The Humanism of Evangelistic Apologetics: Part 3

Overview: What I will cover.

For this series, essentially all of what I’ve encountered in the research—that which calls itself Evangelistic Apologetics—is essentially a humanistic approach to evangelism masquerading as a misguided and reprehensible attempt at “defending the faith.”

The purpose of this series is to call out this activity and compare its tenets to what the Bible actually teaches concerning the message and method of evangelism.

It’s time to demonstrate the theological chasm between that which calls itself Evangelistic Apologetics with that which is actually “16 ounces to the pound Bible” (to borrow a phrase I first heard in a taped message from Albert N. Martin in the early 1970’s). As I’ll amply demonstrate in Part 13 the basic, foundational Bible support of Evangelistic Apologetics is not only missing, it is ignored (in the very best cases) and actively distorted (in the worst examples)

I make no assumptions regarding the motives of the Evangelistic Apologist; I do, however, judge biblically and condemn what they teach through their articles. But, as I maintain in this series, Evangelistic Apologetics, its message and methods, is really nothing less than “another gospel.

It is well past the time to stop the misuse of the Scripture and start obeying what the Bible actually teaches regarding what would legitimately and biblically be termed apologetics.

Spoiler alert: as you’ll see proven 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. 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. The term is never used in the Scriptures of any work within and among the lost world.

[The most frequent use of ἀπολογία [G627, apologia: defense] and ἀπολογέομαι [G626, apologeomai: to make a defense; to defend oneself] is in those contexts that deal with personal defense; e.g., the Apostle Paul within various legal settings. (And if you read what it actually says, this is the essence of the command in 1 Pet 3.15, the canonical verse of the evangelistic apologist.) It is never found in any context that actually supports the generally-agreed upon definition of “evangelistic apologetics” by the modern apologist.]

So to lay that biblical foundation, here is the outline that I’ll follow:

The spiritual nature of the lost.
Since the Bible has much to say about the spiritual nature of the lost and about what he/she can and can’t do or understand in this spiritual state, the first step is to review just who—and what—he/she is that is the intended “beneficiary” of the Evangelistic Apologetics “ministry”.

The election of grace.
The first point above is a natural introduction to the election of grace: without the Lord’s prior choice of those who are called to be His people, no evangelistic activity has any meaning or use. As Jonah put it centuries ago, “Salvation is of the LORD.”. (Based on their writings, modern evangelistic apologists have never read this verse. Of course, as this chapter will show, modern evangelistic apologists have never read much of the Scripture that deals with the gospel message…)

The work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of the lost.
Also inextricably linked to the first and second points above is the process and activity by which the lost person is saved: the gift of the “birth from above” by the special activity of the Holy Spirit. The lost is not only “born from above”, he/she is adopted into the family of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Preach the Gospel!
Here I review the biblical command to “preach the gospel” in light of the all-too-common response that the modern apologist tends to “interpret” this command as “we must prove the authority, authenticity, believability, reliability, etc. of the Bible before we dare proclaim its message of repentance to the lost.” I also review exactly what the gospel is—and what it is not—and how the modern apologist tends toward a practical avoidance of the true gospel.

The “proof texts” frequently (mis)used by the modern Evangelistic Apologist.
The next step is to present the several “proof texts” cited by the modern Evangelistic Apologist, both as they’re typically misused and for what they actually teach in both their local and broader contexts. This will have two results:

  1. it will eliminate that which the Evangelistic Apologist claims for biblical support;
  2. it will establish how Biblical Apologetics really should be defined, its proper venue, who practices it, and those for whom the true discipline is practiced.

The “proof texts” frequently ignored by the modern Evangelistic Apologist.
This is the companion chapter to the previous. Just as too many evangelistic apologists misuse their so-called “proof texts”, they also tend to ignore (or distort beyond recognition as you’ll see in Part 13) those texts that deny them their self-erected apologetic edifice.

“God made it evident to them …”
Romans chapter 1 deserves its own chapter, because it is frequently presented as an apologetic to the lost. However, the real, biblical purpose of Romans chapter 1 is much different from that which is typically presented by the modern Evangelistic Apologist and only confirms the first point: the utterly corrupt and spiritually dead nature of the lost.

The resurrection of Christ.
The use of the resurrection of Christ as an apologetic with the lost is detailed here. The typical Evangelistic Apologist misses a stunningly important fact regarding the Lord’s resurrection appearances.

Developing a working definition of biblical apologetics.
By this point, I have presented the Scriptures that are needed to develop a working definition of what biblical apologetics is, when, where and for whom it is used, and why. It will be different from nearly all of the working definitions used by various authors I call out in Part 13.

Calling out the errors of the modern Christian/Evangelistic Apologist.
The last step is to call out, in reasonable detail and in their own, surrounding context the false, misguided, and unbiblical distortions of several published articles, etc. from current Evangelistic Apologists. (This is a very large chapter consisting of 16 articles.)

Summary
In the Developing a Biblical Definition of Apologetics chapter I develop from the Scriptures previously presented in this series a true, working definition of apologetics and when, where and why it is practiced. I also discuss briefly a more generalized definition of Biblical Apologetics, the purpose of which is not evangelism.

I can’t overstate the importance of having a solid, biblical foundation in order to be able to review and critique those authors I call out in Part 13. Therefore, I suggest that you digest this series in the order in which it is written since it is designed to do just that—lay a proper, biblical foundation.

This series is not merely a “war of opinions”; my opinion is of no greater or lesser value than the authors I critique. On the other hand, if I faithfully and obediently apply the Word of God to their writings on this topic (as should be done to mine as well!), then we’ll see that all is definitely not well in the field of Evangelistic Apologetics. In fact, that which is typically termed Evangelistic Apologetics is a theological cesspool of distortion and disobedience to clear Scripture.

It is time to eliminate the practice of this “humanistic evangelism” (really, “another gospel”!) masquerading as a legitimate biblical apologetic. It is long past time for “evangelists” to trust the Word of God alone to do its sovereign work in the heart of the lost as well as to apply biblical apologetics to its proper venue for the proper reasons.

 

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