Tuesday, March 02, 2021

To boldly go where no one has gone before

My aim is to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else's foundation (Rom 15:20 CSB).

I appreciate the apostle Paul's attitude about his ministry of missions, church-planting, evangelism, apologetics. He wants to go where no one has gone before with the gospel. He wants to go to those people who have never heard the good news. He wants to be the first in a mission field. The first to share the gospel with a people in a place that hasn't heard about Jesus. That's a noble desire.

I think what the apostle Paul said could be taken on as a kind of principle by other Christians too. Let's consider apologetics. Apologetics paving the road for evangelism or used in concert with evangelism. Of course, there are many commonly used arguments in defense of Christianity and/or in order to critique other worldviews. Nothing necessarily wrong with a Christian apologist using these bread and butter arguments.

However, it likewise would be a good idea for Christian apologists to develop novel arguments, develop novel approaches to old arguments, revitalize retired arguments, and so on. For example, Jason Engwer and Steve Hays have done significant apologetic work involving the occult. Another example is Tim and Lydia McGrew have revitalized the argument from undesigned coincidences. These are the sorts of thing I have in mind.

Of course, what those arguments might be could vary depending on where or when one is ministering. The apologist needs to know their audience, as it were. The apologist needs to be like "the Issacharites, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chron 12:32). Arguments involving science and religion might better suit a secular college student on a typical US campus. Arguments involving fulfilled messianic prophecies might better suit an orthodox Jewish friend. Arguments about Jesus' power over evil spirits might better suit Papua New Guineans. Arguments involving the historical Jesus might better suit Muslims. And there's tremendous room for creativity within these classes of arguments.

Point being, I guess I'm not really saying much in my already long-winded post, only that it's good to use commonly used apologetic arguments, but it's also good to push boundaries (within orthodoxy) in developing new arguments, honing old arguments, etc. We can advance the kingdom of God in terms of apologetics too, I think. At least, those promoting other worldivews don't usually stand still, neither should we.


  1. Yes indeed! Thanks for this! Great title! Anyone, as a missionary, who goes into an unreached area, a new people group (people groups / ethna (nations) that have little gospel in their history, especially other world religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Atheistic Communism (China), Tribal religions by nature has to do apologetics and all that you mention (constantly update and refresh and try new methods), in Evangelism and church planting.

    And the Apostle's grounding for his ambition is an OT text in verse 21 - "as it is written" - from Isaiah 52:15 - which, in context, is about the Suffering Servant / Messiah - what the apostle is saying is that the mission of the Messiah (all of Isaiah 52:13-15 to 53:12) is not complete until all the people groups have heard and the elect are brought in, from their ethnicity / people group.

    See here:
    see the 5 part series on "What is your ambition?"
    sorry some of the links are broken

    1. Thanks, Ken! Very helpful information, especially since it's coming from a seasoned and veteran missionary, evangelist, and apologist like yourself, who knows firsthand what it's like on the front lines!:)

    2. You are too kind. I have many failures (saw several church splits and got depressed over that, Many I thought were true believers turned out later are probably not regenerated; and other traumas in life); it is a difficult task. But, I can say like William Carey, "I am just a plotter" (don't give up and take one day and one step at a time, and still growing in sanctification.)
      I Cor. 3:7

    3. And you are very humble, Ken! :) I don't know that you were necessarily responsible let alone at fault in these churches breaking up. Regardless I'm thankful despite all the struggles and obstacles that have attempted to keep you from serving the Lord wholeheartedly, Ken, that you have continued not only to grow but I think to flourish. Maybe it doesn't seem so to you, but it seems so to me! May the Lord continue to bless you!

    4. Thanks Hawk! I appreciate your encouragement!