Friday, October 29, 2010

UCI Set-up #1

I'm involved with setting up a table on University of Califronia Irvine's campus.  I'll periodically post how it is going for these set-ups.  

"Need Prayer?"

We set-up a table last night in the Freedom of Speech Zone at UCI with a standing foam board on top that had "Need Prayer?" written on it.  Below the text was a frustrated cartoon character with an angel one shoulder and a demon on the other.  We had verses about prayer on the sides of the board.  We had a coffee dispenser, filled with hot coffee, and optional creamer and sugar on the sides.  We also had a box and slips of paper for prayer requests. 

We basically just stood there and a few people come up to us on their own without us first initiating any verbal contact, but most of the time we had asked passerbys if they wanted any coffee.  The ones who said yes, usually asked if we were Christians, or what ministry we were with, or even why are you doing this?  We shared what churches we went to, offered prayer, shared why we were out there, and that we would be back the next week at the same time if they wanted to stop-by.

The Gospel was never presented, but no one seemed upset that we were asking if they wanted coffee, and one person very enthusiastically wanted us to know that he liked our set-up because we weren't aggressive or forceful to make people talk to us.  I hope we'll see him again next week.

One Christian on campus asked that we'd pray for revival on Campus.  She was a member of Korean Campus Crusade.  A few people received cards for OC Apologist and one of them seemed pretty interested in checking out the site and going to our church sometime.

Next week, we might drop the "Need Prayer?" board and just ask if they want coffee.  This is how I did this sort of thing at UCI several years ago, and I think more people stopped and we got to answer a lot more questions about why were there and what we believe.  Just offering coffee usually makes people ask, "Why" or "Who are you with?", which are great lead-ins to say, "We are Christians and we believe God loves everyone and wants a relationship with everyone, and that for use we hope to share this through offering coffee to college students who might be staying up late to study, while offering opportunities for prayer and answering any questions about the Christian faith."

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Chapter 2: Literature Review Part 2

My work focuses on a new methodology that advocates using the monomyth to present the Gospel of Christ.  Even without using the monomyth as an apologetic tool, very little has been written on using storytelling as a mode of presenting the Christian faith in evangelism with nonbelievers.  In Searching for God Knows What, D. Miller (2004) built the case that systematic theology does not accurately represent the scope of the Gospel.  Miller (2004) suggested that when presenting the Gospel, especially to non-Christians, storytelling is the optimal mode of teaching.  

          Miller’s (2004) justification for this is that the Gospel “was a message communicated to the heart as much as to the head; that is, the methodology was as important as the message itself, that the ideas could not be presented accurately outside the emotion within which the truths were embedded” (p. 56).  Accordingly, God did not communicate these truths “to us through cold lists and dead formulas” (Miller, 2004, p. 55).  Miller (2004) listed two biblical narratives as examples, those of Job and Hosea; both of which express truths of God’s relationship with mankind, not through didactic statements, but through stories that are capable of expressing feelings, emotions, and experiences in a manner that lists of factual truths could never do proper justice (p. 216).
          The conclusion of Searching for God Knows What is a presentation of the Gospel using William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which Miller (2004) described as “the most beautiful explanation for the gospel of Jesus ever presented” (p. 218).  In the balcony scene of the play, Juliet offers herself to Romeo, if he would be willing deny his name, which meant denying his family and his very self.  At this proposition, if Romeo chooses to deny his name, “he will not gain love for love’s sake, but rather Juliet herself […] and the two shall become one” (Miller, 2004, p. 225).  Juliet initiated this exchange with her spoken invitation of love, and then Romeo’s response completed the transaction of love with his trust in her words.  Miller (2004) noted that Christ gave a similar proposition saying that only people who are willing to hate their families and even their own lives are worthy to be his disciples (p. 224).  Through Jesus’ call of discipleship and also the pact agreed upon between Romeo and Juliet in the balcony scene, the image portrayed is that “[t]rue love, love in its highest form, must cost the participants everything.  Both parties would have to be willing to give up everything in order to have each other” (Miller, 2004, p. 224).  In the story of Romeo and Juliet both parties deny everything, finding union in their deaths, just as Jesus and his followers are likewise united in death through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Chapter 2: Literature Review Part 1

          In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, J. Campbell (1972) presented a compilation of myths and folktales from all corners of the world in order to illustrate the basic truths that are embraced by a large cross-section of humanity.  The opening sentence of this book expresses the far-reaching implications of this concept:

