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1. Do We Need to Win Arguments to Win Souls?

Anthony Bosman

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Anthony Bosman

Assistant Professor

Conference

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  • December 30, 2018
    9:30 AM
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This message was presented. To be used in Texas for other resources like this is it as. Well as can started I don't want to waste any of our time we don't have much of it so let me go ahead and say a word of prayer and then we can dive right in. Front of God We say in all of you you're so good to us and each one of us has such a incredible testimony of your goodness from the refrain that you're present here today to teach us how we might affectively share the message of hope that we have that we can help others come to trust you know you others who maybe don't even recognize your father be with us now help us to think clearly help us to love greatly in Christ name for a moment so the name of the seminar is atheism apatheism or Adventism so you've probably heard of atheism before the no god who said apatheism before it's kind of a neutral word that's trending What does it sound like apathy is it's a combination of apathy and theism theism belief in God but it's apathy about God So apatheism are those who don't take a strong stance and say I reject they just apathetic I wake up in the morning I live my life I watch enough flicks that go to sleep doesn't seem like I need God question. Yeah OK. Not interested and so those we'll see some data show this privileged class that are necessarily atheist that is apathetic about God and so we want to make sure we're talking about this group as well as an avid his and which will probably live more familiar with so the plan is we're going to go in through 6 seminars engaging of some of the big questions big topics that come up in this arena today we're going to be asking do we need to win arguments to win souls and then our next can be certain that God exists in the 2nd 7 or we'll both be seeing some positive evidence for God but also look at the number of objections that people raise and how we can respond to those then tomorrow morning we'll have to about science has science replaced faith and then do we still need to try to seriously how to think about Genesis today and then tomorrow afternoon when I ask about the problem of evil the problem of divine hiddenness why does god hide while people suffer and then what about thinking about the future space colonies artificial intelligence where is humanity heading but I want to begin by jumping in to this question Do we need to win arguments to win souls into the Engage of this question I want to hear from some of you who would answer in the affirmative yes we need to win arguments to win souls OK we have a couple of brave souls or maybe particular argumentative souls who would answer No no I don't think we need to win arguments and who would answer I'm apathetic. I don't know that's a perfectly fine response that's why I'm here today I don't know the answer to it well let me hear from someone who said yes we have a mike and I want to hear from someone who said yes why would you say yes why did you vote yes who was with someone who had their hand up for yes OK right here and I'll briefly why do you think it's important for us to win arguments because if you don't win the arguments they won't believe OK And so people have serious objections and if you can't respond to those objections why would they believe that's a fine point someone else one more reason why we passed the mike back here to Kevin on the 3rd row would ask you this question doing to win arguments to win souls if Stephen hadn't presented a persuasive argument for the most science ship of Jesus and his rejection by the Jewish nation would there have been a conversion on the part of the Apostle Paul beautiful so you look at some of the biblical evidence and you see the throughout Scripture you have a presentation of arguments in Acts one a theme verse for this weekend we see that when Christ rose he presented many infallible proofs so there was an argument being won there Paul would go to synagogue to synagogue engaging in some form of argumentation as in showing from the Scriptures the reasons for the confidence they had in the Messiah so you do seem to have some to the who of an inch of presenting the case for Christianity Well let me hear from someone who said no we don't need to win arguments to win souls What was your reason over here coming at the mike. I think before we discuss this we have to know what an argument is because when I think of an argument I think of conflict and I don't think we have to win conflicts but persuasion and in giving them facts and information is important but somehow I don't like the word argument your argument kind of has a combative tone to it when you hear argument you imagine 2 heads going against each other trying to outwit or out power the other but if we take arguments in the costal sense that we're engaging in a truth seeking dialogue to gather where respect in each other that maybe takes a little more positive tone do you want to add to that. It wouldn't gauge in a truth seeking dialogue together so we're coming together I'm presenting the best evidence I have your present the best evidence you have and we're trying to seek truth together. Very good so it's a discussion with a definitive goal to arrive at the truth of some topic you know we don't hold down sort of for everything good you know certainly we can disprove all the things and so that's on as I arrived to creation is real because you know evolution is not real I mean it's once I don't know if you're going to go through example or you know once you you plant the seed. Or. Maybe believe the that belief in God Rachael there are 2 in a way for you started by saying that we don't have the answers to everything and so maybe we don't have to win every possible argument to win souls but there do seem to be some really significant arguments A big issues where we need to be able to make a compelling case why let's look at some of the biblical data what we're going to turn to 1st Peter chapter 3 and verse 15 and 1st Peter 315 tells us that one of the ways that we are Christ as Lord that we say to fight him in our hearts is by being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asked you for the reason for the hope that is in you that work for defense is apology a from which we get the word apologetic and so Peter is telling us of one of the ways we are in a crisis there's many ways we live a godly life but but another way is we prepare ourselves to give a response to those who come up and ask questions about why do you live the way that you live why do you believe the things that you believe it's a PITA saying that not only should you give a response but ahead of time you need to be prepared so that when you come against those questions you are able to answer in a thoughtful way. And that's what we're trying to do in this series of seminars we're trying to prepare you so that when