The Humanism of Evangelistic Apologetics: Part 13.11

Review and Critique:

"What is the Relationship between Evangelism and Apologetics?"
Author not specified.

[Key: direct quotes from author.]

The author begins the article:

How do they work together? In the area of evangelism and missions there is a big discussion going on. Just what constitutes mission? What is evangelism? Should I be sharing reasons for believing before or after evangelism? …

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:

  1. Subversion
  2. Persuasion
  3. Proclamation”

Already we encounter a serious issue: the Bible does not support the notion that evangelism and apologetics are supposed to “work together”, as I’ve shown throughout this series. So the leading question “How …” is already an epic fail.

Stated another way, if you are going to write an article involving the topic of evangelism, you must first ensure that your approach is biblical. And while the Bible has a great deal to teach about the preaching of the gospel and reaching the lost, it says nothing about apologetics (as typically defined by the modern evangelistic apologist) and does not present a single example of apologetics concurrent with evangelism.

So far, the author makes no attempt at biblical support. Then, to “add insult to injury”, he proceeds to inform the reader that the non-biblical system he is about to introduce is from Andrew Fellows (whoever that is …!?!?).

[In my reviews of many modern evangelistic apologists, I find frequently that they find “support” from other evangelistic apologists guilty of the same errors they are. I suppose this is so because it’s the only support they have since their methodology is not found in the Scripture.

Their reasoning frequently betrays an attitude that if something can’t be established from Scripture, then simply quote each other instead—a sort of "mutual admiration society".

Their individual arrogance is stunning; their aggregate arrogance is as dangerous as it is spectacular.]

The next section of the article deals with each of the 3 elements noted above: Subversion, Persuasion and Proclamation.


Regarding Subversion

“At the subversive stage, the believer is interested in loosening the chains. His aim is to ask questions or present reflections in the form of film, music, literature and art that will enable the sceptic to have the relational and social scaffolding to be able to doubt his or her underlying, yet opposing ideas and beliefs. The aim is to “shake the cage”.”

There is so much wrong with this short section that it is difficult to know where to begin. (I really want to ask the author “Have you even read and actually studied—gasp!—the examples of the preaching of the gospel in the NT?”)

Let’s begin with the term “subversion”. Really?!?!

When the Apostle Paul rebuked the temporary duplicity of Peter in Galatia, this is why he (Paul) did so:

Gal 2.14
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all ...

No subversion there...

That the preaching of the gospel to the lost challenges their world view is a given; the message of repentance and faith is not something that they’d develop automatically from their fallen nature inherited from Adam. But, “loosening the chains …” is not something that any Christian witness can perform; that activity is reserved for the Lord alone.

And this point brings me to yet another common trait of the modern evangelistic apologist: he/she believes that his/her part in the evangelistic process is both vital and irreplaceable. "How", the evangelistic apologist asks, "could the lost ever be saved if I had not 'loosened their chains'?"

Next, did you notice that phrase “His aim is to ask questions or present reflections in the form of film, music, literature and art that will enable the skeptic to have the relational and social scaffolding to be able …” The author appears to be ignorant of these undeniable biblical facts:

  • The lost is spiritually dead. (Eph 2.1,5; Col 2.13)
  • The lost is utterly incapable of understanding any and all spiritual truth. (1 Cor 2.14)
  • The lost actively opposes and suppresses the knowledge of the Lord and His truth in spite of the sheer scope of the creation and the Lord’s majesty and glory. (Rom 1.18+)
  • The lost are actively hostile to the Lord in every way, at every time and in every venue. (Rom 3.9-18)

But, in spite of the overwhelming biblical evidence that “salvation is of the Lord” (Jon 2.9), the apologist insists that it is reasonable and rational to attempt something like the following:

“[Does the lost] think that your sense of moral outrage points towards real right and real wrong?”

Mr. author: really!?!?

Do you really think the lost is capable of any relevant definitions of “right and wrong”? My Bible says otherwise; what version are you using (perhaps you should find another, a translation that is accurate to the original text!).

