Especially For Ock
Published on June 25, 2009 By KFC Kickin For Christ In Religion

Early in his ministry the great evangelist and Bible teacher, Harry A. Ironside, was living in the area of San Francisco working with a group of believers there called "Brethren."  On Sunday as he was walking thru the city he came upon a group of Salvation Army workers who were holding a meeting on the corner of Market and Grant Avenues.  There were probably about 60 of them. When they recognized Dr. Ironside, they immediately asked him if he would like to give his testimony.  He did. 

As he was speaking, Ironside noticed that on the edge of the crowd there was a well-dressed man who had taken a card from his pocket and had written something on it.  As Ironside finished his talk this man came forward, lifted his hat, and very politely handed him the card.  On one side was his name which was immediately recongnizable.  The man was one of the early socialists who had made a name for himself lecturing, not only for socialism but also against Christianity.  As Ironisde turned the card over, he read, "Sir, I challeng you to debate with me the question, 'Agnosticism versus Christianity' in the Academy of Science Hall next Sunday afternoon at four o'clock.  I will pay all expenses." 

Ironside reread the card aloud and then replied somewhat like this...."I will be glad to agree to this debate on the following conditions; namely, that in order to prove that Mr._____ (will call him Ock)  has something worth fighting for and worth debating about, he will promise to bring with him to the hall next Sunday two people, whose qualifications I will give in a moment, as proof that agnosticism is of real value in changing human lives and building true character.

"First, he must promise to bring with him one man who was for years what we commonly call a 'down and outer.'  I am not particular as to the exact nature of the sins that had wrecked his life and made him an outcast from society-whether a drunkard, or a criminal of some kind, or a victim of his sensual appetite-but a man who for years was under the power of evil habits from which he could not deliver himself, but who on some occasion entered one of Mr. Ock's meetings and heard his glorification of agnosticism and his denunciations of the Bible and Christianity, and whose heart and minds as he listened to such an address were so deeply stirred that he went away from that meeting saying, 'Hence-forth, I too am an agnostic!' and as a result of imbibing that particular philosophy found that a new power had come into his life.  The sins he once loved, he now hates, and righteousness and goodness are now the ideals of his life.  He is entirely a new man, a credit to himself and an asset to society-all because he is an agnostic.

"Secondly, I would like Mr. Ock to promise to bring with him one woman-and I think he may have more difficulty in finding the woman than the man-who was once a poor-wrecked, characterless outcast, the slave of evil passions, and the victim of man's corrupt living...perhaps one who had lived for years in some evil resort....utterly lost, ruined, and wretched because of her life of sin.  But this woman also entered a hall where Mr. Ock was loudly proclaiming his agnosticism and ridiculing the message of the Holy Scriptures.  As she listened, hope was born in her heart and she said, 'This is just what I need to deliver me from the slavery of sin!' She followed the teaching and became an intelligent agnostic or infidel.  As a result her whole being revolted against the degradation of the life she had been living.  She fled from the den of iniquity where she had been held captive so long; and today, rehabilitated, she has won her way back to an honored position in society and is living a clean, virtuous, happy life-all because she is an agnostic.

"Now," he said addressing the gentleman who had presented him with his card and the challenge, "if you will promise to bring these two people with you as examples of what agnosticism can do, I will promise to meet you at the Hall at the hour appointed next Sunday, and I will bring with me at the very least 100 men and women who for years lived in just such sinful degradation as I have tried to depict, but who have been gloriously saved through believing the gospel which you ridicule.  I will have thse men and women with me on the platform as witnesses to the miraculous saving power of Jesus Christ and as present-day proof of the truth of the Bible." 

Ironside then turned to the Salvation Army captain, a girl, and said, "Captain, have you any who could go with me to such a meeting?" 

She exclaimed with enthusiam, "We can give you forty at least just from this corps, and we will give you a brass band to lead the procession!"

"Fine.  Now, Mr. Ock, I will have no difficulty in picking up sixty others from the various missions, gospel halls, and evangelical churches of the city; and if you will promise faithfully to bring two such exhibits as I have described, I will come marching in at the head of such a procession, with the band playing 'Onward, Christian Soldiers,' and I will be ready for the debate." 

Apparently the man who had made the challenge must have had some sense of humor, for he smiled wryly and waved his hand in a deprecating kind of way as if to say, "Nothing doing!" and then edged out of the crowd while the bystanders clapped for Dr. Ironside and the others." 

Christ changes lives. 

Can you honestly say that you have never observed any examples of the genuine transformation that can come about in a person as a result of his hearing and responding to the Christian gospel?  I doubt it. 

Comments (Page 1)
2 Pages1 2 
on Jun 25, 2009

Oh, forgot to put in the references but you can read this true story in:

Random Reminiscences from Fifty Years of Ministry (New York: loizeaux Brothers, 1939), 99-107

on Jun 25, 2009

Great story, KFC.

on Jun 25, 2009

KFC, I believe this entire story and article is a logical fallacy, simply because of this there is a difference between a belief (Christianity) and a philosophy (agnosticism).

Beliefs of all sorts will change lives, both for the better, and the worse. 

Philosophy is another word for "the study of" and can inspire belief, but is not in and of itself a type of belief.   

Atheism, however, does regard belief.

on Jun 25, 2009

So you want me to admit that endorphins make people feel good?  I already know that.  I also know that it's a "false" good, and that the drug must be continually taken to maintain the high.  And voila, we have you.


Silver, you're right that atheism regards belief.  But the specifics is that it only believes what is objectively provable.  I believe that 1 = 1, for example.  I will be very happy if it turns out there's a God.  I will be extremely surprised if he's pissed because I used my brain and had my doubts.

on Jun 25, 2009

Great story, KFC.

Thanks.  I thought so too when God brought this to my attention just recently. 

