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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paul on Apologetics

Okay, this is nice. I finally came up with a short blog entry.

I'm reading in 1 Corinthians these days and came across this passage which, from all appearances, is Paul's commentary on the use of Apologetics in winning converts to Christ:
I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor 2:1-5).
No? Well, perhaps that wasn't his point, but it does appear that Paul's approach was not an Apologetics one. And, in all honesty, I share his concern when Christians get excited about this scientific discovery that backs our faith or that line of reasoning that seems to prove our point. Like Paul, my concern is that "your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." Do you see it another way?


Keith said...

I think you're right in that with the Corinthians Paul's approach was not an apologetic one. However, this particular time does not seem to be Paul's usual MO as he was often in synagogues arguing and trying to persuade his listeners. On Mars Hill his approach was different still. What we have here (I think) is an example of him approaching the situation in an approriate way given a certain set of circumstances.

Didn't Peter command us to be ready with an "apologia"?

I will agree that if someone's faith is solely resting on this or that latest scientific proof, then that's a problem. But that's a misuse of Apologetics in my view.

I've been reading your blog for months now and enjoy it. Keep up the good work!

Stan said...

Hi, Keith, and welcome.

I have repeatedly and often written on Apologetics. I favor Apologetics. I believe, in fact, that it is commanded by God that we defend the faith, be ready to make a defense, etc. The singular trouble that I have is the hard-over position that some take that says that Apologetics is the answer, that it is the sole or at least primary means of spreading the Gospel. I've actually seen some argue that using the Bible in our defending the faith or presenting Christ is wrong. Paul in this passage and the Bible elsewhere places the power of God in the Gospel, in Scripture, in the Spirit, not in our ability to reason people into the Kingdom.

That's where I'd prefer to go. I believe that Apologetics are commanded and I believe that they are of great use in undergirding (not creating or maintaining) the faith of believers. I do not believe that we can argue people into the Kingdom.

Jeremy D. Troxler said...

I agree. It is clear that we are to have an answer back for the hope that is in us, but we cannot overlook the fact that we have hope precisely because of the Truth of the Gospel and the Spirit's activity in helping us to understand Truth, to reason well, to know what to say in different situations, to share all things in love.

We do not argue anyone into the Kingdom, no more than we ourselves studied our way into being disciples of Christ. It is the preeminence of Christ in our lives, the Spirit of power in us that is the foundation and undergirding of all our study and acumen. I believe we do a great disservice to ourselves, those to whom we make arguments and the Gospel if we lose sight of that foundation of preeminence.

Good points, Keith, thanks for commenting. As i'm sure you are aware, you are greatly benefited by continuing to visit Stan's blog. Always great content and good commentary.

Stan said...

Hey, does "commentary" refer to "the comments section"?

Jeremy D. Troxler said...

Commentary on issues of the day and responses to comments, sure.

Keith said...

I think you and I for the most part do agree on this issue.

I agree with you that you can't argue someone into the kingdom. Though I don't think you can love someone into it, or even preach someone into it, since it's God who must move through all those things. And since God moves through all those things, an apologetic approach may very well be a factor in their coming to Christ. I think Apologetics is good for clearing up confusion that may surround an unbleliver's ideas of God and Scripture.

But yes, I agree that Apologetics isn't the answer. It's merely a component (which I think you agree with.)

I've never come across someone that thinks using the bible or presenting Christ is wrong, but it doesn't surprise me that they're out there. *sigh*

Stan said...

Yes, Keith, it appears that you and I are in agreement. And, yes, they're out there. Sad, too, because they do have a certain zeal that is a bit misguided.