Rook Hawkins is Right: I Write for a Specific Audience
Rook Hawkins makes this claim right off the bat:
Cory has written a very interesting blog article in response to my positions. He has written to his reader’s satisfaction, and although he makes grandiose claims, he should be applauded by known apologists such as Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel for the erudite quality of his response. But did he really answer the problems or represent my position accurately? I do not think he did, but that can only be shown after examining the article he has written. (source, emphasis added)
It is the boldfaced portion that I will address first. Before I do that, I would like to publicly thank Rook for his compliments and critique on my work. I consider my writing my craft first, and take it very seriously. He has also put me in company with men that I admire and thinks that they would appreciate my work.
I would also like to point out that Rook does the old manager’s trick of softening the blow with a compliment before the criticism.
Rook has taken some criticism as a writer from my fellow apologists (such as Frank Walton). Rook, however, is the best of the RRS writers. He sticks to his subject matter and he knows his history inside and out. I can usually tell when people are faking it–a skill everyone who has been in management learns lest they receive an ugly demotion. I don’t get the faking-it vibe when I read Rook’s writings. He is someone as passionate about his beliefs as I am about mine.
As for the boldfaced portion of Rook’s opening paragraph, he is absolutely correct. I will explain why.
When I first started doing apologetics, I had a “save the world” complex. I believed with all of my heart that I would succeed where others had miserably failed–I would convert people like Rook Hawkins to Christianity with the power of my unflappable argumentation and my passion for the Lord. Rook would see that and have no choice but to convert, even despite his doubts.
I could only ever see myself winning arguments with atheists, since I had truth and the Lord on my side.
Well, after a while that “save the world” complex faded and I realized a few important things. First, mankind is truly dead in sin and wants nothing to do with God. God has chosen the elect and will draw them to Himself–I can only pray that He will see my ministry fit to use for that purpose. The point isn’t fatalism; the point is that, like the Bible clearly states, God will have mercy and whom He will and harden whom He will, and I can’t change that. But I can be a part of His plan to draw the elect through this ministry and prayer.
What does any of this have to do with Rook Hawkins? Well, the reason I write for my audience is that I’m probably not going to convert a hardened skeptic like Rook. However,Rook’s writings may have planted a seed of doubt in an honest Christian or in someone considering the conversion to Christianity. It is those hypothetical people that I plan to reach by dialog with Rook, not Rook himself.
Mind you, it isn’t that I don’t want to see Rook pledge his life to Christ. I think that would be an amazing testament to the drawing power of God the Father, and we could use someone like Rook on the winning team. It’s just that I think Rook is too firmly entrenched in his beliefs to ever convert. At best, converting Rook is my “C” priority here. It’s on the map, but I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
I think that both Rook and I are guilty of writing only for our respective audiences, and I think that we have similar motivations–to sway the honest seeker who is still on the fence. Rook and I both believe that one of our essays may just swing that person onto our side for good. We’re not really writing for each other–which is unfortunately why we have, so far, talked past each other.
I admit to being out of my element with the historical aspects of the early church and with Hellenistic Greece. I could use a Christian writer with Rook’s knowledge to help me out here. But I’ve got a few online articles bookmarked on Hellenistic literature from Christian Think-Tank, and a book by a scholar that I believe Rook will respect (but not agree with) that I’m working through. A full reply is forthcoming but will take a while.