Do We Need Apologetics?

This note is added after I finished post. This qualifies as a rant, but I think it as obviously true as many of the rants I have read on the internet. They’re not all true, but many rants are the most well-said articles on the internet.

I saw this quote today:

If one doesn’t think they need apologetics, one has to wonder if they have tried evangelizing lately.

Okay, I understand the idea. Here’s the problem.

Most apologetics is a bunch of nonsense, cutting up the Bible into sections, ignoring large sections of Scripture, misinterpreting a large portion of rest, and turning the whole Bible, and especially the New Testament, into a morass of contradictions, which they call “difficult” and “clear” verses.

Worse, most apologists claim to teach the historic Christian faith, and they don’t. In fact, the majority teach straight Calvinism, and there is nothing less historic than that other than symbolic sacraments/ordinances (baptism & Lord’s Supper) and salvation by faith alone (the modern reformed Reformation version).

Note: My apologies to European apologists. I am not talking about you. I’m only talking about American apologetic organizations.

The Real Church and Attending Church

No one trained in an actual church needs apologetics.

Christian organizations are not churches. The Assemblies of God. the Presbyterians, the Churches of Christ, the Baptists … they are not churches; they are organizations.

Anything you can “attend” is not a church. It’s as simple as that. You can’t attend a church, you can only join one.

Have you ever attended a family? You may attend a family reunion, and you may attend a family Christmas dinner, but no one says, “I have to attend family tonight.” A prospective wife may ask to meet her husband’s family, but she doesn’t say, “Can I attend your family with you? When is the next time you have family?”

As long as you can talk about attending church or having church, know that you are misusing the word church. The church is the family of God (1 Tim. 3:15).

Now, to be fair, the assemblies of the church are sometimes called church in the Bible, but that is rare. Surely 90% or more of the use of the word “church” in the Bible is talking about the family of God.

I mourn all the time that the family of God feels obligated to attend organizations that claim they are the church. They are travesties. A “travesty” is a caricature of the real thing. I believe “travesty” originally meant a play designed to parody something. A building owned by an organization and run by a staff with Biblical-sounding names like “pastor” and “elder” is not a church. It is an organization masquerading as the church.

They steal the loyalty Christians owe to one another and they take it to themselves.

The next time you can do something for someone, but you’re going to miss it for “church,” don’t. You can find Biblical precedent for helping other Christians–supposedly more your brother and sister than your biological family–and for encouraging, building up, and prophesying to one another. You can’t find any Biblical precedent for “attending” a speech with songs.

Look for it. It’s not there.

Secondarily (Gal. 6:10), if you’re going to miss out on helping a lost person, then skip the speech with songs, too. The Bible has tons to say about helping the poor. You’re lending to the Lord and practicing true religion! (Prov. 19:17; Jam. 1:26)

Good Pastors

What about good pastors? What about people who come to know Jesus in those Christian clubs? What about missionaries they have sent out? What about missions they do in cities among the poor?

That’s irrelevant to anything I’m saying.

I’ll thank God with you for the good things these organizations have done. I’ll sit down and listen with you to a organization’s main speaker, especially if he’s a really great teacher like Frances Chan or Mr. Platt from Birmingham or, sorry, that somewhat heretical Rob Bell.

That does not give organizations the right to masquerade as churches and make Christians forget what it’s like to live as part of the family of God.

The huge majority of Christians in the US have no idea what it’s like to be in the church. The church is so powerful that Paul called it “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). It is so able to teach the saints that Paul called it “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The church, together, can brush off “winds of doctrine” (Eph. 4:11-16) and, without a teacher, know what is “true and not a lie” (1 Jn. 2:27).

So many good things being done by organizations, though most still do nothing except train Christians that being a Christian means sitting in a pew once or twice a week and listening to a speech about Christianity, usually full of really bad Bible interpretation.

Really bad?

Sure, let’s start with any Protestant club  with a pastor and a board of elders. I’ll bet every such club claims to lean on the Bible alone for faith and practice.

Really?

