The Humanism of Evangelistic Apologetics: Part 13.3

Review and Critique:

"What is Apologetics? An Outline"
Ryan Turner
https://carm.org/apologetics-outline

[Key: direct quotes from author.]

This is the second outline listed on the CARM site by author Ryan Turner. Unlike his first outline (reviewed here), this one at least attempts to provide the biblical support for apologetics (that is, at least as CARM defines it) by the citation of 22 Bible references. So, at first glance, we appear to have some “meat of the matter” to review and critique.

[Note: the presence of an accompanying Bible reference does not by any means guarantee that whatever is being presented by the author is biblical (or even related to the point being made, for that matter!). This has always been true, but is especially so in our modern culture. I learned a long time ago that checking Bible references in their entirety and context is vital; I’ve already seen in my short lifetime Scripture used out of context (best case) and distorted/ignored/abused/twisted (worst case) more times than any man in any single lifetime should observe.

And, I speak here of the handling of the Word of God by those who profess to know Him—preachers, elders, Bible teachers—not as it is handled by the lost!

As we’ll see below, this simple principle of “check the references and their context” will prove vital as we review the Bible texts that Mr. Turner marshals as support.

His abuse of the Scripture is significant.]

Since my series of articles on evangelistic apologetics has labored to show from the Scripture that essentially none of their teaching can be supported from the Bible, and we have here about two dozen Bible citations as biblical support, I’ll concentrate mostly on the outline points that present this purported biblical “support”. Other sections will be highlighted as needed.

 

Point 1.1: What Apologetics is Not. A mostly silly and vapid point, based on the fact that if a truly biblical definition of apologetics was established (and it is not by any means established on the CARM site!), then these would not be needed. But really: “Arguing about how many angels can stand on a pin.” and “Shaving your head and looking cool.”?

Mr. Turner, were you “going for the laugh” or simply attempting to waste disk space on the web server? You certainly wasted my time.

 

Point 1.2.1: “Apologetics is the branch of Christian theology which attempts to give a rational defense of the Christian faith.” This is the canonical (and unbiblical) definition developed by the modern apologist. As I show here and here, true apologetics “defends the faith” when error is being taught within the Christian community by false teachers.

Note also the adjective “rational”: in Mr. Turner’s definition, we are to make a “rational” defense of the truths of the Bible to a lost person who is spiritually dead (Eph 2.1,5; Col 2.13) and utterly unable to understand spiritual truth (1 Cor 2.14).

Based on these irrefutable texts, this definition is truly irrational, oxymoronic, and completely in error.

 

Point 1.2.2: Apologetics is giving a reason for why you believe what you believe. This is misleading (within CARM’s definition): the command of 1 Pet 3.15 is “to "give an account for the hope that is in you”. I hope in Christ not because I was persuaded 47 years ago by my godly father that the Bible manuscripts were trustworthy, nor because someone provided to me an absolutely unassailable proof of the existence of God, nor even because it was intellectually safe and rational to do so. No, I trusted Christ by grace through faith to save me from the sin that weighed heavily upon me, something that about 6 years in the darkness of the Roman Catholic religion was unable to do! I was saved by the truth of the gospel, a gospel that was humbly and faithfully shared with me by a man who knew nothing of apologetics but much about the grace of the Lord Christ!

 

Point 1.2.3: The English word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia which means “to give a reason or defense” (1 Pet. 3:15). As far as this goes, this limited definition is completely correct; within the broader CARM site, this definition is misleading because they presume a venue of activity (the world of the lost) where the Bible presents the activity of apologetics that appears exclusively in the true Christian community.

 

Point 1.2.4: Apologetics is also called “pre-evangelism.” Nowhere in the NT is there any support for such a practce or concept, there is no example, no rationale—nothing! I dare any modern evangelistic apologist to show me one example of such pre-evangelistic activity from the Lord Christ, Peter, Paul, John, etc.

The real gospel has no need of “pre-” anything! When the Lord Christ began His public ministry, it was the simple message of “Repent …” without any preface or pre-activity! (Mat 4.17) Peter and Paul preached in the same manner.

