Part 1 – Basic Truths As missionary among the un-reached Antanala-people of Madagascar, I have heard this question a million times… Well, maybe not a million but many times. Mostly these questions are hidden in presuppositions. Among Christians some think that nobody will be saved, except those who’ve heard and believed the Gospel. While others, […]
The Unsafe Position of an Apologist Part 2
Apologetics is the branch of Christian theology that deals with the defence and establishment of the Christian faith. An apologist uses logic, evidence, scripture, and wisdom when dealing with opposition, challenges and questions. An apologist loves to gain knowledge in a multitude of subjects like biblical theology, logical fallacies, Scripture itself, cults, philosophy, false religions, and so on and so forth.
But how about a little humility, a loving heart, compassion for the lost? When I became I Christian somewhere in 1994, many were wearing these wristbands with the letter WWJD. What Would Jesus Do? I am not sure whether this is still cool to wear, but I do know that in some cases it is a good reminder. Jesus, the Son of God. He knew the Scriptures as no other. He knew what was in someone’s heart… Still, He was humble enough to wash the feet of His own students. Stinky, filthy feet… Are we prepared to lay aside our hard-earned knowledge and ‘lower’ ourselves in the hopes that the other might be saved?
But there are more dangers for the apologist to watch out for. This is part 2. Let’s take a look at these stinky feet, shall we?
#6 – The Arrogance that is Built on Knowledge and is not Matched with Humility
When I was still a schoolboy we had a little saying:
The more you learn, the more you know. The more you know, the more you forget. The more you forget, the less you know. So if learning means that you will know less, why should you learn anything than?
Back then I thought this to be awfully clever. What did I know as a nine-year-old! However, I think I was more or less on the right track. Let me rephrase this saying:
The more you learn, the more you know. The more you know, the more you discover there is more to learn. The more you discover there is more to learn, the more you know how little you know. So if learning means that you find out that you know very little, it means that a little humility is in order.
You see, I think I know quite a lot about my faith. Also, I have studied the Bible pretty deep, and I continue doing that. We have lived in a very remote village on Madagascar. There I found out even more things about the Christian way of living. Yes, it seems that I am pretty knowledgeable. But! When I go on the internet, when I talk with other people. Even with my own kids! I often find out that my knowledge isn’t infinite at all.
More often than not, I don’t even get to use that knowledge in my talks with the un-reached people. Doing my work as a missionary is, in my opinion, mostly about compassion. I need to humble myself when I go to that poor family who only lives of 75 Euro-cents per day. They don’t need a ‘know it all.’ They need someone who is humble enough to be with them, to listen to their stories, and to share the simplicity of the Gospel. It is humbling when they offer some food from the same plate as they are using.
Paul wanted to go to the Corinthians. Apparently they had some trouble with puffed up people. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:21
What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
He could have disciplined them with all his knowledge and lots of talk, but he preferred to go to them with meekness and love.
#7 – Rather Technical Accuracy Instead of Correcting with a Loving Heart
You go to the Bible study group, cell group, Sunday morning service, and you hear somebody talking about the Bible. The whole talk was pretty spot on… Except that one thing! Let’s say the person quoted one Bible verse out of context, or even worse, he cited a Bible verse, but he used the word ‘care’ instead of ‘love.’
Obviously you are going to correct this error! Forget about the whole message, let’s correct this person here and right now! Not being hindered by the idea the that brother or sister might have had a slip of the tongue, you step up as being the saviour of technical accuracy.
So, to help you, I’ll read a passage from Amplified Bible. Yes, I know many will have issues with this kind of translations and that exactly why I will quote it nonetheless! Deal with it! And try to get the message instead of focussing on the accuracy of the translation.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
But we [the apostles] behaved gently when we were among you, like a devoted mother tenderly caring for her own children. Having such a deep affection for you, we were delighted to share with you not only God’s good news but also our own lives, because you had become so very dear to us.
Do we have sincere affections for those around us? Are we willing to share our lives with them? Or do we rather jump into the conversation like a bull in a china shop?
#8 – Decisive and Condemnatory Attitude
Being critical isn’t a problem in itself.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
But being decisive for the sake of being just that… Well, it is kind of awkward isn’t it? Why would you go to a Bible-study group with an attitude of being critical all the time. Why sit down and listening to the preacher, while in the back of your mind you try to find any error in his message.
This is not what Paul had in mind! In the verses before verse 21, Paul says that we need to live a life of thanksgiving, a life filled with prayer. He said that we should listen to the Holy Spirit and that we should listen to those who receive prophecies. We should listen to their message and see whether is the word of God, and whether it applies to our own lives.
