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Problematic Apologetics

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  • Problematic Apologetics

    OK, so I tend to stay in the "shallow waters" of Apologetics.

    To me, it's absolutely clear that we need to "give an answer of the hope that lies within in us", and I regularly teach basic apologetics in my Church.

    What I have seen many times, however, is that there seem to be two speheres of practice in the Christian faith -- the walk and the talk.

    I've often expressed it as "when all is said and done, there is usually more said than done".

    And I'll be clear -- this thread is obviously in response to Nick's "Journey". I wish him well, and I hope he responds here and interacts, because I'd really like to flesh this out, and another of my favorite sayings is "how can I know what I think til I hear myself say it". (or, in this case, type it) And it's by no means a condemnation of Nick - I think he's a great guy and sincere and really smart, but it appears to be yet another "OK, maybe I wasn't exactly right".

    I have known, in my short half century of ministry on this planet, quite a number of apologists who, at one time, espouse a very specific view of eschatology, for example, only to come to a point where they have an "ah hah" moment, or maybe more of a drift, or change, or whatever, and come to a totally different conclusion.

    When somebody becomes a preterest when they used to be a premillenialist, or general dispensationalist or whatever, their former podcasts, books, lectures, papers, youtube videos and teachings don't just disappear or get automatically updated.

    To me, this looks like an uncertain trumpet. If I strongly believed and taught X, but now I strongly and firmly believe and teach Y, how do I know I'm right "now", or will continue the journey to Z.

    I sometimes get chided by my apologist friends for not being stronger on apologetics, but I think I've figured out that there are people a lot smarter and more educated than me who believe X, and another whole set of people a lot smarter and more educated than me who believe Y, where X and Y conflict, but both proponents are good Christian people, just with different understandings.

    It's complicated, though, when the X followers become Y subscribers, and so on.

    And, at the risk of being accused of judgmentalism, I always wonder about this board's founder who seems to have been on a journey that has led all over the place, and ended up (as I understand it) in not such a good place now. It seems to make so much more sense to me to stay with the things that are clear in scripture, like the instructions we have to love one another, tell the lost about Jesus, encourage, teach, minister, feed the hungry, clothe the poor.

    We seem to have this need to "know more" and to be masters of that knowledge, and to be teachers of that knowledge and "lead the way"... but I have seen so many such leaders have to "circle back" and and say, "OK, maybe that wasn't the way, so let's try THIS...."

    At what point can we say, in regards to apologetics, "THIS is true and faithful" and "THIS is my personal opinion....". Even Paul seems to have done that.

    I believe I had an excellent role model in my Pastor (in whose boots I still often preach) who was very good at "this we know" and "this is my opinion, and here's why...."

    One of my Assocaite Pastors is a PhD who is very hard-coded dispensationalist. If that were all he was, he wouldn't be my Associate Pastor, but he's an excellent counselor, preacher, teacher.... Sometimes I wish I could get him to tone down the very specific dispensationalism, but this is my friend who is literally dying, in hospice care (my own daughter is his nurse) and he has said a number of times that he "wishes to die with his boots on", so to speak.

    All this to say --- I really think we need to find a "middle ground". Churches should absolutely teach apologetics, but apologetics should not steer the Church.

    Finally, I'll close with my Dr J.I. Packer story.
    We used to have "Super Summer" at Baylor University in Waco, and young people would come from all over the state to spend TWO WEEKS of intensive training, along with sports and concerts and a great time in the Lord. We'd have Youth Speakers from all over the country (and the world), but we'd also have some "big name" speakers for the Adult sessions.

    One year, such a speaker was J.I. Packer, and I was assigned to be his "handler". I was to make sure he got from his hotel to his speaking venue, accompany him to meals, get him home at night, and generally see to his needs. Kinda like being his butler or something. It was quite the honor and I got tremendous blessings from being around this giant of a theologian.

    One day we were sittting in the Cafeteria having lunch, and a couple of (obviously) seminary students came over and apologized for interrupting, but they had a question for Dr Packer. He graciously accepted the invitation to hear their question, which was long and drawn out and something to do with eschatology but so deep I got lost in the quiestion.