How is it that you dare to start with the presumed “moral” discernment of the lost when you should be preaching the gospel to them? The gospel is its own support and it needs neither the agreement nor the permission of the lost for its being shared with them! Show me biblical examples of this “approach”: you cite none in your article. Instead of getting the lost “to doubt [his/her] beliefs” (“subversion”), why not give them something in which to believe and trust implicitly—the gospel!

The arrogance of this author is spectacular as he/she continues with this gem of wisdom (still under the topic of “subversion”):

“If you want to improve at this stage, then you’ll need to focus less on gospel outlines and more on developing an understanding of art, philosophy and contemporary culture.”

I thought I was supposed to be reading a Christian author, but it appears I was mistaken. Only Apollyon would recommend “focus[ing] less on gospel outlines and more” on trivia that has no saving or eternal value!

Mr. Author: it is obvious that you’ve been duped by the Adversary and have become one of his servants. Be warned:

2 Cor 11.13-15
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

This is nothing more or less than unfiltered, unmitigated, raw humanism. Mr. author, you really need to read the Bible texts I marshal regarding preaching the gospel in the chapter Preach the Gospel! But, just in case you don’t get around to it, I want to share some of them here that show how the Lord Christ and the early disciples viewed the incredible privilege the Lord gave them to preach the gospel:

Mar 10.28-30
Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

Mar 8.34-35
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Act 9.24
But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

Rom 1.15-17
So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

1 Cor 1.17
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

1 Cor 9.16-18
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

1 Cor 15.1-5
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received [that is, believed], in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Mr. Author, whoever you are, will you really counsel the well-meaning evangelist that he/she will “need to focus less on gospel outlines …” in the face of these texts?

Shame on you! How dare you!

Do you really think that your clever “subversion” is going to lead them to the Savior as you simultaneously de-emphasize the very gospel that alone is able to save them?

This is humanism and arrogance on steroids!

The author ends his section on Subversion:

You don’t have to feel pressured to tell them everything about the gospel right away, because the idea is to nudge their worldview a little bit nearer, one idea at a time. If they can understand how God loves them, for example, then perhaps they might find it easier to be honest about their need for him?”

ibid. More of the same unbiblical, anti-biblical, anti-gospel, pro-apologist, pro-intellectual, decaying/dead tripe.

[Frankly, I’m amazed that a so-called Christian author would actually have the recklessness to make such a claim. Indeed, it brings the Lord’s haunting question into very sharp focus:

Luk 18.8b
However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?

If you review the context of this verse, it is a warning to believers, not unbelievers.

Mr. Author, this is a warning to you and Andrew Fellows of L'Abri!]


Regarding Persuasion

The author opens the topic:

“The persuasion stage involves both listening and giving reasons for the truth and reliability of the Christian worldview. This involves defending your own position by sharing the reasons behind your belief. Perhaps this might take the form of presenting a skeptic with some of the excellent reasons we have for accepting the Bible as an accurate picture of the historical Jesus.”

This is modus operandi for the modern evangelistic apologist. And, once again (for this author), the claim is made with no biblical support.

But, the author is not finished with his flight of fancy:

One of my favourite approaches is to present people with the evidence for Jesus himself. I often say something like this, “If Jesus really did and said the things that the Bible records him doing—raising people from the dead; knowing secret things about people; growing back limbs; teaching with incredible insight; predicting his own death; coming back from the dead; healing incurable diseases; demonstrating power over nature—then it seems to me that any reasonable person has to say, ‘I need to listen to what Jesus tells us about reality, and I probably need to re-orientate my life around his teaching better’.””

If you spend much time reading, reviewing, and critiquing modern apologetics (as I have done), you’ll find frequent mention of “methodologies”, principles of engagement and “approaches” to the lost. Modern apologists, from the way they typically downplay the simple presentation of the gospel, appear unmistakably to be ashamed of it—and therefore think that they need to “sneak it in” before the lost realizes what has actually happened (“subversion”!).

And, of course, we’re back to the unbiblical notions that the lost is actually “reasonable” (regarding spiritual matters) and able to “re-orientate [his/her] life”. Again, I point the author to the four basic Bible principles I enumerated above.