Whether we listen with aloof amusement to the dreamlike mumbo jumbo of some red-eyed witch doctor of the Congo, or read with cultivated rapture thin translations from the sonnets of the mystic Lao-tse; now and again crack the hard nutshell of an argument of Aquinas; or catch suddenly the shining meaning of a bizarre Eskimo fairy tale: it will be always the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find, together with a challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told. (Campbell, 1972, p. 3)

Campbell (1972) named this single, constant story that boils up from man’s unconsciousness the monomyth (pp. 36-37).  Campbell (1972) urged his readers to study the monomyth’s consistencies and examine its variations, “and therewith come to an understanding of the deep forces that have shaped man’s destiny and must continue to determine both our private and our public lives” (p. 256).

          One of these consistencies found within the monomyth is that of a virgin maiden who has fallen prey to an evil trick or has been put under a curse that has cast her in a bodily prison of eternal sleep.  Campbell (1972) categorized and entitled this reoccurring story motif as “The Lady of the House of Sleep” (Cambpell, 1972, p. 110). Campbell (1972) compared two tales, one from Norse mythology and the second from the Brother Grimm’s fairy tales as an example of this theme (pp. 62-63).  The first tale features Brynhild who slept in her virginity trapped in a circle of fire until the coming of Siegfried.  The second tale, “Little Briar-rose,” also known as “Sleeping Beauty,” similarly involves a young lady who “was put to sleep by a jealous hag” to be awoken later by a prince.  In the case of Briar-rose, she was not the only one inflicted by her curse, but her entire world also fell to sleep, even the animals, and a thick hedge of thorns engulfed her castle home (pp.62-63).  A similar fate is found in a Persian tale from One Thousand and One Nights in which a Persian city was turned to stone “-king and queen, soldiers, inhabitants, and all- because its people refused the call of Allah” (Campbell, 1972, p. 63).  

          The stories of Gautama Sakyamuni (6th century BCE, India) and Moses (Ancient Hebrew) are another comparison that Campbell (1972) used to illustrate the monomyth (pp. 31-35).  Gautama left his life of princely comfort to find the meaning of life, until he finally came to enlightenment under the Bo Tree.  In this state of enlightenment he became the Buddha and “went back into the cities of men where he moved among the citizens of the world, bestowing the inestimable boon of the knowledge of the Way” (Campbell, 1972, p. 34).  Moses likewise, according to Campbell (1972) led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and once in the wilderness he went up Mount Sinai and “[t]he Lord gave to him the Tables of the Law and commanded Moses to return with these to Israel, the people of the Lord” (p. 34).  At the conclusion of this comparison, Campbell (1972) stated the following:

Whether presented in the vast, almost oceanic images of the Orient, in the vigorous narratives of the Greeks, or in the majestic legends of the Bible, the adventure of the hero normally follows the pattern of the nuclear unit above described: a separation from the world, a penetration to some source of power, and a life-enhancing return.  The whole of the Orient has been blessed by the boon brought back by Guatama Buddha- his wonderful teaching of the Good Law- just as the Occident has been by the Decalogue of Moses. (p. 35)

          Campbell (1972) reasoned that the result of a complete hero cycle is nothing short of the “freedom to live” (pp. 238-243).  The hero is free from guilt but not free from his sins because he is good (Campbell, 1972, p. 238).  Instead, the hero finds his freedom in knowing “the true relationship of the passing phenomena of time to the imperishable life that lives and dies in all” (Campbell, 1972, p. 238).  At the heart of this ongoing, shape-shifting monomyth is the hero who Campbell (1972) described as “the champion of all things becoming, not of things become, because he is.  […] He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or the “other thing”), as destroying the permanent with its change” (p. 243).  At this level of consciousness, freedom is gained as the “Prince of Eternity” brings restoration to all thins as he kisses the “Princess of the World” (Campbell, 1972, p. 243).  

          In the epilogue, Campbell (1972) asserted, “There is no final system for the interpretation of myths, and there never will be any such thing” (p. 381).  Despite this claim, Campbell (1972) explained that mythology has been interpreted in various methods from man’s effort to explain nature, as simple fantasy stories that were later misunderstood by the successors of the creators, as allegorical instructions for a society, the composite production pushed out of the recesses of man’s collective unconscious, a mode from which man’s metaphysical insights have arisen, to “God’s Revelation to His children” (p. 382).  Campbell (1972), however, insisted that the interpretation of mythology can and must be interpreted under all of these viewpoints depending on the current functional need of mythology today, since “mythology shows itself to be as amenable as life itself to the obsessions and requirements of the individual, the race, and the age” (p. 382).  