people ask you questions about why do you believe that why do you think that why do you live the way you are able to give a response I don't look at live the data of what's been going on generationally and we look at those who cause as religious nuns now religious nuns are not necessarily only atheists across to be agnostics or those who are apathetic but those who just don't identify with the images community and notice what's happened as we look at the older generations it's a quite a small percentage identifies religious nuts the majority of people identify of some religion but as we move to more recent generations older and younger you get to 3436 generations it's about 40 percent it's current teenagers about 40 percent don't identify with any religion whatsoever and so you can imagine they have quite a few big questions about God Here's some more data that breaks down a little further and notice what happens here in blue we have the percentage of atheist and you see a giant jump from millennia old those in the twenty's and thirty's to Gen Z. teenagers and those now entering college it nearly doubles and so you have a doubling of the percentage of atheist what's going on in the state or one possibility is that it should be a whole lot more people who don't believe in God but I think the data also reveals that the term atheist no longer has the baggage that it used to it's a valid more people are willing to identify with it in previous generations it kind of had a away in this too it is kind of something that was look down upon but now people feel free to adopt the title of a theist and so you see the numbers jumping where you have 14 percent of the religious nuns just apathetic 13 percent are atheist 8 percent are gnostic and so you have quite a bit of the population of the. 4042 percent are Christians 1517 percent are Catholics so you still have a good chunk of Christianity. Increasingly growing segments that are either religious nuns or outright atheist in their stated beliefs so here's what's going on with Christianity you can see those a there's a spectrum of the social status of Christianity on the far right there's the social expectation you will be a Christian this would be you live in a society that when you meet someone you can ask questions like oh where are you from what church do you go to it's kind of assumed you belong to a religious community that you have some kind of faith but what's happened is it's moved from that expectation to 2 maybe OK maybe religion is still somewhat respected if you're Christian that's and admire both thing but now it's continuing to move to well maybe Christianity is acceptable that's fine for you but notice if we continue to move along the spectrum you become something that's a little bit weird and then you keep moving further along the spectrum it's it's it's almost something it's despised it's its own you go to church so you move from the assumption of what church do you go to to as this cultural shift takes place when moving closer to the opposite end of the spectrum to oh you're religious that's interesting and that's kind of weird or why do you do that or isn't that intention with some of these values we hold as a society and so we see this shift taking place do you think it's a good shift or a bad shift. What's 1st thing you know there's any possible positives of it is cooler. OK so maybe maybe if it's for Ange could be kind of hit because be kind of like authentic There is the danger that if there's an expectation for you to belong to a church that therefore people would just go with the flow right then maybe the faith won't be altogether sincere so it's possible that this shift well help to make sure that those who engage in life of faith are doing it in a serial way a whole heart commitment rather than just following some form of religion but they do seem to be some dangers as well what's a possible danger of it there is the possibility of persecution that's right maybe the way that the churches are respected under the law you have less respect less legal standing for churches what else is possible you get caught up in it there's also the danger of the when it comes to doing evangelism do you have this extra roadblock rights there's no longer even an assumption for people to engage in religious life so it creates extra obstacles to to engage in someone in the Gospel and so there's possibility of some positives Dynasty all bad that commission city of faith comes with it but it also creates new challenges for evangelism what I like about a passage in 1st Peter chapter 3 is not only does it tell us we need to be prepared to make a difference but then people immediately moves on and identifies what our attitude and approach is to be when we're making this defense it was mentioned earlier that sometimes we talk about argument we have this vision of mind of of 2 people going at each other right heated you know just being upset but notice how Peter describes it in the 1st chapter 1st Peter chapter 3 and verse 15. He begins by saying Have no fear that when we do apologetics and we engage with making a defense for the faith we shouldn't be coming from a place of fear he goes on to say that when you share in a reason for the hope that seen you do it with gentleness meekness and respect are you trying to live with fear having a good conscience so that when your silence those who really value a good behavior have good behavior in Christ may be put to shame looking at this description not having fear coming from an attitude of gentleness and respect good conscience and good behavior I want to hear from you why do you think this is so important go ahead look at this list is the one that stands out gentleness or good conscience or respect and why do you think it's so important I want to bring them I can hear from a couple of you is the one it stands out to you and why do you think it's important that Coach arises our approach right here well that jumped out to me was respect if you come to an argument with respect then the other side or even you might shut down and not take the information with an open mind with the mind of a maybe this could be right if you can your argument with the lack of respect then I don't even want to hear opinion excellent So if you're not respecting them they're probably not going to respect and you write them with dignity and hearing them out if this comes across as you're trying to get a word in and prove a point you're actually listening to them and they probably won't be receptive to what you have to say either that's fantastic no one else was one that stands out right back here. Good going to. Because I think there is no need to do this with like he's excellent so so we want to make sure that we're making the best possible case and we're not being in your way shady with the evidence we're not presenting ways anything in a deceitful way or when I try to manipulate well being and completely sincere in our approach fantastic one more in the back we have some hands up to get to one of those what's one of these attributes that stands out to you. Gentleness stands because I think that people just in general