Rightly Using “Be Ready Always” — Summary

This is a summary of five posts on one of the most commonly misunderstood / misused verses in Scripture, I Peter 3:15, which tells us to “be ready always to give an answer….”

Misusing I Peter 3:15 — “Be Ready Always” — Part One — This verse is NOT about 1) being skilled in presenting the Gospel 2) modern apologetics ministries defending the truth and reasonableness of the Gospel 3) defending / teaching Biblical Christianity.  This verse is about how believers respond to persecution.

Misusing I Peter 3:15 — “Be Ready Always” — Part Two — “As Peter’s readers face a fiery trial, the Holy Spirit guides him to give a message that says, ‘Courage, dear hearts! The Lord is on our side! Fear Him, and Him alone.’”

Misusing I Peter 3:15 — “Be Ready Always” — Part Three — The use of the Greek word apologia in this verse is most certainly not referring to the modern apologetics ministry of preparing a logical defense of our faith.  “Be ready always” does not mean to prepare a defense — that is directly contrary to both the teachings of Jesus and the pattern that we see in Scripture.  It refers rather to spiritual preparation.

Rightly Using I Peter 3:15 — “Be Ready Always” — Part Four — Discussing the meaning of “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,” which is actually the main focus of the verse — “be ready always” is a supplementary thought, one of the ways we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts.

Rightly Using I Peter 3:15 — “Be Ready Always” — Part Five — The importance of a holy, hope-filled life in times of severe persecution.  “Those with no hope will want to know the reason for yours.”  But if you don’t “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,” that will never happen….

 

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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4 Responses to Rightly Using “Be Ready Always” — Summary

  1. Matt Parker says:

    GREAT posts, all. Really enjoyed them. Glad to see someone else beating this drum! Thank, Jon.

  2. Keith Coates says:

    I myself have been intrigued if not plagued by the onslaught of Modern Apologetics and their unbiblical reasoning, standings, and miss-interpretations of God’s Holy Word for some years now. Yes and of course their main abused text is 1 Peter 3:15 but this is just the beginning, Here and now December 2nd, 2016 these Modern Apologist’s have become more misguided, divisively influential, and borderline heretical. More so even now than three years after your Scriptural sound, blessedly needed explanation of the right Context of 1 Peter 3:15 and the whole of this epistle. Which indeed 1 Peter 3:15 is their Mantra of sorts not just for how they do apologetics but why.
    I want to share with you my conversations online with Pastor Brian Chilton on his BellatorChristi website. It is quite long but I would highly appreciate if you would read it and offer your comments.

    I started this conversation when I responded to an article titled:
    4 thoughts on “Why Does the Church Resist Apologetics?” https://bellatorchristi.com/2014/04/22/why-does-the-church-resist-apologetics/

    Keith says:
    October 23, 2016 at 4:57 am

    At the risk of being polemic Martin Melancholy I would suggest that the role of Apologetics AS IT IS TODAY would become unnecessary if the Word of God was studied, applied, and taught. Holy Spirit imbued lives lived would promote Hope shown and known, provide God inspired questions, and reasons in response given as enabled! Hence 1 Peter 3:15 in view of the whole of 1 Peter.

    REPLY
    Bellator Christi says:
    October 23, 2016 at 9:24 am
    While I certainly agree that the Church must do a better job studying, applying, and teaching the Word of God, such does not come at the expense of apologetics. Apologetics and Biblical exposition are two sides of the same coin. I liken them to the offense and defense squads of a football team–biblical exposition being the offense and apologetics being the defense–both are vital if the team is to win the game. Biblical exposition pleads the authority of the text by the text. Apologetics pleads the authority of the text by the evidential nature of the text. Thus, I do not think this is an either/or scenario, but rather a both/and. The nature of 1 Peter 3:15 will be handled in a future article as you bring up an important discussion.
    Blessings,
    Brian Chilton

    Then I commented on this aritcle:
    “People Do Not Come to Faith by Arguments!” 4 Objections to Apologetics
    https://bellatorchristi.com/2016/08/30/people-do-not-come-to-faith-from-arguments-4-objections-to-apologetics/

    My comment begins in view of your statement:

    “Another problem I have with this statement stems from the spirit of laziness that exists in some Christians today. I heard a person tell a pastor, “You don’t have to study to preach. Just follow the Holy Spirit.” While I wholeheartedly agree that a person should follow the Holy Spirit, I also accept that the Scripture tells us the “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). How does a person test a spirit? One tests a spirit against the Word of God. Testing spirits require study. I truly believe that it is the increased biblical illiteracy and lack of study that has led the modern church into many great heresies.”

    Here in this statement I do so agree that we are in scripture commanded to “test the spirits”. That is to prove or to disprove them to the end of approving God’s will and His Way by following the Holy Spirit. This is indeed a Holy endeavor for all saints in which transformation (metamorphosis) is in view: Romans 12:1-2 and Hebrews 5:14. Albeit via His Word studying it as we should.

    Know here to remember testing the spirits as we are commanded in 1 John 4:1 is not just about testing the words of men, but of their sources supernaturally so. So in effect we are to be ever aware if what we are hearing and attaining too is of the Holy Spirit or otherwise.

    Now testing the spirits does include even testing (more to approve it aright than to disprove) the validity of movements and or ministries. Not just Contemporary Apologetics but all so called Christian ministries and or movements. If I or any of us could test motives that would be easy enough would it not? Yes to desire that you could have a part in convincing someone to become a Christian is a valid motive. In which yes this does seem to be the case with you and in Apologetics Today.

    But where in the Word of God does it say or imply or suggest that to become a born again Christian one must first be scientifically or otherwise humanely convinced that God exists or that Jesus was who He said He was. Let alone proving that it is a mandate to argue this point with once born let alone twice born (anything other than hope) verbatim in 1 Peter 3:15?

