Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Apologetics and me

I have had a great interest in Apologetics in the early days of my Christian life. At some point, I wanted to be an Apologist myself. Many great apologists attracted me such as Hank Hanegraaff, Ravi Zacharia, and Matt of carm.org. I think I have read pretty much everything on carm.org. It helped me to understand different cults, bad theologies etc. I have to admit that my primary intention of learning these stuff was to use my knowledge to bash others who belong to such groups and to win the argument with others who don't believe what I believe(Wrong motive!).

Later, I learned something the FBI does to identify counterfeit dollar currencies. They won’t spend time studying all the counterfeits in the world, but they study the real currency thoroughly so that the moment they see a counterfeit they can easily identify that it is a fake. There are always going to be new counterfeits, new cults, new theologies, new philosophies etc. The trick to identify the ‘the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming’ is knowing the real thing.

I gained a lot of knowledge and I think I was more of a student of religion than the follower of Jesus.

There is this verse in 2 Thimothy 3:

always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

Or in another translation it says,

always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth

That was me! I wouldn’t say the knowledge did not help at all. In fact it did help a great way but I did not come (arrive) to the knowledge of truth. I didn't come to a conclusion. I was still in the 'seeking' mode.

I Corinthians 2:9-10 says,

However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"

I have seen people stop that verse there and use it to make points such as ‘it is impossible to know the things of God’. But the verse continues as follows,

but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

I think every ‘but’ in the scripture comes with some kind of surprise. BUT God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. From my life experience, I would be able to boldly say that UNLESS it is revealed to us by His Spirit, all our knowledge stays in our head. When the Spirit start to reveal the things of God, the ‘head’ slowly goes out of the picture and heart comes in to the picture.

One of the questions I always struggle with is, what is the point in sharing the Gospel to a person who doesn’t even believe Bible is the word of God and Jesus is God or even doubt the existence of God. I have tried to use Apologetics, Scientific evidences of creation such as Newton's first law of thermodynamics, etc to convince such people but so far I haven’t seen anybody who has really convinced just by the logical reasoning based on these facts. I still value the genuine work some people do in this regard. I would highly recommend books like ‘More than a Carpenter’ to any skeptics. But the point is, UNLESS and UNTIL the Spirit reveals the truth they wouldn’t come to a conclusion of the reality of Christ's love and His salvation. The only 'problem' I see in those who come to believe in Jesus through Apologetics is that they believe because of the compulsion of their intelligence. If we think, it is pretty easy to rule out any possibilities of evolution, Big Bang etc with a little intellect, logic, history and science.

I think apologetics can be a starting point of any skeptic's faith journey but the true faith is beyond the intellectual capabilities of our finite mind. True faith (not just belief) sees the 'unseen' and start walking in that reality. They not only knows that the chair can hold them (belief) but they go and sit in the chair (faith). It is not enough to believe that Jesus is the way but there requires a response of faith which lead to us to resting (sitting in the chair). This is possible only when it is supernaturally revealed to us by the Spirit of God. I think it was Joel once said, the love and grace of God cannot be taught but it has to be caught. When it is revealed to us by God, we will catch it and it usually is a big 'AHA' moment; then as we start the journey, there will be a lot more 'AHA' moments. And thats where the fun starts!


Walking Church said...

Re: Apologetics, uh, not my fav at Seminary at all...all that arguing..and in some cases wordy logic..kind of like Monty Python's the search for the Holy grail..the scene how one deduces a person is a witch.

My experience has let me off the hook: I find that I rarely have to go looking for someone to minister to...they appear to 'co-incidentally' come to me...you and I both know there is no 'co-incidences' in God's economy.

Secondly, I am not the Holy Spirit though He lives His life in me. Scripture says that it is futile to understand the things of Father unless His Spirit reveals it. So I am off the hook

What I am accountable is to point to Christ. To share what He has done for me. To argue about a book and doctrine is futile....I find it helpful to ask...what has been my EXPERIENCE and also what has theirs been. Take it from words to experience.

I firmly believe that H.S. delights in revealling Himself to both believers and non believers.

I am just a pointer; I am just one who can people that I have experienced a living God who loves me....need we do more?

In Him.

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Here is another verse which confirmed me that it is not necessarily the Apologetics which convinces us about the existence of God and His creation, but it is faith:

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible - Hebrews 11:3

Walking Church said...

Romans 1.18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them ; for God has made it eveident to them.
for since the creation of th world His invisible attributes His ertnal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been mad so that tyey are without excuse.

I believe no man will have an excuse. He will give all an opportunity. I am also of the belief that it is only God who as creator reserves the right to deem who he pleases as 'righteous'

I have found my salvation through Christ. Moses, Abe, David and Noah never knew Christ...but it is God who gives eternal life.

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Well said!

The passage you quoted from Romans is one of the passage which convinces me that anybody who would seek will find the true God no matter whether they live in a remote village of Africa or in New York. Everywhere His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen. As you said, every single person in this world has an opportunity!

Joel Brueseke said...

This is really great! My whole life used to be apologetics, even if I didn't use the word apologetics. :) I thought my duty as a Christian was to tell everyone I knew about Jesus. My lifestyle was to be a lifestyle that led people to Jesus. My job was only there as a way for me to lead people to Jesus. Every conversation that I had with others had the underlying motive of trying to lead them to Jesus.

Not that it's "bad" to desire to share the gospel with people in those ways, but in my case it was all based upon "my" so called responsibility to lead people to Jesus.

In those days, if I would happen to hear discussions about social or theological issues (abortion, evolution, partying, you name it), I just had to jump in and make my "case for Christ." In other words, I thought I had to "prove" Jesus to everyone, and I thought that by stepping in and talking about my beliefs, I was standing up for Jesus.

I do have to say that I believe I had a genuine concern for the eternity of all the people I talked with, but I now know that I was going about it in the wrong way.

It's so very true what's been said here... no one is without excuse, and it's not because we've preached the Word and they've refused it. I do think God sends "preachers" of the Word and I'm very thankful for the message of the gospel that has brought me to a place in which I know I have peace with God. It's a message that I've heard partly through preachers of the gospel.

But creation testifies so much louder than we "preachers" seem to think. :) It's as if we think we really have the power to prove something to them, when they won't even believe what they see in creation.

Joel Brueseke said...

I think, too, that it's not necessarily futile to talk about the gospel with people who seem so very hard hearted. I think it's futile to try to prove the gospel to them, but there may be times in which we are led, as WC says, to simply be pointers. And we can leave it at that. Who knows if some day in the future, near or far, the Holy Spirit might use those very words to give sight to a blind man.

Bino B. Manjasseril said...


I like what WC said,
I find that I rarely have to go looking for someone to minister to...they appear to 'co-incidentally' come to me...you and I both know there is no 'co-incidences' in God's economy.

When the sharing of the Gospel happen in this way, it's very likely that person is ready to receive it. I have big burden about my unsaved loved ones. Sometimes it builds up on my head and I act upon it eventually 'pushing' them to believe the Gospel. Every time I do it, the result is disappointment. Like you said, I operate from a sense of 'responsibility' to share the Gospel. But what if they are not ready?
Unless we are lead by God, most likely it is a desire of our flesh.
And my struggle most of the time is to distinguish my desire and God's desire. I think one way of distinguishing it is, if I am result oriented it is more likely my desire.