in this society right now are so hammered with everything like media or you know everybody's always shouting screaming angry warlike and so forth and so I think that gentleness will almost kind of like be a surprise to them because they're not accustomed to people just being gentle about something and continuing to be gentle regardless of what they say or do what do you think that looks like gentleness How would that look like in a conversation I think it's like a festival I think it's important that you hear out what they have to say because if you are listening to where they currently are on the spectrum then it will help you to figure out what the next step might be for them and so I think it's important to just do a lot of listening 1st and then when you do say something sometimes it might be good to ask a question 1st Excellent we look at Jesus' ministry It's characterized by question asking he asks hundreds of questions to our ministry whenever using gaijin some kind of confrontation rather than him coming but sometimes he does say some strong words words of rebuke but often he asks a question in insightful question that gets the other moves the other person to where he wants him if you're the one asking the questions in the dialogue you might feel like you forfeited because you're not giving the information but actually you're controlling the discussion if you're asking the question do you controlling where it's going it's a question asking is a fantastic approach Well what I want to do is look at some counsel we've given on this idea of attitude and approach so in testimonies volume 5 page 708 we're told that in meeting in the poet Now this isn't a physical opponent this is someone who is an intellectual of the whole to a different idea a different view in meeting in opponent it should be our earnest effort to present subjects in such a manner as to awaken conviction his mind instead of seeking merely to give confidence to the believer. Did you catch that distinction sometimes we're trying to make the case for something we can do it in a way that sounds really great if you already believe and you're like oh yeah that's right that's that's that's why we believe it but it's not actually that compelling to those who don't believe and so we're being told here make sure that when we make a case for something we're doing it in such a manner that those who don't already hold of views can engage with it they can see the some intellectual merit here we're not just preaching to the choir we're actually trying to engage them by making an honest and compelling case there are 2 principles I find that help us to do this the 1st is to avoid straw men so what is a straw man or a straw man is a misrepresentation of you opponents of you so your opponent may hold to some belief or some conviction and what you do is you you mischaracterize it. Say what you assume or you might you might assume the they believe some other things some other aspects of their of the argument but was strawman's really China is doing is to say I'm not going to engage what you actually believe I'm going to make it look ridiculous I'm going to make it look outlandish I'm going to make it appear weaker than it actually is in engage with that exaggerate that's right you're exaggerating what their position is to make it easier for you to defeat now that might be compelling for those on your side when you present a straw man and knock it down before those on the other side they're going to be like but we don't actually think so we don't find you being compelling You just seem to be dishonest writes it so we need to avoid that straw man yet you had a comment. Mike over here want to make sure you get it for the recording and if you can speak into the mike about it stronger. I do see a lot of arguments made with a straw man and like from a Christian perspective how we view that with evolution and all that silly like we've You are like oh no evolution is really easy to struggle off but we're avoiding really what they're arguing and we're not reaching to them in the heart excellent So sometimes the way we talk about really important topics we fail to do in a way that's actually going to engage those who don't already believe it so when we go through some of these topics of faith and science what Sharia models some more mature responsible ways to engage with some of those questions very good the opposite of straw man is the principle of charity charities are all Origen means love and so what we want to do is the principle of charity is saying I'm going to be as gracious towards your position as possible I'm going to assume that you're a thoughtful rational person if you slip up a little bit in your argument if you say something a little wrong I'm not going to pounce on that in order to make you look ridiculous I'm going to extend some grace and I'm going to try to make your argument as compelling as possible I want to engage with the strongest of your ideas not with the weakest So what do we do with these things we're following the counsel of 1st Peter or Peter tells us we'll to have respect for the other person would respect the views we would it would have a good conscience would be honest right and so this is to characterize our discussion and I believe that when we do this and make us a whole lot more compelling in our Christian witness then I see a comment right here. Well let's keep moving. Blaise Pascal French mathematician one of my favorite thinkers he puts it this way he says men despise religion he was his this is why they hate it in fear it is true that may not be the case today but this is his assessment the men hate religion because they fear true so he has his solution he says to remedy this we must do a number of things we must begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason that the things we believe are not against your reason that is venerable That is we want to inspire respect for it not only is the not contrary to reason it's respectable then we must make it lovable to make good men hope it is true Finally we must establish it is true to a Pascal's outline here she's showing that there's a number of steps we must go through on the one hand we must show the things we believe in that we Dickie Alice The They're not they're not entirely insane the reason but then we must go on and say there's actually something respectable here is something attractive here there's a reason you want this to be true oh and in fact it is true let's present the evidence so he's presenting a holistic approach I find that Ellen White presents a similar holistic approach to argumentation She notes that the Savior knew that no argument however logical would melt hearts or break through the crust of Rolly mists and selfishness that that if someone is hearted in their heart no matter how compelling your argument it won't break through that what will if not just an argument elsewhere and gossip workers page $21.00 she notes love will do that which argument will fail to accomplish. So in argumentation we want to give really sharp compelling reasons we want to appeal to the mind but we also need to recognize we're