To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Apologetics and Evangelism

Let us define these two terms to start with: Apologetics: “That aspect of Christian theology which seeks to set out and demonstrate the credibility and plausibility of the Christian Faith” (Alister McGrath in The J.I. Packer Collection). Evangelism: The presentation of the Christian Gospel to people with a view to them embracing that message and being saved. It would be my contention that apologetics is a part of evangelism. When apologetics comes to be divorced from evangelism then it has lost its way. If we are just seeking to prove that the Christian message is credible and plausible then we are just competitors in an intellectual game. If we win the argument then we can pat ourselves on the back. if we lose then it’s a shame, but there are no great consequences. However, the message of the Bible, and that of how Jesus Christ came into the world, is not a message which is simply to be pitched in among all other theories, philosophies and messages to vie for supremacy. It is rather the message of how God is working in the universe to bring glory to Himself. It is not “a message” – it is “the message”. All other messages are trying to make sense of this world. However, they never will do because they do not argue from the true source which is that of Scripture. But we do have to be aware of the need to seek to engage with people in this culture. If we just do evangelism without any thought of apologetics we are very likely to fail to evangelise. This is because we will not be engaging with people. They will hear this message which has no connection with their lives and thereby dismiss it as utterly irrelevant because it has no traction into their situations. Listening to messages from Word Alive in 2013 by Dan Strange are helpful. He seems to have got to the heart of this issue. His assertion is that many people are so far away from the knowledge of the gospel, that we really do have to track a long way back as regards to getting them to consider this gospel as relevant. In getting into their situation we are always seeking to come where people are. This is the great truth that is at the heart of our faith. Jesus, being Immanuel which is God with us, tells us of one who has come close. He has come where we were. God has not just shouted from a distance. We need to come where people are. We need to listen to them. And we need to respond. Is this not one of the salutary lesson from the ministry of Francis Schaeffer. He met the people of the 1960’s and 1970’s where they were and accomplished much as as a result. In seeking to meet people where they are though, we are not just seeking to sanitize their thinking . Rather we are seeking to show that their thinking is askew. Accordingly, although we may not be quoting Scripture all the time we need to be declaring biblical truths. We are impotent if we lose the biblical revelation at the basis of our interaction with the world. This is because God has given His revelation of His mind to us as humans beings in the Scripture. The Bible is His Word and it is the only place where His mind is revealed. Always Scripture must drive our argumentation. We need to  remember in all our argumentation, that we are seeking to bring people to consider the claims of Christ. In every interaction we should always have in mind that we are headed for the cross. If that is not the case we are just the aforementioned intellectual duellists. In all this though, we should remember that the things of God are not naturally discerned. Ultimately, it is without question  that the Christian message is credible and plausible. But people will not grasp this until they have faith and God reveals his mind to them . As Paul says to the Corinthians. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:14) And so we pray that the Lord would give people understanding. And that is not just understanding that Christianity is true which it is of course. But understanding of the message of the gospel and they would thereby be saved.

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