It Matters!


thinkerRecently, I had a discussion with another believer concerning the necessity of apologetics in the Church.  Before going further, perhaps a definition of apologetics is necessary.  Apologetics is simply a defense of the faith.  In other words, knowing what one believes and the ability to articulate those beliefs.  The person I was speaking with mentioned his concern over arguing or what he called “debate” within the local church.  The apostle Paul speaks of irreverent babble and avoiding such things while writing to Timothy.  While I’m not interested in an unproductive discussion, I do believe it’s important that one determine what is truth and defend truth accordingly.

It doesn’t take long to determine we live in a society that holds to truth being relative.  According to the ideology, what might be true for you is not true for me.  I pray you can see the problem with that way of thinking.  To form the issue in a question might be helpful.  So here goes: What can we know for certain?  Why do we know 2 + 2 = 4?  You get the point.  If truth is relative…fluid…constantly changing for the benefactor, can it be absolute truth?

Just before Paul warns Timothy of irreverent babble, he writes these words.  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (1 Tim 2:15, emphasis mine).  A few words require a second glance.  The words “approved” and “rightly” must mean something.  In other words, “approved” means there is a standard Paul expects Timothy to attain.  The word “rightly” declares the standard to be concrete or unchanging.

As Christians, we believe we must start with the absolute truth.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus of Nazareth is reported to have said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”  (14:6).  Later in the same Gospel, John records Jesus answering Pilate, “…I have come into this world – to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (18:37).  Those words are not fluid.  They don’t have one standard today and another tomorrow.  Truth is truth.

Sadly, relative truth is not something just for the secularists.  The influence of the world has penetrated the walls of the Church.  For that reason, there are just as many who gather to worship who believe in some level of relative truth.  It’s easy to say “Amen” when one is not tempted in a certain way.  However, when the standard hits “too close to home,” it’s much more difficult.

Might part of the problem be that we’ve forgotten the importance of critical thinking?  Is it possible that even believers are influenced towards relativity rather than absolute truth?  After all, we’re told to be tolerant and love our enemies.  That said, often times we display a huge misunderstanding of tolerance and love.  Speaking truth is love to the nth degree!  In regards to critical thinking within the Church, apologist William Lane Craig offers, “Our culture in general has sunk to the level of biblical and theological illiteracy.”  That seems harsh at first glance.  But at times, love means hearing what we don’t want to hear.  Something to consider is what will the Church do about it?

The gentleman I was visiting with believes apologetics is something for the spiritually elite.  The thought goes “The Gospel is simple.  Leave the minutiae to those in academia.”  On one hand, the idea of a simple Gospel is correct.  However, when one chooses to never go beyond the “surface,” many blessings will never be realized.  Discipleship includes loving God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength.  Without absolute truth, a healthy starting place will not exist.

I would offer the healthy starting place must be Jesus.  But convincing an unbeliever of the starting place might be more difficult than you can imagine – especially if your starting place changes from time to time.  I have no right to determine truth for you or even for me.  You haven’t the right to do the same for me or others.  You see, truth has been defined.  Truth is named Jesus.  It matters where we start.  And it matters that we continue a relationship with He who is truth.




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