not just engaging with minds that have intellectual barriers was engaging the heart of hearts and to cut through the hardness of that heart we need to have love characterize our engagement with others in the book of ministry of healing the chapter hope and daily living she puts it this way she says the strongest argument what do you think it is the strongest argument in favor of the Gospel is it some some logical proof of the existence of God is there some historical argument for the resurrection What's the strongest proof she says the strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian and so while we want to develop good ensuring arguments we need to make sure I want to character I don't emphasise is so much that we're bringing with our argument an atmosphere of love that even the way we engage with and respect the other in our dialogue is characterized by love so even if at the end of that particular discussion they walk away are convinced they will say but there's something to find about that person the way they respected me that the way they live that it looks different now continue to pique their interest OK let's look at my data for some of the actual objections for why people identify as religious nuns why people claim atheism or apathy is this this spiritual apathy towards religion here's one poll by the BARDA group and burn a survey to 600 different adults teenagers and they would ask them why are the reasons that you do not identify as a Christian one of the top ones was the problem of evil. I have a hard time believing a good God allows so much evil suffering in the world we're giving gaging with this Monday afternoon a 5th session so we come back Monday was for the whole seminar with this particular question the next one Christians are hypocrites I believe science refutes too much of the Bible so science is one the top ones will spend some time on that tomorrow morning in our 3rd and 4th presentations I don't believe in fairy tales. God is just a fairy tale love it tomorrow is my next presentation reasons for the existence of God Is God just a fairy tale there are too many injustices in the history of Christianity you go back to Christianity you look at the things the church did too many injustices I used to go to church bitches are bored to me anymore or had a bad experience surprisingly this last one I had a bad experience is incredibly low they few people report having a bad experience with church and so it's not enough just for us to focus on people make sure they have a great experience at church we need to also make sure engages in these intellectual objections they have as well and that's why we go into the time of thinking about these arguments here's another survey that was done this is by the Pew Research Center a similar survey noticed the top reason people gave for why they identified as religious nuns why they don't identify religion the top reason is intellectual objection a question a lot of religious teachings so they just don't understand the basic tenets of Christianity big questions about it the 2nd one I don't like the social and political takes of the church the positions that the church takes on social and political issues and then there are some other ones that they distrust religious organizations that don't trust me after my money these kinds of ideas. I don't believe in God so the objections we've in God and in this is religion is not relevant to my life mathematic about it. Well we're going to be going through these issues in the upcoming seminars what I wanted to do today was pick one of them out and spend the rest of our time on one of them and one that seemed relevant for us to spend some time on is the 2nd one I don't like the positions touches take on social and political issues is what I want to do for the rest of our time in this 7 hour is think through politics and why is so many people turned off by the way that the church has engaged in politics and is there a healthier way for us to do it and so I want to. Ask you guys how should the church relate to politics how should Christians relate to politics I don't hear from a couple of us as you think about that question what comes to mind how do you think Christian should relate to politics notice the number of people been turned off rejected the Gospel because they they don't like how the Christian seem to be in politically engaged in the way they are how do you believe Christian Surely it's a politics let's run the mike we have a hand back here. I think. Christians to relate to politics the same way God has like same way God has given us free choice. Is because we don't believe something there's a mean we should hinder everyone else who doing it it's like. You know for like I said for is if your head if your pastor was the Guinn and they are you wanting your church easy going every time you every single Nick every one would be salty but so I thought that's how we should treat other people because God gave us the choice to follow him or to sin and so we shouldn't be forcing other people to do so so you'd be concerned about people trying to legislate some of the Christian views upon others forcing others to comply with maybe as Christians we have the standards but you don't feel that we should force them through the large trying to gain political power Ok someone else how to relate to politics I forget the specific reference and desire of ages but I did read something there were social issues in the time of Jesus when I was on earth and like you said this was a reference I forget but he she wrote something about being aloof to the. Current social political issues at the time just like today my personal take is try to be as aloof as you can from direct involvement with discussions on social political issues but when. It is drastically put in the situation you have no choice but to speak. You should take the stance of not defending who or what party is right but actually stand more for what in general is right now who is right what is right excellent So you are to collated a view that predominantly we should take a stance on political aloofness and you cited the example of Christ the Christ and run for Senate Christ and try to bring about some kind of social reform. Apparent apparently didn't seem to rather his focus was not a change in laws around changing hearts and therefore perhaps we should take a similar posture that we shouldn't try to engage as political discussions we should remain to use the word aloof to that who want to agree with our posture who says yeah I think that's the right way and what I want to push back and say well aloof something seems I think we need to be a little more engagement to push back on that view at all let's I want to hear the mike right here how do you push back on that I'm just thinking of what happened during. The forty's in Europe OK Excellent some of our Christian theologians were also pacifists and we know what happened there so I'm not exactly buying into the aloof to spike there's an extreme to it which is the you know the social justice reform and in all of these engagements with with. Picketing in yeah but yeah this is too far