The Humanism of Evangelistic Apologetics: Part 2

Evangelistic Apologetics as it is typically defined today.

In my Introduction, I used the term Evangelistic Apologetics, implying what it might mean but providing no corroboration. The purpose of this chapter therefore is to define two terms:

  • Evangelistic Apologist: one who engages in the methodology of Evangelistic Apologetics (this is the easy one!).
    [I refer to it as a methodology rather than a discipline, since Evangelistic Apologetics is anything but disciplined!]
  • Evangelistic Apologetics: the discipline of “defending the faith” as it is typically expressed.

Let’s first review what we typically find on the web, then from them create a current, aggregate, working definition. I use this consolidated definition in the remaining chapters.

When I began to notice this topic and its excesses in the late ‘90s, I was disappointed that (usually) conservative, responsible and evangelistic preachers had a tendency to downplay the “direct/immediate” Word of God in their evangelistic activities in favor of the use of something else: an “extra-biblical” (my term) approach. This troubled me greatly, and as a consequence I wrote a relatively short blog article on this topic in March of 1999.

When I decided to revisit that article and greatly expand the research and review of the current state of affairs regarding evangelism and apologetics, I became even more troubled.

In a word, much of what purports to be evangelistic apologetics today is unbiblical, humanistic error that amounts to nothing less than the development and presentation of “another gospel”, one that was accursed long ago by the Lord Himself through the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians.

So, let’s review here how current authors define their "apologetics".

Please note: this is only an aggregation of the definitions put forth by the authors; the bulk of the review and critique of each of these (and more) will be reserved for Part 13.

 


[Highlights mine in all quoted excerpts below. The right column lists keywords and questionable and/or unbiblical concepts typically found in articles about evangelistic apologetics. Each will be exposed and rebutted in Part 13 of this series.]

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

https://carm.org/apologetics
“Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith. Christian Apologetics is something every true believer should be involved in even if it is only a little.”

"establishment of the Christian faith"

https://carm.org/introduction-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. It can include studying such subjects as biblical manuscript transmission, philosophy, biology, mathematics, evolution, and logic. But it can also consist of simply giving an answer to a question about Jesus or a Bible passage. The latter case is by far the most common and you don’t have to read a ton of books to do that.”

Apologetics is the work of convincing people to change their views. In this, it is similar to preaching because its goal is ultimately the defense and presentation of the validity and necessity of the gospel. It is an attempt to persuade the listener to change his beliefs and life to conform to biblical truth and to come to a saving relationship in Christ.”

All manner of “extra-biblical” information (my term).

“work of convincing people to change …”

“Conform”

 


Apologetics and Evangelism

https://bible.org/article/apologetics-and-evangelism
“Today as never before, Christians are being called upon to give reasons for the hope that is within them. Often in the evangelistic context seekers raise questions about the validity of the gospel message. Removing intellectual objections will not make one a Christian; a change of heart wrought by the Spirit is also necessary. But though intellectual activity is insufficient to bring another to Christ, it does not follow that it is also unnecessary.”

seekers … 
Intellectual objections …
The work of the Holy Spirit is “also necessary

 


Christian Evangelism: Apologetics and Evangelism

http://www.equip.org/article/christian-evangelism-apologetics-and-evangelism/
What we call “apologetics” was, in fact, what the apostolic church would have called “evangelism.” Early missionary preaching testified to the historical realities upon which the Christian faith was grounded and called for repentance on those grounds. Consider Peter’s speech to the crowd in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:22–25)

An arbitrary and unsupported premise which is somewhat typical in the writings of evangelistic apologists.

 


What is ‘Apologetics’?

http://www.bethinking.org/apologetics/an-introduction-to-christian-apologetics
“We might, then, define Christian apologetics as follows:

The task of developing and sharing arguments for the truth and rationality of Christianity and the falsehood and irrationality of alternatives with the aim of strengthening the faith of believers and provoking non-believers to consider Christ.”

 “rationality … irrationality …”

“provoking non-believers to consider Christ.”

