Tuesday, 13 September 2011

John Lennox at Oxygen 11

John Lennox is the author of God's Undertaker: has Science Buried God?, the just released Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target, and other books. He is a prominent Christian apologist, who has had the opportunity to debate several of the New Atheists publicly, such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Peter Singer. He has lectured extensively (especially in Europe) on the intellectual defence of Christianity. He is also Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, and has worked as a translator of Russian mathematics.

John Lennox speaking at Oxygen 11, a conference for Christian pastors and leaders:Lennox spoke from the Book of Acts. In his first sermon, titled "A flame that spreads - the word and the Spirit", Lennox showed us that in the earliest church as the word "grew" (spread, expanded in outreach, was preached faithfully and increasingly) the church grew. (See Acts 6:7, 9:31, 12:24, 16:5, 19:20 and 28:30-31.) He reassured us that the same would be true in our areas of Christian ministry; but also warned us that the church will not grow unless the word grows. We need to get our evidence out to our society; we need to teach young adults and new Christians in the church to think biblically. We must take Scripture seriously! By grappling and wrestling with Scripture, we will hear God speaking to us. Lennox quoted Nigel Lee (words he asked Lennox to say at his funeral):
"Soak your minds and hearts in the Word of God until you see and hear the Living Word of God."
These words were the most significant for me in all of Lennox's talks.

In his second sermon, "A kingdom to live for - the witness of the church", Lennox said that Christianity's "supernaturalism" is a basic and significant aspect that must be accepted by faith that comes by hearing the word of God. (Not 'airy fairy' unsubstantiated faith, but faith that has it's basis in the truthful evidence of many witnesses; in the divine revelation of God; in our sound, rational, logical, intellectual understanding and acceptance.) Jesus' ascension was a visible, physical event, which provides a pattern for Jesus' coming return (Acts 1:9-11). Thus we are to get on with telling the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, until Jesus Christ returns to restore everything.

In his third sermon, "A truth to die for - the martyrdom of Stephen", Lennox argued that we must always be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. He discussed some of the "potentially embarrassing" moments of early Christianity, such as Judas's defection from the twelve (and thus from the gospel), and showed how Peter faced these head on. We must deal openly with, and not ignore, the problems of criticism from inside the church and defection from the gospel - the problem of sin. LORD, Do not let those who hope in You be put to shame because of me! Amen. Lennox gave some great insights into the difficulties Jewish priests faced when they became Christians - since they believed that Jesus made one sacrifice for all, how could they continue to sacrifice animals on behalf of the Jewish people who came to the temple? What they believed had done them out of a job! It was now disobedience to God to continue in the old ways - the point that Stephen made at the end of his talk to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:51-53). Like Stephen, we must uphold the centre and foundation of True Worship. We must be willing to give up other things so that we may uphold the gospel in obedience to the LORD. LORD, Help me not to blow it! Help me to stand for the central things, not the peripherals. Amen. Paul began his ministry where Stephen's death left his off (calling the Jews to Christ). We must not let the failure of one evangelist prevent us from attempting to evangelise.

Lennox also spoke at two Q&A sessions, which we didn't attend because we went to other electives. I have just downloaded them to my iPhone and am looking forward to listening to them soon.

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