June 2021 Conversation


How can we make Christ known in today’s Europe where scepticism and misconceptions about Christianity abound? The focus of the June 2021 Lausanne Europe Conversation is apologetics. Traditionally, apologetics is understood as the defence of the truth of Christianity, but more broadly it can be seen as anything we say or do that contributes to the plausibility and credibility of the gospel.

This month we will reflect on an interview with one of today’s great Christian apologists, Oxford mathematician Prof. John Lennox, but we will also read two articles by Dave Benson and Lars Dahle, which challenge all of us to see ourselves, and our churches, as essential in the apologetic task.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us at conversation@lausanneeurope.org

And if you are just starting your Impact Group, or are confused about what they are about, then check out the introduction pages to the Conversation and Impact Groups to find out more.
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The Ecclesial Apologetic for God: Becoming a Good Church in the Eyes of a Watching World

Dave Benson is the Director of Culture and Discipleship at LICC (The London Institute of Contemporary Christianity). His article is a passionate call for a broader agenda for apologetics, one that involves the whole of life and the whole of the church.

Bearing Witness to Christ in the Realm of Ideas: A Holistic Missional Approach to Apologetics in Europe

The second article we would like you to read this month is by Lars Dahle, Associate Professor in Systematic Theology and Christian Apologetics at NLA University College, Norway. Inspired by a phrase in the preface to Lausanne III Congress statement, the article is a call “to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching in every nation, in every sphere of society”, but also and particularly, “in the realm of ideas”.


Interview with Prof. John Lennox

Lastly, we would like you to watch a short except from an interview with Prof. John Lennox. Lennox’s debates with leading atheists like Richard Dawkins are the subject of new film Against the Tide. While filming, the producers took a moment to interview him and ask him some more personal questions about his stand for Christian truth.
Go to the interview

1. Introductions and Prayer

Give time for everyone to introduce themselves if this is your first Impact Group. Ask someone to pray that God would use this time to build up our confidence in proclaiming and living out the truth of the gospel in a sceptical age.

2. Apologetics Articles

The articles by Dave Benson and Lars Dahle raise lots of challenging questions. You will probably not have time to discuss all of the questions below, so before your Impact Group, read through the questions and decide which ones are most relevant for your group.
  1. As Christians, we are deeply challenged by ideas and assumptions within our cultures. Which secular ideas are most influential in your context and how are the Christians around you wrestling with them? How can you come alongside others, as they attempt to answer these questions so that they can better live, serve, and witness in their everyday lives?
  2. How effective have you found classic answers and philosophical apologetics for God's existence with your secular friends? Where does, or doesn't, it 'connect'?
  3. How do you share and show that following Jesus is truly good news for your neighbours in the here-and-now of their everyday lives?
  4. Share a story of where you've seen a truly 'good church in the eyes of a watching world' embody and make plausible Jesus as Lord to sceptical Europeans.
  5. What needs to change in your church for it to embody the gospel and become this holy and beautiful community of 'wise peacemakers' - characterised by love, humility, integrity, and simplicity - that draws people to Christ once again?
  6. How can we resource Christian families, local churches, and other Christian communities to become attractive and mature contexts where key Christian truths are affirmed, and Christians are equipped for everyday witness?
  7. Were there any other insights from the two articles that you found particularly helpful?

3. Interview with Prof. John Lennox

The following questions mainly draw on quotes from the interview so do make sure everyone has seen the clip and, if not, then it might be worth watching it together. Then discuss the questions together.
  1. John Lennox said that it was important to expose his faith in God to its opposites, “to all manner of philosophies and religions and arguments that question it” and that he “tried to listen to agnostics and atheists…and to walk in their shoes and see with their eyes so that when I come to my own conclusions they are based on having considered what other people think and not simply being blinkered by blind faith”.

    How does exposing our own faith to its opposite help us to articulate the gospel?

  2. John Lennox’s parents actively encouraged him to question his own beliefs, rather than seeking to protect him from “the big world outside”. He sees a danger in being too protective of our young people in this regard, suggesting that they will “grow up maybe to become professional people highly educated, but their spiritual knowledge will grow very slowly indeed and of course their peers will notice the difference and that increases the fear and results sadly for many people that their faith becomes privatised and then it disappears altogether under pressure.”

    Do you agree that the privatisation of Christian faith is the result of being over-protective?
    How might we address this in our discipleship and church life?

  3. The secular media do give a lot of profile to prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and, as Lennox says, sometimes it can appear that the atheist argument has a stronger basis than is actually the case.

    The Engage event coming during June will feature Christian media that has been developed to explore the compelling case for the existence of God as well as the evidence for Christ as God incarnate based on the film called Against the Tide.

    How might we use media of this kind both in our evangelism and in strengthening the faith of believers?

4. Prayer

Always make sure that you leave enough time to pray together every time you meet. Here are the prayer points for this month’s Conversation:
  1. Pray for resources to identify and equip the Christians in Europe (and beyond) who are committed to publicly proclaim, demonstrate, commend and defend the truth, beauty and wonder of who God is in the everyday aspects of the culture we live in.
  2. Pray that as Christians, we will boldly and authentically bear witness to Jesus Christ in all his teachings- in every nation, in every sphere of society and in the realm of ideas (Lausanne III congress).
  3. Pray for wisdom to discern and identify our own apologetic roles as individuals and as a community, and publicly proclaim biblical truth with humility, integrity and simplicity, in our everyday lives.
  4. Pray that as Christians we may be compassionate and sensitive to listen to those who share a different faith to ours, and gain wisdom from the Holy Spirit to respond from a point of understanding as we articulate the Gospel.
  5. Pray for wisdom to know how best to use media as a tool for evangelism in the context of defending the truth, beauty and wonder of God in our generation today.

5. Make Your Contribution to the Conversation

We really want to hear back from your Impact Group after each session. Please find a few minutes to summarise what you hear from God, the highlights of the discussion, and any questions that were raised, in the comments box immediately below.