Beliefs of all sorts will change lives, both for the better, and the worse.

I absolutely agree with that except that I'd add belief and non-belief. 

No one can say with 100% surety that there is no god.  So that really makes every non-believer an agnostic.  To me it comes down to either you believe or you don't believe.  Both are belief systems.  Saying I don't know is really saying you don't believe. 

Almost everyone knows the diff between a skeptic and a believer. But not everyone knows the diff between an honest skeptic and a dishonest skeptic.  An honest skeptic is someone who may have doubts about God or the bible or certain truths but will face up to them when presesnted with some sort of evidence.  He will altar his life as a result.  A dishonest skeptic is one who has doubts about God or doctrine but will not face up to the evidence presented.  So when he is blasted out of one foxhole of disbelief he will immediately seek refuge in another and another as he's blasted out.  He's always looking for that next foxhole to dive into. 

God works much like the wind.  In fact, the wind is used as an example of the Holy Spirit.  While we can't see the wind, we can see evidence of the wind.  While we can't see God with our human eyes, we can see evidence of him especially in the changed lives all around us.  His fingerprints are all over the place.   The diff between wind and air is power.  We serve a powerful God. Powerful enough to change my life and countless others.   I know the diff he made in my life.  It's not a made up belief.  It's a real genuine honest to goodness relationship with the God in heaven who has countless times proven himself to me. 


on Jun 25, 2009

So you want me to admit that endorphins make people feel good?

this has nothing to do with endorphins.  I'm a runner.  I know all about endorphins and there is no comparison.  Endorphins come and go.  The Holy Spirit inside each believer doesn't go anywhere. 

on Jun 25, 2009

I will be extremely surprised if he's pissed because I used my brain and had my doubts.

Well, people seem to think that their god(s) have emotions that are limited to the same spectrum that human emotions are... so if he was a jealous god, he would be angry that you used your logic and didn't spend your life expounding upon his virtues, despite you using that logic, for example, finding a way to decrease world hunger.

on Jun 25, 2009

 Saying I don't know is really saying you don't believe.


Yay!  Concur!

on Jun 25, 2009

By the way, thanks for the tribute.  I'm honored.

on Jun 25, 2009

Saying I don't know is really saying you don't believe.

I cannot agree with this.

Saying "I don't know," means that you do not have the information that would lead to the knowlege of being able to say yes or no. 

Saying "I don't believe" means that it doesn't matter on whether or not you have that knowlege, you simply don't believe the statement to be true.  In this case, it is the existence of a god, but it can be espanded to cover everything.

The philosophy of agnoticism can inspire atheism, (lack of knowledge can inspire disbelief), but agnosticism is not a belief.

Agnosticism is taking the knowledge that is available to us, and attempting to rationally explain the existence of a god.  Because the rational explaination of god is not possible through the knowledge available to us today, (if it were, one wouldn't need faith, as Jesus suggested we have), nor do we have the knowledge to disprove that there is a god, we can only come to one conclusion.  We don't have the knowledge, so we can't say yes or no.  So "I don't know."

Yes, agnosticism can lead to atheism (which is lack of belief in a god, though it still is regarding belief, just as theism is,) but again, it is only the study of the existence of god, not the belief or disbelief of a god.

on Jun 25, 2009

In addition, an agnostic can still choose to follow the belief of a theist.  "I have no rational proof that god exists, but I feel it is right, so I choose to believe that he does."  This is why testimony is important in the Bible; if you don't have a rational explaination, at least you have what you have experienced, and what you feel is right to believe.


on Jun 25, 2009

This is getting pretty semantical.  KFC knows I love it when that happens :/


The continual issue is the perspective on what it means to "believe or disbelieve" something.


Belief implies faith.  When you question whether or not you believe something, it automatically implies that you have reached the end of the intellectual chain of reasoning as well as the end of the achievable data.  You now have to guess.  Millions of things may point you one way or another and you choose what you *think* is right.  That is belief.  An atheist simply stops at the end of that reasoning and data and says "There's no way to achieve an objective answer, so i will not believe."  AKA I will not guess and then have faith in my guess no matter how much it SEEMS like my guess is right.  I consider it to be genuine honesty.  Your mileage may vary.

on Jun 25, 2009

No one can say with 100% surety that there is no god.

Let's change that to

"No one can say with 100% surety that there is, or isn't a god."

I believe that statement is true.  That means that everyone is an agnostic, and just choose to be either an atheist, or a theist.

We cannot PROVE anything, we don't have the knowledge.  But we can BELIEVE or DISBELIEVE.

Am I making my point at all? LoL.

on Jun 25, 2009

When you question whether or not you believe something, it automatically implies that you have reached the end of the intellectual chain of reasoning as well as the end of the achievable data. You now have to guess.

This is my point, and the reason that agnoticism is not a belief. It is simply the "intellectual chain," as you put it, and theism and atheism can, and do, both spout off the end of that chain. 

on Jun 25, 2009

No one can say with 100% surety that there is, or isn't a god."

I disagree.  I believe while one can't say 100% that there isn't a God; one can say with 100% accuracy there is a God.  I've met him.  I have a relationship with him.  I know he exists like I know you do.  I haven't met you but I know you exist. 

Traditionally there is four basic arguments used to prove God's existence.  They are called the cosmological (creation) teleological (telos means purpose), axiological, (moral law-axios means judgment) and ontological (being) arguments. 

For the agnostic:  if you know that you don't know anything, then at least you know that much.  But that means you have positive knowledge of something and you no longer have to be agnostic.  You may say that you should doubt everything but you don't doubt that.  So if there is one thing you can know then there might be other things, and your position has proven itself to be false. 

Do you doubt your own existence?  You do know that you're better off not answering this question don't you? 



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