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August 26, 2014

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Yeah, that's the opposite of what I first thought when I just saw the headline. But really, you just want to be faithful to Jesus, and that's all that counts.

It means you don't want to trick people into converting. You don't want to offer empty arguments that just bewilder people, to make them think you're smart. You don't want to win debates just for the sake of winning. After all, the first shall be last.

"The success of any given apologetic argument is not whether it wins converts or strengthens the faith of any given believer, but whether it is faithful to Jesus.

And how do we remain "faithful to Jesus"? By realizing that apologetics must be evangelistic at its heart...

For example, it's great to argue for creation vs. evolution, but it's all for naught unless you get to the reason why creation is important: because God as Creator in Genesis shows His creative power to create life from nothing, pointing to His regenerative power in creating spiritual life in those who are "dead in trespasses and sins".

I like Sye Ten Bruggencate's example of the man who thought he was dead. When he went to the doctor, the doctor asked the man, "Do dead men bleed?" The man of course said, "No." So the doctor pricked the man's finger, and as the blood welled up on the man's fingertip, the man exclaimed, "Well what do you know! Dead men do bleed!"

As John Moore said above, "You don't want to win debates just for the sake of winning."

This post reminds me of one of those ready-made PowerPoint presentations created by www.powerpointapologist.org. In the presentation "Why Apologetics," four reasons are given for the practice of the defense of the faith:

1. Validate Christian truth
2. Save the lost
3. Strengthen the Church
4. Refute error

I believe these are accurate reasons for the study of apologetics. But I have respect for the point made by John Moore. I am sure he doesn't come to STR to get his recommended daily requirement of refutation. So it is great to see the real motivation behind it all: the glory of God and the promotion of the understanding of the work of Christ.

At its core, the Gospel is an act of invitation in context. In the Parable of the Great Feast (Lk. 14: 15-24), the invitation is met with excuses of all varieties, leading to an extension of the invitation to others who would accept. The meeting and exposing to the light the motives of the "excuse" offered for refusing the invitation of the Gospel is trying to find validity in the opportunity lost by those wondering what is essential to the Gospel.

So, I would have apologetics less of refutation and more an explanation of ideas not quite grasped. And, yes, all to the glory of God.

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