Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Yesterday's post provoked a (shall we say) disappointed response from one reader (see first comment), I don't know, maybe it was his church I visited on Sunday. But his response leads me to want to clarify something. Simply, I've got nothing against apologetics. Some of my heroes are apologists of the faith (C. S. Lewis, for example).

But not all of us are called to do "world-view" combat in the intellectual marketplace. When Christians get hepped up about this sort of thing, it often leads to nothing more than uninformed scoffing at Darwinian evolution and such. I've heard it often enough. Most of us are not going to get beyond rote bullet-point responses to these world-view issues.

But more importantly, the sermonic call on congregation members to practice apologetics seems to crowd out the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Once again we drift into human imperatives with no apparent relation to Christly indicatives! What you often hear in these cases is something like the introductory remarks in a seminary course called "Apologetics 101," and nothing more.

Apologetics people I have known tend to depict themselves as folks who choose content over fluff, head over heart (because the heart is deceptive, don't you know). Their talk often takes on a strident tone, and they much enjoy clashing sabres with straw-man opponents.

Ah well. It is all a far cry, so it seems to me, from Peter's attitude in his first epistle, where he says this:
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.


Nate said...

I think a lot of times that apologetics thing comes from people who just got done studying it in Bible school, or just finished a book on the subject or something. Then they either want to show off that their knowledge on the subject is quite refined, or they're simply hyped up about it and can't understand why it wouldn't turn everyone else on also.

As opposed to the type of apologetics that comes from a deep existential need of the moment. Perhaps a relationship in which a loved one is driving themselves into oblivion, or an event which has some article of faith crumbling, or havoc is being wreaked on the conscience, or something like that. But at that point, I would think apologetics sounds even more like drinking from the living water of the Gospel than debate.

Anonymous said...

adam did have a good question for you.

what did you bring to the chruch that day?

should we come to the service having already spent some time with our Lord?

does it make a difference, what attitiude and mood we are in when when we go out of our door?

is it easier to be giving and understanding to people outside of a church service?

Bob said...

I don't know what I brought to the church that morning. I'm quite sure I wasn't in some sort of ideal church-going state. Maybe the most I can say for myself is that I was hungry for something that wasn't on offer there.

In terms of being "giving and understanding," I want to say that I've got nothing against those folks. They seemed like an earnest bunch. As an outsider, I simply relay my impressions. I am not the leastways commenting on behavior, only the content of the message. Neither the wooden pews, nor the music, nor the people put me off in the least. The old gal playing piano even inserted a hint of ragtime at one point, which made me smile.

I think it definitely does make a difference which attitude you come in with. Maybe my post made it seem I came in with a critical attitude, but I was hoping to hear the gospel preached. Even a message about "defending the faith," which is to say, apologetics, an be couched in the context of the gospel.

Anonymous said...

i understand perfectly in what you say that you brought.

how can anyone come to anything any other way?

we come as we really are, human.

yet, i wonder...can the "way" we come be altered a bit, would it make a difference? and how big of a difference?

you see, i know that some have kids and hurry, yell, scramble, get angry..etc. before they come smiling. it is the smiling that i wonder about. and what in the world do the kids get from this display? the yelling is usual human stuff, but the instant smile face?
what is that about?
and that is just on sunday...
what about monday thru saturday?

i was asking the questions, not as a "finger pointing", but because i am curious of what you and others think.

i truly wonder if it is the hunger...the "increase" of hunger over all, in everyone...and maybe bacause of the things and people that "we" are "going to"... in place of humbly before our Lord.

the less "we all" come before our Lord, perhaps the "hungrier" we get.

we are "always"
hungry and broken...but, we can get even "more" hungry.

okay, now we come to the gathering:

the Spirit of God is certainly already there, Jesus is there, right? He sees all that is going on, and is in those that are His. The ones that he is familiar with. Right?

now, the music...all good. (ragtime really good.)

the people...some a little hungry some in "ravenous" hunger mode.

the surrouondings, room, seats...etc. good 'nuf.

the word, well, you may have something here... is the word feeding the people? is it pointing the human hunger to Jesus? is it reminding the people who to turn to? the basic food and drink? ah ha...hum...well?

what to do, what to do?

are we suppose to be doing something?

are "we" suppost to be reminding one another where to look while we are in the gathering, if it is not being done?

i don't know.
maybe so.

look to Jesus.

three words.
could they make a difference?

the word Jesus alone.

pretty powerful is used in the right way.

i think that you ane i and a lot of others would like to do something.

i think maybe we could start small.
i don't know.
feeding and reminding in the places that we go, maybe.

what do you think?

Anonymous said...

one more thought, we are not outsiders to God.
and we are not outsiders in a gathering "of believers".

we just think that we are.

but, we are outsiders in the world.

strange that we feel more comfortable most of the time in the world than in the gatherings.

we are more aware of one another's sinful nature in the gatherings...yet, it is swept aside like it does not exist.
our brokeness and hunger is not being addressed in the way that makes us feel part of..but it is made to make us feel guilty and unwelcome. just one point of view here.