          It is from Campbell’s piecing together of the monomyth that I have derived the research question: Is there a well-known piece of Chinese Literature that can be used as a cultural starting point to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”  As a Christian theologian, I interpret mythology from the judging viewpoint that mythology is God’s revelation to the world.  Mythology is the unconscious truths concerning God’s nature and relationship to humanity, which have crept into man’s stories through recurring symbols and themes.  Just as creation points to divinity, mythology when pieced together as a monomyth, points to the highest truth and authority, the divine Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Jesus is the prince of the monomyth and he has come to restore the cursed state of the princess and her world. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Chapter 1: Explanation of the Research Question
A parachurch organization known as Campus Crusade for Christ employs a method of evangelism that involves posing the question: “Have you Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” (Bright, 1965).  This approach, as with others of its kind, present the Gospel of Jesus, the most basic teaching of Christianity, through a list of facts concerning man’s depravity and God’s act of salvation for mankind. “The Romans’ Road to Salvation” (Beebe, n.d.) is another example of a scriptural tract that follows this approach with a listing of verses from Romans that guides a person to salvation.  Even if a popular evangelism tract such as these is not used in evangelistic conversations, many Christians still present the core beliefs of Christian salvation in a similar method, because this has been the method taught to many Christians. 
            This is problematic for three reasons.  First, this method is not as conducive as it once was in what has become a largely postmodern world, in which many people reject absolute truths, especially in the realm of religion.  Second, this method does not present Christian beliefs in a manner that connects people’s current position, beliefs, and culture in their daily lives to the Christian faith.  Instead, Christians presenting the Gospel in this method tend to build up walls with a “we’re right and you’re wrong” presentation of the Gospel, creating a “you” vs. “us” dynamic in such relationships where religious faith is shared.  Stated simply, this method starts from a position of conflict, therefore the message is responded to with hostility.  Third, this method is difficult to present to someone who is not already familiar with the terms and concepts of the Christian faith, such as the Fall, sin, penalty of sin, condemnation, hell, the nature of Christ, the incarnation, holiness, righteousness, atonement, forensic justification, grace, faith, eternal life, and heaven. 
            Recent methods and ideas of presenting the Gospel message focus on working through the culture, movies, music, and literature of the receivers of the message; therefore starting with ideas and concepts the receivers already know. Presenting the Gospel through this method resolves all three of the problems associated with the facts-based presentation of the Christian faith.  First, this method is relevant in a postmodern world, because it begins from a truth, a concept, or a story that is already part of the non-Christian’s current worldview.  Second, this method does not build division like the facts-based presentation of the Gospel, but instead it starts with a common understanding between the Christian and the non-Christian that can be used as a connection to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Third, this method uses terms and concepts that the non-Christian already knows. 
One method of making connections and working within and through a culture to present the Christian faith is to utilize Campbell’s (1972) work with the monomyth that depicts the recurrence of similar themes and story motifs found across all cultures, which point to a higher truth known unconsciously by all of mankind, yet  A Christian who believes that the Christian faith is the highest truth could then use the stories of any culture and pull out the common themes of the monomyth and point those unknown truths to the Christian faith. can be seen manifest consciously through the art, literature, and poetry of humanity.

Considering these problems of a facts-based presentation of the Gospel and the method of using the monomyth for presenting the Gospel of Jesus, I went to China in August of 2006 with the research question: “Is there a well-known piece of Chinese Literature that can be used as a cultural starting point to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”  The answer to this research project could be beneficial for helping a Christian present the Gospel in a method that is more effective in its relation to a Chinese non-Christian’s culture and worldview, and in a method that might be more conductive for future discussion and relationship with the non-Christian.  I also believe this research would be beneficial to Christians who might only be familiar with the systematic, facts-only presentation of the Gospel.   

Beebe, W. (n.d.). The Romans road to heaven. Lebanon, OH: Fellowship Tract
Bright, B. (1965). Have you heard of the four spiritual laws?. Orlando, FL: New
Life Productions.
Campbell, J. (1972). The hero with a thousand of faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Science Can't Prove or Justify!

