Monday, 28 March 2011

The problem is moral not mental

People don't resist the gospel because of intellectual issues; they resist it because they live lives opposed to God and can't stand the idea of change.

So Phillip Jensen highlights the problem with apologetics:

the real problem of apologetics lies in its distorting effect upon Christianity. As we seek to express the Christian gospel in the terms of outsiders we are unwittingly tempted to distort its teaching. Augustine could understand Christianity in Neo-Platonic terms, as Aquinas could in Aristotelian terms. The very activity of apologetics, even aggressive apologetics addresses the gospel to the mind rather than to the conscience. It assumes that people's difficulty with Christianity is mental rather than moral. It easily gives the impression that we are to sit in judgment over God rather than he over us. Thus modern apologetics must attack the lifestyle of the pagan and not just the clever rationalizations that he uses. Giving answer to genuine enquiry is one thing. Treating the rationalization of immorality seriously is another.

I'm editing a course at the moment which is targeted at a particular subsection of Australian society, and I'm very aware of the danger of thinking that once the packaging has been shape-shifted to suit this specific audience, success will follow.

It won't. The success or failure of the message will depend entirely on God's Holy Spirit. What I need to pray is that my packaging won't get in the way too much.


Timothy Wonil Lee said...

I've come to think that the best form of apologetics is a clear and accurate presentation of the very gospel message itself, even though it probably doesn't fit the conventional definition of apologetics.

I hope I can stay faithful to the gospel message while I interact with non-Christians who have questions. So, as you are, Gordon, I also need the Holy Spirit.

Anonymous said...

Gordon, I reckon this is spot on. I can think of numerous experiences where people have said to me when they were totally honest, the reason they rejected the gospel was because they did not want to stop living their live the way they wanted to live it. It was a personal moral reason, not one due to lack of evidence as such.