“It’s hard to understand how people today can risk parenthood without having studied apologetics.”
-William Lane Craig
Wow! That sure hits home. Many say William Lane Craig is the preeminent Christian apologist in America. He hits you right between he eyes with that quote above.
I used to think that God made some of us intellectual Christians and some emotional Christians. By that I mean, I used to think that some of us were meant to be deep thinkers of the faith and some of us were simply to rely on personal experiences of faith.
But that thinking is a lie. God means for us all to be deep thinkers in the faith. All throughout the New Testament we are called to use our minds, to renew our minds, to have the same mind as Christ. We are not to have a “childish” faith, pretending we have a “child-like” faith. “God said it; I believe it; that settles it” is, in all sincerity, actually not faith but lazy Christianity.
For too long Christians have had an anti-intellectual approach to their faith. Even respected Christian ministers pushed that angle. For example, Larry King interviewed Joyce Meyer in May of 2005. He got her to talk about the abuse she suffered by her father. She told King that her father had accepted Jesus as his savior. King asked “Before we find out what brought you to the gospel and to this faith, your father, you believe, then, is forgiven? His deeds don’t matter? The things he did won’t matter.” When Joyce Meyer said “I believe he’s totally and completely forgiven,” King countered, incredulously, “And someone who does a lot of good but does not believe — he’s not forgiven? Isn’t that a little strange? There used to be a motto of a junior high school, ‘we live in deeds, not years.’”
Joyce Meyer’s response was so woefully inadequate that it made me cringe. “Well, I don’t — it’s not strange according to the Bible. Let’s put it like this. A lot of things that Christians believe probably are strange to somebody trying to figure it out with their mind. But Christianity is about the heart, and the Bible says that we cannot get to heaven on our own good works. No matter how good we are, we cannot be good enough, because God is perfect, and we’re always going to be less than perfect.”
“Christianity is about the heart?” What Joyce Meyer inadvertently admitted was that Christianity is not a reasonable faith, but an emotional one. It got worse. King asked about why a good person, who was charitable and lived by the Golden Rule but didn’t believe went to hell but a braggart, drunken scoundrel accepted Jesus on his deathbed and went to heaven.
Joyce Meyer responded “Well, I admit it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense up here but it’s — it’s what the Bible teaches, that we can’t get to heaven on our own good works.” Ugh!
Then she said “Because, first of all, nobody without God in their life can be as good as you were describing that guy to be.” Now there she started to make a cogent argument that appeals to the mind! The reason why the scoundrel who believed goes to heaven and the nice person who didn’t believe went to hell is that NO ONE IS GOOD. Jesus already accomplished the only good work we need for salvation. The correct discussion should have been about the different levels of filth in the scoundrel and the nice person, not the different levels of goodness. She should have hammered the point home that if we can’t be good enough to earn heaven, we can’t be bad enough to deserve hell. Jesus sacrifice is all sufficient. His blood can make the vilest sinner clean. But, alas, she didn’t.
Right before the commercial break King asked her “[Somebody without God] Can’t be as good?” Joyce Meyer reverted back to the anti-intellectual argument for believing in Christianity. “No, and even when you — a relationship with Christ changes your heart. It’s not about your head. It changes your heart. Jesus comes to live in your heart, and even if a person does good works, but they do them without Christ, most of the time, their motives are wrong for why they do them. They may do them to be noticed, or to be admired, or to thought to be good, or you know, for a lot of different reasons, and the only way that I think you can do good works for the right reason is to do them because you love God and you love him because he loved you first.”
Christianity, to Joyce Meyer, is “not about your head.” That is why Christians in the marketplace, at work, in the universities have been having their clocks cleaned by skeptics, antagonists and angry atheists. She described a “childish” faith, one that is stuck on the milk and has not matured to needing the meat of the Word. Salvation requires repentance. Repentance is not simply feeling sorry for your sins. It is an intellectual reversal. It is a changing of your mind about your sin.
For the sake of our children, we need to be able to give an answer for the reason of the hope that lies within us. That takes using our minds.The Poached Egg posted this article (Stepping Up to the Plate: The Call for Community Apologists) to call Christians to be apologists right where they are. Apologetics does not require advanced degrees. It requires a longing for a deeper knowledge of and relationship with God.