"Put that in your pipe and smoke it!" - The moderator's response to William Lane Craig's excellent answer.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Setting up Shop in the Marketplace of Academia #4

I thought I was going to be finished with this series, but I'm not.  If you look back at the other posts in this series you will see that I'm sharing a ministry that takes place on UCLA's campus.

I attended a seminar led by Pastor Mark Jasa and his vicar at the time.  I found a piece of paper recently with some notes scribbled on it from that meeting.  I thought I'd share some of the bits of information I gleaned from that seminar.

When witnessing, "Don't talk about Christianity - Focus on Jesus!"

Don't try to win the argument if someone says death isn't a problem.  If someone says, "I don't fear death.  I haven't done anything wrong," then an appropriate response could be, "Then you don't need Jesus.  Jesus forgives sins and rescues from death.  You don't need him."

If Jesus rose from the dead, his claims are vindicated.  Matt 12:39-40 and John 2:18-19, 20:28.

Emotions don't cause truth.

Probability, not possibility.  Lots of things are possible.

What's the procedure to verify the historical claims concerning Julius Caesar?  Take the same procedure and apply it to the resurrection.

Don't convince about God, convince about Jesus.

Define the it (Gospel) first, then show proof.

Quote movies.

If Jesus rose from the dead, what would that mean?  Reverse the question: If Jesus did not rise from the dead, what would that mean?  Christianity is falsifiable, for it's based on facts.  Jesus can be tested. 

Wow!  I think that each of these one liners can be pounded out into full blog posts!  Enjoy the final video post from University Lutheran Chapel for this blog series posts.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What about those who have never heard the Gospel? #2

We’ve fallen short.  We deserve eternal death.  God has paved a way for salvation for mankind through the person of Jesus Christ.  For us to have that salvation, we have to hear the good news of that salvation and believe it!  But not everyone hears, yet they’re still guilty because of general revelation.  Everyone is left in a guilty state before God with no excuse and in need of Jesus for salvation.  Isn't this unfair to those who never heard the Gospel?  Does God judge them differently.  

A Christian Response

We ought to be thankful for a second chance at all!

Because God is not at fault in our sin, and because God suffered dearly in the process of bringing about salvation for mankind, who are we to question him?  God didn’t need to give anyone a second chance, but he did and he still does. If God chose to damn everyone, he would still be holy and just. 

Who are the people who still need to hear the Gospel?

These questions seem to imply that the people who have not heard the Gospel are going to perish and suffer hell, not because of their fault, but because of God’s fault or the fault of the church for not sharing the Gospel with them.  This is totally, and utterly, not true.   Those who have not heard the Gospel are sinners!  They still deserve eternal punishment for their sins, and general revelation leaves them without excuse. 

Check the numbers

For people who question and complain about the people who have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a “numbers” response.  Essentially, the numbers tell us that there are more people living now than ever before.  There are more Christians in this world than ever before.  We can travel to far off lands and communicate with more people all over the globe without even leaving our house because of the Internet.  This means that in this period of time, more Christians can reach more people than ever before in history.  This means it is time for Christians to quit asking why and what if about the unevangelized from the past, present, or future, and simply get to work sharing the Gospel.  

Clean-up questions

There are numerous other questions that can be asked similar to the initial question of “what about the unevangelized?”  

 “What about the Gentiles during the Old Testament period?  They weren’t God’s people and couldn’t be a part of the covenant?”  

The response to this, I feel, is pretty simple.  They could be engrafted into the nation of Israel.  Rahab, the prostitute (Joshua 2), and Ruth, the Moabite (The Book of Ruth), are both prime examples of how Gentiles were included in the nation of Israel.  

“What about the Israelites before Christ?  How could they be saved if salvation is exclusively through faith in Christ?  If they were saved apart from faith in Christ, couldn’t people today still be saved apart from Christ?”  

The Israelites before Christ still had faith in Christ.  The ones who received salvation had faith in the promises about Christ’s coming.  They recognized that they had broken God’s law and they trusted that he would show them mercy.  These promises date all the way back to the beginning of time, right after the Fall, when God promised that the offspring of Eve would crush the serpent’s head.  (Genesis 3)  Or the Abrahamic Covenant.  (Genesis 12, 15, and 17) Or the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49).  Or the promise given to David. (2 Samuel 7)  Since Jesus has been revealed, faith now is placed in him and not the prophecies of his coming for salvation. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

What about those who have never heard the Gospel? #1

What’s the fate of those who have never heard the Gospel?