This idea of “pre-evangelism” is a very dangerous assertion and is nothing less than the promulgation of “another gospel” and will experience a just judgment at The Day.

 

Point 1.2.5: An “apologist” is someone who defends the Christian faith. Again, with the broader context of the CARM site, this is misleading. It actually is the defense of the Christian faith within the assembly and Christian community. It is not the generic “defense of the faith” to a lost person, as it is usually defined by CARM.

 

Point 2.1.1: 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify Christ as Lord …”. As I show here, this verse is taken out of context; the verses that actually deal with biblical apologetics are not presented by CARM.

 

Point 2.1.2: Jude 3, “I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith … .” Mr. Turner appears to have not noticed the verses immediately following: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed …”. As I’ve maintained in this series, true biblical apologetics takes place within the local assembly specifically and the Christian community generally, not the lost world. There is no biblical example of the true “defense of the faith” in the general context of the lost. The context of Jud 22 is the same: the description of the “mockers” causing division has meaning only within a context of the fact of the presence of these mockers within the assembly/assemblies to which Jude wrote.

 

Point 2.1: Jesus gave evidence for His claims. Here. Mr. Turner marshals what looks to be a formidable list of verses. But, do they really make the point that Jesus “did apologetics”? As the following demonstrates, this claim is an epic fail.

 

Point 2.1.1: His fulfillment of prophecy (Mk. 14:61-62; Lk. 24:44-45). So, let’s look at the cited “proof texts”.

Mar 14.61-62
But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Luk 24.44-45
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,

I find it extraordinary that Mr. Turner would use these to prove that the Lord Christ “did apologetics”.

[But then, for all their "rationality", I've found evangelistic apologists are actually quite irrational and illogical when dealing with Scripture!]

 

Regarding Mark 14: Mr. Turner, how, exactly, is the fulfillment of this prophecy a useful and meaningful apologetic more than two millennia after the death of the one to whom the argument was made (the high priest)—and something which is yet to be fulfilled?!?! At the time during which the Lord Christ stood before the high priest, these words were not only not a “defense”, they were regarded as incontrovertible proof of blasphemy. Mr. Turner, what definition of “apologetics” are you using? Your citation of Mar 14 is not only irrational, it is absurd! This is truly a case of grasping at air.

 

Regarding Luke 24, without doubt every prophecy concerning the Lord Christ either has or will be fulfilled, and this passage is an excellent example of the fulfillment of the prophecies of His resurrection. However, how is this “[doing] apologetics”? He opened the minds of His disciples to understand the Scriptures; the modern evangelistic apologist seeks to open the mind of the lost to volumes of extrabiblical information about the Scriptures. There is a huge difference; your myopic view of Scripture is matched only by your misuse of Scripture.

 

Point 2.1.2: His Miracles.

Joh 2.19-22
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Mat 12.38-40
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

1 Cor 15

Luk 24:25-27
And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Mat 11.2-5
Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

 

Regarding John 2: This is a well-known prophecy the Lord Christ made regarding His resurrection. However, I find it more than interesting that Mr. Turner leaves out verse 22 (which I included in the clip above) which demonstrates—biblically—that the “apologetic” of the Lord’s resurrection was for the exclusive experience of His disciples! So, as I’ve maintained here, the Lord’s resurrection is indeed powerful, but the person of the risen Lord Christ has never been observed by any lost person!

 

Regarding Mat 12: The Lord’s resurrection was indeed a sign, but not one to be seen by any lost person at that time. By CARM’s definition of apologetics, the resurrection was useless since its only witnesses were already true Christians. (As in the comment immediately above, see my chapter here.)

 

Regarding 1 Cor 15: Without doubt, this is the canonical chapter on the theology of the resurrection of Christ. But the comments of the immediately preceding comments apply here as well. The “apologetic” Paul presented was to the Corinthian believers, not to the lost.

 

Regarding Luk 24: ibid.: the Lord appeared to a pair of His disciples, not the lost.