Is it really that hard to look at the words pastor and elder in the Bible? The following teaching has been floating around Christian circles for 40 years. Pastor is only used as a verb once in the New Testament, in Eph. 4:11. Elders are mentioned repeatedly, and in Acts 20:28 and 1 Pet. 5:1-4, we are told that they pastor (shepherd) the church. So you shouldn’t have a pastor and elders. The elders are the pastors, and they come in groups (e.g. Eph. 20:17; 14:23).

That’s picky, but it’s just one brick in a wall that has hidden the church of King Jesus from us. There’s many more bricks in that wall, but the errors are not difficult to find. They are obvious.

Saying What the Apostles Say

I have a really controversial teaching that I teach somewhat often. Almost everyone objects to it. The teaching goes like this:

“If the apostles said it, and it’s now in our Bible, then I can say it, and you should say it.”

Controversial! Terrible, isn’t it? Most–really, most–Christians complain and look for refutations when I teach this.

The reason is that the teaching is a little longer than that. I  give examples. For example:

“We are justified by works and not by faith alone.”

If you never say that and can’t  conceive a situation in which you would say that, then there’s a problem with what you believe. Simple as that. That is true of any such verse.

It’s not sufficient to say, “Well, I would quote that verse, but I would then explain that it doesn’t mean what it says.”

Sorry, I reject the teaching that you understand what James meant better than James understood what James meant. If you have to change his words to “We are not justified by works, and we are not justified by faith that is alone, but we are justified by faith alone.”

There’s plenty of others, not all related to faith and works, but I know that James 2:24 is a verse that no Protestant says, ever. Well, some of the more radical Christians influenced by the Amish-Mennonites and early church movement would (most divisive people on earth, worse than Protestants), and some more radical Pentecostal groups would, too.

We need to face the reckoning that would happen to us if we became people that were unafraid to say anything Scripture says.

In 1984 I found my Christian friends so divided among one another that I made the decision to say whatever the apostles said, even if I did not know why they said it or did not agree with it. It took me years, and the help of the writings of the early church to figure out how in the world I was supposed to understand and say “by grace through faith apart from works” (Eph. 2:8) and “by works and not by faith only” (Jam. 2:24). It gave Martin Luther so much trouble that he offered his doctor of theology cap to anyone who could reconcile Rom. 3:28 and Jam. 2:24.

The Bible as Sole Rule of Faith and Practice

I think anyone who claims that the Bible is their sole rule of faith and practice would somewhere, over the centuries of their denomination, figure out that in the Bible, the church is led by a group of elders who pastor God’s flock.

I think anyone who claims that the Bible is their sole rule of faith and practice would somewhere figure out that there are a lot of verses they never quote and never would quote unless they were denying the truth of those verses.

I think anyone who claims that the Bible is their sole rule of faith and practice and who says “faith alone” almost every day and at almost every songs-and-speech meeting would at some point notice that there’s only one occurrence of the phrase in the Bible, and it says, “not by faith alone.”

I remember when I got saved. I knew nothing of Protestant Christianity. I was 21, and I was pretty ignorant of the Bible except the Gospels. Reading them had a lot to do with my becoming a Christian.

I was told that Protestants just do what the Bible says, unlike Roman Catholics, who lean on tradition.

As a naive young man, I was sure that meant I was going to read about Sunday morning services with three songs, an offering, and a sermon. I was sure that I was going to read that Wednesday nights were for Bible studies or business meetings or other things that didn’t fit into Sunday morning. I was sure that I was going to read about Sunday school and training union.

The idea that the Protestants go by the Bible alone is bunch of BS. It’s amazing they have the audacity to claim it.

And if you’re offended by that, then your claim to go by the Bible alone is also BS. The Bible has nothing to say about words that inherently evil in and of themselves unless they are the names of false gods. American tradition says that stringing the wrong four letters in a row is automatically a sin, not the Scriptures.

Corrupt/filthy communication should not come out of our mouths. However, if we are actually depending on the Bible as our sole rule of faith and practice, then filthy means talking about murder and adultery positively, things which should not even be mentioned among the saints. Filthy does not mean stringing four letters together into a “cuss” word. The Bible talks about cursing, not cussing. It would do us good to learn what cursing is and avoid it because it happens all the time among Christians. “I can’t believe he did that. I hope he wrecks his car on the way home. Teach him a lesson.”

