have a hundred maps to give
      That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
      They rattle reason out through many a sieve
      That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
      And all these things are less than dust to me
      Because my name is Lazarus and I live.”

    • Charles, That song is as powerful and as many of the biblical Psalms it reminds me of.

    • Loved hearing this song. The title is great, so I was a little reluctant to play it, worried that the song would undo the impression the title left. (I’m a little afraid to read “My Bright Abyss” for this reason – the three words alone as so luminescent that I’m afraid to add the rest of the material.) As usual, Christiane, you’ve added a glittering selection.

      Thanks for the respite: I’m currently awake, waiting for one of those winter viruses, the ones that makes it impossible to sleep, or to do anything useful in the absence of sleeping, to run its course.

  2. Weary to the bone,
    after the long, dark, dull months,
    touch April’s cold rain.

    • An apt haiku, we have snow on the ground once again under gray skies and the feeling will this never end. I hope you and your wife continue recovery.

      • Thank you for your good wishes, Charles. People at the church my wife works for have been good to us, sending good words by phone and e-mail, get-well cards and prayers; the choir she directs has been providing us with ready-to-eat meals, and making encouraging visits to my homebound spouse and myself. She is doing well, and I believe is ahead of schedule in recovery. We are thankful.

    • That Other Jean says

      In the dreary days
      that seem endless now, and cold
      lie the seeds of change.

      Yeah, we’re having one of those, too–gray skies, chilly temperatures, and not much relief in sight.

      Oh–if these “answering” haiku bug you, Robert, just say so and I’ll knock it off.

  3. William Martin says

    I had been on a 2 year drinking binge among other things towards the end. You have to realize I have spent more of my life sober than not. The nots were very extreme in nature. I was 48 And just starting a second ninety ninety in my life. Very hard to make such a commitment. Last time that time was eight days of no sleep 100 plus beers a day along with 2 to3 fifths of whiskey and a good bit of bar time. Hanging on a rope in y garage but I couldn’t figure away to tie my hands behind my back attributed of course to the state of doing that to myself. This is where he found me again. Every day fro ninety days I cried and crawled across the floor begging Him to not leave me alone. I guess it was my biggest fear to be left alone.

    I went to a church and I wanted so bad to go and just get drunk. I looked around and thought what do these have in common with me. It got so bad as the voice kept say look they are not like you. I got up and left and went to the water fountain and got a drink. When I turned around I said to my self I think I’ll stay. So I went back in and the voice picked up again and it was so bad I put my head down and just kept saying I think I’ll stay

    Then this man got up and gave his take on shoes of the Gospel of peace. He said you have to have a place to stand and these shoes weren’t defensive in nature but offensive in nature because they had cleats so you can get your footing to move forward and not be pushed around. i swear he was talking right to me. At the end he said you have an unwritten right in Heaven to ask back what has been stolen from you and if you don’t know what that is that’s okay stand up and say this prayer with me. So I did not knowing why.

    This is one of the first of thousands of poems that came out of me in the 2 weeks to follow it just started happening. You see in high school the last one I wrote was the poet died. A prayer from this sis named Cindy was utter as I hung there. She said we are losing him if You don’t do something to help and my foot caught the old dresser behind me and I couldn’t even commit suicide right. This is the poem, me I’m Cindy”s brother

    A NEW PAIR OF SHOES

    As long as I have breath to take
    I will speak of your Love, my Lord.
    This is the nature of man’s true fate
    To have heart in the unseen war.

    Spiritual battle you prepare me for
    I’m given all I need to offend.
    Grace I receive to endure,
    Jesus, my Lord, is Friend.

    I remember my first pair of shoes
    Long spikes, firmly in the ground.
    Identity that I cannot lose
    To His intimacy I’ve been bound.

    My God is a God of complete order,
    Shoes given at just the right time.
    Evil comes against me at the border
    In my heart I hear “you are mine.”

    Shoes fitted with tidings of peace.
    Shoes that allow me to stand.
    Shoes that keep thorns from my feet.
    While I’m walking holding His hand

    WM

  4. David Hayward, who draws cartoons and writes as NakedPastor, posted a notice yesterday that his younger brother had died of suicide. This followed shortly after David had made the effort to effect a reunion of sorts with his brother, who had lived a difficult and separate life. This can’t be easy. If anyone is interested in reading the account and perhaps sending prayers that way, go to http://nakedpastor.com/2016/04/i-just-lost-my-brother/ .

    Suicide is a difficult phenomenon however you look at it. Animals don’t commit suicide. I think of it as the roaring lion roaming the earth looking for who he can devour, and I feel most fortunate to have escaped. I would regard it as my ultimate defeat, but I can’t apply that to anyone else. Every case has its own story, and some of the stories involve self-destruction dragged out over many years. One of the drawbacks of being a police officer today is the increase in those wanting to commit suicide by cop. The rise of suicide bombers is blatant. I would say if you have an easy answer to all this, you probably don’t begin to understand the situation.

    April has an undercurrent of death and sacrifice, especially in its second half. It is a good time to be extra vigilant, and to send out extra light and blessing to the world as best able, especially to the young, who are most vulnerable to dark thoughts in themselves or others. In the Spirit of Jesus we are overcoming all that destroys. Springtime flowers are on the way. May God have mercy on us all!

  5. This is my absolute favorite thing that Spencer ever wrote, and it impacted me like none other. I reflect on it often, and quote it whenever I can. It was when he said things like this that my eyes were opened to the theology of the cross, from which there is no going back.

    The second to last sentence is my guiding light that has kept me stable through many trials. I want it on my tombstone.

    I put this in the FB group already, but since I linked the original article, here is an essay I wrote that quotes that sentence.
    http://steadfastlutherans.org/2016/04/shall-we-find-a-beacon-of-hope/