 

Regarding Matthew 11: The Lord’s works of power demonstrated that He was exactly who He said He was to the people of the Israel of that day—this is beyond debate. It is also beyond debate that the overwhelming majority of that same Israel would demand His crucifixion even after having observed and experienced healings, feedings and gracious blessing and powerful miracles for the space of 3+ years!

If this is “[doing] apologetics”, then perhaps the Lord should have rethought the process, because it was a stunning failure that resulted with His own murder! The Lord performed the miracles in fulfillment of prophecy (Isa 53.5 comes to mind) as an indisputable demonstration that He was who He claimed to be, and as an exercise of divine wrath that established those obstinate Jews in their rebellion (Isa 6.8-10 and Rom 1 comes to mind).

 

Point 2.1.3: Corrected false interpretations of Scripture (Mt. 4:1-11). Note the use of the plural (interpretations) asserted by Mr. Turner.

As we all know, there were three temptations attempted by the devil upon the Lord Christ.

The first (“command these stones to become bread …”) could easily have been accomplished by the Lord. The devil presented no Scripture to misinterpret, so we can rule this one out of Mr. Turner's assertion. Mr. Turner: exactly what did you have in mind? With this tempation ruled out, you have to prove the remaining two tempations to be examples of "false interpretations" (plural!) in order to make good on your claim.

The third (“if you fall down and worship me”) also does not contain any Scripture presented and misinterpreted by the devil to the Lord Christ; it was a simple request for the Lord to disobey a clear command of Scripture (“… you shall have no other God before me …”). So, we can rule out the third trial—and therefore the plural “misinterpretations assertion of Mr. Turner. But, let's see if the author at least partially redeems himself with the remaining tempation. (One is better than nothing??)

[In my review and study of this topic, I frequently have found the expressions of the evangelistic apologist to be careless. They are more akin to “word games”, innuendo, and “spiritual-speak”; they simply can't be considered as serious presentations of Bible truth.]

Only in the second temptation did the devil quote Scripture (Psa 91), so it is with this that we must judge Mr. Turner’s assertion that the devil “misinterpreted” Scripture. Not surprisingly, we find a problem with the author's asseration (yes, I know that this is getting tired...):

  • It was not really an example of the devil’s “misinterpretation” (the Lord really does protect His own);
  • it was the devil’s intentional misuse/misapplication of Psa 91 and his attempt to marshal it against another Scripture which is the real issue.

Stated simply, the temptation was an attempt to cause the Lord to deliberate and irresponsible behavior (Deu 6) in light of the Lord’s unconditional promise of protection (Psa 91). The adversary wanted the Lord to become careless.

But there is one point here that must not be missed: the Lord did not correct the devil’s use of Psa 91 as one would expect. (cf. Mat 22.29 and Mar 12.24 where the Lord really did correct the religious ruler’s use and/or ignorance of Scripture.) Why? Because the real error was the devil’s premise that it is OK to become irresponsible in one’s actions before God, then presume glibly that “Oh, it’s OK; the Lord will protect me.”

And, really—an apologetic with/for the devil? Do you really think, Mr. Turner, that the devil needs to be convinced by means of a "rational defense of the Christian faith"? And if you actually thought about it for more than a nanosecond, you'd realize that he is far better equiped than you to know of the truth of Christianity!

Mr Turner, you think that merely using words that might bear on the topic could somehow-maybe-sort-of apply to your topic in a roundabout way? Did you think that we wouldn’t notice that your “proof” is actually an aggregate of irrational, illogical and out-of-context nonsense?

Again, I have to ask: what definition of apologetics is Mr. Turner using? What was he thinking with such irresponsible assertions!?!?

So, Mr. Turner, your assertions regarding the temptation of the Lord and apologetics are completely bogus and an epic fail.

 

Point 2.3: Paul did Apologetics. Mr. Turner cites Act 17.22-34; Act 17.1-3; Phi 1.7,16; Tts 1.9; 2 Tim 2.24.

Act 17.22-34: the well-known sermon on Mars Hill, Athens.

Act 17.1-3
Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

Phi 1.7,15-18
For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. … Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

Tts 1.9
holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

2 Tim 2.24-25
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

[In some of the references above I expanded the verse range Mr. Turner used to provide more of the context.]