Cussing

I don’t cuss as a matter of course. It’s disrespectful to the people you’re with. To me, if I casually cuss with someone, I am telling them, “I don’t consider you very important. I don’t think you’re intelligent and well-mannered. I don’t think you know how to speak the English language very well, so rather than use actual adjectives, I’m going to throw in low class, hoodlum words. Obviously, I think you don’t care much about life and are purposeless, and, as such, you’re mostly using up oxygen and resources on this earth.”

That’s what I think cussing says. So why did I “cuss” above?

To take a swipe at tradition, and because it was hard to find a word that would convey that the claim of Protestants to use the Bible as their sole or only rule for faith and practice is ludicrous. I think BS conveyed the idea better than ludicrous.

This entry was posted in Bible, Church, Evangelicals, Protestants and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Do We Need Apologetics?

  1. paulfpavao says:

    As for your last comment, it is well-worded and thought out like the first. Good comment. Thank you.

    • Wanda Tillman says:

      Thank you. I enjoy this kind of exchange simply because it makes me think and doesn’t let me simply react. I think that being a Christian is a choice we make, a conscious choice, which in my book at least, means that thought is necessary.

      Again I thank you and look forward to reading on this website, both the archives and new posts.

      May you be Blessed in all you do.

  2. paulfpavao says:

    I didn’t mean to make you do so much work. A little bit of my answer to you was directed at you, the rest was general.

    You did a good job on the question of to whom the words of James 2:24 might be directed today. (Not because I agree or don’t agree, but because you obviously gave thought to the question.) I would answer similarly to what you wrote in your first response, but not similarly to what you wrote the last sentence of the first response.

    I would direct James 2:24 at all the Baptist-style believers who tell people they can go to heaven by faith alone. You cannot enter the kingdom of heaven without doing the will of the Father in heaven (Matt. 7:21), even if you call Jesus Lord. In that sense, we are not justified by faith alone, but by works. When we appear at the judgment, Jesus and the apostles say over and over again, we will be judged by works and works alone. (Look around for anything else in the NT that we are to be judged by.)

    So, as offensive as it might be, I tell everyone who thinks that they will go to heaven only by faith that they had better consider the fact that at the judgment, they will be justified by works, not faith only.

    That’s cause it’s true.

    It is also true that I tell non-Christians that if they want to become a Christian, all the good works in the world won’t make them a Christian. If they want to be born again, there is only one path to that miraculous event that comes from God alone, and that is to give yourself to the Lord Jesus the King, the Son of God.

  3. Wanda Tillman says:

    Enjoy your message and perspective. We are justified by faith and works are our response to the gift of salvation. As to reconciling Paul’s and James’ words and seeming opposite points of view, there is no need to do so. They were two different people and had a different understanding each from the other, at the time they wrote what they wrote. Each wrote for a different audience, to give to that audience what they needed to hear in order to fulfill their role as part of the church/family of God. They words may be contradictory, but only on the surface, when you look at the totality of their writings, I believe that their hearts were very much aligned with that of God. Each was a part of the picture, just as each dot of paint is a part of a picture in an impressionist painting. When viewed from up close it is a dot of paint, when viewed from a distance they form a picture not easily seen when one is in close proximity.

    • paulfpavao says:

      I agree that their audience is one part of the reason that Paul and James’ words sound contradictory. That’s only one part.

      That does not solve the problem I am addressing. Do you have an audience to which you would say, “You are justified by works and not faith only”?

      I submit that neither you, nor anyone else does, and it is not because the audience that needs to hear that does not exist. It is because we don’t believe what James and Paul believed, so we have to dance around James 2:24 and never say it to anyone in our whole lives.

      I’m not there. I’ve addressed it. I understand why James said works and not faith only and Paul said faith apart from works. I had to get help from the early Christians, but I looked for six years, and during those six years, without knowing why I was allowed to say both, I told people both that we are justified by faith alone and that we are justified by works. I did that because I knew that Paul, James, and Polycarp all did that. If I couldn’t, it was because I didn’t believe the same things they did.

