Kia Ora! I am a Software Architect, lay Pastor, husband, father and the Christchurch Regional Director for Thinking Matters. I’ve loved the opportunities this has given me to meet great people across Canterbury and New Zealand. I’m available to speak primarily in Christchurch, and elsewhere as needed.
I spent several years learning apologetics from good friends Mike Licona, Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood and Mary Jo Sharp, while living in the U. S. I learned much about the arguments and demeanour that best communicate the Great News of Jesus to those hostile to Christianity, presenting the truth of Jesus in a way that is gentle and respects their intellect.
I spent most of my life as a Software Engineer until a series of unexpected life events propelled me to leave the U. S. for missions work in Kenya. There I met and married my Kiwi wife Lee. A year later, we moved to New Zealand. We have two primary school boys who love maths and science. We’re passionate about seeing people love God and loving others well, inside and outside the church.
These talks have a more biblical basis and are received well in churches.
Why Thinking Matters
1 Peter 3:15 is a favourite verse of many who are passionate about sharing their faith. But verse 16 has much to say about how and when we share. As we examine the context of these verses, we discover that our whole lives are an apologetic for the Great News of Jesus.
Doubting Thomas gets a bad reputation for saying what many of us would have in his place. Some Christians believe doubt is a sign of weak faith and should be avoided. However, many find doubt is a powerful catalyst to a strong, vibrant faith. We will look at the science of doubt and how Jesus responds to it.
So Easy Your Nana Can Do It
Many Christians think talking to people about Jesus is awkward or that they don’t know enough to communicate effectively. But the conversational approach that your Nana takes can provide some powerful openings. We will also examine how the apostle Paul used different approaches that suited each of the people groups he was trying to reach.
Did Jesus Really Claim To Be God?
Muslims and secular religious studies scholars tell us that Jesus never actually claimed to be God; that this was the creation of followers who later invented claims of Jesus’ deity. Since Jesus never said, “I am God,” who should we believe?
For Christian Audiences
These talks are primarily aimed at an audience that accepts Christianity as true.
Is engaging Kiwi apathy in the too-hard basket? What would move someone toward an active interest in faith? What can we learn from psychology about speaking to people who have no interest in Christianity?
For General Audiences
These talks are suitable for mixed audiences that include atheists, agnostics, and people of other religions. They first present a strong case against the Christian view which helps those who don’t accept Christianity to be more open when the Christian view is presented. They respectfully address the case against and build a positive case for the Christian view.
The church has given us the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. It has also given us hospitals, universities, slavery abolition, and protection of rights for women and children. How can we reconcile these two difference faces of the church and come to peace with God’s plan for the church?
Has Science Buried God?
Are science and faith natural enemies? Does naturalism provide sufficient grounding for the success of science? Does the evidence from science point away from or towards a creator God? Can you be a scientist and a Christian?
The Fantastic Ferrari Factory
Where did this Universe come from? Some prominent scientists have argued that it is the product of a Universe generating factory and therefore God is not required. Is this a testable truth claim? We will investigate two of the most powerful evidences for God and see how science strongly points to the existence of God. We will also seek to understand how we can respect the scientists who make these claims while still rejecting their conclusions.
Does Life Have Meaning?
Is this life just a lucky accident? Do our lives have purpose or should we invent our own? Does having an answer to this question make any difference? What can we learn from philosophy, the arts, science and theology about this timeless question?
Is The New Testament Reliable?
Is the New Testament an unreliable translation of a translation of a translation, written by unknown authors, and full of contradictions as Bart Ehrman claims? If we don’t have the originals, how do we know that we have a faithful copy? Do contradictions mean that we should reject the contents of these 2000 year old manuscripts?
Jesus: Man or Myth?
C. S. Lewis famously said that Jesus was either a Liar, a Lunatic or Lord. But some people have opted for a forth option: Legend. Jesus never really existed, the stories of him were stolen from Pagan mystery religions. Was Jesus the first ‘dying and rising’ god? Nope. Orsiris, Horus, Dionysius and Mithras all bet him to it. Or did they?