I received the following questions from a student:

“One thing that I always have had a question about is what happens to people that never had the chance to hear about the gospel and/or weren't God's chosen people. For example, ancient Chinese or American/African Tribes; they never had a chance to hear about Jesus, so how can they be placed on the same scale with someone that rejected Jesus purposefully? Also, what about other cultures during the time of the Israelites? They weren't God's chosen people and couldn't be part of the covenant.”

These are all really good questions and the answers to them may never satisfy us.

The Background to the Questions  

These questions are ultimately questioning God’s rationale for condemning sinners to hell.  From Scripture we know that it is not God’s desire for humanity to perish in hell.  For example, in Ezekiel 33:11 the Lord says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”  Peter also writes, “He is slow with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  

Since this is the heart position and desire of God, it is difficult for us to understand how and why he can then sentence members of humanity to eternal damnation.  God must do this because he is not only loving, righteous, and merciful, but also just.  These questions come from a knowledge that God has provided a way out from eternal death, and that is through having faith in Jesus Christ.  But what about those who have not heard about Jesus to have faith in him?  Since they didn’t receive an opportunity to hear the good news of the “way out” do they have a different standard of judgment or a different punishment than the rest?  

The Biblical Data 

Sin is the cause of death.  God did not create sin.  He created the world and it was good!  God did not tempt Adam and Eve and he has no blame for sin or its effects.  Since he is a just God, he must punish sin.  We might think that eternal death, or hell, is too strict of a punishment, but we are forgetting who the offense is against.  If a person murders someone, and the murder only takes a second to commit, the just punishment lasts for a lifetime, a life for a life.  Despite most crimes’ short length of time to commit, the punishments sentenced are far longer.  And in some cases, such as rape, many people think the sentences are not long enough, or severe enough.  What then about crimes (sin) committed against God, a being of far greater worth than a human being?  Consider that the crimes (sin) committed against God are committed for a lifetime.  When these considerations are taken into account, eternal punishment becomes more rational.  Lifelong crimes against an eternal God, justly bring eternal punishment.  (Genesis 1-3, Romans 1-3)

General Revelation is given to everyone.  These questions fail to recognize that God has revealed himself to everyone, even those who have not heard the Gospel message.  God has revealed himself in two different ways, general revelation and special revelation.  General revelation is what God has revealed about himself from what he has created.  Romans 1:18-20 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  This means that God’s general revelation places everyone in a state of guilt for their sins.  Everyone is left without excuse.  

Special revelation is required for salvation; general revelation itself is not enough for salvation.  Special revelation is God’s direct communication of himself to mankind through his word and through the person of Jesus Christ.  Faith in Christ is explicitly required for salvation, as Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  

Faith receives the benefits of grace.  Scripture teaches that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Jesus directly speaks this truth to Nicodemus in John 3:16, stating, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   A person can only believe the good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, which served as a substitionary atonement for the penalty of our sins, if he or she has heard the good news!  (Romans 10:12-15) 

And that’s the rub!

That’s what burns!  We’ve fallen short.  We deserve eternal death.  God has paved a way for salvation for mankind through the person of Jesus Christ.  For us to have that salvation, we have to hear the good news of that salvation and believe it!  But not everyone hears, yet they’re still guilty because of general revelation.  Everyone is left in a guilty state before God with no excuse and in need of Jesus for salvation. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Setting up Shop in the Marketplace of Academia #3

OK, I think this is the final blog post on the work that Pastor Mark Jasa is doing at the Lutheran University Chapel, UCLA.

Here is a link to all of their online media resources: Lutheran University Chapel Online Media.

Here is one more video of Pastor Mark Jasa speaking with a college student on the UCLA campus.  He is setup on the campus with a table like this multiple times every week.  He would love to see similar setups like this on campuses all over America.  He's willing to help train people to do it.  I think in the next week or two, I'll setup a similar table on the UCI campus.  You can pray for me about doing that. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Setting up Shop in the Marketplace of Academia #2

My last blog post featured a video of UCLA Lutheran Pastor, Mark Jasa, speaking with a student at a "Religion is for the Weak" table which he regularly sets up on the UCLA campus.

The following is an article I copied from the UCLA Radio website about Mark and his work on the UCLA campus:

"Religion Is For The Weak" Man

Have you seen the man out on Bruin Walk with the the signs posted on the three corners of his table that read "Religion Is For the Weak?" Meet Mark Jasa. Tune in to hear who and what he's all about without having to approach him, and you may find yourself wanting to be in the hot seat (the chair next to his).