The author continues:

“Since the answer to this, even after 200 years of skeptical criticism by the toughest scholars in the world, is that the Bible does present an accurate picture of Jesus, then that suggests to me that I should view Christianity as true and therefore I should try and follow Jesus myself to the best of my abilities.”

Mr Author: there are two scenarios that you failed to consider when proffering this type of unmitigated nonsense:

  • Assume that no one in the entire world, throughout all time since the days of the Lord Christ, accepted the Bible record of the life of Christ. The biblical account would not be any weaker for it; it would still stand.
  • Assume that everyone in the entire world, throughout all time since the days of the Lord Christ, accepted the Bible record of the life of Christ. The biblical account would not be any stronger for it; it would still stand.

Isa 40.8
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

Your idiotic reasoning betrays an attitude that somehow the Bible needs the testimony of scholars in order to be validated!

It does not!

The author has forgotten these powerful truths:

Joh 6.37,39
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. … This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

Joh 6.44-45
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

Act 11.18
When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

Act 13.48
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.

Act 16.14
A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Rom 8.28-30
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Eph 1.3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Phi 1.29-30
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Col 2.12-13
having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

Col 3.12
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ...

2 Tim 1.-9-10
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel ...

And there are many, many more that show that salvation is a work of God alone!

The glib way the author paints the reaction of the lost (“I should view Christianity as true and therefore I should try and follow Jesus myself to the best of my abilities.”) forgets the work of the Holy Spirit, to which these texts testify:

[This ("I should try ... to the best ...") sounds a lot like Roman Catholicism and every other dead religion of works, does it not?]

Joh 15.26-27
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Joh 3.5-8
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Rom 8.2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Rom 8.5-10
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

1 Cor 2.3-5
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

1 The 1.2-5a
We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction;

Tts 3.4-6
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

There are more of these expressions as well.

The author continues with more completely useless advice and methodology:

“Give this a try in a conversation with a sceptic sometime, as you will find this is a very engaging approach to take. To grow better at persuasion you’ll also need to delve deeper into the areas of apologetics, philosophy and critical thinking. Get an understanding of what a logical fallacy is and learn to be able to recognise a few …”

None of what the author proposed has any intrinsic biblical value in leading the lost to the Lord Christ.

[In contrast, though, it probably increases the evangelistic apologist’s own feeling of self-worth and "value" to the Lord (at least in their own eyes...).

The devastating reality is that the apologist becomes a more efficient “instrument of deception” to mislead the lost into a false sense of salvation through their own moral reasonings.

So much for "Persuasion"...]


Regarding Proclamation

I was wondering if the author would get around to this:

“Finally, the proclamation stage requires unpacking the core gospel message. We want to communicate the revealed message of Jesus and the golden theological truths of creation, fall, incarnation, atonement, resurrection, salvation and sanctification.”

What is “finally …” to the author is what the Apostle Paul considered primary (“of first importance”). What is so stunning in this paragraph is that the author actually cites:

1 Cor 15.1-5
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received [that is, believed], in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

From the content of the preceding and current portions of this article, the author either missed, ignored or does not believe something from what he actually cited: “of first importance”!

Did you notice that phrase "unpacking the core gospel message"?

  • If the gospel really was "core" to the author, why does it take so long for the author to actually get to the proclamation of that "core" gospel?
  • If the gospel really was "core" to the author, why does the author precede it with so many other non-necessary elements?

By the way: 1 Cor 15.1-5 was the only Bible reference cited in the entire article. Given the purpose and content of the article, it is very surprising the author mentioned any Scripture at all.

After all, an article on evangelism shouldn’t really need support from the Bible, along with copious NT examples. The apologist is his/her own authority and doesn’t really need the Bible. 

[I am being sarcastic, in case anyone missed it.]

In my initial research notes on this article (during the information review stage, prior to the actual writing), the following was my initial reaction when I came to the end of Mr. Author’s “advice”:

“Summary: a useless article.”

In hindsight, I was overly generous in my initial evaluation. This article is not useless: it is a valuable tool used by the Adversary through his servants the evangelistic apologists.

Mr. Author: without doubt, you are purveyor of “another gospel”!

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