Friday, April 13, 2012

No Apologies: The Christian Faith

So called Christian Apologists of our day give way way too much credence to their supposed counter-parts; the new Atheists (and whoever else antagonizes)! I grew up in this kind of Fundamentalist sub-culture (ironically some of the most ardent apologists for the Christian faith today would not self-identify as Fundamentalists; like N. T. Wright; Richard Bauckham; Michael Licona; and a host of others not so well known); the kind of culture that lives out of fear, fear that the Christian antagonist might turn a leaf over and find the Jesus code or some such thing (something that in
their mind would overturn the veracity of the Christian faith in one fell swoop). Granted, much of our Christian ecumenical dogma comes from the musings of early Christian apologists; but I think it is too quick to suggest that there is an immediate parallel between those apologists and the apologists of our day. Most of the Patristic apologists fought Christian heresy, and sought to hash out a Christian grammar where there was none. Today, Christian apologists seek to establish a foundation for the rationality of the Christian faith by demonstrating through evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, that he was a real person, and that the Jesus the Apostles and the early Church proclaimed was not a fabrication.

But who is convincing who? I thought Christians were already Christians?! And I thought Pagans were already Pagans?! And that the Pagan is a Pagan because she loves herself, and thus fabricates myths and idols that reflect herself and thus something to worship (herself). If this is the problem, then what good does it do to spend hours and hours and hours and hours of study and debate; and thousands and thousands of dollars promoting such things? That said, I am not naively suggesting that there aren't any responses to the unbeliever; or that we shouldn't be able to help along Christians who have doubts themselves. I am not suggesting a retreat into a blind pietistic fundamentalism; I am suggesting that the conversation needs to be reset!

Christians need more self-confidence in and through the confidence that comes through constant and continual encounter with the living Word of God, Jesus Christ! We don't need to shore up our beach heads of doubt and fear by trying to meet the questions that the unbeliever has fabricated for the Christian to answer; we answer to Jesus, and we take our cue from him. We think from him. The categories of thought that we think Christianly through are determined as we press into him; not Richard Dawkins or Bart Erhman, for goodness sake!!!

What do the contemporary Christian Apologists think will happen if we simply ignore these so called new Atheists and Christian critics; will they win (whatever that means)? Isn't this the advice our parents gave us as kids when other kids with big mouths were trying to bully us; didn't they say to ignore them (since they are just seeking any kind of attention they can get)?

I think Christian Apologists, even if they have a confident intonation in their voices; promote a culture of fear and angst amongst Christians. Why? Because these Christian Apologists have given way too much credence to their so called counter-parts. And the average Christian sees this and thinks "wow, these antagonists must really have something important to say against Christianity!"

My prescription: We need way more Christian Theologians, and way less "Christian Apologists!" This is not a false dichotomy!

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

   “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
   the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
  26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” I Corinthians 1:18-25

There is no power in any thing other than proclaiming what the world (e.g. 'The New Atheists' and Biblical Critics, like Ehrman) considers weak and foolish; the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need abduction not deduction. I just think we don't like being called fools; that explains the whole Apologetic faith to me.

PS. I know most of the Christian Apologists intentions are good; but because they have failed to engage the Christian Faith as Theologians and theologically, they must seek other ways to close that gap between "their faith" and its factual reality---so they think. I had doubts, severe doubts quite some years ago; I turned to these kinds of Christian Apologists. In the end they gave me a God who I had to constantly defend, and a Scripture that I made true; I finally became too exhausted by this mode, and thankfully was introduced to 'Christian Trinitarian Theology' ... what a relief! If you are still struggling along with the Christian Apologists; won't you join me in the refreshing waters of Trinitarian Theology (my favorite instance of this is Evangelical Calvinism)?


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