 

Regarding Act 17.22-34. Point 2.3.1: Greeks at Mars Hill. If you spend any time at all on the more complete articles on apologetics, you’ll usually find an appeal to this well-known sermon. Mr. Turner’s bold claim is that this is an example of the Apostle Paul “[doing] apologetics”. Is it? Let’s apply CARMs definition of apologetics:

“Therefore, Christian apologetics is that branch of Christianity that deals with answering any and all critics who oppose or question the revelation of God in Christ and the Bible.”

No one could disagree that the Athenians were no friends of the God of the OT of their time; but, there is nothing in the account to indicate that they were actively opposed to Him either. Therefore, let’s begin with these three observations amply supported by the inspired text:

  • They loved to engage in intellectual activities and be mentally stimulated with and exposed to new knowledge.
  • They were ignorant of the one true God.
  • There is no evidence of active opposition to the God of the OT initially.

But, there is a much more important observation to make, since Mr. Turner appears to have “missed the forest for the trees”: the sheer scope of the Word of God to which Paul appeals to these “pagans” in his sermon.

Mr Tuner: if you had actually studied the sermon, you’d have found that Paul either quotes or paraphrases at least 50 different OT texts! Moreover, Paul preached a gospel message ending with the call for repentance—nothing more, nothing less!

Mr. Turner: you claim this text for support of your (and CARM’s) delusional notion of apologetics. So, I ask: where is the “pre-evangelism” for the benefit of the Athenians? If ever there was a venue for “pre-evangelism”, Athens would have been that place since we may safely assume the Athenians were mostly the poly-theists well known in the Greek world and therefore in need of "Bible truth orientation" prior to the delivery of the gospel!

Where is the careful, clever, step-by-step, rational and intellectual foundation that should have been laid before even attempting the real “evangelism”?

It isn’t there because this beautiful and powerful text does not in any way support your assertion! It isn’t there because Paul knew—far better than you—that to place anything before the gospel is not only counterproductive, it is an affront to the Lord Christ and the beginnings of “another gospel”.

There is another very important observation:

Paul’s use of God’s command to the Athenians to repent in view of the resurrection of the Lord Christ.

Note: Paul “had his audience” (to borrow a modern phrase) until he arrived at this summary. So, if Paul was “[doing] apologetics”, he did a spectacularly poor job of it and we may consider this example an epic fail. The Spirit records that Paul then left the region of the Areopagus; there is no mention in the NT of his ever returning to Athens. But, in the good grace of God, a few were saved—those elected “from before the foundation of the earth”. The Lord accomplished through Paul exactly what he intended with the simple, direct message of the truth of the gospel without humanistic admixture.

There is something else that I found extremely lacking on the CARM website: repentance, in the context of its articles on apologetics. If you perform the following google site search, you'll see why I'm conceerned with the quality of the "gospel" on fhe CARM site:

site:carm.org repent

[Of the ten hits (as of this writing), you’ll find none which occur in any of the articles on apologetics. If, as CARM essentially claims, apologetics is a way of reaching the lost by means of overcoming their objections to the Bible, along with all that which is implied by it, then this omission is predictable—what lost person enjoys being told that he/she is a sinner and stands under the wrath of God?

How would it even be possible to view this omission on the CARM site as anything other than a tacit embarrasment of the topic of repentance, the deliberate attempt to avoid the topic?

There is no salvation without repentance; and any discipline that due either to incompetence or convenience leaves out this vital truth in its so-called “evangelism” is not only biblically defective, it has morphed into “another gospel”.]

 

Regarding Mr. Turner’s point “Quotes pagan poets Aratus and Epimenides.”: how, exactly, does this support CARM’s definition of apologetics? Does it really make sense that the quotation of secular sources somehow “deals with answering …” as CARM asserts? To make such a claim is utter nonsense and actually destructive to their own argument. The Lord does not need the expressions of humanists and pagans to prove His truth!

