How Christians Can Demolish Atheism with a Word


I’ve been listening to Unbelievable, a British podcast that pits Christians and atheists against each other on popular topics. Often, the battle is purely head-to-head, with no other topic than why atheism or why Christianity is true or not.

Here in the States, we had a slow news cycle leading up to the Olympics, so the Ken Ham and Bill Nye debate took on a life of its own, with even the secular press touting the “event.”


I say this because all this logic and carefully worded argumentation misses the point. While I can see atheists not understanding how the point is lost, that Christians can’t see beyond is most troubling and says much about the state of the Church in the West.

What Christians forget is what places the Christian Church above all other religious groups and systems, including atheism. Christians believe God put His Spirit into each believer, which both empowers and grants the ability to experience true relationship with God through Jesus.

No Spirit, no Church. End of story.

And yet Christians almost never go to the Spirit when confronting atheism.

Paul preaching at the Areopagus (Mars Hill)All the reasoned logic in the world is unlikely to sway modern skeptics. We can appeal to Paul’s example at the Areopagus, but what was new to the ears of the Stoics and Epicureans in Paul’s day has had nearly 2,000 years to accumulate rebuttals. Reason alone cannot be our primary weapon.

While the Bible is God’s special revelation to mankind and contains what we need to know to have faith and to live the Christian life, many do not acknowledge it as such. To any who saw the Ham and Nye debate, Ham’s repeated returns to Scripture fell on Nye’s deaf ears. This is NOT to say the Bible as God’s Word is inadequate in some way, only that many have inoculated themselves against it when it is used alone.

But there is a word that can stop an atheist argument in its tracks. Why Christians today don’t use it is one of the great losses of our generation.

That word? The word of knowledge.

Yes, the charismatic gift.

A Christian and an atheist arguing presuppositions about the origin of matter can dispense with all the bilateral systematic dismantling if the Christian would simply say, “Your mother told you when you were 13 that she wished she had never conceived you , and you struggle daily to recover from rejection, don’t you?” Or how about “God revealed to me that you’ve been cheating on your spouse for the last two years”?

Any Christian out there wonder if that would change the direction of the debate?

If we’re talking whether God exists or not, connecting with the supernatural is the natural course of argument. A spoken word of knowledge immediately dismantles all opposition. Immediately. People who claim God does not exist must now explain that word of knowledge. Let them try. They won’t succeed. NOW who is on the defensive?

See, God intended us to be more than a Word Church. He intended us to be a Word + Power Church.

In the sidebar of this blog is an ad for Gospel for Asia. When you read the testimonies of the missionaries involved in that organization, nearly all came from non-Christian homes, and nearly all had some power encounter because of a missionary coming into their homes and bringing a miracle of some kind. Supernatural healing, deliverance, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, whatever—the Word was accompanied by a Spirit-filled believer operating in supernatural Power. The result was faith.

You see, the arguments against the Lord went dead in the face of God working through His people in power.

Is it any wonder why atheism has revived in the age of a Western Church that more likely than not DENIES the operation of the charismata? And is it any wonder that the Church is moving forward in leaps and bounds in those places where Christians place no such restrictions on the Spirit moving through charismatic gifts?

American Church, are you listening?

Get the gifts moving again and see the arguments against God crumble. Because they will.

And one more thing…

We always like to say that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. Why then do we Christians never press the relationship reality when we debate atheists? Why is it always a battle of logic? If knowing Christ is eternal life and relationship with Him is the cornerstone of our Faith, why do Christians never bring up this living relationship with Christ when talking with atheists? Ravi Zacharias is about the only apologist I ever hear who gets to the heart of relationship with Christ when discussing the uniqueness of Christianity and its superiority. More of us need to talk about our vital relationship with Christ with our atheist friends.

For too long the discussion has been from our heads. It’s time to take it back to relationship with Christ and to Word + Power. Because that’s what makes Christianity the only true answer.

Just Give Me the Book of Acts


Cerulean Sanctum has been quiet lately. Truth is, that quiet reflects the disquiet I have in my own spirit.

I don’t know how most people live, but I guess they erect filters to keep the madness out. Head down, nose clean, and a gracious nod to the status quo. Don’t get too involved. Keep emotions stifled. And for heaven’s sake, don’t go around poking sleeping bears with a stick.

Which makes me wonder if I have a screw loose, because I keep my pointy stick close by.

