Thursday, July 19, 2012

Apologetics, Evangelism, Motive and Regard for Scriptures

As I have said many times here, when we engage in apologetics, we need to be well-grounded in the Word and good instruction, as well as walking in the Spirit (Eph. 5.18), using the armor of God (Eph. 6.11-19). We must be proclaiming the gospel with boldness (Eph. 6.19, Acts 13.46, Phil. 1.14). Prayer is essential to our task as well as our daily lives (Eph. 6.18, Jude 1.20, 1 Thess. 5.17). If we attempt to engage in apologetics without having a real Christian walk, we are asking for trouble.

Further, people who do not really believe the Bible simply undermine the gospel, and the efforts of apologists who do believe the Bible is God's Word; a "high view" of Scripture is essential. When compromisers say that the Bible needs to be interpreted by adding current man-made science philosophies, that it is only for "spiritual truth", adding views that are either unscriptural or anti-scriptural, saying that the Bible is not reliable — they need to examine themselves and see if they are actually saved.

What is our motive for apologetics? We must be brutally honest with ourselves before God. Some people share the gospel with joy, remembering that they were lost sinners and are now saved by grace through faith, and want to see others receive the gift of salvation. There are people who are reluctant, and do this because of Christian duty. Some do nothing, and are possibly not actually saved themselves, or uncaring about the eternal destination of others (or not believing that Hell is waiting for them).

"Is that all of the motives people have, Cowboy Bob?"

By no means. There is a certain possibility that I want to discuss because it is very important — and very unpleasant.

Are we doing apologetics to impress others with how intelligent we can be and to win arguments? To be blunt, such motives stink. We are to be sharing the gospel with the lost and seeking to glorify God, not glorify our egos. Witnessing is done through the power of God, not through our own cleverness of speech and intellect.

To take this further, people who want to "win" often have a tendency to argue on "neutral ground", leaving behind their belief that the Bible is true. Dr. Jason Lisle pointed out that there has to be an ultimate standard by which we evaluate data. If the so-called "neutral ground" is used to judge the ultimate standard, then it becomes the ultimate standard!

Some readers may see that I am leaning toward what is called "presuppositional apologetics". Some clarification is in order. I have heard evidential apologists demean and even ridicule presuppositional apologetics. Some of them are simply locked in with evidentialism, others do not have a proper understanding of presuppositionalism. One annoying assumption on the part of some evidentialists is that presuppositionalists never use evidence. Not true. Also, evidentialists do have presuppositions.

To be direct, I am struggling with a proper understanding of it myself! There are some presuppositional apologists who are overbearing and confusing. (Unfortunately, I believe some of them have a problems with pride, just like some evidential apologists). To make matters worse, there is no single "school". My own approach is a mix. I use evidence, but refuse to go to "neutral ground" or leave the Bible behind.

There is an article that is making an impact on me (present-tense, because I am going through it again), and would like to recommend that people give it a serious examination. Also, I recommend Ultimate Proof of Creation by Dr. Jason Lisle. He gives what I consider an excellent explanation of presuppositional apologetics. (It's quite readable. And he uses evidence.) So, the article that I am strongly recommending that you read is "Evangelism and Apologetics".