 

Regarding Paul’s use of these secular quotations. I ask this question: Mr. Turner, does a Bible truth become untrue just because it happens also to be expressed by a secularist with little or no true knowledge of God? The source of all truth is God alone; anytime anyone, Christian or secularist, scientist or theologian, humanist philosopher or Bible-believing Christian expresses that same truth, it is still God’s truth. All Paul was doing was to demonstrate:

Ecc 3.11
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Rom 1.19
that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

 

Regarding Act 17.1-3. Paul presented the truth of the Lord Christ to the (yet) unconverted Jews. In a technical sense, yes, this is “defense”; more in context, it was simply preaching the gospel “from the Scriptures”. There was no “pre-evangelism” and there was no appeal to the typical extra-biblical toolbox so frequently used by the evangelistic apologist.

 

Regarding Phi 1.7,16. As I show here, Paul’s “defense” was because of the activity of those careless preachers who were “thinking to cause [Paul] distress” within the Philippian assembly and environs. There is no demonstration in epistle to the Philippians of CARM’s definition of apologetics.

 

Regarding Tts 1.9. I was actually pleased to see the mention of this text. This section, along with 1 Tim 3, specify in depth the requirements of those who aspire to the position of elder in the local assembly. So, as I’ve maintained in this series

“… the biblical definition of apologetics applied to matters of Bible theology is truly the “defense of the faith”—but not in the general venue of a lost world. No, it is the defense of the faith in the Christian community (generally) and the local assembly (specifically) against the work of false teachers within those communities. It is never used of the work within and among the lost world.”

Without doubt, the clear context of the activity of the elder is within the local assembly. He must be able to refute those false teachers who would attempt to infect the local assembly with their distortions of Bible truth! So, thank you, Mr. Turner: you’ve actually reinforced my point regarding the biblical venue of apologetics (the Christian community) while failing to make your own.

 

Regarding 2 Tim 2.24. Mr. Turner adds this verse to the previous in his assertion that Paul “did apologetics”. There is no support for this bogus claim when the verse is isolated as it is; it merely specifies that

2 Tim 2.24
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,

However, let’s review the context of the entire chapter to determine to whom Paul refers:

2 Tim 2
1: The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
9: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen
14: Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
17: … Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,”
24-26: The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Verse 1: Paul obviously has in mind the elders of the assembly (“who will be able to teach”). Note also the implied training of the next generation of elders (“able to teach others also”).

[Remember 1 Cor 5.11-13: Paul recognized that the elders and assembly had no responsibility for those “outside”—they were solely in the Lord’s venue of judgment.]

Verse 9: The “chosen”; this is obviously not the lost generally. Paul’s labors to protect the assembly were just that: to protect the assembly, the chosen ones.

Verse 14: Paul doesn’t judge “outsiders” (1 Cor 5.11-13). The context is clearly that Timothy is to correct those within the assembly who “wrangle about words”.

Verse 17: The clear inference is that Hymenaeus and Philetus were once a part of the assembly. It is also clear that they were most likely false teachers who were actually lost. Their adequate time within the assembly showed them to be false.

Verses 24-26: Once again, Paul reflects on the being “able to teach” a requirement of elders. That one to whom Paul speaks is to “[correct] those who are in opposition”. The context is clearly within the assembly.

I’m sure that someone at this point will raise the objection: “What about the God may grant them repentance …’ Doesn’t this imply working among the lost”?

There are two possible scenarios, and both lead to the same conclusion:

  • The individuals indicated are actually lost, who (like many others) come into the assembly and are initially accepted as true Christians. But, after a while their true nature begins to show and therefore begin their active opposition to the truth.
  • The individuals indicated are actually saved, but because of their immaturity and/or carelessness begin their active opposition to the truth.

Whichever scenario we select (and both are valid and common, now as then), there are two immutable facts:

  • Their opposition to the truth was within the assembly (and therefore demanded a response to deal with them).
  • Paul’s hope was that they’d “repent and come to the knowledge of the truth”.

If someone objects to the notion that Christians may be ensnared by the devil, just consider these:

1 Cor 5. 5
I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan
for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Tim 1.18-20
This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

Remember Jonah!
Remember David!