on today so you point to a very powerful historical example of the rise of fascism Naziism in throughout Germany of the raw Europe and the failure of some Christians to condemn that great more evil the failure of some Christians to speak out against that and so you're saying that we need to be careful that without repeating that same failure of speaking out against the great more evils of today even those of my taking a political dimension as if I'm wanted to more right here. I appreciate what she just said but something that I want to say is this you know we often talk about politics in terms of platforms Yes and that you thing is we have our own platform we have the Word of God Yes and it's unchangeable it's not something that cause the changes with the wind is not going to be different tomorrow is you know it's always going to stay the same and that is our platform Kelly thing is I think that people are hesitant to move forward talking about it as if it is a platform OK So you're saying that actually the word of God is off from the just different political parties comma with holing and and various kinds of consensus building some kind of platform we've been given a platform and therefore when you stand on that and articulate those positions What's even wanted to more even get some up here I know Kevin is very engaged in this question and I was written on it let him have it and I mean one more house of the Treasury late politics. There's a lot that could be said here for sure. Just to make one brief observation if anybody is interested I have written an article on this on my website Advocate dot com and the article is titled Why it's foolish to hate politics and I really would recommend engagement on that I was interested in what an individual said about what happened with Nazi Germany everybody ought to read this book folks every single one of you. I wish I was a wealthy man and I could buy it for all of you it's called the death of democracy Hitler's rise to power in the fall of the viral our Republican a draws parallels with what is happening in America today but the fact is that there's a lot of misunderstanding on this issue when it comes to the Council of Elrond white on political involvement yes it is true Jesus kept aloof from earthly governments but Jesus had a higher mission it is not the same as saying that all of us should people who fell in white did not keep aloof from. Politics folks she was an active abolitionist she was also an active prohibitionist And by the way in case anybody's not aware the alcohol prohibition Crusade was a liberal political cause in its day not a conservative one. And so Ellen White was not anti politics she did say we should not be slavish loyal to one secular party or ideology or another because our loyalty is higher than that but what I think is most important for us as 7th Day Adventists folks is to inform ourselves as to where candidates stand and that means watching more than one network. OK it means reading between the lines it means reading more than one website inform yourself about issues and don't and be careful to not swallow one agenda hook line and sinker and and stay away from nationalism Nationalism is not part of our agenda Seventh-Day Adventists are globalists we go we believe in a message that goes to every nation kindred tongue and people and our political participation should reflect that global agenda beautiful so we see a 7.0 to call. A couple of things one is the out of this history that although we've been trying to avoid political partisanship that we do have a history of engaging in various issues can we have one last person in the back. And then I want to get into some of the data to try and understand our current political situation whatever your take on politics I think we can probably agree we're in somewhat of a unique political moment in our history and I want to better understand that so we can better navigate it one last comment. I do believe that that Christians should be involved politically but there are different levels of involvement I think it's important for us to recognize that there are things that we are called to do and that we also have a duty to fellow man that we should not be ignorant as to how the world works and the people that are involved in these things like the gentleman said before about globalism it's also important to have our definitions clearly understood where you can say that we can be globalists in the sense as the Adventists mission yes but not in the political sense where you're seeking to have every tongue and nation cooperate you know in the same economic sense or even political sense I think it's important for us to not sort of be aloof to you know the political agenda and environment of our time because then it gives the impression that we are sort of intellectually dishonest where we're only able to engage with spiritual matters but we're not intelligent enough to sort of discuss you know how the world is actually working if you don't understand how the world is actually working you don't necessarily know how you can reach people of different sort of ideas and philosophies so I think there is there should be a balance that we're not sort of we're not restricted from from policy but that we should also be careful not to legislate ideas the same way that others seek to do so and to be fair as well in politics you have people of different religions and of different persuasions that are in a sense sort of expressing the ideas through policies that are legislated it's not to say that we are trying to legislate ideas but we have to represent we are in the arena of pilot in of the arena. Politics without legislating exactly what we think beautiful I really appreciate your emphasis on the importance of being reef informed and I think the importance of this is if we're not informed of the forces that are moving our society it's easy for us to get caught up in that and so even if you think that we are to remain aloof or somehow distant from the world it's still important to educate ourselves on what's happening so that when I tally caught up with the current of current trends and so what I want to go through right now is some of the data of some trends that are currently happening in our political discourse and in particular I want to focus on political polarization. So here I have a couple graphs that show the breakdown of political affiliation in the United States and you can note in 1904 you have a distribution of Democrats and Republicans and you can see that some Democrats a further to the left are more liberal some are further to the right more conservative in the saying for Republicans and what I want you to notice in particular is that in the 1994 about one 3rd of Republicans were more Libro than your average Democrats and about one 3rd of Democrats were more conservative than your average Republican you see that's so even if someone identified as a Democrat there was a Republican they might be a liberal Republican or a conservative Democrat and so there's quite a bit of overlap but notice what's happened throughout time in the decade since 1990 S. You've seen that