Once raised Catholic and now a professed atheist, 1st-year Kevin Porea is one of hundreds of students on Bruin Walk that have actually stopped to look and think twice at the sign that screams  “Religion is for the weak.”

Kevin asks the man, "Religion is the weak, are you part of the religion?"

The response is from the man behind the sign.

Meet Mark Jasa, once a fellow Bruin in the 90s, he has been back on Bruin Walk fairly regularly in the last three years, coming out about 20-30 times a quarter. He comes out in the mid-afternoons, parks his table, lawn chair, and signs near Pauley Pavilion, ready and willing to defend his argument till sundown.
After talking to him for a few minutes, you’ll find that he is also the pastor of University of Lutheran Chapel.

But don’t let his pastoral title make you think that a healthy debate can’t come about. He may have once been in your shoes…

As an undergraduate studying Anthropology at UCLA back in the early 90s, Mark was agnostic, and didn't know if God existed.

But he was in a search for truth because his parents raised him to believe that truth is the most important thing. Also from CS Lewis, "If you search for truth you may find comfort, if you search for comfort you may find neither."  However, when Mark would ask his Christian peers why he should be a Christian, they didn't give him a good reason to believe.

Mark says, "Many Christians neither know how to deal with people who have questions nor are they doing anything to learn how to answer people who have questions. So most people on campus think there is a blind faith thing that you either have it or you don't."

Though convincing answers did not come from his Christian peers, Mark for many years have claimed to realize Jesus to be the true God.

Somehow through the question of one’s will and one’s intellect, Mark became convinced that Christianity wasn’t just a blind faith, put was backed with truth and historical validity.

Pastor Jasa believes that Jesus rising from the dead is the question of the intellect, because it can be proven through applying standard historical procedures.

But when it comes down to accepting Jesus, he believes it’s not just the question of the intellect, but also a question of the will."Unless you’re lost, unless you're weak, unelss you see that you're helpless, going to need the thing he claims to be giving to you. Jesus came to seek and save the lost."


So why does Pastor Jasa spend countless hours on his lawn chair ?

It’s mainly to challenge professed Christians in the way they should think about their faith,I think very few people know what the Good News is. A pastor here at UCLA came up to me and didn't know if he was saved. And I said, 'what is the Bible about?'"

He is also learning about the questions people are interested in. His audience include mostly Atheists, some Muslims, few Hindus, skeptical/athetistic Jews, and Christians.

Because religion is often shielded on educational grounds, subconsciously or not, it’s important to remember the freedom we each have in religion, and the opportunities we have in America to learn about the different perspectives that make this nation a nation for all nations. Stay tuned in to next week to hear a Muslim’s view on my new feature “Religion is for the Weak.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Setting up Shop in the Marketplace of Academia #1

Here's a video of the Lutheran campus pastor at UCLA.

Two to four times a week, he'll set up a table on the UCLA campus with a sign attached to it which says, "Religion is for the weak."  I hope to not misrepresent his approach, but I believe his point with this intro to a conversation is to say that people who are religious acknowledge that they are facing death and their religion is an acknowledgment of a need for a "good" ending after this life besides just death and non-existence.

The breakdown however is that all religions besides Christianity are not free.  In Christianity, salvation is free for us, because Jesus has paid the price and fulfilled God's righteous requirements on our behalf.  Other religions put work on the individual to reach the next "level", rather it be observing the law in Judaism, following the eightfold path in Buddhism, practicing some form of yoga in Hinduism, obeying the five pillars of Islam, or whatever a religion "requires" of its adherents to do.

His goal is always to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  With a lead in such as "Religion is for the weak," Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and other religious adherents generally approach him wanting to defend their religion.  The statement is not, "Religion is for the weak-minded," it's just "Religion is for the weak."  Also some atheists or agnostics approach him because of this sign wanting to know more and I guess they are shocked to find out that he's a Christian who is admitting that he is weak and that he needs God, and that in fact we're all going to die and that we all need Jesus as our Savior.

Here is a sample conversation that he has on Youtube:

Check Out University Lutheran Chapel!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Awakened Generation

A former on-line student of mine has started a website called, "Awakened Generation"!