    When they finally stopped talking, Dr Packer had just lifted a fork of green beans to his mouth, but stopped, and laid the fork of green beans back on his plate, and folded his hands. The GREAT DR PACKER was about to say something amazingly profound, no doubt.

    He said, after a thoughtful pause, "young men... there are some things God does, that we don't know why He does them.... we just know that He does them".


    And he picked up his fork and continued eating his green beans. I sat there thnking WOW... DR Packer just said - in a most elegant way and in a British accent - "I don't know".

    It was, of course, at that moment that I realized I can say "I don't know". I don't have to have an answer for everything, I don't have to konw everything --- I can stick with what I DO know while I seek to learn more.

    So, where's the balance? How do we do apologetics without getting so bogged down that we eventually have to change course, while not really being "the doers" that we are told to be? Do we really need to spend so much time trying to figure out "eschatology" when there are so many other Kingdom things that need to be done?

    Just throwing it out there.


    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

  • #2
    I see apologetics as largely being the shield of our faith. Something designed to defend Christianity from outside attacks that could sway believers if all they ever heard was those attacks.

    Oh, and if you want Nick's P.O.V., I suggest a summoning: Apologiaphoenix

    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
      I see apologetics as largely being the shield of our faith. Something designed to defend Christianity from outside attacks that could sway believers if all they ever heard was those attacks.

      Oh, and if you want Nick's P.O.V., I suggest a summoning: Apologiaphoenix
      Yeah, I was gonna send a PM, but I gotta duck into a meeting real quick.
      The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

      Comment


      • #4
        I used to do a lot more reading on apologetics from a lot of sources. More recently some of the sources that people keep going on about I looked into only to find these people couldn't be trusted on some very, very basic things that I could easily look up. Turns out that much, if not most of academia has a very distorted view of just about everything past and present.

        Comment


        • #5
          I probably mentioned it on this website that I was an atheist. A skeptic, and I still am. Except that I have faith in the Word of God. Not because of apologetics or Christian evidences, but because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In that alone I have set aside my skepticism. However, there is much that I hear taught by Christian scholars that I seriously question.

          Before I became a Christian, which was in my senior year of high school, I had Christian friends coming to me with so-called Christian evidences. And even now as a Christian, I think much of their logic was sheer nonsense.

          I know of a fellow Christian in a previous church I had attended, who confesses that it was apologetics that led him to become a Christian. And praise God for that. God can use whatever He wishes to convert a sinner to faith in Jesus. It just wasn't that way with me. It was the plain teaching of the Word of God, foolishness to the world. Whenever I teach a class or preach at a nursing home, I stick to proclaiming the power of the scriptures, and not rely on apologetics.

          And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come as someone superior in speaking ability or wisdom, as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I also was with you in weakness and fear, and in great trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of mankind, but on the power of God.(1 Corinthians 2:1-5, NASB)
          But a natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. But the one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is discerned by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16, NASB)
          by the way, CP, was that assistant pastor the one whose Sunday School class I attended online a few months back? I miss him, but my own church resumed Sunday School and morning worship services, and I have been going to them now.
          Last edited by Faber; 08-11-2021, 10:41 AM.
          When I Survey....

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
            I used to do a lot more reading on apologetics from a lot of sources. More recently some of the sources that people keep going on about I looked into only to find these people couldn't be trusted on some very, very basic things that I could easily look up. Turns out that much, if not most of academia has a very distorted view of just about everything past and present.
            I've just known too many "experts" who were absolutely confident in their biblical view that they'd "go on the circuit" with charts and graphs and timelines... only to change their views later, but those charts and graphs and timelines are still around with their names on them.
            The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Faber View Post
              I probably mentioned it on this website that I was an atheist. A skeptic, and I still am. Except that I have faith in the Word of God. Not because of apologetics or Christian evidences, but because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In that alone I have set aside my skepticism. However, there is much that I hear taught by Christian scholars that I seriously question.

              Before I became a Christian, which was in my senior year of high school, I had Christian friends coming to me with so-called Christian evidences. And even now as a Christian, I think much of their logic was sheer nonsense.

