Tuesday, November 10, 2020

You Have Not, Because You Reason Not

I've been thinking about James 4:2. Sometimes we don't get something because we don't pray for it. The verse is often referred to in a variation of its King James form, "You have not, because you ask not."

The same principle is true of apologetics. We don't get answers we want to questions because we don't think much with the mind God has given us. We don't convince many people of our views, and our culture declines, because we don't reason with people as much as we ought to. That sort of neglect of apologetics, and intellectual matters more broadly, isn't the only factor involved in something like our own unanswered questions or the problems in our culture. But it is one of the factors involved. Similarly, after his comment in James 4:2, James goes on to mention other potential reasons for not getting what we want. But that doesn't change the fact that what he mentions in verse 2 is one of the factors involved.

How often is it suggested that if we want revival, we should pray more, improve our lives in certain moral contexts, study scripture more, attend more church services, evangelize more, and so on? We're often told that we should try to be more like the church in the books of Acts in those contexts. How much is said about doing more in the context of apologetics, which is so prominent in the book of Acts? Or how much is said about maturing intellectually in general, not just in apologetics? We're commanded to be intellectually mature (1 Corinthians 14:20; what Proverbs says about knowledge, discernment, and wisdom; etc.). And that maturity is all the more important when changes in technology and other changes in the world require us to sort through so much more information and to do so more rapidly.

God can act independently of apologetics, just as he can act independently of prayer. The fact that God can convert people and otherwise influence them by non-apologetic means doesn't suggest that we shouldn't try to influence people through apologetics. We have a standing obligation to make the most of what God has entrusted us with, including our minds and the minds of other people. We shouldn't use God's sovereignty as an excuse to neglect prayer or apologetics.


  1. //The same principle is true of apologetics. We don't get answers we want to questions because we don't think much with the mind God has given us. //

    There are so many websites, blogs and videos nowadays that answer basic objections to Christianity that modern apostates since around 2010 are so much more culpable for their claimed lack of answers that led to their falling away than apostates prior to circa 2010. Answers are literally a google search away. This was not the case in the early days of the internet from 2000 and prior. Recent famous apostates often claim they weren't given answers to their doubts, criticisms and objections. Yet, they didn't have them, because they didn't really ask or search for them. If you really don't want answers, you're guaranteed not to find them.

    1. I rolled my eyes so hard at a youtube video that was conspiratorial about those nasty Christians suppressing the Gospel of Judas. There were some Dan Brownesque comments before I left before I spent a few hours dealing with people who like their ignorance just the way it was. I saw it while watching someone (Mike Winger?) who had talked about later works, what they contain, and how the early Church just didn't read them.

  2. Great post. I've always chalked a bunch of this up to living in an anti-intellectual age. Part of being an effective voice in this culture is understanding the times. Been enjoying Carl Trueman's latest book on this, as well as his recent video series on the subject, the first lecture of which is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23Q9yOo6ZGs&t=543s