Why the Apologist Should Additionally Play Offense

Christianity on the Protection

With every passing technology, wherever Christianity thrives, so too do distortion, misrepresentation, overemphasis, and outright malicious deceit. The church’s opponents will proceed to accuse her of doing evil (that is assumed in 1 Peter 3:16), and so the Christian apologist assumes a defensive posture in an effort to repel false accusations at any time when they arrive.

The Apologist’s Process: Proof and Persuasion

Apologetics, nonetheless, doesn’t simply entail protection. It additionally includes offense, the constructive activity of establishing a case for Christianity that reveals itself to be relevant to each tradition, in addition to being the one (and due to this fact the perfect) different to the world’s philosophical and theological programs of thought. In different phrases, apologetics can be utilized to indicate that Christianity is true and that every one non-Christian worldviews are false. One of the best ways to go about establishing a case for the Christian religion is [part of it]. Not all Christians agree on the place to start out this activity. However we do all agree on this: non-Christian pondering, in line with Scripture, is “folly” (Ps. 14:1; 1 Cor. 1:18–2:16; 3:18-23).

The skeptic at this level would possibly reply, “Prove it,” which is an effective factor, as a result of proof is definitely one other side of the apologetic activity. Sadly, in our day many Christians argue that we ought to not be engaged in makes an attempt to “prove” the reality claims of Christianity, that religion and proof are incompatible. Whereas it’s true that Reformed theologians usually imagine that human nature is radically corrupt (which is a scriptural viewpoint: see 1 Kings 8:46; Rom. 3:9-23; 7:18; 1 John 1:8-10; cf. John 6:44; Rom. 8:7-8), they wrongly assume that, since in our corrupt nature we’re unable to reply positively to the gospel, this religious incapacity renders the apologetic activity ineffective. If goal proof can’t persuade an individual to answer Christ with out the intervention of the Holy Spirit, then why hassle making an attempt to offer sound arguments for Christianity?

Apologetics . . . just isn’t merely about profitable an argument. It’s about profitable souls.

Earlier than we reply this objection, allow us to keep in mind Peter’s phrases, “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” (1 Pet. 3:16). The apostle clearly expects that one final result of apologetics is that the enemies of Christ are put to disgrace. That is harking back to the nice Genevan reformer John Calvin (1509–1564), who wrote in his Institutes relating to the proof of the authenticity of biblical prophecies, “If godly men take these things to heart, they will be abundantly equipped to restrain the barking of ungodly men; for this is proof too clear to be open to any subtle objections.”1

If anybody believed that the entire incapacity of man required the Holy Spirit to transform a soul, it was Calvin. Likewise, if anybody believed within the complete incapacity of apologetics to transform a soul, it was Calvin. He, after all, didn’t abandon the apologetic activity however nonetheless used proof and argument to show issues of religion—to not convert the hearts of the ungodly, however to “stop their obstreperous mouths.”2 This can be a giant a part of the duty of the Christian apologist: to show the Christian worldview, and to depend on God to trigger the acquiescence of the unbelieving coronary heart to the soundness of biblical doctrine. The church is up in opposition to not mere ignorance however biased enmity (Rom. 8:7). Solely the Spirit can overcome this enmity, however the Spirit by no means asks individuals to imagine what’s absurd or irrational. Calvin famous the excellence between proof and persuasion. Proof is goal and persuasion is subjective. People who find themselves hostile to sure concepts might have these concepts confirmed to them, however of their bias they refuse to be persuaded—even by the soundest of arguments.

Profitable Souls, Not Arguments

Apologetics, for that reason, just isn’t merely about profitable an argument. It’s about profitable souls. The previous aphorism rings true: “People convinced against their will hold the same opinions still.” That’s the reason, for instance, if a Christian have been to “win” an mental debate with a non-Christian, the victory celebration might by no means happen. The non-Christian would possibly concede defeat, although often not till his head hits his pillow on the finish of the day. This will by no means translate into conversion, however there’s some worth to this side of “winning” an argument. On the one hand, as Calvin mentioned, the unbridled barking of the ungodly could also be restrained; and on the opposite, the mental victory supplies assurance and safety to the younger Christian who just isn’t but capable of repel the bombardment of criticism from students and skeptics. It serves as a affirmation of the Christian’s religion.

The Christian bothers to interact in apologetics as a result of, fairly merely, how will the nonbeliever hear the reality of Christ Jesus “without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14c). Not everybody may accomplish what Justin Martyr or Athenagoras did, however they gave credibility in addition to confidence to the entire Christian group of the second century, and by extension the Christian church all through historical past has benefited from the fruits of their labor.

1. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Faith, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 20 of The Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), I.8.8 (88).
2. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Faith, ed. Henry Beveridge, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1962), I.7.4 (71).

This text is tailored from Defending Your Religion: An Introduction to Apologetics by R. C. Sproul.

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