Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Strategic priorities in apologetics

These can each be resolved by simply setting aside Biblical inerrancy.1 A saved liberal Christian is better than nothing, so reserve the above sub-topics for later.

Let me add that you have a virtual responsibility to ensure that your interlocutor knows that one can be a Christian while accepting evolution.

1. This reflects an unfortunate trend among some younger generation apologists. They don't think like theologians. Yet Christianity is a religion, so it's necessary to think like a theologian. 

2. Although the Bible contains many historical narratives, the Bible is divine revelation. It's not just a historical record of events, but theologically interpreted events. God raises up prophets and apostles to speak to and through them. A supernatural process. Consider the altered conscious states of seers like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and John the Revelator. Or consider the theological interpretations of Paul, the author of Hebrews, &c. Or how the Gospels integrate history with theological interpretation. 

3. Is there such a thing as "saved liberal Christian"? Or is that someone with a fundamentally unmodified secular outlook who's tacked on some Christian sentiments? 

How is that better than nothing rather than worse than nothing? If he's satisfied with a bad answer, a wrong answer, he has no incentive to seek a better answer. He took a wrong turn and keeps going in the wrong direction. It's not as if a "saved liberal Christian" is doing God a favor. 

4. Many unbelievers will rightly see it as intellectually evasive when Christian apologists duck objections to the inerrancy of Scripture. That doesn't mean a Christian apologist is obligated to individually run through every objection to the Bible. There are lots of good resources we can point a critic to, viz., Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament (B&H Academic, 2016); D. A. Carson, ed. The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016); James Hoffmeier & Dennis MaGary, eds., Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? (Crossway 2012); Kenneth Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Eerdmans 2003); John Oswalt, The Bible Among the Myths (Zondervan 2009); Vern Poythress, Inerrancy and the Gospels (Crossway 2012); Peter Williams, Can we Trust the Gospels? (Crossway 2018). If the critic is one of those frivolous people who recycles canned objections but is too apathetic to examine the answers, that's not the responsibility of a Christian apologist. 

5. If evolution is contrary to the Biblical revelation of organic origins, a Christian has no duty to say one can be an inconsistent Christian. While it's possible to be an inconsistent Christian, there's no obligation to commend or recommend intellectual or theological inconsistency. It's not as if a "saved liberal Christian" is doing God a favor. 

A Christian apologist lacks the authority to tell people what biblical teachings they must believe and which they are free to disregard. There can be debates about what Scripture teaches, but the principle is to accept all of divine revelation. 

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