No Apologetics Necessary

apoligetics

Written by Brandon G. Harris

I often wonder if being a Christian in modern society is easier than it was when the disciples walked the earth. I have yet to be imprisoned for my faith and aside from a few wise cracks here and there, I haven’t experienced very much ridicule. Sadly, there are still many countries that openly persecute Christians and I don’t want to make light of the tragedy it is, but overall twenty-first century Christians have it pretty easy. I have, however heard a number of preachers suggest that we are fighting a new style of combat in the area of Christian faith. These messages suggest there are an increasing number of people who dismiss the simplicity of salvation. They use philosophy or some other variant to poke holes in the Christian faith.

For some reason it seems necessary to expand the message of salvation beyond Christ and Him crucified, and defend the “details” of faith. Countless writings, movies, music and more; exist solely to discredit the message of Christ. In response, Christians are arming themselves with Apologetics. Webster’s defines Apologetics as: “A branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.” It isn’t a new thing, nor has it gone unpracticed, but there appears to be an increasing desire to be able to explain the details of faith. Let me be clear, it is extremely important to know what you believe and why you believe it. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with apologetics, but I believe there is a severe misuse of it and that is creating a bigger problem.

Enoch Magazine and the people who operate it are committed to taking Christ from the church to the streets. I asked Nate Smith if apologetics is something that is frequently used in street ministry and He responded by saying, “We go out and preach the gospel in its simplest form. Usually there isn’t a need for apologetics.” I found this bizarre because I expected to hear countless examples of the philosophical mumbo jumbo they’ve heard. I also found his response encouraging. It reminded me that the message of Christ is still as powerful today as it was two thousand years ago.

So why is there a disconnection between the message in the pulpit and the message on the streets? The answer is experience. Bottom line, some Christians put more effort into themselves than they put into the people who don’t believe. Jesus had the same problem with the Pharisee’s. He was committed to preaching the gospel and changing lives. The Pharisee’s obsessed over the details. They were shallow people, devoted to knowing the truth, not sharing it. The evidence of their disconnection was painfully obvious when Jesus did things out of protocol, like healing on the Sabbath. They didn’t understand why Jesus would do such a thing. It wasn’t really a big secret; it was simply because a person needed healing.

The Bible is loaded with verses about knowledge; the benefits, the uses and the danger associated with it. Three verses in particular stand out to me. Proverbs 10:14 “Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish ruin is at hand.” 1 Corinthians 8:1 “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” Ephesians 3:19 “… know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

I have seen knowledge ruin a lot good people that would have done great things for God. Their problem was that they couldn’t discern the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom knows when to shut up. These pedantic Christians that think they have all the answers are of no more use to God than the knowledge to which they cling. God didn’t ask for your opinion, He asked for your heart. It is by the power of Christ that people find salvation, not your clever response to their question. All the details were ironed out on the Cross. Why do we over complicate salvation and make it confusing? The greatest evangelists in history, from Simon/Peter to Billy Graham, preached only one message… Christ and Him crucified. It was enough then and it is certainly enough now.


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  1. spot on brother, lots of good stuff in this.

  2. Seth says:

    As a seminary student who is about to receive a M.Div in Christian Apologetics; I find that there are some troubling implications in your article. If I am wrong in my evaluation…I apologize beforehand. I just want to be sure that I understand your criticism of Apologetics.

    First, it seems that you are misrepresenting this ancient practice. Apologetics is not concerned about defending the “details” of the faith but the gospel itself. When apologists enter into the forum of the debate, they are not doing so to defend secondary issues such as eschatology. More often than not, they are defending the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ . This IS the faith, not just a mere detail.

    Second, it seems that you are making a connection between those who practice Apologetics and the Pharisees by claiming that both sweat the details and tend to complicate the simplicity of the gospel. Is this really fair? Apologetics is actually beneficial to articulating the gospel. Most of the time when people have a grievance against Christianity it is usually a misunderstanding. Apologetics is an excellent tool in correcting these misunderstandings.

    Third, you introduce principles that are against scripture. While it is true that, “It is by the power of Christ that people find salvation, not your clever response to their question.” The Bible, nonetheless, states “be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter. 3:15). How is one able to fulfill this mandate without practicing a little bit of Apologetics?

    To end this lengthy comment, it should be noted that Paul saw no necessary disconnection between the pulpit and Apologetics. When prescribing the qualifications of a pastor, they were to be “able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict”(Titus 1:9). I have found that Apologetics has been quite fruitful to my ministry both in academic settings and waiting in line at Starbucks. Nor I have ever felt that my faith was being compromised because I have taken on the pursuit of acquiring answers to those difficult questions that trouble Christian and non-Christian alike. On the contrary, it many cases it has strengthened my faith. So in light of what I have written, not only is Apologetics beneficial but is necessary.

  3. joel says:

    absolutely loved the article brock!! nice job bro.

  4. Joy Harris says:

    People DO have a way of complicating the simple/profound truths of God. We should try to be more like children…less confusion and more trust. Your article is dead center. Your mom must be very proud of you 🙂

  5. Brandon Harris says:

    Seth,

    I’m afraid that you’ve misunderstood me. As I said in the article, I am all for knowing what you believe and why you believe it. In fact, it is crucial that believers do just that. I also said there is nothing fundamentally wrong with apologetics. There have been several times when knowing the truth of the gospel on a “deeper” level, has come in handy for me. For example if the Mormons show up at my door it helps to have a few responses. So don’t misunderstand me, apologetics indeed has it’s time and place.

    I will gladly respond to a few statements you made. My definition of “details” is anything that goes beyond the birth, burial and resurrection of Christ. This could be part of where we see things differently, am I right or wrong on that?