              I know of a fellow Christian in a previous church I had attended, who confesses that it was apologetics that led him to become a Christian. And praise God for that. God can use whatever He wishes to convert a sinner to faith in Jesus. It just wasn't that way with me. It was the plain teaching of the Word of God, foolishness to the world. Whenever I teach a class or preach at a nursing home, I stick to proclaiming the power of the scriptures, and not rely on apologetics.

              by the way, CP, was that assistant pastor the one whose Sunday School class I attended online a few months back? I miss him, but my own church resumed Sunday School and morning worship services, and I have been going to them now.
              Thanks, Faber, and, yes --- his "expiration date" was over 2 years ago, and he is talking about writing another book in the upcoming year. As long as he has breath (and that's the biggest challenge for him given his medical condition) I will continue to utilize him. I actually think that "having a purpose" has prolonged his life, and his family readily agrees.

              And, to your post, there's the old "if you can be reasoned into something, you can be reasoned out of it". If the Holy Spirit is in it, however, He can choose whatever method or resources or people He wishes. So, yeah.
              The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                I've just known too many "experts" who were absolutely confident in their biblical view that they'd "go on the circuit" with charts and graphs and timelines... only to change their views later, but those charts and graphs and timelines are still around with their names on them.
                To me that is a little different, because new evidence can show those charts and graphs to be "out of focus" for a lack of a better explanation. Certain little details can change how information is viewed, and drastically at that. If someone does that, especially publicly, they need to go back and set the record straight and show where they were wrong before.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                  I've just known too many "experts" who were absolutely confident in their biblical view that they'd "go on the circuit" with charts and graphs and timelines... only to change their views later, but those charts and graphs and timelines are still around with their names on them.
                  I think that when you look at folks like N.T. Wright, Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, they do a pretty good job at keeping their facts straight.

                  I'm always still in trouble again

                  "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                  "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                  "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My view of such things as eschatology is that there are a lot of theories. And they each have their points. Any one of them might be right, or they all might be wrong. We are trying to guess what God is going to do based on some pretty abstract revelations and prophesies in various books like Daniel and Revelations. What everyone does agree on is that

                    1. Jesus will return one day and clean up this mess.
                    2. The world will be judged, and those in the book of Life will have eternal life with God.


                    Whether the rapture happens or not, and when doesn't matter to me. I know I am going to see Jesus face to face one day. If there is a rapture before I die, it will be then. If not, I will see him when I die.


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                      My view of such things as eschatology is that there are a lot of theories. And they each have their points. Any one of them might be right, or they all might be wrong. We are trying to guess what God is going to do based on some pretty abstract revelations and prophesies in various books like Daniel and Revelations. What everyone does agree on is that

                      1. Jesus will return one day and clean up this mess.
                      2. The world will be judged, and those in the book of Life will have eternal life with God.


                      Whether the rapture happens or not, and when doesn't matter to me. I know I am going to see Jesus face to face one day. If there is a rapture before I die, it will be then. If not, I will see him when I die.
                      And I guess that's my point --- the "deeper" we dive into the details, the more there is to separate us.

                      My Associate Pastor cringes when I say "I'm a panmillenialist" (so sometimes I say it just to see him cringe ), that it will all pan out in the end, but there's a lot of truth to that --- I think too many times we pigeon-hole ourselves into fractured groups, and you tend to think "the other guy is WRONG".

                      I'm just thinking out loud here.
                      The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I don't know if eschatology is the best example because it is something that does affect the real world - it affects how we should treat Israel from a foreign policy perspective. (I would also argue, sincerely, that if you are a convinced pre-tribber, you should not own pets.)
                        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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                        • #13
                          So, for the last hour, I was in my conference room with the father of a mother of a family that has been visiting our church, and thinking about joining our church.

                          Lemme back up... a woman, who is a veterinarian oncologist, has been visiting our church with her husband and 4 boys.
                          She has told her dad, a local cattleman, about our church and me, in particular.

                          He stopped by to "check me out" (he had called first and made an appointment) and wanted to know what I taught on Revelation.

                          I told him, very generically, about the conversation I started here, and that I think we sometimes get way too carried away on things we really can't know.

                          He seemed much relieved, and told me that the church he is currently attending (bigger church than ours) was borderline about to split, because there's an internal battle over various views of eschatology, because their pastor (I know him well) was really pushing a particular view of Revelation, and spending just about every Sunday Morning and Wednesday night message on it.