 


What is the relationship between Evangelism and Apologetics?

http://www.rzim.eu/what-is-the-relationship-between-evangelism-and-apologetics
“I want to introduce you to a model of evangelism and apologetics that Andrew Fellows (L’Abri) calls the “Apologetics Spectrum”. It is both practical and Biblical. Andrew says that there are three kinds of activity:
Subversion
Persuasion
Proclamation”

“practical and biblical …”, but yet "subversive"!?!?

 


Apologetics : Why your church needs it

http://rzim.org/just-thinking/apologetics-why-your-church-needs-it/
“I explained to her that apologetics is the branch of Christian theology that seeks to address the intellectual obstacles that keep people from taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ seriously.”

“intellectual obstacles …”

 


Christian Apologetics: The Evangelistic Wave of the Future?

https://http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-apologetics-the-evangelistic-wave-of-the-future-107624/
“So what is apologetics? SES's cofounder, the incomparable Norm Geisler, has defined apologetics as "simply to defend the faith, and thereby destroy arguments and every proud obstacle against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5). It is opening the door, clearing the rubble, and getting rid of the hurdles so that people can come to Christ."

“SES's cofounder … Norm Geisler”

“defend the faith…” “is opening the door, clearing the rubble, and getting rid of the hurdles …”

 


Christian Apologetics: Who Needs It?

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/christian-apologetics-who-needs-it
“Christian apologetics may be defined as that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims.”

“rational warrant …”

 


How Apologetics Serves Evangelism in Our Post Christian Culture

http://ratiochristi.org/germanna/blog/post/how-apologetics-serves-evangelism-in-our-post-christian-culture/3972#.WHyuXfkrKM9
“How does apologetics serve evangelism in our post Christian culture? …

With the seismic cultural shifts over the last fifteen to twenty years, the aggressive push toward a more morally relativistic where truth and morals is heating up even more. It is time to understand that we cannot do evangelism without doing apologetics. …

The gospel message that is based upon revelation is distant and even foreign in a multicultural and religiously pluralized culture. …

Because of the gospel message being distant and even foreign to many people today, we have to incorporate ways to try and clear the bushes. While it may not be foreign to those of use [sic] two millennia from the events of the Acts of the Apostles, we need to understand that a "the Bible says" or "the Scriptures tell us" approach was closer to the culture than it is today. This approach was more acceptable some forty years ago (dating myself here) than it is today.”

Begins with an unsupported premise.

“aggressive push toward a more morally relativistic …”
Another unsupported premise.

“based upon revelation is distant and even foreign …”

“gospel message being distant …”

This is one of the most humanistic statements on apologetics that I’ve ever seen.

 


Evangelism and Apologetics

https://answersingenesis.org/apologetics/evangelism-and-apologetics/
“The very reason why Christians are put in the position of giving a reasoned account of the hope that is in them is that not all men have faith. Because there is a world to be evangelized (men who are unconverted), there is the need for the believer to defend his faith: Evangelism naturally brings one into apologetics. This indicates that apologetics is no mere matter of “intellectual jousting”; it is a serious matter of life and death—eternal life and death. The apologist who fails to take account of the evangelistic nature of his argumentation is both cruel and proud. …”

“not all men have faith …”

“defend his faith …”
“naturally …”

"evangelistic nature ..."

 


What is Apologetics and Why is it Important?

http://www.bethinking.org/apologetics/what-is-apologetics-and-why-is-it-important
“Apologetics is the Science and Art of Christian Persuasion


"persuasion"

 


Christian Apologetics
Norman L. Geisler, 1976

“The heart of this apologetic approach is that the Christian is interested in defending the truths that Christ is the Son of God and the Bible is the Word of God. However, prior to establishing these two pillars on which the uniqueness of Christianity is built, one must establish the existence of God. … Theism, then, is a logical prerequisite to Christianity. … For unless the Christian apologist has a test by which he can show other systems to be false and theism to be true, then there is no way to adjudicate the conflicting claims of various religions and world views. …”

“prior to establishing …”
“establish …”
“logical prerequisite …”
“there is no way …”

 


Summary

 While not found in the very short excerpts I quoted above, a common theme found in nearly every article may be described under the broad heading of pre-evangelism.

[This term actually is found in some of the articles I’ll deal with in depth in Part 13.]