the Democratic Party has been moving further to the left and the Republican Party has been moving further to the right and so not much less shared overlap the average Democrat is for the left the average Republican is for the right there's much more of a gulf between them only about 110th of Republicans are more liberal than the average Democrat and only about 110th of Democrats are more conservative than the average Republican and so there's much more of a ball of separation between the 2 parties it's a let's think about what that means that when Democrats and Republicans disagree while there were some disagreements the 1990 S. absolutely but there was a lot of common ground there was a lot of overlap. But as we move now to the 2014 and what he thinks happened since 2014 as you think about the elections that took place do you think that we came back together. No absolutely not the person should just continue to increase that the right is moving for the right and the left is moving for the left and so what this means is there's much less common ground and so not only now do the parties exist with their own platform but they began to exist in opposition to the other what does it mean to be a Democrat it means to be against the Republicans and what does it mean to be a Republican it means to be against the Democrats and you saw this in the last presidential election most people want voting for A or B. they were voting against the other right and so the pub the parties have come to define themselves in opposition to each other it's not just that we both have a platform a lot of overlap but out platform actually comes to exist in opposition to that of the other and so if they take this position we must take the opposite position that's not to say that there's no overlap the still some there's still some room for consensus and building in some room from bipartisanship and we see some legislation the recent. Reform of. The prison system was an example of that but you see increasingly it's a 0 sum game that if it's a win for you it's a loss for us so we have to make you lose for us to win so let's go into some of the some of the facts of the feeling that someone has to to do an experiment together to try and understand this polarization and so I'm going to show you some data some politically divisive data and I'm going to bite you to think about it now I do this for a fear and trepidation but I believe it's going to help us understand our current political situation so here is some data on guns and should we ban guns. So there's a public debate going on right now about regulations on guns. And one aspect of that debate is should Concealed Carry be allowed that is should someone be allowed to conceal a weapon and go into public grocery bill going to public spaces with a concealed weapon and so here's some data with some cities ban concealed weapons concealed handguns and some did not and we see that all of the cities the ban concealed handguns 223 of them saw an increase in crowd and of the same cities that concealed handgun the ban concealed handguns $75.00 so I decrease in cry so after banning the guns $223.00 saw an increase in crime $75.00 so a decrease in crime of the cities that did not ban concealed handguns 107 saw an increase in crime 21 saw a decrease in crime now this is significant because a lot of people have base debates about while allowing people to carry guns will make us safer or less safe people are guns so that seems dangerous or maybe less safe all but no one to music guns they don't know who else has a gun that they might use back against me it's more there's 2 sides to this debate and probably familiar with it my question is just looking at this data. Does banning concealed handguns is it associated with that increase a greater increase in crime or a greater decrease in crime as you compare these 2 datasets does banning concealed handguns lead to a greater increase in crime remember of those that concealed the ban concealed carry guns 243 saw an increase 75 so do you Crees of those that did not 107 saw an increase 21 saw a decrease So my question for you is does banning concealed handguns is associated with more of an increase in more of a decrease OK we're going to vote to look at the data based on this data do you believe that banning concealed handguns is more likely to increase the crime or decrease or are you ready we're going to vote I know some of you are thinking well there's all kinds of other factors maybe when you look at what the cities were and some of the crime stats in the demographics of the cities of what other laws really passing through the could be a lot of other compound variables but just looking at the state of what's the association does banning concealed handguns lead to an increase in crime a decrease in crime a bunch of you about to get mad at me but here we go OK who says the banning handguns leads to an increase in crime OK Looking at the data a good number of us who says that banning concealed handguns is more likely to lead to a decrease in crime. A 3rd party voter with your position that. There's more to it well yes that we could dive is that a much deeper but just I'm asking a question I want to to do look at a quick analysis noticed that those cities the band concealed handguns 75 percent Saudi increase in crime versus those cities that did not there concealed handguns 84 percent saw an increase in crime. Whereas those the ban concealed handguns $25.00 saw a decrease versus only 16 for those that are not so it seems like from this data that banning handguns is more likely to give you an increase in the decrease in is more likely to give you a decrease in crime it's improved the possibility of a decrease in crime and so those who said that banning handguns is greatly associated with the decrease in crime you got very good now for those who don't like that response you should know the state is entirely made up. It's from a study that was conducted at Yale Yale Law School and they gave data they both gave the original data set to have to produce evidence to the other half a disappearance they gave the opposite data and so this opposite data should suggest that banning guns leads to an increase in crime so the 1st data set suggests that it leads to a decrease the 2nd suggested leads to an increase and then they saw hey how people answered only 30 percent got a correct but then they said well let's see how someone's political affiliation informed how they answer the question and here's where things get really interesting when the data suggests that banning handguns would lead to an increase in crime the Republicans call it they're like yeah if you ban handguns the data suggest leads to an increase in crime so they got a correct but when the data suggested that banning handguns would lead to a decrease in crime the Republicans got it wrong the majority of the missed it same thing with Democrats when the data suggested that banning handguns would lead to a decrease in crime the Democrats are more likely to get it right to say the data says it leads to a decrease in crime and when it increase the Democrats are less likely to get it