    Concerning whether or not my connection to Christians who “sweat” the details and the Pharisee’s is fair. It may not be fair, but it’s true. Christians armed with apologetics become no better than the Pharisee’s when they become more obsessed with who’s right and wrong, than they are with serving the Lord. Am I suggesting that all Christians who know apologetics fall into this unfair classification? Absolutely not! Nate Smith, the guy mentioned in the article, is one of the best I have ever seen when it comes to the forum of debate and yet, he has a heart for doing ministry that others only wish they had. So Seth, it’s not all of them and I’m not even suggesting that it’s you, but you know as well as I do the kind of Christians I wrote about.

    On to points concerning scripture. You said one thing that I’m quite frankly disgusted with. In your third point you said that I introduced principles that are against scripture quoting part of (1 Peter 3:15) in the process. Allow me to complete your quote there. (1 Peter 3:15) actually says. ” But sanctify the Lord God in your heart, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; (v.16) having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

    I don’t have to answer your question about how one is to be able to fulfill this mandate. The Bible already does, “with meekness and fear.”

    I do congratulate you on your pending accomplishment with your M Div and I pray that you continue to use your knowledge of the gospel for the furtherance of the Kingdom.

    In Christ,

    Brandon G. Harris

  6. Seth says:

    If anything I wrote offended you…I am truly sorry. Sometimes when writing via internet, it is difficult to decipher the demeanor of the other end. If I came across as a jerk; I did not mean to. I readily admit that I may have misrepresented you. Your article was ambigious (at least to me) and I wanted you clarify it better. To me, it seems like most of your critique can not be applied to Apologetics but can be to legalism.

  7. Gail says:

    Brandon…I like where you are going with this. I hope to read more articles by you in the future. See you soon.

  8. Brandon says:

    I appreciate the apology Seth. Likewise I appreciate your opinion. I realize that there has never been a Christian writer who wasn’t either misunderstood or just plain disagreed with. I am no exception to that rule. I will always be willing to accept comments of any nature. Sometimes it helps to get an opposing view. It gives people who may be indifferent to the subject more than one perspective to consider. Who knows? By having different opinions, a person that might be indifferent to the subject could be encouraged to decide for themselves what they believe. They might even come a completely different conclusion all together.

    I will always write what I believe and offer it to readers as my own convictions. I will also be ready to explain my position if it is unclear. I encourage people to take my position on any topic into consideration, but ultimately I want them to decide for themselves what they believe. Even if they don’t agree with me.

  9. Carter says:

    B rok, very well written and your points were well expressed. You might consider doing a transcribed debate with a prominent apoligetics pastor or professor. Just an idea.

    The Enoch Magazine philosophy is to just go out on the streets and see how God can use you. If you are prepared with “answers,” then who or what are you really putting your faith in? God or debate? People forget too, that someone who wants to argue with you about God is usually someone who is wrestling with the notion of God in their own life. The more excuses and arguments you engage in, the less that person gets to see the true loving father-like qualities of God. And the more they might continue to see God as decision based on facts, not on faith.

    That being said, I think Seth also has good points. Which leads me to say what I always say, “God uses everything for his Glory.” Seth is planting seeds in Starbucks, just as you are planting seeds in this article. I started enoch magazine after I witnessed a ministry full of money and pride, but no faith or fruit. So even “bad” experiences can breed true salvation and ownership of God for one’s self. My buddy Dan is the same way. He was searching for God and got caught up in a bad/controlling church. Once he broke free of that, he had an even stronger desire to serve God and spread the Gospel.

  10. Seth says:

    Hey Brandon,

    I am up for a friendly collaboration on the topic of apologetics if you wish. Just decide on the details of the discussion and let me know if that is something you are interested in.

    Later

  11. Brandon says:

    Seth,

    I am working on a book that I hope to have ready to submit to publishers by this time next year. Though I am depending on the Lord for direction, it is helpful to collect different opinions on some of the questions that come up. I wouldn’t mind picking your brain for an angle I might not have seen before. Feel free to contact me on facebook. Probably shouldn’t put my phone number on here.

    Brandon

  12. Daphne says:

    Brandon, you have actually managed to render me speechless… I expect to read more!

  13. Samantha Bonesteel says:

    GREAT job bub! Very proud of you and what you are doing! Hope to read more soon! Although I do enjoy it when you read it to me, nice to hear the passion in your voice, and saves me the trouble of reading! We both know its not my favorite past time! Love ya!

  14. Nathan says:

    I will not stoke the flame further but with this– your skepticism of apologetics notwithstanding, the circumstances of each gospel interaction are important. I often minister to and witness to other academics, and in that world, the logic and expertise of your argument are paramount– on a level that makes talking with Mormons seem like child’s play (although in grad school I once had a professor who was ALSO Mormon– eeek!). C.S. Lewis was a master apologist, and one of the most successful ministers of the gospel of the 20th century, and I think that the fact that he was an academic may have been a significant factor in both those facts. My point is simple: apologetics vs. “straightforward gospel truth” is a game-time decision based on a situation.

  15. Siya says:

    I believe the trick is to make sure that what you know in your head sinks down into your heart – that your knowledge matches your sincere faith-based obedience and vice-versa. If you have to take a break with learning head-stuff in order to strengthen faith-based obedience, then take that break (I know I have had to many times). Head-knowledge can block heart-obedience but in some cases, God uses head-knowledge to cultivate obedience in faith. And without proper head knowledge, sincere obedience can just be sincerely wrong. The meekest, most obedient Christians I knew had an uncanny, God-given ability to dish out astonishingly good arguments but only when absolutely necessary.

  16. aaron calloway says:

    brandon loved the article. its funny I stumbled upon it because I have been looking for you for years! this is aaron calloway get ahold of me if you ever see this! hope your doing well!

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