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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Wonderful Case of Johnny Lennox

Who is John Lennox?
John Lennox is a professor of Maths at Oxford, who is "at the top of his game." Until a few years ago he was largely unknown. But today he is fast becoming one of the world's top apologists for Christianity (a man who is able to defend the truth and explain the Gospel effectively in today's culture). He takes on all the big atheists and demolishes their arguments in a flurry of gracious responses. He is the author of four apologetic books, his first one "God's Undertaker" came out in just 2009.

Why call him "Johnny"?
I heard John Lennox speak recently and what struck me was his ordinariness. He walked on stage with trainers and loose-fitting shirt, covering an ample middle, no tie, no posh hair-styles, no attempt to be anything other than the ordinary, laid-back happy Christian bloke he is.

This in fact is the reason he is so effective. He does not need to put on a suit to hide who he really is. He does not need to hide behind some false image. He does not have to live up to some kind of pattern. He's just himself.

Lessons from John Lennox
I couldn't help think that we have something to learn from this gracious man of God:

(1)  Serve God faithfully, and in God's time, your time will come. Until around 2009 John Lennox was largely unknown in Christian circles. But in the background, he has faithfully served Christ, and just at the right moment, in his sixties!, God has given him a world stage on which to share the Gospel. Too many Christians want to succeed before their time. And boy do they make a hash of it! But if you wait, like Joseph, your moment will come.

(2) Be yourself. Many of Lennox's debating partners, whether Peter Atkins or Richard Dawkins are uptight and nervous - no wonder! - they have an image to preserve, a fan-base to please, a cause which hangs on them alone. None of this applies to Lennox, who knows he is merely a servant of the King, and while he wants to please the King, the King's cause does not rest on the small shoulders of one man.

(3) Listen to others. Lennox stands out as someone who is passionate to listen to the question, and the question behind the question. We too quickly think we know what the question is, but often we don't, for behind the question is the real question. Lennox suggests that if we talk more than 50% of the time, we haven't listened.

(4) Be honest about your views. Lennox does not pretend to be anything but a card-carrying evangelical Christian. He puts his cards on his table, rather than pretending to be what he is not. There is much to be said for this in an age where we can too easily hide our true colours for fear of ridicule or misundrestanding.

(5) WYSIWYG. I've already said this, but What You See Is What You Get with John Lennox. A professor wearing trainers, making no attempts to impress.

Listening to this brother in Christ reminded me more than once of Jesus himself, who, according to Isaiah 53:2, had nothing about him to attract us to himself. In an age of hype and image, we need more honest and more Christ-like men like Johnny Lennox.

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