      Now I do, and now I know why and to whom I can (and do) say, “You are justified by works and not faith only.”

      So while I agree with your general point, it doesn’t address the problem I brought up. Protestants have dozens of “taboo” verses. They explain them away, but they cannot quote them. Your answer is true, but it doesn’t resolve the problem unless you can tell us who the audience is that should be told “You are justified by works and not faith only.”

      • Wanda Tillman says:

        To be honest, I have no idea who might make up that audience. I would be guessing and have to play some fancy word games to say that believers who rest on their past works, who do not tend to their prayer life, who have little compassion for others need to do works to continue in their salvation.

        People who have rejected the Word, who have turned their back on the gift of salvation might need to do works to be restored. Again I need to meditate on this. I would appreciate your insight into who might constitute this audience of people to whom it can be said “You are justified by works” other than those who lived prior to Jesus life on earth and those who have never heard the Gospel.

    • paulfpavao says:

      I need to also add that you give one good solution. We need to understand the totality of their writings. There is an ongoing problem, though, that people think they understand Paul’s writings. They don’t. Their understanding of Paul makes them reject James. (Witness Lee and Martin Luther were honest about rejecting James, one saying James didn’t understand the new co.venant and the other saying the letter is an epistle of straw.)

      Worse, their understanding of Paul makes them reject things Paul said. Men who ought to know better, like Spiro Zodhiates, twist his words, trying to make him say things he never said. Take, for example, 1 Cor. 9:27. Paul says that he disciplines his body so that he will not be disqualified. Eternal security believers have to try to convolute that word into meaning Paul could be disqualified but still going to heaven. The same word is in 2 Cor. 13:5, and eternal security folk don’t mind that meaning “not a Christian” because that doesn’t involve losing salvation.

      It’s all a symptom of “I’ve got my beliefs, and I’ll twist Scripture into anything I need to, no matter how stupid I look doing it, in order to defend those beliefs.”

      • Wanda Tillman says:

        Paul frequently makes me stop and think very hard, sometimes I even get angry with his words because they do not agree with my world view. Then I go back and re-read those words and begin a topical or word study within the body of Paul’s letters so that I can gain a clearer understanding of what it is that Paul is saying. Unfortunately my time machine does not work to place me in Paul’s era with an understanding of the languages he spoke. It would make understanding his writings much easier.

        If I am reading with understanding, in both 1 Corinthians 9:27 and 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul is clearly saying that salvation can be lost, that the fleshly body is subject to temptations or influences that allow unforgiven sin to enter in to it and that if one does not continually keep a watch those influences and temptations, can cost a person their salvation.

        One example of this can be found in Matthew Ch 16 where, shortly before the Transfiguration, Peter declared Jesus to be the Messiah and in almost the next breath, he refuted Jesus statement about the necessity of his death saying that he will not allow Jesus to be killed and is then himself rebuked by Jesus with the words “Get behind me Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). At that moment Jesus recognized the presence of Satan in Peter, so it is not only in Paul’s writings we may find indications that salvation may be lost. If Peter had been struck dead at that moment would he have been judged amongst the saved? Later in John’s gospel, Jesus redeems Peter from the sin of having forsaken Jesus in his denial of even knowing him. If Peter, who became the Rock upon which the Church was built could have such moments of doubt and error, who are we to say that our faithfulness is any greater and that our salvation is secure based only on a single declaration of our faith and proof against any and all temptations?

        I know what I believe, I acknowledge that God wants all to be saved, but I also know that as individuals we have to choose to believe on Jesus and that choice may need to be made several times a day. In this I am like the father of the demon possessed boy who said “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) I also work at not being so stiff-necked that I cannot learn and gain a better and fuller understanding of what Scripture says. In that I follow Paul’s recommendation made in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 to “…test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” I see no contradiction between these verses and what James said to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion “…because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”

        Thank you for making me think about what I believe and my assurance that I am saved.

  4. r0y pavao says:

    Love this message!😃

Comments are closed.