“Let us go, therefore, to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt, who trust in horses, who rely on chariots because there are many of them, and on horses because of their strength. YHWH also is wise and can bring disaster; He will not retract His word and will destroy them. Now, their horses are flesh and not spirit. They will stumble and there will be no one to help. They will fall, and there will be no one to raise them up.”
“The wisdom of the wise I will confound.”
“I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came in weakness and trembling. My words and message were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power… We do teach a wisdom, but it is not the wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away, but the secret wisdom of God… None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.”
“I rejoice… in insults.”
I am clueless, as to why the sentiment these verses express is so much missing in American so-called Christianity. As Christians, we follow the crucified Lord of Glory. We are identified with Him – is His name not ours? The world crucified Him; it is ours to rejoice when it excludes us! “It is enough that the servant should be like His Master, and the disciple like His teacher. If they have called the Master of the House Beelzebul, how much more the members of His household!” I always thought that verse must have a tone of encouragement and joy in it! It is, plain out flat, an honor to be treated like your King. It is, plain out flat, a cause of rejoicing to be like the one you love and want to be like. It just is. Joy in exclusions, and insults, and reproaches, and, when it comes to that, crucifixions, makes plain, common sense, if you take one of the first tenets of our faith: they crucified the Lord of Glory. First, they called Him a devil. It only doesn’t make sense if you imagine that the old has not gone, that Christians are not new creatures in Christ. If He isn’t really your King, if you don’t really love Him, if you aren’t really an enemy of the world, why then, of course you want to be friends with the world! But, if He is your King and God, wouldn’t it be an outrageous honor to be treated like Him? Wouldn’t it be a little worrisome if the world didn’t, at the very minimum, insult, exclude, or lie about you?
So, after that introduction, let me give an example or two of compromise. I’m not claiming the compromises I will show are compromises that clearly deny the essentials of the faith, or that deny the commands of God. I’m simply claiming that they ignore the meaning of the essentials of the faith even while they “defend” them. If you keep the previous paragraph in mind, this should all make sense. I will also need to do some clarifying. Try to pay attention to the words I use, and not impose some idea you were taught or heard somewhere else on what I am saying.
I am not here to attack all uses of apologetics*. To make this clear, I have used apologetics at times. I have looked up ancient manuscripts for people who claim they are all corrupted. Of course, I mostly simply counter apologetics. I use some knowledge of the Greek to counter objections that what John 1:1 really says is something other than, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” If you want to call an essay on how thoroughly everything in the entire Bible testifies that Jesus Christ is the One True and Eternal God, apologetics, then you can see this. I am sometimes a little confused by what is meant by what by whom. As should already be evident, though, apologetics can, at times, be used to throw away an objection. However, apologetics will never bring someone to Christ; that must be a work of God, through the drawing of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of Truth. Becoming a new creation in Christ is too radical a change of being (it truly is crucifixion with Christ and resurrection with Him). To rely on apologetics, to put any trust in apologetics, is wrong – it is going to the world, like going to Egypt. We must never take any kind of tactic or ideal and put any trust or reliance on it, but must always be open to the will of God, trusting and relying only on Him, walking by faith and not by sight. We should relate to human beings, to persons, in love: we must never use the wisdom or understanding of the world, for it is a weapon of the enemy.
As I have often seen it used (note: often does not mean always; there are people who do not use it in this way), apologetics is a form of compromise. I found a statement, in the first chapter of a book on apologetics by a rather prominent apologist, that runs something like this: “If Christians learn and use apologetics, then Christianity will become a reasonable option for people. We can shape the culture so that we can win converts to Christianity much more easily.” “We need apologetics so that people will think that Christians are reasonable, intelligent, respectable people, instead of lunatics and crazy people.” Much of apologetics seems to be made to convince semi-intellectuals and others that Christianity is reasonable, that it is respectable to be a Christian, that believing in Jesus is not absurd.
Is Christianity reasonable?
Do you think that God, YHWH Himself, nailed to a cross, crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” and dying for the very ones who crucified Him, is reasonable? Do you think that rejoicing in insults, and persecutions, and humiliations, and beatings is reasonable? Do you think believing that one who was crucified in weakness is the God of strength is reasonable? Do you think that loving your enemies and blessing those who persecute you is reasonable?
If this is reasonable, then, Christianity is the most reasonable thing that ever happened on the earth. If this is insanity, then Christianity is the most insane thing that ever happened on the earth.
Trying to make the world that crucified your King think that it is reasonable and respectable to follow the crucified King seems like treason to me. Either, treason or a veiled denial that the crucifixion ever happened, a veiled denial of sin, a veiled denial of who God is. They hung Him on a tree – I do not want their recognition! They mocked Him while He died – I do not want them to think me respectable! If they called Him a Samaritan and one possessed by devils, and He told me the commonsense bit of information, that if the King was called such things, surely His subjects will be called the same, then I will be very worried if I am not insulted and spoken all kinds of evil against (sooner or later). If we are the Body of Christ on earth, will we not all, to varying degrees, experience in our own lives and bodies the hostility of the world against Christ?
I will now address some verses that many use to support the use of apologetics, and to claim that the use and study thereof is necessary and commanded.
“But, if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats, or be troubled. But, in your hearts, sanctify Christ as Lord, and always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you, to anyone who asks, but do this with gentleness and respect.”
I don’t care whether you translate it as “reason” or as “defense.” I cannot even see how it makes a difference. The context is clear. When you are persecuted for righteousness, you are blessed, and you will not fear or be dismayed; indeed, you must not, for it would be a denial of your blessing. Instead, you must set apart Christ as your only Lord – to do otherwise would be to compromise and deny Him – and so, when you are asked why you have hope, then you must always be prepared to give the reason: that the Son of God was crucified to take away your sin, and He has risen from the dead and reigns; because He lives, you also live. You must always be prepared to do this, because Jesus is your only Lord, and you want to exalt Him, even though it may mean insults or worse.
“Contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.” This is a command to guard against heresy. It is not apologetics, but theology, that is plainly commanded here. This means, that you give no foothold to any form of denial of the Resurrection, or the Godhead and Manhood of Jesus Christ, or any other essential, such as the Holiness of God. If you read the entire book of Jude, you find that he is urging us not to permit the denial of the Lord Jesus Christ through the perversion of the grace of God into a sanction for idolatry of various forms. It is not about convincing those outside the Church, or even keeping people inside a so-called Church, but about guarding the beliefs and practices of the Church and thrusting all who deny the faith outside.
It is plain that neither of these verses have anything to do with apologetics.
I’ve also seen people say that you should study apologetics to get to know God. It will not work. I’m not sure how anyone even came up with that. If you want to know God, pray. Ask God to show you Himself. Make your whole life about knowing God. Seek His face in everything. Learn theology by praying and obeying, by living in His presence, both taking time aside to be alone with Him, and living your entire life before Him. Be silent in His presence. Read the Bible (and other books by saints of God who have truly known Him) and resolve that you will know nothing except what God reveals to you. Do not seek second-hand knowledge, or believe interpretations and ideas because you have been taught them or managed to think of them, but seek to know God Himself and His Truth in everything. Wait on God to reveal Himself to you, and everything else, too. Put into practice what God tells you, and obey Him though it may not make sense or may disrupt your “life” – Jesus Christ is the Life and your life.
“Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things of heaven, not on the things of earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, you also will appear with Him in glory.”
Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale