UK APOLOGETICS INTERVIEW

Second in Series

JANUARY, 2010.

Back in January, 2008, Robin A. Brace, Founder and Director of UK Apologetics was quizzed on the subjects of the internet, its technology, and Robin's specific use of it as a vehicle for Christian evangelism, by his friend Doug Carter. Originally a follow-up interview was envisaged for a time about two months later, but that did not prove possible. So here is the long-awaited second interview...


Interview with Robin Brace


"I will say right now that, in my opinion, President Obama is bad for the United States. He seems to have a mission to turn his country into a left-leaning socialist/liberal state. He cannot succeed..."

If you want to check out the original interview first, it is here.

As before, a bit about internet technology, then later Doug and Robin move on to theology.


Internet Ministry and My Dream...

Doug:

Your internet ministry seems to be surging ahead by leaps and bounds. You must be thrilled about this!

R Brace:

Yes, I am. I knew that the good Lord had a ministry planned for me but that it would not be a conventional one but I could not be sure what form it would take.

Doug:

Before we go any further, can you just clarify what you just said?

R. Brace:

Sure. It goes back to a curious but very vivid dream which I had when I completed my theology degree. The whole idea of the degree was to go into a pastorate but nothing seemed to come up. After a few months of preaching but not getting close to a pastorate, I had this dream which I have recounted before. I hesitate to put too much down to dreams because that is what all these false teachers do, but it remains the case that God can reveal His will to an individual by means of a dream. Here is how I recount it in my original article on dreams:

"In my dream, I came upon a building site, but the builders had all left - where were they? Why were they not building? In my dream, I was concerned at the inaction. I decided to get some cement mixed and tried to do some work, but a man came to my side and appeared to clearly speak, yet without using words. In effect, he said, 'You don't have the necessary skills for this. Stop trying to build. Leave it, and leave the building site. Others will eventually get this finished, and then you can start your work. Your work will start later' Meaning? I am still not completely sure!! But I do know that the Lord was saying, 'I am not going to let you pastor a congregation, but there is work for you to do, and it will come later.' Was the 'later' work which the Lord would have me do, this internet ministry? I don't know but it could be since the Lord has greatly blessed this ministry. Is it a reference to something yet future? Again, I cannot be sure, and yet, of course, all Christians have a work in the future, in the New Heavens and New Earth!"

As I look back on that, certain things seem to be clarified. Following attaining my theology degree in 1998, I wanted to get to work immediately but the Lord was telling me, 'No, your work won't start immediately. It will start later.' I launched my first, rather poor, Christian site back In 2001 but it wasn't a viable, active, thriving and well-designed site until around 2005 when it suddenly took off in an quite amazing fashion. So there were around seven years between 1998 and 2005, when the internet ministry suddenly really took off. So from around the late 90s my wife and I knew we had to do something else as well; we became foster carers. Actually we had already got into that from about 1995, but then did much more from 1998 until 2004 when we finally left foster care work.

"In my dream, I was concerned at the inaction. I decided to get some cement mixed and tried to do some work, but a man came to my side and appeared to clearly speak, yet without using words. In effect, he said, 'You don't have the necessary skills for this. Stop trying to build. Leave it, and leave the building site..."


Web Programming, Ubuntu and Linux...

Doug:

To get to the technical web designing and programming side of your work, before I ask some spiritual questions, did you know at the outset that you had the expertise for this?

R. Brace:

The answer there is simple: I didn't have the expertise at the beginning but I went away and learned it. I often learned things the hard way but I still learned! Right now I can write in html, xhtml, css and pretty much in javascript as well and I am still learning new things every day. I haven't got a clue about things like 'Ajax,' and not too clever using php, but I can do most things. What's more, about 97% of our web pages will validate under the tough W3C guidelines; I am very pleased about that, especially when a lot of Microsoft web pages don't validate!

Doug:

I think some of your site visitors may be surprised to find that, in addition to being a writer on theology and philosophy, you are also pretty proficient at web programming! I hear that you now occasionally break with Windows, and use Ubuntu as an operating system. For those of us who fear such operating systems can you say something about Ubuntu and Linux?

R. Brace:

Well my Ubuntu experiment has come to an end. I experimented with it for circa 4-6 weeks. There are some great things about it, but the real problem - for me - is the unreliability of it compared to Windows. You seem to meet a crisis which needs solving about twice a week. That's no good to me; as a writer, I have to use a reliable medium. I would say that it is still 2-3 years away from being a realistic alternative to Windows. Of course, the whole thing is free and the developers want to keep it that way but, to my mind, it's not there as a realistic alternative to Windows at present, just too many snags. There are certainly some things I like about it but it's certainly not for a computer novice.


Mobile Phones?

Doug:

How are you web guys getting on with mobile phones? People can now use a mobile phone to get on the internet, but surely a web page designed for a computer screen will not work the same way on a tiny phone screen?

R. Brace:

I think this might be the next thing which we have to tackle. As you say, a web page designed for a computer screen of perhaps 15-30 inches is going to pose problems on one of those tiny screens. However, I still don't think that the serious researcher on Christianity is going to confine himself/herself to using a mobile phone! I do know already that some of our pages are accessed by these things and I frankly haven't got a clue how one of our typical pages will look, but, it seems to me, that whereas one might use such a medium in a car or on a train, if anybody is serious about researching a subject they are going to get behind a computer at some point. I have been told that the strain of using a mobile phone for the internet is enormous unless you are only doing it for a short while. No, I currently don't think that the serious person who intends asking questions about the meaning of life is going to confine themselves to the limitations of a mobile phone.
UPDATE: Just a few days ago I finally got the chance to use a Mac I phone - I was staggered! Certainly this state-of-the-art phone accessed our website quickly and easily and - despite the comparative smallness - everything worked fine and it was easy to magnify things. I was impressed, but again, this might be fine when out and about, or on a train, but the serious researcher would not use that in place of a desktop computer.


A UK Apologetics Annual Assembly?

Doug:

Around 12-18 months ago - or was it longer? - you first suggested a possible assembly of many of the people on your e mail list. Any developments there?

R. Brace:

No. We are still not there numbers-wise. I asked for an indication of commitment back then regarding how many might be able to get to Cardiff, Wales, UK for such a group of meetings over, perhaps 5-7 days, but while there was some very encouraging responses, overall, apparently not enough people would be able to attend. Yes, I would still love to do this, that is, if the good Lord decides to spare me. I primarily want those on our E Letter List to form the backbone of such an assembly. More than one Apologetics internet ministry already does this sort of thing over in the States, so who knows? It is in the Lord's capable hands. I would want a backbone of about 70-80 people to make a firm commitment then we can go from there. One of the problems is that we have a very firm rule about not appealing for money and I want to stick to that but obviously there would be expenses involved with this project.


Local Churches...

Doug:

Why don't you recommend particular local churches, at least here in the UK? Wouldn't this be helpful for people?

R. Brace:

I used to think so but I have revised my thinking there. I must give room for the Holy Spirit to work; He grants us a little knowledge at first and more later. For some, a church that you and I would think all wrong can be helpful to them as they gradually mature in the faith, especially right at the beginning. With greater maturity, we all develop much more discernment. That is in the area of the work of the Spirit. The only exception here is that I categorically condemn the 'prosperity gospel' churches. Frankly, if the only church in your small town is one of those places you are far better off not attending church at all, that is because that teaching perverts the message of the gospel.
Right at the start of this ministry we did recommend a church in Cardiff, Wales, for visitors to that city, but I'm afraid that that recommendation came back and gave us a very painful bite! I learned from that. You also must understand that a good church today may change their pastor and go into serious error tomorrow. No, we prefer to empower people to make their own, hopefully, wise choices in this area. I cannot see us venturing down the road of recommending specific local church congregations again; we are here to give the correct teaching and theological guidelines for the new, or commited Christian.


Spiritual and Theological Matters...

Doug:

So where are you, would you say, in a theological sense?

R. Brace:

Well, same place I have been for years now although, as one grows, one gains fresh insights all the time. If you were to place writers like Richard Baxter, C.S. Lewis, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and F.F. Bruce together, that is also where I stand. These men were utterly commited to the divine inspiration of Scripture and to all the fundamentals of the Christian Gospel but they did not think that you and I know everything right now. They believed that God's mercy is broad and that He can set His hand to save wherever He wills - not just where we think He should! Lloyd-Jones, for instance, was certainly 'reformed' but he reserved the right to question certain things which went into Calvinism, and so do I. Even so with Richard Baxter. Also these men all supported Christian scholarship; they did not think that 'theology' was a dirty word and neither should we. These men formed the foundation of what is sometimes called, 'the modern British evangelical movement,' I think it is good in it's essential foundations; to those names one might add people like John Stott and Billy Graham. Yes, Graham was an American but he must be added to the mix by the great effect of his 1954 Haringey campaign. Maybe without him all the influences would be too intellectual but coming to our shores when he did, he reminded us that people still needed to make decisions for Christ. Having said that, many would now consider some aspects of his Finneyism highly dubious. There was too much use of emotion and some of the teaching was very, very thin, yet, in my estimation, he made a difference and he should be admired.


Bible Questions

Doug:

I know we covered this question at our last meeting but since a few people will not have read that, may I put this question to you again? The question is this: What prompts you to write certain articles?

R. Brace:

Indeed, of course, mostly my answer is the same. Mostly it is questions which come to my computer desk. Sometimes I can see that I need to give a lengthy in-depth response, and that is (mostly, although not always), the reason for the articles.
But at other times, I just e mail a response. Sometimes, where I feel that it is a question which probably many would want to ask, I include it in our 'A Question I Was Asked' series; these are mainly more brief answers to Bible, theological and Christian living questions. But there are other times when I think: Here is a really logical question to ask about Christianity, why does nobody ever ask it? So I myself propose the question and set out to tackle it.


The Economic Downturn

Doug:

Have you been surprised by the recent reaction to your article on the German Weimar Republic?

R. Brace:

Yes, because I wrote it a year or so ago and had almost forgotten it! It was not intended to be any sort of prophecy of the current worldwide economic problems. I was simply outlining the usual circumstances in which a people will turn against liberal governments. Liberal-minded governments are, in my opinion, dangerous because they tend to be weak and wishy-washy and refuse to tackle the real issues such as crime and immorality. Well, many of these people don't even believe that there is such a thing as "immorality," they say just get on with your life and don't judge. If we had that mindset back in the 1930s Hitler would have overrun Europe very quickly. But as long as ecomonic times are relatively good, these governments are tolerated. Perhaps I will just give readers the link to our Weimar Republic article right here. should any want to look it up.

I will say right now that, in my opinion, President Obama is bad for the United States. He seems to have a mission to turn his country into a left-leaning socialist/liberal state. He cannot succeed because the US is a naturally pretty right-wing country. Even within months of taking office he seems to have become one of the most hated of all American Presidents. It's like us here in the West thinking we can turn Afghanistan into a democracy - what nonsense! It shows such little understanding.


The Future...

Doug:

Where is your internet ministry headed next? Any thoughts on that?

R. Brace:

Not really. A few months ago it seemed that the Lord wanted me to get involved in giving lectures in local churches on evolution, and where the Christian should stand on those issues. Obviously, I have written on this topic quite extensively. It amazes me that the average British evangelical church has absolutely no policy on this issue at all. I mean, they will say things like, "We are only here to preach the Gospel, the science is up to you." I really think that that is not good enough. Truth is: the churches have failed miserably to educate their people in the matters of God and the Gospel. Any intelligent person who comes to Christ will be aware of the arguments of evolutionists especially with the influence of people like Richard Dawkins. There is a complete answer to these things but our churches seem to be afraid. We should be saying: there is micro-evolution which is biblical (variations in kinds, natural selection) and there is macro-evolution: ALL life evolved over billions of years from some primitive single-cell gunk (that, as they say, is bunk). Moreover micro-evolution itself teaches us that you cannot break 'kinds.' Anyway, I even got a few powerpoint pictures together and started planning lectures. The door initially seemed to open to me but then it slammed shut again; when that happens you get discouraged. So that has not progressed. My approach would not be for public debates, but to speak to Christians and the things they should take into account on evolution. Increasingly, it seems that the Lord only wants me involved in this internet ministry, but I still would not entirely rule out giving occasional talks in local churches on this issue. I suppose it would now take somebody coming to me and specifically requesting me, or commissioning me to give a series of about six such talks in some church here in the UK to get the idea back on track.

Doug:

Have you had any recent thoughts on the Second Coming of our Lord and how long away that might be?

R. Brace:

Recently, I have several times thought that it could be very close indeed. It is very unwise when these various groups have these charts of things which "must happen" before our Lord returns. These 'timetables' only serve to mislead and confuse naive people. I say again that whereas the parousia could be years away, it could also be very close.

D.C.G., Assistant Editor, January, 2010.


The article, 'Dreams! How Should a Christian Interpret Them?' is here.
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