right and so we see the people's political persuasions who actually influence in the way they saw the data. Now you might say that's only because the people aren't very good in mathematics I'm a math professor So that's my thesis right if they had taken my math classes they would be much better and they would they would be able to answer correctly in the mathematical knowledge and overcome all political bias so what they did was they said well let's test the people and see if the mathematical ability is and then they pull out those that were proficiency in mathematics and what you think happened all political bias disappeared and it actually increase those official in mathematics if you're Republican in the data says the increase in crime you're more likely to get it right that there's an increase in crime but if there's a decrease in crime you just as likely to get a wrong you can notice the data tell you the decrease in crime if you're a Democrat and those a decrease in crime you're more likely to get a right but if there's an increase in crime you're just as likely to get it wrong and so we see that people's political persuasions were actually coloring the way that they saw the data this is significant it says that we exercise something called strategic reasoning that you have some intuition of how you think the world ought to be especially in politics and then you reason you way to the conviction that I must be right so Jonathan white concludes in the book the writer's mind the reasoning take you wherever you want to go he summarizes the problem like this he says we use 2 different standards of evidence if there's something we want to believe is true we ask the question can I believe it and then we look for any piece of supporting evidence but if there's something we don't want to believe it's true we don't ask and I believe it we ask Must I believe it and then we look for any kind of contrary evidence that prove otherwise so you go to Google and if you want to believe something you look for the 1st result that supports it. That's right and if you don't want to believe you go to Google and you go through the results and you find something that counters it and this helps to explain how we can polarize so quickly there's a number of social influences the contributor of polarization one has been the police race should have new sources if you go back to the 1950 S. sixty's we don't have very many news networks and so huge the handful of news networks and so everyone's tuning into the same news for the our nightly news and therefore that news has to appeal to a broad range of people. It has to try to appear to be you can question how I'm biased a really was but it appeared to be unbiased is appealing to the whole nation tuning in but then you get the rise of cable news 247 news shows and people can begin specialize in one news source they go to so you start getting some new sources to the left and some new sources to the rights and those new sources exist to appeal to that segment and now social media you get new news sources coming out and we have all kinds of news sources that some exist entirely on the left and some entirely to the right and they're appealing to that need audience and so you can see what happens on social media Here's a graph of social media behavior in the sharing of news stories and if you look at this graph notice in the red you have this cluster and these individuals each connection between the dots are them resharing and like each other's content and what you notice is is the red is its own isolated ecosystem its people sharing Republican right leaning stories and like you need and sharing it and they have their own news sources that produce content that's favorable to the position but in similar over here you have a blue cluster and there are sharing in like in their own content and there's very little interaction between the 2 there's very few nodes are connected to until we get these echo chambers where there exists through social media individuals who go find their own tailored news to support their worldview and then they shared within that ecosystem so if that's the environment to really live in this political divide where we to exist as Christians are we to implant ourselves in the center of one of these 2 chambers or we do exist somewhere else it's interesting is you can look at the religious breakdown of religious communities and you can see the just as how the nation is polarized so have churches there's a number of religious communities that are predominately led by Democrats so he was a study that was done by New York Times that looks. Leaders of various religious communities and they identify that there's a number of religious communities that are predominantly Democratic that lean left on social issues and left in various political issues and there's a number of religious communities that are all together right leaning that the vast majority of the leadership or Republicans in the members of pajama Republicans are leaning to the political rights we have as they haven't isn't exist where do you think we should exist who says we should go right who says we should go left well here's the data currently we exist right in the middle about 25 percent of Republic of pastors a Democrat. As Democrats about 25 percent of registered Republicans and a big swath of 50 percent are neither independents to or right down the center we resisted the poll to either the left or her right Interestingly enough the other nominations right next to us Roman Catholics they also exist in the political center the Catholics are very much on the left some very much on the right but quite a few are here in the center and as a whole they have neither moved left nor right and I want to suggest this is a strategic place for us to be that in this context of polarization maybe there's a reason that we exist here in the center after all if we move to the right what would be the problem what what we daily all those to the left or right if we moved to the left we'd all magically alienate all those to the rights. No it was an insightful quote of living in Mason a book on civil agreements she says if your racial identity in your religious identity and cultural identity E.G. a graphic identity all wrapped up with a political party then if your party loses it hurts a lot more psychologically and if you party wins every part of you has won one of the effects of this increased social sorting is that we elections occur that not just come to between 2 parties it makes reading they become competitions between racial in religious groups and that kind of things are truly dangerous sorting the politics has become all dominating it so that one's racial identity and one's sexual orientation and one's social status and one's religious identity have all come under one's political identity it's about politics has become this much more massive thing it's not just about what you think about some policy it's about an identity war right and just one of that's really dangerous and so I think it's really wise that as a church we've avoided moving to either side and subjecting ourselves to either