Frankly, I’m pretty much fed up with American Christianity. I’m certainly not angry with Jesus. By no means! But I feel helpless as I watch people who claim to be Christians go off the rails. I’m not a perfect saint, but it continues to horrify me how badly some Christians have brainwashed themselves into ways of thinking that in no way reflect anything I read in the Bible. I’m not talking about the obvious heretics, either, but people with a platform and a loud microphone, blog, or publisher, who disseminate stuff that only serves to diminish the Church. They may look like they’re serving the saints, but in all likelihood they are actually preaching some sliced-up gospel that bears no resemblance to the real one. And many of these people continue to be considered the be all and end all of Christianity in North America.

I’m convinced that our collective maintenance of the status quo enables us to read the Scriptures and not have them affect us one iota. I witness how some folks read the Bible and it blows my mind that passages that should explode everything a person believes don’t even register.

I dare each person reading this today to sit down this week and read the Book of Acts, preferably in one sitting. I’m not talking about an in-depth study, but just read the book.

Now I ask you: Does what you just read in Acts depict today’s Church? If not, why not?

I’ve been reading Acts with my son, and what continually hits me is how far we are from being that kind of vibrant, miraculous, committed Church.

I mean, I read Christian blogs and books today that tell you and me how weak and sinful we are and that what we have today is better than what the Church had back then.

I call shenanigans on those people.

Stop making excuses for faithlessness! Stop telling us how sinful and weak we are, and start preaching the full gospel that we believers are now new creations, seated in the heavenly places with Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit to do even greater things than Jesus did.

That’s in the Book, folks, but some people just can’t deal with truth.

It makes me crazy that some people can tell me with straight face that God has given us something better today than what those folks had back then.

Really? Makes me want to know if they have ever read the Book of Acts.

“Oh, that’s just descriptive, not prescriptive,” they’ll say.

You know what I say? “Stop doubting and start believing.”

I find it insane that the same people who will denigrate personal experience when it comes to anything related to the practice of the Faith will run immediately to their own personal experiences when confronted by biblical realities and practices they reject. 'Blind Woman' by Paul StrandThey claim to uphold biblical truth, yet their double standard condemns their rhetoric.

There’s not a Christian on this continent,  no matter which denomination or sect he or she endorses, who hasn’t turned a blind eye to some part of Acts. Some people gloss over the charismata, some the community, some the evangelism, some the commitment and martyrdom. Simply put, we as a Church in North America do not want to peer into Acts and deal with what we read there.

I don’t understand the kind of  half-baked “church” some people endorse. Especially when their “church” doesn’t look anything like the one depicted in Acts.

I’m sick of those who ignore parts of the Scriptures because that’s what they’ve been taught to do. I’m sick of playing at Church rather than actually being the same kind of Church we see in the Book of Acts.

Keep your blogs, your books, your podcasts, and your pieced-together rhetoric. Just give me the Book of Acts.

Equipping the Saints: The Synergy of Spirit & Word


It wasn’t the best of mornings when you get down to it.

My wife had an appointment scheduled that put her on edge because it had the potential to determine the course of the rest of her life. Jangly nerves and a tremor in her voice all said, “I really need you to pay attention to me right now.”

My son, watching his summer vacation slipping away, fell into that desperate state of attempting to pack as much living into five days as was humanly possible. Flubber had nothing on the kid. He was bouncing around the house begging for things to do, his sole mission to get me to pay attention to him right now.

Meanwhile, I’d awakened to a malfunctioning Internet connection and a deadline to meet. As the materials had to be emailed, that posed a bit of a dilemma. With my IT background, I normally don’t blanch when tech things go awry. But after some computer finagling, I came to the terrible realization that it was nothing on my end that I could correct; my ISP was down, no matter what the blinking lights on the modem said. It was the kind of situation I needed to deal with right now if I was to make my deadline.

And right at that moment of stark tech realization, kid yelling, wife anxious, the doorbell rang.

“Dad, there’s two people standing at the door,” my son added to his tirade.

I knew in that second exactly who it was.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses.

While that’s enough to start some people hyperventilating, I greatly enjoy talking to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I know their theology very well, know what verses to share with them out of their own (flawed) New World Translation bible, and generally throw a box full of monkey wrenches into the cogs of their apologetics. In short, I know exactly what to say to them. And I do it in a very neighborly and loving way.

Most times, that is.

Normally, I would invite them in, but the hyperactive son and the anxious wife who had to leave for her appointment in a few minutes did not make for the best environment. So I offered to have them sit down on our front porch in our three porch chairs—except two of the three chairs seemed to have gone missing.

So we stood around. Ugh.

