Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Changing Thoughts on Apologetics

As noted in my last post I am currently working with a small group of Brethren to build a new Evangelism organization. The first time I was involved in such a work it was heavily based on strong apologetics; unafraid of tough questions, detailed and compelling arguments, confidence in the scientific validity of our faith, and stepping into arguments and debates wherever they may be happening.

I've learned a valuable lesson. God has not promised to bless our science, our arguments, our philosophy, or our cleverness. God has chosen to save people through the foolishness of preaching the Cross. God has promised to bless the preaching of His Word.

Apologetics is valuable. I do believe we should be able to answer tough questions, and to show that we are not blindly following some old book. But Apologetics is a tool which is primarily effective in edifying the Church which is His Body, not primarily effective in reaching the Lost. Does it ever "work"? Of course, God uses all things to draw people. Is it what God told us to talk about with the Lost? No.

If you are, why are you a Christian? I mean really. Is it because Evolution fails under testing using the scientific method? Is it because observed genetic entropy works many times faster than even the most optimistic of the proposed evolutionary models? Is it because Natural Selection selects available information and discards the information it does not select so therefore a process which limits information instead of expands it? Is it because the Flood best explains the fossils and rock formations we find all over the World? Is it because  we find fossilized human footprints inside of dinosaur footprints, and fossilized people in the same layers as fossilized dinosaurs? Is it because the Creation model has continually made accurate predictions about the workings of the Solar System while the Stellar Evolution model has to violate known scientific laws?

Nope. If you're a Christian it is because God the Holy Spirit has convicted and convinced you, someone told you the Gospel of the Christ, and you believed it.

Having science, history, archeology, philosophy, and logic arguments is great. I think it's important that people know you are aware of the science of the day and that you're able to discuss such ideas. But none of it really matters because God the Holy Spirit is either going to convince or He is not.

Here's another thought for you. In the thousands of personal evangelism conversations that I have had I have never run into someone who was actually qualified to evaluate the science they used to challenge the Bible. You can study apologetics all you want, but you will seldom (if ever) find someone who disagrees with the Bible, who is actually able to discuss the subjects at hand with integrity. In the end, they will appeal to authority and claim that trumps whatever argument you bring up: "Dr. So & So says XYZ so whatever you think you just explained doesn't matter. He's a SCIENTIST and I'll believe him over you." That's just how it goes.

Here's another example. Are you a witness unto Christ or one of those dolls that you pull the string and it says something clever and funny? This example applies to apologetics and other hot topics like abortion and homosexuality.

You start up a conversation with someone by passing them a Tract or some other way. As soon as they know this has to do with "Jesus" they do this:

"Wait, wait. Wait just a second. This is about Jesus and the Bible right? OK what's your view of XYZ?"

If your evangelism depends on Apologetics, then your evangelism depends on you being correct in your intellectual arguments. You are saying that because your science is true the person should believe in Jesus. People know this is how you are going to interact with them. So they make you make claims and defend those claims. It's actually ENTERTAINING for them to watch you go. They pull the string and you let your claims fly!

Let's say this is the question:
"OK what's your view about Evolution?"

You say something like:
"Evolution is false because XYZ and ABC. If you look at the science......"

The person responds with laughter and amusement. He is almost dismissive. Because your evangelism depends on your argument being true you have to try to save it, to get him to take you seriously for a few moments.... the rest of the conversation is about you trying to get the person to take YOU and YOUR argument seriously. No matter if you are right or wrong, he's been taught his whole life by everyone who has credibility in his life that you are a nut, and flat out wrong. You're not witnessing of Christ, you're witnessing of you.

What if instead of engaging on the basis of apologetics you witness on the basis that God is either convicting and convincing the person you're talking with or He is not? What if you DEPENDED on the Holy Spirit's ministry of John 16:5-11?

I've learned to tell people that my opinion or view of Evolution/Abortion/Homosexuality really doesn't matter. What matters is the truth, and what God says about it. Are you going to loose people at this point? Of course you are. You're going to loose the people who would have only pulled your string and watch in amusement as you try to defend your views. I let people know that I understand the science and reject the theory on the basis of science. Then I move on to the issues that matter - Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment. I use these to show why the Gospel is "good news" and the person believes or he doesn't.

I don't want to try to argue people into the faith anymore. Why? Because we can't. It doesn't work that way. Who are we witnesses of? Christ.

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