political take Here's a quick rundown of the political climate in the United States. There are 3 major idiology is politically the ologies and each one views history in terms of some conflict Conservative see that there's a conflict between civilization and chaos they say we're just one generation away from civilization being lost if we don't pass on to our children the social norms and institutions that regulate us as a society we will lose that we need to instill that law and order it's a conservatives are very concerned about maintaining civilization that's the great conflict progressives look at history and they say yes but those social institutions have have a press and excluded various individuals and so we need to reform them to make them more inclusive that's the big take in history libertarians or classical liberal say the great conflict is between liberty in tyranny and so you have these 3 takes where do we stand as Adventists what outtake of history. I want to suggest it's none of these but we have a different take we have the great controversy and the great controversy the use a battle not between the left and the right but between good and evil between up and down and therefore we don't petition the world into different classes that we don't have that there's this group over here in this group over here well the great controversy isn't about us against them the great controversy is what's taking place within every individual's heart there's a war going on inside of you. It's a when we come up against someone we're not trying to classify them politically we're recognizing that within your heart there is some war that's taking place right now there was a battle for your soul and that's the controversy that we're all engaged in this has some implications for how we think about politics the 1st is as was already I'm emphasizing that we've been counseled to avoid being unequally yoked with any political party elements are very clear about this region workers page 393 is a mistake for you to link your interest with any political party to cast your vote with them or for them she's not saying don't vote Alto she has cancelled her vote but she's saying don't just vote for a party don't lie yourself with some political idiology we have another controversy that we're engaged in not a political controversy a great a controversy however the great controversy affirms things of social significance it affirms the importance of social order and human dignity and of liberty it ought to lead us to social engagement if you go back to this this breakdown of these different controversies taking place is different conflicts knows the things that conservatives really value progressives really value libertarians really value we can value that to the great controversy tells us that we ought to value liberty absolutely God values liberty we have to value a way of order that is not oppressive right we have to value civilization social order tells us to value those things and so there's times that we will speak that may sound political For instance in the 890 S. a little white speaking out against the ongoing effects of slavery notes that the American nation owes a debt of love to the colored race and God has ordained that they should make restitution for the wrongs they have done them in the past we could cite other examples of prohibition and other social movements the church have been gauged in that take on a social dimension but notice we're not doing that social action as as an activist for any political party rather we're doing it under the banner of the great controversy that's what's driving us in our social action. Most of all the big conference reminds us that we ought to divide people between this party in this party this class and this class but in the wars between good and evil in each one of us is engage in that conflicts and so I want to encourage us that is rethink about the implications of the great controversy that we guard against becoming servants of any other political ideology a few ways we can do this is diversify a new news source watch out for motivating reason in the echo chambers Another is the step back from social media social media has become so politicized it's easy to be drawn into it take Sabbath off of social media take the time of fasting from social media instead of focus on face to face conversations when my 3rd verse of the Scriptures heard John Chapter 31st starting 3rd John is the shortest book in the Bible in John tells us why it's the shortest book in the Bible in verse 13 you know why it is why it is so short and 3rd verse 13 John says I have many things that I want to write to you you want to write a big book nobody goes on to say but I'm not going to do it with in can pen instead I'm going to wait on Him face to face that joy may be complete he said this is some things I'm going to hold off and gauge an online discussion and make a face to face discussion because I want to have a fullness of joy. The last 2 things I want to say is we need to go our the way we speak about our national leaders it's really easy to politicize climate to get pulled into speaking about people on the left or on the right only drug Tory way we need to speaking ill of those when you pray for them pray for God's wisdom and ultimately we need to resist seeing the world being divided as those on the left and the right recognize Instead there's a great controversy it's up and down our left and right it's good and evil and that war is raging each person's heart so we come across someone it's not us and it's each one of us is engaged in this controversy and will come alongside them on the side of good to affirm that which is good and true and beautiful what a time for today but will pause there are encourage us to hang out if you have any questions and we began our next summer about 15 minutes asking can we be certain that God exist let me say what a closing prayer and move on. For the guy we talked about lots of day we've talked about arguments and the need for us to make a compelling case for a faith but also to recognize that we're not just appealing to to the intellect we also want to be charts which means that we want all of our actions all of our words to be characterized by love that we might cut through the hardness of hearts or we might cut through the bias and whatever prejudiced individuals may have to give a clear revelation of you follow you know politics is something easy for us to get caught up in big questions about how to engage him in the social issues of today but also my father really be faithful to you and recognize that we were engaged in a great a controversy a controversy between good and evil and therefore it's our job to petition the world to us and them rather to come alongside individuals and encourage them as a very powerful this almost I think. Father thank You for the gift of the sun rays accomplished. This message was recorded. In Houston Texas. Supporting ministries the 7th Day Adventist Church seeks to inspire. Christians. To download or purchase other resources like this visit us online.

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