Dead Men Don’t Come Back … Or Do They?
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? “Yes,” says the Christian. “It’s in the Bible, so it’s true.” The sceptic says, “Obviously not. People don’t rise from the dead. If that happened, we’d know about it.”
If someone doesn’t assume the Bible is true, is there evidence that could convince them Jesus rose from the dead?
All talks are 40-45 minutes, however most can be adjusted to 30 minutes if necessary.
Dr Matthew Flannagan
Dr Matthew Flannagan is a theologian with proficiency in contemporary analytic philosophy. He holds a PhD in Theology from the University of Otago, a Masters (with First Class Honours) and a Bachelors in Philosophy from the University of Waikato and a post-graduate diploma in secondary teaching from Bethlehem Tertiary Institute.
Matthew blogs on MandM – a Kiwi blog that addresses philosophy of religion, ethics, theology and social commentary.
Divine Command Meta-Ethics, Applied Ethics, Bio-Ethics, Old Testament Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Law, Critical Thinking and Apologetics
“There are good reasons to believe that God exists, and that Jesus was who he claimed to be. We want both Christian and unbeliever alike to wrestle with these reasons and ultimately be transformed by them.”
Tena koutou, I am the CEO of Thinking Matters NZ Foundation, a national Christian apologetics ministry that encourages Christians to know the reasons why we believe what we believe. As an itinerant speaker, I teach at churches, youth groups and conferences in New Zealand, Australia and in the U.S. on the reasons why Christianity is true.
I teach staff, parents and youth at various Christian schools, am an adjunct apologetics lecturer at Faith Bible College and a visiting lecturer at Bethlehem Tertiary Institute and Carey Baptist College. I also teach ‘Introduction to Christianity’ courses to non-Christian parents at Bethlehem College and have served on the board of Bethlehem College Limited.
I’m passionate about seeing people loving and seeking God with all of their mind, developing a resilient faith that is supported with solid reasons to believe, and able to confidently and graciously share that faith with others.
The following are Sunday sermons I’m available for:
Why Thinking Matters: the Importance of Apologetics in the Church
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16
In this message, I give an introduction to apologetics and the growing need for Christians to be better prepared to give clear and gracious reasons for our faith. While sharing my testimony, I highlight the first great commandment and the need for us to seek God with our minds, as much as our heart, soul and strength.
The Power of a Question: Creating Conversations that Matter
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us. 2 Corinthians 5:20
Do conversations about your faith intimidate you? Do you let opportunities to share God’s love slip by with friends and family? In this message, I teach two simple questions which make conversations about God easy. Learn how to confidently and graciously present Christ in an attractively intelligent way, without having to know all the answers.
Other Teaching Topics
The following messages I give to youth groups, Christian schools, at conferences and as professional development training for Church staff. I can deliver a single talk, or teach a series that builds a cumulative case for Christianity that includes a mix and match of any of the following:
The Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God
Everything that begins to exist has a cause – including the universe itself. Is there any scientific or philosophical evidence for a creator as a cause of the Big Bang? In this presentation, we examine the nature of the Big Bang and look at the evidence a divine supernatural cause was at work. We’ll also examine how the original purpose of science as a way of understanding the natural world around us has become distorted, resulting in biased outcomes in scientific enquiry that unnecessarily exclude the possibility of God.
True for You, But Not for Me: Are Religious Truths True for Everyone?
In this talk, I examine the nature of truth and highlights two different kinds of claims: Universal Truth that is true for everyone, and Personal Truth based on your own preferences and personal beliefs. Then we examine religions claims about God and Jesus and ask: are such claims Universal or Personal; are they just true for me, or; is there something much deeper going on?
Is Jesus the Only Way? What About All the Other Religions in the World?
