December 7, 2011

Defense of The Faith in Boldness and Integrity

I have drawn these conclusions based on A. Plantinga’s “Advice" and James A Smith to develop a rounded philosophy of apologetics. They are going to make some Christians uncomfortable because it specifically asks people to step outside of a cloistered world and walk out into the flame and scorching heat of world that hates Christ.

1. Apologetic movement defending the "rights" of Christian thinkers / philosophers to philosophize from out of their Christian commitments not the precepts of a godless society.

2. A call to Christians to demonstrate more "autonomy" in relation to or face-to-face with the philosophical establishment and more "integrity" or "integrality" in their philosophizing. Stop bending to the absolute whims of people who want physical proofs of a spiritual God clearly outlined in the Holy Bible which most non-theist and non-believers do not even read let alone understand.

3. There is the need for Christian philosophy to display Christian boldness or self-confidence. We need to stop cowering in our hidden Christian enclaves worrying about whether we are "smart" enough by the world's standards when it is not the world's standards of wisdom that we should be adhering to but rather that of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit 1 Corinthians 2:13-14

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” ~1 Corinthians 3:18-20

We need to respond to hostile secular and anti-theistic dogma (attacks) regarding the "objectivity" or "neutrality" of philosophy we need to essentially repudiate their supposed “objectivity” as being duplicity, disingenuous if not outright non-objective. We must understand as must secular philosophers that even they begin from fundamental pre-philosophical assumptions. If this is the case then neutrality as a basis and hypothesis of a philosophical “norm” then becomes mere myth.

If secular anti-theistic folks are allowed this “bias” then by the same rules a Christian or theist cannot be denied a corresponding "epistemic right" to reason from their Christian perspective and from Christian assumptions. In other words, if a secular philosopher wants to play “outside the rules” a Christian should be allowed to also to refute their fraudulently acquired points outside of the “Christian commitment” as stated in item (1) of Plantinga’s syllogism. The idea is to free the Christian apologetic from self-limiting restrictions. By a Christian releasing themselves of these extraneous ballasts it frees them up to address the issues of the culture head-on.

The second and third steps address anti-theist or anti-Christian philosophical assumptions without the hesitation incurred from the previous step. It also addresses the issue of “tentative” or timid responses because of uncertainty or trepidation. It also allows them to stay clear of the “trends” or “agendas” of a worldview that is anti-Christian at its heart. Therefore Christians have no flawed philosophical reasoning that they are trapped within which would essentially “box them into a corner”. It the Christian apologetic community would do this it would release us like a bird from a cage to fly.

We need to be bold and go out offensively into the word with our apologetic instead of letting militant atheist/anti-theist types or a vocal minority of secular culture dictate the playing rules and the boundary of the field we play on. If we were more bold and on the offense, we would be able to do this. Unfortunately, we are too timid as we often use the “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” as an excuse to be a doormat to the world. Along with this self-assertiveness and surety needs to be followed by avenues of thinking that have integrity and actions that bolster this mindset. We cannot compromise our integrity of thought and behavior and “whore” ourselves to the culture to assert our points. If we have the integrity that is recognizable it will stand on its own merit. Christian self-confidence is its own merit and integrity is all that is necessary to gain “face”.

To pinpoint what I consider a major underlying fundamental flaw is a mis-classification or identification of "Christian philosophy" with a merely "theistic philosophy". We need to understand that a good “Christian philosophy that begins, not with the simple affirmation of the existence of a god but rather The God" or “a relationship with the Triune God who has revealed himself - uniquely - in Jesus Christ, and more specifically God in Christ as he gave himself on the cross.”

We need to take our apologetics right to the Cross. If we just argue for a “higher power” we’ve argued for everyone’s god. Once we begin to argue for a relational God that has been revealed through Scripture and through the Incarnation we up the ante and raise stakes. This thereby places a heavier onus on those arguing against us to further clarify their arguments to argue against a God that entered history and has been documented by credible eyewitnesses.

We cannot keep taking people to the tombs or tomes of the unknown academic gods of "theism" or "maximally supreme beings" and take them to Jesus Christ of the Holy Bible. No one cares about a monolithic unapproachable God in the sky, that God is scary. People want to know they are loved and cared about. People do not necessarily care that God knows everything, they need to know that God cares for and knows them. How better to show them they are loved and cared for than by emulating the real God through love and caring which is exactly what He did in grace and mercy and explain to them the truth about the real God?

This in turn forces secular and anti-theistic types to actually have to learn some of the actual finer nuances of our faith to be able to competently debate or argue with us. Perhaps even driving them to actually read and understand the source text...the Bible. Every Christian knows what happens to people who actually read the Bible and understand it. Don't we? Intellectually honest people know they have to read and understand source texts to become educated and gain expertise needed to master an argument. Me thinks this is slightly deceptive on our behalf but frankly, we know the power of God's Word and when we do this we thereby expose atheists and non-theists to something they would've never otherwise looked at and studied ;) (*wink-wink-nudge-nudge*)

This also then clarifies us from ever other “false religion”. I mean…good grief, are we arguing for any god our for the God as revealed to us in the Holy Bible? Just arguing for an omnipotent, omniscient being does little to prove the Christian God and introduce people to Jesus Christ…which is what our apologetic is calling us to do. What does Scripture tell us about our ἀπολογίαν/apologian?

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect 1 Peter 3:15

Does it say to give a reason for a theistic God? No! It says to give a reason for the hope that is within us all. What is that hope? It’s what is revered in our hearts! Jesus Christ! Peter’s call to apologetic is prefaced by Christ as Lord in our hearts!!!

Is this a perfect plan? No. Could it be refined? of course it could. I do suggest though that those that would criticize this suggestion as implausible should come up with and offer another plan before doing so. If they only offer problems or excuses why not without offering solutions, they end up arguing for the enemy by putting up or causing roadblocks for the friendlies.

Will we win all the atheists and secular people in the world? No. We do increase the probability and possibility of bringing at least a few to the faith. Yes.

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