This former student said, "What my main goal for Awakened Generation is to have speaking engagements with high schools and youth groups. Now I don't know how long it will be until Awakened Generation is at that point of regularly speaking at places but we will see what God does. I am not going to be the only speaker for Awakened Generation because I have this vision of speaking with a team of guys who want to share their testimonies about how far away they were from God and how radically He changed their lives. I feel like its really powerful to see a couple of young guys and a couple of young girls share their testimonies with teenagers a year or so younger then them."

If you want to check it out, here is the site for "Awakened Generation".

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hindu Influence in Western Culture #3

Lately, I've written several posts about Hinduism.  I think it is good for Christians to be aware of what other religions belief and to even study them to some degree.  I've tried to start with the teachings of Hinduism and present bridges to presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Similar to that of Paul in Acts 17, although, I'm sure not as well as Paul presented Christ to the men of Athens.  I've also shown some ways in which Hinduism has had influence in Western culture, so far showing "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison and the movie Avatar.

Now, on to yoga.  Many in America don't know that yoga is influenced by Hinduism.

Here's an article to read about this influence: click here for the article.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two Religions - Grace, or not Grace.

This can be an interesting coversation-starter:

"Hey, how many religions do you think there are?"

"I don't know, like a couple hundred."

"Well, I bet there are more than that, but did you know that no matter how many religions there are, we can pretty much boil them down to just two religions - Grace, and Not Grace."

The following video illustrates this point. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Clarification on Christianity #1

It seems that a good number of people who are not Christians see the Bible as a rulebook for life.  That it is a set of moral codes and ethics which need to be adhered to in order to be Christian.  For defending the Christian faith, Christians need to help people get beyond this view of what the Bible is and what being a Christian is.

The Bible is not a rule book.  It is a love letter from God to us.
Christianity is not a way of life - it is life!  

For clarification I have copied the following from a written manuscript by my high school's retired congregational pastor, entitled "Christianity 101":

The Bible: God’s Love Letter – not a secret code book; a living Word, not dead letter.
a. Old Testament -- 39 books
       i. The Canon or Pentateuch (5 books): Genesis – Deuteronomy
               1. Message: God created the world, sin entered, God began a plan to save the world through a                            Savior to be born.
       ii. His-story books (12 books): Joshua-Esther
               1. Message: Humans cannot save ourselves. Kingdoms come and go – so do wars and sin.
       iii. Poetic books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (5 books)
               1. Message: God loves us.
      iv. Minor Prophetic books (17 books): Isaiah-Malachi
               1. Message: Turn (repent) or Burn (live in sin). The Savior is coming.
b. New Testament -- 27 books
       i. Gospels (4 books): Matthew-John
               1. Message: It’s all about Jesus. All four biographies about Jesus.
        ii. HIS-story (1 book): Acts of the Apostles
               1. Message: How the Christian Church was born (after Jesus’ resurrection) & spread.
        iii. Letters (21 books): Romans-Jude
               1. Message: Letters written to real churches, cities, people about living as Jesus’ disciples.
        iv. Victory book (1 book): Revelation
                1. Jesus comes again – Judgment – Those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior are saved                          and will  live together forever with God in Heaven with resurrected bodies and recognition of    
                     each other, all glorifying and worshiping the Lord Jesus.

 I believe that clarifying more specifically what the message of the Bible actually is and what Christianity is will go along way in leading people to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hindu Influence in Western Culture #2

I think it's good for Christians to be aware of the many religious influences in Western Culture which are not Christian. It's good for us to to know these influences so we don't accidentally glorify or lift up false religions. It's also good for us to know to use as a starting point of conversation with friends when a religiously influenced song or movie is playing. It's simple to say, "Hey did you know that this song is talking about ______." It would then be a good opportunity to explain why Christians disagree with that belief and segue into what the Bible teaches on the issue.

I'm sure this example of Hindu influence in Western culture has been overkilled.  But, hey, why not share it again?

The James Cameron directed Avatar was certainly influenced by Hinduism.  Cameron has even shared this in interviews.

The incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu are referred to as avatars.  There are ten avatars of Vishnu.  The most known avatars are the ones I mentioned in the last post I made on Hindu influence in Western culture, Krishna and Rama.  Both of these avatars are depicted to have . . . BLUE SKIN!

The picture above is a depiction of Lord Rama.  Do you see any resemblance of this figure with those of the ones in Avatar?  I think so.

Also, in Avatar there is a divine nature which is in all things on the foreign planet, apparently even in the military marines who are visiting the planet.  This is very similar to Brahman, the divine essence that is in all things in Hinduism, making all things in this universe sacred, just as they are in Avatar.