Apologetics is Never, Ever, Defending the Faith!
Devotional Thought for our Days:
18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him. 19 God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold the world guilty of its sins. And he gave us this message of peace. 20 So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is as if God is calling to you through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God. 21 Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could become right with God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 NCV
15 But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, 16 but answer in a gentle way and with respect. 1 Peter 3:15b-16
870 Matters can rarely be resolved by aggressive polemics which humiliate people. And things are certainly never cleared up when among those arguing the case there is a fanatic.
In my high school freshman or sophomore yearbook, there is a note from an acquaintance with I used to argue with a lot. We were both interested in history and debate. She was a disciple of Engels and Marx, me, not so much. Her note was full of admiration, a salute to our ability to debate and still respect each other. (despite frustrating the hell out of each other – because we couldn’t understand the position of the other! )
As I read the words from St. Josemaria this morning, my heart brought back the memory of those words. And of many presentations, I have seen about “apologetics”. Usually, these include th idea that we are on a “crusade”, that we have to defeat our enemy, crushing their logic, unveiling their inconsistencies, doing battle and claiming the victory in Jesus name.
There was no call for respecting them as those Jesus died for, whom God created. No sense of love, or peace that would envelop the conversation, and rarely, any hope that was explained and explored. I encountered this as well when teaching world religions once, where several of my seminary level students wanted to know how to crush people who depended on false Gods. They chose the path of the fanatic and the aggressive polemics that leaves people broken and crushed.
Compare that to the verses above, the idea of being ready to explain the reason (this is where we get the word apologetic from btw) for the hope we have! Peter goes on to say, but do so with gentleness and respect. Look at how many times Paul mentions peace that God makes with us. Look at the idea that God is calling to those whom He would reconcile to Himself, to those He would give His peace to, through us. Reading that, does it seem that the tactic best suited to doing so is walking with them, exploring this hope we have, this incredible idea that God wants to live with us in peace. Helping them see that Jesus would walk with them, in all the ways described in the beautiful words of Psalm 23.
Some might say this doesn’t allow us to properly deal with their sin, but I don’t agree. Sin is brokenness, and whether we will admit that everything we do is sin ( and Christians play this game too!) we do recognize the brokenness it causes in our lives. Sin is not just our deliberate rebellion in this action or that, but those sins are the symptoms of the brokenness of sin, something every religion deals with, mostly through threats and punishment, of being cut off and sent away.
Christianity meets that brokenness offering hope, offering peace with God, because of the cross and the empty grave. A completely novel way not just to scare people away from future sin, but to bring comfort to the shame, the guilt, and despair that we all live with because of our pasts.
This is the apologia, the hope, the peace, knowing the love of God who comes to us.It’s not something we have to defend or hit people over the head with. It is something offered with great love, with mercy consistent to God.
It is what we depend upon, what we hope for… it is Jesus….with us.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3559-3560). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on September 11, 2017, in Devotions, Poiema, The Forge, Theology in Practice and tagged APologetics, apostolate, Defending the Faith, Evangelism, grace, hope, love, mercy, peace, shepherding, The Mission. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.