In this episode John and Gregg discuss one of Gregg’s recent blog posts where Gregg lays out his approach to others, both Christians and non-Christians, in preparation for examining (and as distinct from) how Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias (and other Christian apologists) engage with non-Christians.
Gregg notes that he is very excited by this blog post because it lays out his perspective. Further, his next blog post further expands on this first post and lays out why he holds this perspective and how this fits in with his approach throughout the podcast.
John focuses on Gregg’s 5th point: “I want to advocate to others the joys, benefits, and truths that I have experienced and come to believe about myself and life, in light of rightly relating with God. ” John is struck by how different this is from wanting “to tell others about Jesus so that they don’t go to hell,” and sees this approach as something that he can relate to.
Gregg likens the typical evangelical Christian response that John has outlined to a situation where “everything is on fire and you need to get out of the building!” Gregg explains that this is not how matters work in his life—he has much more time to make decisions and engage with questions, and so sees the matter similarly for others.
Gregg also notes that his 5th point is not necessarily describing how he will tell people about God, but that his goal here is to “jubilate in becoming my best self as one who is loved by, in love with, and rightly relating to God.” So here Gregg might be engaging with others about parenting, or about self-care, or the value of a rigorous approach to Christian belief, or some other true thing that he has come to know in & through rightly relating with God, even though this need not be about God or Christianity specifically.
Next, John raises Gregg’s 3rd point: “my starting place with anyone is not the Bible but my humanity. By starting my engagement this way I enter the process of mutual understanding (my first interest, above) where it is most likely to meet with success and situate truth-seeking (my second interest, above) within its proper framework: in both cases, beginning with the human and creational. The goal here is living with others according to my best understanding of how life works: creation frames salvation; salvation transforms creation.”
John wonders how starting with our humanity is a good idea or even possible, seeing that humans are innately sinful and so need God in order to make right decisions, etc. Gregg notes that there are generally a constellation of ideas that accompany this sort of concern, such as the idea that God is first (and in some Christian traditions, humans are so distantly second that we essentially have no value).
John notes that, in contrast to Gregg’s approach, the typical Christian approach to non-Christians sounds like a transaction, almost like selling life insurance. Gregg replies that in good part he realized that his excitement about this writing is seeing how his recognition of the rampant suspicion in our Western culture has oriented him to providing some of the truth value to the Christian truth claims before ever presenting these claims!