So, we have the following current, representative terms and concepts to consider when developing a working definition of apologetics:

  • the study of biblical manuscripts, Bible manuscript transmission, philosophy, history, science, etc. [generally, “extra-biblical data”)
  • the unbeliever "doesn’t have faith" [wow, this is a shocker…]
  • the automatic and “natural” equivalence of evangelism and apologetics
  • the unrelenting, knee-jerk conflation of “defending the faith” and “defending the hope that is in you”
  • “establish”, the “establishment of faith” (used as a gerund), “prior to establishing” [“pre-evangelism”]
  • “convincing people” to “conform”; “provoking non-believers to consider Christ”, “persuasion”
  • “intellect”, “intellectual”, “intellectual objections”, “intellectual obstacles”, “rationality”, “irrationality”, “rational warrant”, “logical prerequisite”
  • “practical”, “opening the door”, “clearing the rubble”, “getting rid of the hurdles”, “morally relativistic”, “revelation is distant and even foreign”, “gospel message being distant”

[You'll find each quoted term in the bulleted list above verbatim in the articles reviewed and biblically critiqued in Part 13.]

While it is true that these are rather clumsy to organize into a cogent definition of evangelistic apologetics, they do share a common foundation: their intellectual, humanistic approach to the lost.

So, let me summarize a working definition here by first positing the aggregated, (typically) implicit premises of modern evangelistic apologetics:

  1. The “old-fashioned” gospel has somehow become obsolete and should/must be revised in order to become “relevant” to modern man.
  2. All manner of “extra-biblical” data must be employed to first prove the Bible is the Word of God and reliable.
  3. Evangelistic apologetics is “pre-evangelism”.
  4. The lost person doesn’t already have faith! (This is one of the most useless of the assertions I’ve found in the articles above; of course the lost doesn’t believe! Duh!)
  5. The lost person is assumed to be intellectually and morally neutral; if only that neutrality can be swayed, cajoled, subverted, persuaded, manipulated, etc., then that lost person is much more likely to “trust Christ” (whatever that may mean).
  6. A lost person remains lost because he/she has not been exposed to an adequate and convincing rationale for “Christianity’s truth claims”.
  7. The lost person remains lost because he/she has a variety of intellectual, cultural and other obstacles; if these obstacles can be removed by the skilled use of intellectual and culturally relevant argumentation, then that lost person is much more likely to “trust Christ” (whatever that may mean).
  8. Evangelistic apologetics attempts to make apologetics equivalent to evangelism: it may be termed the “new evangelism”, a new methodology touted to be much better suited to modern man by the evangelistic apologist.
  9. Evangelistic apologetics emphasizes the method rather than the message (specifically, the gospel).
  10. Evangelistic apologetics implicitly downplays the gospel of true repentance. (The concept and necessity of repentance is nearly always omitted in articles on apologetics, and is largely absent from the sites sourcing these articles.)

 


Based on the summary above (and the details provided in Chapter 13), modern, Evangelistic Apologetics may be defined as;

The humanistic approach to evangelism and the gospel, the “gospel” being a message usually devoid of repentance but overflowing with intellectualism that encourages the self-sufficiency of the lost at the expense of actually calling upon the LORD in faith. It appeals to nearly anything and everything except the true Gospel, and depends on the intellect and rationale of the lost to suceed. The true nature of the lost, the electing grace of God, and the unique and powerful work of the Holy Spirit are topics not mentioned.

It essentially downgrades the gospel to the point that it has become another gospel, a gospel incapable of saving the lost, and rather serves as a very effective tool to mislead the lost into false hope. It misunderstands and misrepresents the spiritually dead nature of the lost, and attributes to the lost an intellectual life that the lost does not possess and an understanding of spiritual truths of which the lost is incapable.

Personally, I will not be surprised when The Day shows it to be one of the main reasons that nearly all of that which purports to be Christianity today is actually the humanistic, white-washed, self-centered, self-loving, spiritually-dead tomb that it is.

As I stated in the Introduction, you are strongly encouraged to read this series in the order in which it is presented. This will ensure that you’ll have a biblical foundation by which to assess the spectacular arrogance and biblical error of Evangelistic Apologetics!

 

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