I then began to commit a series of errors. Instead of steering the conversation toward the divinity of Jesus (as the JWs believe Jesus is a created being, the archangel Michael), I let myself get dragged to the end of that discussion prematurely, as we somehow jumped right to the Trinity, which requires nearly a full overview of Scripture to present accurately (as the JWs do well at dismantling piecemeal Scriptures on the Trinity, especially when presented standing around on someone’s front porch). When I attempted to go back to the issue of Jesus’ divinity, I asked for the junior JW’s New World Translation and immediately realized I couldn’t read it; the words were too small. This meant going to find either of the two pair of reading glasses I now own—of course, both eluded me. Then, I got the “brilliant” idea while looking for my glasses to pull out my Aland Greek New Testament in case we stumbled into differences between the NWT and the genuine text. Five minutes later, I think, I got back outside, hoping to talk more about the tirpartite nature of man and how it reflects the Trinitarian nature of God, but somehow I spent most of that time thumbing my way through my Greek NT and not enough concentrating on the tripartite explanation. Meanwhile, the truth of Jesus’ divinity was receding into the murky past of the conversation. At this point, my wife informed us that she must leave and the JWs’ car was blocking our driveway. Seeing this as the perfect out, the senior JW said it was obvious they and I were at completely different places and were never going to come to any agreement on anything, so so long, buh-bye.

And with that, there was no joy in Mudville; mighty Casey had struck out.

The postmortem of this moment doesn’t need the team from CSI to enunciate what went wrong. Anyone want to venture the answer?

It wasn’t that I was stressed by the events of the morning.

It wasn’t the time crunch or the blocked driveway.

It wasn’t an inadequate knowledge of the theology of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

And it wasn’t an inadequate knowledge of Christian doctrine.

What made the morning less than stellar was that I left the Holy Spirit out of that golden opportunity.

We’ve been talking for the last few weeks about what it’s going to take to get the American Church educated in the deep truths of the Faith, but what I want to add right now is that all the Bible-learnin’ in the world is pointless without the Holy Spirit to pull it all together and make it scintillate in our spirits.

I know plenty of Christians who can handle the Bible well. I know plenty of Christians who claim to know the voice of the Holy Spirit. But the kind of Christian I rarely meet is the one who puts both together.

Word of God speak by Your Holy SpiritYou have on one side the intellectuals with their systematic theologies who could mount an apologetic that rolls like thunder but are tone deaf when it comes to listening to instructions from the Holy Spirit. On the other side are the charismatics who are always talking about the revelation they’re receiving by the Holy Spirit but who will search for hours if you ask them to locate the Book of Hezekiah in their Bibles.

My problem that August morning was that I didn’t ask the Holy Spirit to take charge of the time and guide me His way. I barged ahead like one of those deaf intellectuals, smug in my learnin’.

If we’re to make a difference in the education of Christians in America, we have got to start bridging the gap between the word of God and the Spirit of God. Because in truth, the only gap that exists in that gapless relationship occurs because of you and me. We’re the problem. The Spirit and the Scriptures are perfect.

And so I ask, what churches out there are teaching people how to listen to the Holy Spirit when it comes to correctly handling the Scriptures?

Because it doesn’t work if we know the Bible but can’t hear the voice of the Spirit tell us how to understand and use it. And it doesn’t work if charismatics go on and on about their spiritual gifts but then don’t give the Spirit of God the fodder of His learned word to work from.

If you are in a church that does a great job teaching the Bible but not listening to the Spirit, then you may be getting only part of the story. And chances are, your use of the Bible in those cases when you really need it are going to fall under the label of “the flesh,” and your effectiveness will be diminished. Likewise, if you are in a charismatic church that teaches how to hear the Holy Spirit, yet the average person can’t string together five verses to show why Jesus is God, then you are not putting it all together, either.

If we are to be effective ministers of the Gospel, we have to rely on the voice of the Spirit to lead us in all situations, especially in how to correctly handle the Bible. And we have got to ensure we know the Bible if we are to give the Holy Spirit living in us the free access to the discipline of our study.

Jesus didn’t drop Biblical knowledge into the heads of the disciples at Pentecost. He made what was already there more clear and more transformational. The Spirit brought to mind the time those men had shared with Jesus and amplified the Savior’s teachings. The Spirit made use of what had already been implanted.

And so it must be with us. It’s not enough to know the Bible or say we have the Spirit living in us. Unless we learn the synergy of the Spirit and the word (and—unlike me—ALWAYS rely on it), we’re going to whiff again and again.