                          He echoed my thoughts that people he highly respects as pastors and teachers can't seem to disagree on "future" things, and he is frustrated with the "pushy" viewpoints.

                          (His pastor is a friend of mine pretty much fresh out of Seminary with his ThD, and loves to show how much he knows - He's still my friend, but I try to avoid "deep" discussions, and try to keep it light.)

                          Which brings up another point -- some Churches won't even consider a pastor unless he has a Doctor's degree, not even knowing what kind of pastor he would be.
                          The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            How does that old saying go..."Vive la difference"?

                            God has set in the body of Christ all types of giftedness and personalities. Cow Poke, to borrow your analogy of wanting to stay in the "shallow waters" of apologetics, the kingdom of God in this world really is rather like a public swimming pool that's always open. Cow Poke, if you feel you are impelled to be the one poised to welcome all new visitors to the "pool" and keep things focused on a more basic level, GO FOR IT. God has apparently gifted you to be that approachable type with an open heart of ministry. Nick feels led to explore the deep end of the pool, which is equally necessary and enjoyable. The Holy Spirit is the "life guard" sent to keep order and safety over this "pool". And try not to relieve yourselves in this pool, folks. Accidents will happen, but make an effort.

                            We are ALL traveling from your "X" point in our studies to the "Z" point. Change is natural and to be expected when one is growing. My husband's church had the beloved founding minister pass away in his 80's, but almost to his dying day, he said he was still studying and fine-tuning his knowledge of scripture. Similar to the example of the man you are giving above, Cow Poke, who says he "wants to die with his boots on".

                            My husband as an elder of his church views eschatology from a historicist position, and he absolutely loathes Preterism, I, on the other hand, have had a revival in my love for my Lord as never before since I started studying eschatology from the Preterist perspective. You couldn't pay me enough to abandon my growing peace and confidence in a God who keeps His promises to the letter, and at the exact time He promised to perform them. Does this create disunity in our home? Of course, but I have surrendered this to God, that He has not seen fit to have my husband and myself see eye-to-eye on these things. I do not even question my husband's sincere love for the scripture and his Savior, and despite our differences, God can and will use both of us to increase His kingdom here on this earth.

                            The eschatological paradigm I have adopted has an eclectic mix of all the bits of truth that I could glean from each of the camps. And they each have SOMETHING to offer on this subject. When my father passed away, I was allowed to select some of the volumes from his library, and I took the Larkin book of end-time charts that I used to study as a child, and also his book on "The Spirit World" that fascinated me as a teen. Both of these books are filled with both truth and error, but they remind me of my journey toward selecting only the truth as best I am able. That's all God expects of us, and all we should expect of each other.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                              So, for the last hour, I was in my conference room with the father of a mother of a family that has been visiting our church, and thinking about joining our church.

                              Lemme back up... a woman, who is a veterinarian oncologist, has been visiting our church with her husband and 4 boys.
                              She has told her dad, a local cattleman, about our church and me, in particular.

                              He stopped by to "check me out" (he had called first and made an appointment) and wanted to know what I taught on Revelation.

                              I told him, very generically, about the conversation I started here, and that I think we sometimes get way too carried away on things we really can't know.

                              He seemed much relieved, and told me that the church he is currently attending (bigger church than ours) was borderline about to split, because there's an internal battle over various views of eschatology, because their pastor (I know him well) was really pushing a particular view of Revelation, and spending just about every Sunday Morning and Wednesday night message on it.

                              He echoed my thoughts that people he highly respects as pastors and teachers can't seem to disagree on "future" things, and he is frustrated with the "pushy" viewpoints.

                              (His pastor is a friend of mine pretty much fresh out of Seminary with his ThD, and loves to show how much he knows - He's still my friend, but I try to avoid "deep" discussions, and try to keep it light.)

                              Which brings up another point -- some Churches won't even consider a pastor unless he has a Doctor's degree, not even knowing what kind of pastor he would be.
                              As to the last sentence, I wonder where they think someone like Charles Spurgeon -- the "Prince of Preachers" -- got his degree.


                              As to the rest, and from reading other posts, it is obvious that we are talking about two very different things when it comes to apologetics so I'll be bowing out.

                              I'm always still in trouble again

                              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                              "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                              Comment

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