Jesus claimed to be the only way – but how can only one religion be true when there are so many beliefs out there? What about those who are truly sincere in their religious beliefs – are they going to hell? Isn’t it intolerant to think others are wrong? Don’t all paths lead to God? In this talk, we dismantle twelve of the most common claims we hear that suggest all religions are equally true – and show just how important the question of truth really is.
True for You But Not for Me. How Can There be Only One Way?
NOTE: This is a shorter combined version of the two above talks
Jesus Christ claimed to be the only way to God – yet we live in a society where multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance are highly esteemed and necessary for a peaceful civilisation. So, is it possible for one religion to be true? Are there really many paths to God? What does it mean to be tolerant of other religions? In this presentation, we examine the difference between subjective and objective truth, while looking deeper at the nature of religious truth claims – in particular, the claim that Jesus is the only path.
Why Thinking Matters to our Kids: A practical four-part strategy to get our kids engaging with worldview and apologetics
Why is apologetics so important in the discipleship of our kids? Why are so many of our young Christians not sharing their faith with others – or even walking away altogether? In this talk, I examine the role apologetics and worldview training has in preparing our kids for adulthood and presents a practical four-part strategy for getting them intellectually engaged in their faith and culture. This talk is suitable for parents, youth leaders, Christian educators and homeschoolers.
“Rodney Lake is one of those rare individuals who can communicate the core truths of the Gospel to a lost world in a thoughtful way while still being accessible and fun. He’s certain to be a hit for any church service or youth event. I recommend him highly.” Lenny Esposito, President – Come Reason Ministries
“Rodney addresses difficult issues capably, thoughtfully and sensitively. His ministry greatly serves both leaders and laity, providing precious clarity in an age of increasing confusion.” Steve Burgess, C3 Church – Pacific Region Director
“Rodney did a great job of removing the guilt and pressure that the word ‘evangelism’ evokes. He brought the Great Commission down to a practical level and made our calling to evangelism something that is accessible and actionable for every Christian.” Reuben Munn, Senior Pastor – Shore Community Church Auckland
“Rodney did a wonderful job, and the feedback from our church was excellent. He spoke clearly, and illustrated his points well.” David Dishroon, Senior Pastor – Changepoint Church Tauranga
“Rodney brings clarity to the role and need of apologetics in the church today, grounded in a passion for the gospel. His ability to communicate to youth and adults is evident and a major plus. I fully endorse Rodney in his speaking and ministry.” Rev Reece Frith – St Paul’s, Katikati
“Brilliant. Rodney was enthusiastic, very well informed and able to bring so much information to the class. Really got us thinking and helped us prepare answers for people who ask questions about God and Christianity.” Student (anonymous) – Faith Bible College
“Rodney was articulate, interesting and very informative with excellent content and delivery. Very sensitively handled.” Conference Feedback (anonymous) – Confident Christianity Conference
Feel free to contact any of the following pastors & ministry leaders who have hosted me as a speaker at their church, school or ministry event – for a reference:
- Ps David Dishroon – Changepoint Church, Tauranga
- Ps Alan Hood – City Church, Tauranga
- Dave Mann – Shining Lights Trust & The Hope Project
- Des Short – Principal, Faith Bible College
- Larne Edmeades – Principal, Bethlehem College, Tauranga
- Rev Ian Pittendreigh – Bethlehem Community Church, Tauranga
- Ps Sam Bayly – O2 Church, Tauranga
- Rev Reece Frith – St Paul’s, Katikati
Other talks under development
The following talks will be available soon. Please talk with me if any of these interest you and I can bring them forward and finish them off:
Planned talks yet to be started:
Right and Wrong: What is moral relativism? Who gets to decide what’s right and wrong?
God among us: The historical evidence for the miraculous life and claims of Jesus.
Post-modernism: An empty philosophy according to the traditions of man.
The Intolerance of Tolerance: How our culture has distorted the concept of tolerance.