This is a continuation of a series on Christian Apologetics. For more posts like this,click here, here, and here.
“And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:13-16, HCSB)
Peter is urging the early church to live by the grace of God in every situation, by pursuing goodness and truth, and to allow the chips fall where they may. He does not promise an easy ride or even peace with neighbors, but he does remind them that even if they face suffering or threats for living by the Christian way, they “are blessed.” For Peter, to “honor the Messiah as Lord” means to have the right heart position, one of humility, gentleness, respect, and preparedness. There is also an inherent premise to honoring the Messiah as Lord, which is to recognize that Christ is truth, and we are not. In other words, for the Christian to even begin to give a right defense of the faith (or, “a reason for the hope”), we must first acknowledge and submit to the authority of Jesus Christ, the Truth.
But our culture just doesn’t like to concede to the idea of objective truth, does it?
Because we live in such relative times where the very idea of “truth” is challenged on a daily basis, I feel like it might be fitting here on the blog to delve into the topic of defense of the Christian faith. I’m currently taking an apologetics class, and therefore reading a whole boat load of texts on the subject, so I thought I would bring y’all along on the journey. First up, some thoughts from Douglas Groothuis’ work on Christian Apologetics and a few reflections on the nature of it all.
When you hear the word T H E O L O G Y …what comes to mind?
Expensive, ivy-covered universities? Grandfatherly men in tweed? Or is it more along the lines of a dusty handbook of denominational guidelines? Maybe it’s something that your pastor should be concerned about, but all of us (the normal ones with feet on the ground and grocery list in hand) have more pressing things to think about.
If you’ve been a Christian for more than five minutes, I would wager that (at least once) you’ve felt a certain back-of-the-brain creeping fear come over you. Quietly, unassumingly, a question emerges to the center stage of your heart: Am I doing what God wants me to do?
Andrew Wilson on the historical argument of the Church Father’s experiences with the spiritual gifts-
“Justin Martyr claimed, ‘The prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time.’ Irenaeus said, ‘Those who are in truth his disciples’ performed miracles according to the gift given them, including driving out demons, seeing visions, uttering prophetic expressions, healing the sick, raising the dead, speaking in other languages, and declaring the mysteries of God. (Eusebius uses this excerpt to demonstrate that ‘various gifts remained among those who were worthy even until that time.’) Tertullian trash-talks Marcion, like Elijah on Mount Carmel, by daring his god to predict things to come, make manifest the secrets of the heart, interpret tongues or prophesy, before claiming that ‘all these signs are forthcoming from my side without any difficulty.’ Origen regarded the scope of the gifts as having diminished but certainly not disappeared: ‘there are still preserved among Christians traces of that Holy Spirit which appeared in the form of a dove. They expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events, according to the will of the Logos.’ Basil the Great said, ‘The Spirit enlightens all, inspires prophets, gives wisdom to lawmakers, consecrates priests, empowers kings, perfects the just, exalts the prudent, is active in gifts of healing, gives life to the dead, frees those in bondage, turns foreigners into adopted sons.’ Cyril of Jerusalem explained, ‘He employs the tongue of one man for wisdom; the soul of another he enlightens by prophecy; to another he gives power to drive away devils.’ And Augustine, as we know, lists an extraordinary range of healings from blindness, rectal fistula, breast cancer, gout, paralysis, hernia, demonization and even death.
From a purely historical perspective, then, the idea that the miraculous gifts suddenly stopped when the last apostle died is simply untenable.”
For the full transcript of the cessationist vs. continuationist viewpoint (re: the gifts) between Wilson and Tom Schreiner, click here.
This was after he rode into Jerusalem, the city named for shalom~ so much more than peace, but completeness, wholeness, everything-made-right-ness~ on the back of a young donkey. This was after the women and men and children stood waiting for their Savior, eyes turned upward and palm leaves laid down in expectation. This was after a meal with his closest friends, the one where Mary slowly poured precious oil on his feet, the strong fragrance permeating every corner of the house. The friends could still catch a faint whiff of the scent, days later.
“Truth carries with it confrontation. Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong.”
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