So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Some clarifications...

I was posting this as a comment to a comment of my comment on www.mark316.com but then I thought, "Man I want pancakes." Now that thought wasn't really helpful, but as I was thinking about whether or not I was actually going to make pancakes, I figured "I need a new post on my blog." So, here it is.

I often make blanket statenments about things where I forget that people don't have the understanding behind them to understand what I'm meaning to say. In my comment regarding Mark's post on creationism, I spoke about creationism and said:

"It's not useless, but it may as well be for most Christians."

I think I need to explain myself. What I mean by that is that many Christians attempt to 'argue people into the faith'. For many years, I would debate with anyone on the subject of creationism, thinking that if I somehow demolished their arguments I would gain standing in their eyes, evidence the truth of the bible and convert the evolutionist.

My comment was meant to tackle that kind of foolishness, of which I was guilty for years. I will strongly defend the need for creationist apologetics, though we often approach it wrong. I'll defend it, if not for anything else, simply because it's commanded in scripture:

"...encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." - Titus 1:9

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." - 1 Peter 3:15-16

I do still talk about creationism with anyone and everyone. It is important to give a rational defense of the gospel (and all things contained therein...like creationism...you can't have the end without the beginning.). It's just that many of us often fall into a non-biblical worldview and assume that the unregenerate mind can understand and believe ultimate truth. (When I say ultimate truth, I mean "truth in it's relation to ultimate reality, namely God the Father") The unregenerate mind can definitely can understand the processes and mechanisms of death (the process of necrosis, cellular decay, etc.) but the unregenerate mind will never rationally arrive at its ultimate meaning nor believe its cosmic significance. The unregenerate biologist will never connect cellular necrosis with the rejection of God's moral law. The sin that wars against the reason of the unregenerate mind will continually supress that truth at all costs.

So, how should we approach creation apologetics? Well, there's a great passage in the New Testament that is not specifically addressing creationist apologetics, but simply the refutation of heresy in general. I would say that it definitely applies:

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." - 2 Timothy 2:22-26

Let's learn some lessons from Paul, as he instructs Timothy:

1. Avoid foolish and stupid arguments. The Greek word here for 'foolish' is moros, from where we get 'moron'. Moros carries the connotations of 'without learning, imprudent, without wisdom, empty'. The word for 'stupid' is apaideutos, which carries the connotations of 'rude, uneducated, ignorant, without discipline'. I've often heard idiotic arguments where there is a whole lot more heat than light. It's not only important to know what you're talking about (and what is worth saying), but also that you don't conduct yourself in a manner unbecoming one who represents Jesus Christ. Arguming about which side has more 'scientific hoaxes' in their history is useless, as is insulting your critics. This happens way too much in creationist apologetics. I'm talking to YOU, Kent Hovind!

2. Don't be quarrelsome. The word here is machomai, which carries the connotation of 'intense fighting', either with swords, words, or over property. Don't be a scrapper for Jesus. As Ravi Zacharias says, "when you throw mud, you lose a lot of ground and everyone gets dirty".

3. Be kind to everyone. The word is epios, which means 'kind, gentle, affable' and carries connotations of how a mother treats her children. This was evidenced years ago to me by William Lane Craig, who came to town to debate the existence of God with Ron Barrier at U of S. Ron called names and slandered him and kept using moros arguments, while Dr. Craig kept cool and treated him respectfully. I talked to Dr. Craig afterward and asked him "How do keep so cool when you're being so disrespected and when your opponent is so incompetent?" He smiled and said "You've gotta love your opponents. Treat every argument as serious and be kind to them". It's a good thing that I have Christ, because it's hard to do that outside of divine intervention...at least for me.

4. Learn to teach. This word is didaktikos, which doesn't talk about subject matter as much as pedagogical ability. Learn how to communicate what you want to say in a way that gets across your message. We're talking about 'techniques and technical ability' here. I've heard John Piper say that when he's preparing a sermon, he judges his grasp of a theological concept by his ability to communicate it to his 7 year old daughter. If he cannot explain the most complex theology to a 7 year old, he doesn't really understand it enough himself.

5. Don't be resentful. The word here is anexikakos, which means 'patient'. Don't get mad at people because they don't understand what your brilliant mind can fathom with ease. Remember that everyone was once smarter than you, and you've been blessed with instruction and learning from other patient teachers who endured your idiocy in order to educate you in the concept that you're now trying to explain to others. Of all of these, this one applies to me the most. I often want to quote Hebrews 5:11 to people that I'm conversing with... I'm constantly working on this one. Not that I'm arrogant (I think), but often impatient. Even in writing this, I'm feeling kinda guilty.

6. Instruct gently. The word here is praotes, which means "gentleness, mildness, meekness". Be gentle with those who don't understand or who oppose you. Know that how you address them is as important as what you say. People will not only try to slander you (and your presentation will either confirm or contradict their claims) but I've learned often that rational arguments are, with most people, only on the surface. People often attack the bible, Christians, or whatever spiritual thing, on the basis of a personal offense or sense of maltreatment by "Christians". Your gentleness and kindness sometimes are the 'argument' that they're actually seeking.

7. God grants repentance. The real issue is never creation versus evolution, nor truth versus error, but rebellion versus repentance. The first half of verse 26 says that they've lost their senses and the second half of verse 26 says that the Devil "has taken them captive to do his will". That's what's ultimately going on with them; they've lost their minds and been enlaved by Satan. Part of that struggle is 'informational', but almost all of it is 'spiritual'. You are definitely an agent of God in their lives, but that's just it: and agent OF God, not God himself. He does the heavy work, you're just a peon. Don't overestimate your own role in the struggle, nor your importance therein.

8. Repentance leads to knowledge of the truth. Any apologetics that come without prayer are most likely done in vain. The creationist debate isn't done when people agree with you; it's done when they're restored to a proper relationship to God, so that's where you should aim to get them too. From there, they'll easily read and understand the scriptures and believe things therein. Get them on the right track, and they'll arrive at the right destination.

For the aforementioned reason, among others, Mark is definitely right when he suggests that all apologetics should be Christocentric. If people are 'on track' with Christ, their minds will also be in subjection to his truth. Anyway, I've been typing for a lot longer than I thought I would be. This has turned out to be a rather large post, but a good one. I'm off to Costco now. HA! Free Sample City, here I come! YEAH! Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this
Thanks

10:30 PM

 
Blogger Benyamen said...

From what I can tell from this Lyndon you've changed a lot since your days on Whit One. Christianity isn't about fighting and taming the infidel, it's about love and truth. I'm glad I found your Blog.

8:59 AM

 

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