ICAS RETREAT 2015- HEPHZIBAH CHRISTIAN CENTER PART II

 

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icas2After our conversation(as she aptly put it) with Prof Acolatse on Making Christianity Relevant to Our Culture, the second part of the afternoon’s session of our retreat commenced at 4pm. This session was a Skype interaction with L.T. Jeeyachandran, the Director of theRavi Zacharias International Ministries (Asia-Pacific), based in Singapore. Our talk centered on The Disciplines and Character of an Apologetic.

L.T began his talk by quoting 1st Peter 3:15 “but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”. The focus of this scripture that apologists hold dearly is not,as some are wont to think, in the always be ready aspect, but in sanctifying the Lord in our hearts. The apologetic discipline he said, isn’t worthwhile if all we have to convey to the world are beautiful words that wows the critics’ voice into silence. As 1st Thessalonians 1:5 says “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”  L.T talked about one  main danger of apologetics, which is this: to defend truth in the abstract is very easy. The difficulty lies in our transmitting the truth we defend into our lifestyles. Defending an idea is easy; a life of honesty and transparency is the real hurdle. Is there a dichotomy between what we say we believe and passionately defend, and the lives we actually live?

According to L.T, speaking about truth correctly is not the same thing as living a righteous life. True spiritual discipline then, is a relational exercise, not a religious one. What do we know of the Christ we preach? Have we encountered him personally? Do we have an active relationship with him. 1 John 1 sums it all up for us when it says”that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to usthat which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your[a] joy may be full.” We are to talk to the world about a Christ that we have a relationship with, not an abstract concept shrouded in beautiful words.

What are the disciplines and character of an apologist? The apologist, like the evangelist, is sustained by both a personal discipline and a communal discipline. L.T started with these communal disciplines,the disciplines that should be intrinsic to the body of apologists. We were able to catch these three before a technical hitch from his end brought our conversation to a premature conclusion. And they are

  • encouraging one another
  • accountability to one another
  • a general realization that apologetics is not an end in itself, but the method one employs in conveying the message to the world. the focus is the message and the relational contact we have with the message. if this realization is overlooked, the instrument becomes more important than the Object.

The following topics are worthy of remembrance

  • to defend truth in abstract is easy
  • being true and transparent is where the interest lies
  • speaking the truth correctly does not equate rightful living
  • relational exercise, not a religious exercise .
  • relation, relation relation

 

ICAS RETREAT 2015- HEPZIBAH CHRISTIAN CENTRE.

 

 

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On the 4th of July 2015, ICAS  had its annual retreat at the Hephzibah Christian Centre at Peduase in the Eastern region. The day started off beautifully, beginning with the picking up of each member from an agreed location. Anane picked up the Ameyaws(Sarah and Kwabena) from Spintex, then they picked up Ibrahim at Legon and then they picked up my good self  at the Ashalebotwe junction at approximately 8:50. The weather quickly skipped from a sudden downpour of rain to a slight drizzle. From my junction, we drove off to pick up Asare at the Okponglo Ecobank, stopping over at Krystel’s Patisserie at Adjiriganor to grab some sumptuous pastries. The day was beginning on a veery good note if you ask me! Asare hadn’t been able to finish up his business at the bank, so we said our quick ” see you laters”; he was going to join us at Hepzibah as soon as he finished up. Grace was going to join us at the centre later as well.

So the journey began with conversations flowing in from all angles. We watched videos about how the African-American Church had lost its purpose in the car. I for one wouldn’t forget how a man was delivered from his homosexuality, and the testimony he gave in church! He testified that he loved women, women, women!

We arrived at Hepzibah around 10: 58AM. I found out that Hephzibah means my delight is in her, and really, our delight in the scenery was evident! We had been translated from the extremely urban and busy Accra to the serene, mountainous greenery that was Hepzibah Christian Centre. We checked into our rooms: Asare was roommates with Ibrahim, I was paired up with Grace, Anane rode solo and the Ameyaws shared a room. Shortly afterwards, we had our first prayer meeting in Anane’s room, led by Sarah and Ibrahim. We then got ready for our first talk with Prof. Esther Acolatse, an assistant Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and World Christianity at the Duke School of Divinity.

The talk  started at approximately 12: 50pm. Prof Acolatse is extremely knowledgeable in theology and Christianity, and the beauty of it all was that her knowledge had not caused her to be puffed up, she still reflected the character of a person who bows  her studies down everyday to the illumination of the Spirit of God.Her clear-spoken words, her sense of humor, and her willingness to admit that she(and by extension christians) did not have all the answers was refreshing. She touched on the topic “Making the Gospel Relevant to Our Culture.”  The points below are excerpts of what she talked about

  • Our practice as apologists is to give an account of the Gospel in a way that people can understand. She undertook a little morphology with the word understand– stand+ under. Our defense of the gospel is to make men make meaning of out of it in order tostand under the umbrella of our faith.
  • She emphasized the fact that in spite of the fact that our cultures question our faith and runs parallel to it at times, this only makes our faith stronger. A faith that has grown through doubt stands stronger than a faith that has not.
  • People(non Christians) may not have a knowledge of our God or they may be outsiders to the knowledge of our God, but that does  automatically not make them outsiders to the concept of God.
  • Christianity has to transcend cultural barriers, our faith is not wedded to any culture. The Christianity that existed in Paul’s time is not expected to be the one that exists in our culture, but if Paul is to come back into our world , he should not have a cause to accuse us of practicing a different faith.
  • Though Christianity is not wedded to a specific culture, culture is necessary for the transmission of our faith. It is an indispensable medium through which we reach the masses.
  • All cultures are redeemable, and these redeemable points are the entry points for our Gospel.
  • What name will we call Jesus that will ruffle feathers where we are? how do we talk of our faith in a manner that Ghanaians will make a meaning out of?
  • The cultural lenses through which we read scripture and how it affects our understanding.

Do look out  for the continuation of the rest of the retreat in tomorrow’s post. God bless you all.