 

Point 2.4: The Church Did Apologetics. Mr. Turner gives only general references here; he cites Galatians and 1 Corinthians. So, it is pretty obvious that he intends by the mention of these epistles the fact that Paul dealt with local assemblies who experienced doctrinal issues. What is the solution he applied? The application of lots of “extra-biblical” information or “pre-evangelism”? Absolutely not! It was the application of Bible truth that was needed and applied within those assemblies! In a more general way, the same truth is visible in the three epistles of John.

No, Mr. Turner: the church did nothing of the apologetics as defined on the CARM site. It did defend the pure truth of the Word of God within the assemblies wherever error was detected. No such activity ever took place in the general venue of the lost.

 

Point 2.4.2: The Early Church after the Apostles. Whatever the early church fathers did or did not do is not authoritative—unless we want to adopt a darkness similar to the traditions of the Roman Catholic religion. Appealing to the early church fathers is useless in pretty much any context other than a simple historical review.

Mr. Turner acknowledges in subpoint 4 (“To prevent doctrinal apostasy in the Church.”) the very point I’ve maintained in this series from the beginning. (His error is failing to recognize that this is the only legitimate and biblically sanctioned definition of “defense”.)

 

Regarding subpoint 5: I’ve also maintained in this series that there are legitimate venues for public debates and discussions, technical and theological papers, etc., that maintain a true, biblical world view. Moreover, when they can be engaged, public debate with cultists (Jehovah’s Witnesses—rare!; Mormons etc.); religionists (Catholics, Muslims, etc.); scientists; and so on, are useful and legitimate. [Again, I think of the apologetic ministry of James White and the research and scholarly papers of the work of Institute for Creation Research.]

 

Regarding subpoint 5: In the same line of thinking, any time the Lord brings the opportunity for witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, etc., we should open the Word and challenge their doctrines. It is a legitimate activity that (usually) takes place outside the assembly. But, there is a huge difference here: these opportunities center not on the presentation of extra-biblical data or pre-evangelism; no, these groups, in particular, already consider themselves true Christians and keepers of the truth. Rather, the approach should be “Let’s open our Bibles and see if it really does teach what you claim—we’ll find that it doesn’t.”

[In my experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses, they can tolerate this approach only until it begins to dawn on them that they have no biblically-consistent answer for the biblical objections to their distortion of Scripture. At that point, they (usually) abruptly terminate the discussion. In one case last year (2016), a Witness team agreed to return for more discussion; they were no-shows at the appointed time and place. And, that same scenario happened twice more.]

 

Regarding subpoints 1 and 2: Here is the real error: apologetics is the methodology that finally allows me, as a Christian, to “better know” my faith, “share [my faith] more effectively” and “answer people’s real questions which hinder them from accepting the gospel.”

How is it possible that I shouldn’t regard this as a complete devaluation of the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit? How is it even possible that I shouldn’t regard this to be the replacement of the true gospel of faith and repentance by something the helps to remove whatever it is that “hinders” the lost “from accepting the gospel”? True to his premise, Mr. Turner attempts to make the case for “pre-evangelism”, despite clear Scripture against such methods.

Mr. Turner, please answer the following questions and objections if you seek to have any biblical credibility:

  • How, exactly, do you “answer the questions” of the lost in such a way as to side-step the fact that they are spiritually dead (Eph 2.1,5; Col 2.13) and unable to understand any spiritual truth (1 Cor 2.14)?

    [BTW: I did a site search with google:
    site:carm.org "1 Cor 2:"

    It yielded no hits on verse 14 except one, which was a rebuttal of the notion “prevenient Grace”. There was no article that attempted to answer the logical contradiction to CARM’s notion of apologetics I just presented by the reference to 1 Cor 2.14. This speaks volumes to anyone who is concerned, as I am, that the evangelistic apologist’s approach to witnessing and the gospel are serious error.

    I also performed these site searches:
                   site:carm.org eph 2
                   site:carm.org col 2

    There is no article on your site that references Eph 2.1, Eph 2.5 or Col 2.13. For a site entitled “The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry”, how is this even possible?

