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May 27, 2013

Comments

Brad B recently posted that

...apologetics is for believers, not unbelievers who cannot reason rightly.

But Greg says here that

I think it's the goal of apologetics to win people. Once you win people then you disciple them.
There's a conflict here - or at least the appearance of one.

So: Who is apologetics for?

Who are the target market?

(It's interesting that, in this case, the target market may or may not be those who pay.)

Well, RonH, you can certainly arbitrate what is a fairly clear passage of scripture:

"1Cr 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
1Cr 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
1Cr 2:3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,
1Cr 2:4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
1Cr 2:5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
1Cr 2:6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;
1Cr 2:7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
1Cr 2:8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
1Cr 2:9 but just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."
1Cr 2:10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
1Cr 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
1Cr 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
1Cr 2:13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
1Cr 2:14 But a natural man 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 appraised.
1Cr 2:15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
1Cr 2:16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ."

As a disclaimer, even amonst my Reformed brethern, the stark distinction between apologectics and evangelism that I maintain is a minority position. Most believe that there is significant overlap between defending the faith aka apologetics, and evangelism. 1 Cor. 2 is not alone, but fairly clear that mere intellectual argumentation cannot convert. God's word seems pretty clear that it is the gospel, the foolishness of preaching that He's ordained as the ordinary means to call men to faith.

Regeneration preceeds faith...logically, if not temporally as this could be instantaneously concurrent or simultaneous. This means that one has to have the Spirit of God already, prior to having an act of his will to come to faith. IOW, one is born again before they know it..in this sense, people ought to acnknowledge that they discovered that they have received Christ, not that they "let Him into their heart".

As far as Greg's commentary, I think he plays both sides a little as do most Christians, saying they know that their words dont save apart from the Holy Spirit's work. This is true, but contrary to God's word, since He chose the foolish things to confound the wise, and He chose the foolishness of preaching....not intellectual argumentation as the power of God unto salvation.

This doesn't negate the importance and need for apologetics since Christianity is a rational faith and for one to grow and mature as a believer, they have to apprehend the true things of the Son of God..ala Eph 4.

Brad B

"preaching....not intellectual argumentation as the power of God unto salvation."

I think that there can be a kind of misunderstanding regarding the mutual exclusivity of preaching and intellectual argumentation. If the preaching includes the contents of the New Testament it is difficult to do a good job preaching while excluding the intellectual argumentation that the apostles and Jesus presented in their discourse. Perhaps part of the problem is this issue that you have raised of "foolishness" that is presented in your quote "1Cr 2:14 But a natural man 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 appraised." The kind of foolishness that is spoken of is really a subjective foolishness perceived by the one who lacks understanding of spiritual things, being spiritually dead. Another verse that goes well together with this one is "1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." It could be said that from the perspective of those who perish, the preaching of the cross is foolishness(subjectively speaking). But does that mean that it is foolishness, objectively? Not at all. If we examine the particular details of the exchange that took place and have a proper understanding of the world, our condition and God's solution to our condition, as well as God's nature, the contents of the preaching of the cross make perfect sense and is the height of wisdom, not foolishness. But it is objectively so for everyone, while it is subjectively and objectively the power of God to those who believe. It is only when we fall into line with having our subjective views fall into step with objective reality that we can find the truth.

I don't think that the bible preaches that we should abandon intellectual argumentation(reasoning). If anything it encourages us to reason "Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool."

But as you quoted "1Cr 2:5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. " we should rely on God's wisdom in our reasoning. For if we were to rely on the wisdom of men, we would certainly fall into the trap of not aligning our subjective lines of reasoning with the objective truths of God and thus come to similar conclusions as those who have concluded that the preaching of the cross is foolishness.

Apologetics is multifaceted. There are multiple approaches with multiple methods and multiple goals.

It's a simple observation to say that evidence doesn't convince anyone on its own merits, but there must also be the willingness to accept the evidence. Evidence alone stops short of epistemological certainty with the evaluation of likelihood. But exceptional likeliness is generally accepted by someone as factual when the conclusions aren't contrary to their worldview. So evidential apologetics are typically most fruitful among believers.

So it's on this level that presuppositional apologetics are employed. However, the arguments of the most common methods are difficult enough for most people that obfuscation of the logic is effective enough to assuage belief. Greater intelligence only provides greater tools for obfuscation.

A combination of the two provides evidence that is irrefutable because of the nature of the evidence. The greatest evidence is the testimony of the work of Christ in true believers. Such testimony is at once unprovable by true believers and irrefutable (if deniable) by non-believers. Only the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of hearers will generate a resonance of the truth of it as though the Spirit of God were speaking to himself from the believer to the one coming to faith.

Brad,

Thanks for the time you spent responding.

I think your response is spot on in it's own way.

Of course, I'm not looking for the 'true' purpose of apologetics: it's a total waste of time as far as I'm concerned.

I'm looking to point out a contradiction in the way people apologize.

You are absolutly spot on here as well

I think he plays both sides a little as do most Christians

They're in quicksand.

But you are too.

There is no way for you to "grow and mature as a believer" via argument that can't convince a non-believer. To claim that such a possibility exists is special pleading.

Paul has my utmost respect for inventing this idea. He was so brilliant. He'd have made an awesome theoretical psychologist.

RonH

Hi Louis, I think we have little disagreement except, possibly to extent. I liked Jims input, it resonates historic Protestantism, I can almost hear Calvin saying the same thing when Jim says:

"Only the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of hearers will generate a resonance of the truth of it as though the Spirit of God were speaking to himself from the believer to the one coming to faith."

Here's Calvin:

"But I answer,that the testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason. For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely entrusted. This connection is most aptly expressed by Isaiah in these words, "My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever," (Isa. 59: 21.) Some worthy persons feel disconcerted, because, while the wicked murmur with impunity at the Word of God,they have not a clear proof at hand to silence them, forgetting that the Spirit is called an earnest and seal to confirm the faith of the godly, for this very reason, that, until he enlightens their minds, they are tossed to and fro in a sea of doubts."

This is where Calvin states that that one purpose of apologetics is to stop the mouths of the obstreperous.....which leads us to RonH's comments.

"There is no way for you to "grow and mature as a believer" via argument that can't convince a non-believer. To claim that such a possibility exists is special pleading."

Hogwash, "the special pleading" deflection does nothing for you unless and until you can demonstrate logical coherency in your worldview.
It's one thing to claim it, it will be quite another to prove it...but you know that as you routinely dispense with pesky grounding issues in favor of subjective opinion. It is not special pleading to require coherency.

Brad B,

You don't have 'grounding'.
You just claim to.

You say 'hogwash'.

Here is hogwash: To understand certain things you have to be pixie dusted. Otherwise, they sound doubtful at best.

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