Condemning others isn’t difficult either. You just sit down in your save house, on your comfortable sofa, and watch what others are trying to do to build God’s kingdom. It is so easy to find error and to shove someone away as being heretical. No worries! As long as you stay seated in your lazy sofa, you won’t get mud on your shoes.
I see other missionaries come to Madagascar. The only speak English and French. That’s enough they say. Many Malagasy don’t even understand French, let alone English. But okay, I grant them that the Malagasy language is very hard to learn. Now, these missionaries go out to an area with a lot of high-tech material. They preach the Gospel, get translated, and see many answering to the good news of salvation. Then the leave again with enough to write about in their exiting newsletters.
I am not at all convinced that these methods work that well as they say in their newsletters. Preaching the Gospel and living with the people are hard work. It is about getting your feet dirty. But hey! I look at these other missionaries. I talk with them and many seem to have their hearts in the right place. Am I the appointed one who can condemn their work, their spending of money? Instead, I try to have personal talks with them. I share my experiences and I pray for them.
Listen to this story in Luke 9:49-50
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
And then in line with this Paul says in Romans 14:4
Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
#9 – Causing Unnecessary Strife
I became a Christian somewhere in 1994. I went to a small church with maybe around 40 members. None of them felt equipped enough to lead Bible-studies. So instead, they invited two brothers from another town. It was not secret that these two had different opinions about the second coming of Christ. We either go through the tribulation or we are going to be raptured away before that time.
I always said that we will probably have to go through the 7 years before Christ is coming back. It is a bit like the Wager of Pascal. If I am right, I am prepared for the worst. If I am wrong… Well, happy day!!
These two brothers were very knowledgeable. I considered them to be the most smart people I knew back then. Still, they couldn’t resist pulling each other down on this issue. They never came together as they prepared different studies and sermons. But somewhere during their talks they just had to say something about the other, without actually calling the other’s name. No, but everybody knew to who the were referring.
It caused division in that, already small, group. It was a very unpleasant atmosphere to be in as a young Christian.
It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: But every fool will be meddling.
Strife can develop when a difference of opinion becomes the priority in a relationship. Strife is always accompanied by pride and an unteachable spirit in one or both parties.
#10 – Argumentative Lifestyle
I love teenagers! I do. I have three of them and the fourth one is starting to become one as well. But what are teenagers good at? Right, constantly arguing about every single rule you give them. It doesn’t really matter what the rule is about. As soon as the word ‘rule’ falls, they are right on top of it. And again, I love that phase. It is the time they learn to think for themselves. The time in which they are actually wrestling with all the lessons you’ve laid out before them. And you know what? Normally, this time will pass, and if you did your job well they will acknowledge it… One way or the other.
But, we, as adult apologists, are no teenagers any more right? They older we get, the more we understand that others might be right so now and then as well. Life is not about arguing all the time.
2 Timothy 2:14 (NIV)
Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
And now listen to what Paul says two verses further in verse 16
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
The Church of Christ needs more loving and considerate people. Whether we like it or not! We belong to each other, we are brothers and sisters…
Now that last Bible verse seems to call out just another issue! So, here a bonus for us all.
Until, now I mostly looked at these dangers with an emphasis on the Church right? But Paul says that we should “avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” And isn’t this just exactly what we can see around us? Some are so occupied with discussing, debating and learning, that they forget they need to be still so now and then as well.
I like to study. So much, that I quite often listen to atheistic chatter. I just want to know their arguments. And honestly, occasionally they seem to have a point. Yes, sometimes I listen to them and have a hard time to debunk their ideas. What do I do? Do I indulge myself in that chat with the risk of becoming more and more ungodly myself, or do I withdraw to seek the Lord?
Salomo knew what to do.
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: But a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
Let’s be wise and surround ourselves with wise people who love the Lord God.
God urges you to surround yourselves with wise people and to
[…] be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
These were the dangers I came up with. If you didn’t see the first part I would suggest doing that as well. You’ll find the link in the description of this video. I am sure you can come up with even more dangers, I would like to read about them in the comments. Remember! I am mostly active on my Odysee channel. You’ll find a link to that channel in the description of this video.
In the same description you’ll find ways to support me, and I’ll place a link to the transcript of this video. I always try to make the transcript available in Dutch and English.
If you want to start your own channel on Odysee you can use my invitation in the description, and we will both receive some free LBC!
As always, thank you for watching,
God bless you and we see each other in the next video!