    Are you so careless with the Scripture that you strategically neglect those texts that demolish your apologetic infrastructure?

    (But, then again, that really must be why you neglect these texts…)
    ]

  • If apologetics is (as defined by CARM):

    “Therefore, Christian apologetics is that branch of Christianity that deals with answering any and all critics who oppose or question the revelation of God in Christ and the Bible. It can include studying such subjects as biblical manuscript transmission, philosophy, biology, mathematics, evolution, and logic.”

    how is this a “sharing of my faith? Wouldn’t it be an oxymoron to share my “faith” about extrabiblical data about the Book? Where is the essence of the gospel? Where is the call to faith and repentance? Where is the dependence on the Holy Spirit to gift the lost with the birth from above, the granting of a new life?

    The approach proffered by CARM is so mechanistic that it looks like a robot, a mere automaton, stuck in drive but having no direction or goal, flailing about helplessly while the lost continue to fall into Hades—because they actually did not hear the true gospel from you!

    Shame on you, CARM!

I won’t waste the time on the remaining main points (except one): having shown from the Scripture the utter and complete biblical bankruptcy of evangelistic apologetics, it is simply not necessary to challenge its various flavors (presuppositional, classical, evidential).

It is also offensive that we have the mention of more men—as if they actually held some real, intrinsic authority in the matter!

 

Point 3.4.3: Make up your own mind [regarding which (presuppositional, classical, evidential) is “right”].

Wow, now there’s practical advice, especially after the preceding intellectual caveat of “It seems … that Scripture …” aligns itself with the dictums of CARM.

Permit me just a bit of sarcasm here: let’s imagine the following addendum to one of the messages brought by Jeremiah the prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah:

Jer 4.3-4
For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem,
“Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”

[Now my sarcastic addendum,  à la “evangelistic-apologist-double-speak”:

“But, before you make up your own minds regarding what I just preached, please allow me to give to you the various interpretations of what the Lord might have meant here. …  It’s probably not that important to actually change your behavior by repenting; after all, I’m only here to remove the hinderances to your obedience, not dictate your behavior. If His warning seems too severe, perhaps He’ll accept whatever you are willing and able to do, in whatever way and time you think is rational and reasonable. I’m sure it will be OK.”]

This is, of course, blasphemous nonsense.

But whenever I hear some “theologian” or "Christian teacher" telling me to “make up my own mind” about something that purports to come from Scripture, I’ve found a teacher that has no right to be teaching the Bible. Such a "teacher" does not even have enough of a sense of true shame to step away from the lectern or pulpit!

Mr. Turner, if apologetics is thoroughly biblicalas you claimthen how is it even reasonable to say there are various forms of it and that it is my task to “make up [my] own mind” regarding which is “right”? Your erroneous recommendations make the reader of the Scripture the judge of the Scripture—and that can never be!

If what you present may, in its various forms, be accepted or rejected by your hearers as they deem "right", then it is not Bible truth.

If evangelistic apologetics is biblical, then make the case from the Bible and stand by it! Enough with this wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed, politically safe-speak "make-up-your-own-mind" nonsense!

Mr. Turner and CARM! Either teach the whole of Scripture or get out of the way! It is a true offense that you dare to pretend that you teach Scripture, at least regarding this topic!

God’s true prophets don’t equivocate with God’s Word!

How is what you've taught any different in principle from this (in)famous example:

Gen 3.1
“Indeed, has God said ...?"

There is one last point I want to make here: given that ours is an intellectual age, and given that organizations like CARM use a decidedly intellectual approach to the lost, would it not be reasonable to assume that the lost, having been engaged in a manner that is designed especially for them, would therefore “turn to Christ” in droves? Yet, is it not true that we see droves (here in the States, for example, and especially in Europe) turning away from Christianity in record, growing percentages? If CARM is after results (and everything on their apologetics pages suggest that this is their intent), why then is modern evangelistic apologetics such a monumental failure?

Of course, this methodology of “evangelism” can only fail because it does not honor the Word of God in the gospel. I am therefore bound by Scripture to consider Mr. Turner’s approach to evangelism nothing more, or less, than “another gospel”!