    Now please do not misunderstand me Knowing God, and Knowing Jesus go hand in hand by the Power of God. Not by Man’s reason no matter how anthropologically scientific or philosophically sound or sounding it may be nor by our motives no matter how humanely pure they may seem. To have a whole lot of knowledge about God is worthless absent knowing Him.

    My convictions and my fears are that through Apologetics we are trying to do good works and God’s work on our own rather than letting Him do it through His Word and through us. Colossians 1:10, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, Peter 2:12, Hebrews 13:21, 2 Timothy 2:1, 2 Timothy 3:17, Philippians 1:6, And Ephesians 2:10,etc.

    Keith, you bring up some great points. However, everything you said could apply to any human activity including evangelism, discipleship, and even biblical exposition. One of the greatest arguments for doing apologetics is from the fact that Jesus and the early apostles were in fact apologists! Did the Ancients ask the same scientific questions that we do today? Obviously, no. However, they asked important questions and those questions were answered. I will certainly agree that everything must have the blessings of the Holy Spirit. Apologetics, I feel, holds such blessings as people are coming to faith through the endeavor. So, should we ignore the questions of those whom are seeking? Should we accept intellectual laziness due to our lack of desire to research the questions of the lost? Of course not! It may be that not everyone asks such questions. But even if one person did, we would, according to 1 Peter 3:15, be obligated to provide a defense for the faith. Does one have to prove scientifically that God exists? No, I’m not even certain that such is possible as God is beyond the reach of the scientist. However, that doesn’t mean that there are not good evidences for God’s existence. And if so, why not share them? God may use such evidence to bring a person to faith. Thus, anti-intellectualism should be avoided at all costs. But I would agree with you that God must be in it if any enterprise is to be successful in bringing someone to faith.
    Blessings,
    Brian Chilton

    Then his response as an article that apparently I baffled him so much so that he wrote this. Oh yes as well he did a podcast on my contentions as well titled responding to a critic on 1 Peter 3:15 http://tunein.com/radio/The-Bellator-Christi-Podcast-with-Brian-Chilton-p869689/

    Is 1 Peter 3:15 Accurately Used as an Apologetic Text?

    Often at BellatorChristi.com, I receive comments to which I try to respond as quickly as possible. This past weekend was no exception. For most comments, the responses I attempt to leave suffice for the question or comment presented. However, this weekend a commenter left a response that baffled me to my core. He challenged apologists in using 1 Peter 3:15 as a call to do apologetics. At face value, it has always appeared to me that 1 Peter 3:15 was an apologetic text. For heaven’s sake, if Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, and other heavy hitters in the apologetics world used this text in support for the use of Christian apologetics, one would assume that the text holds some merit. Nevertheless, I have learned never to assume anything. Thus, I pose this question on today’s blog; are apologists using 1 Peter 3:15 contextually accurate as a call to do Christian apologetics?

    While I was somewhat anxious scrutinizing the use of the text—does anyone really want to say that the entire apologetics world is wrong—my anxieties were quickly dispelled when reading the text of 1 Peter 3:15 in its appropriate context. I found quite speedily that the text has been used appropriately much to the chagrin of my opposing critic. Why? When one determines the meaning of a text in relation to the context of the passage, one needs to look at the text in relation to the message of the book it is in; the surrounding chapters, and the context of the statement itself. Before beginning the process, let’s first see what the text in question states. Peter writes, “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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16).[1]

    Context of the book argues for an apologetic understanding of 1 Peter 3:15.

    What is the message of 1 Peter as it pertains to 1 Peter 3:15? The apostle Simon Peter writes this letter to the provinces in Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1-2) during the 60s.[2] For the Christians in the area, the 60s were a time of great hostility. Not only did Jewish groups ostracize the early believers, the Roman imperial government was in the process of turning up the heat on them as they were thought to be “‘atheists’ (for rejecting the gods), ‘cannibals’ (for eating Jesus’ ‘body’ and drinking his ‘blood’) and incestuous (for statements like ‘I love you, brother’ or ‘I love you, sister’).”[3] Obviously, any casual student of the Bible, much more a serious one, will know that these accusations were ungrounded and rooted in a false understanding of the Christian faith. Thus, the ancient Christian would need to hold a good apologetic in order to defend his or her faith against the false indictments posed against them in popular society, both eccelesiastically (Jewish opposition in the synagogue) and governmentally (Roman opposition in the courts). Therefore, 1 Peter 3:15 holds an apologetic thrust when held against the context of the book. But what about 1 Peter chapter 3? Is it apologetic-oriented?

    Context of the surrounding chapters argue for an apologetic understanding of 1 Peter 3:15.

    The first section of 1 Peter 3 continues the thought begun in 1 Peter 2:11. Peter instructs the churches to live godly lives in the pagan society in which they live. Peter notes that they are to “as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Living in the pagan culture as they were, the Christians were going to have more temptations than they would had they lived in Jerusalem or Capernaum. Peter argues that their very lifestyles were to be an apologetic argument for the faith. Peter notes that the believers were to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12). 1 Peter 3:8 shifts the focus, as will be examined in the next section. In 1 Peter 4, Peter again picks up the topic of living for God and the reality that the Christian would most likely suffer for their faith (1 Peter 4:12-19).
    Context of the pericope argues for an apologetic understanding of 1 Peter 3:15.

    1 Peter 3:8 shifts the focus from living well in the face of pagan opposition (1 Peter 2:11-3:7) to suffering well in the midst of persecution; a topic picked up again in chapter 4. It is in this pericope that the text in question is found. Peter instructs the believers that in Asia Minor that they can anticipate threats. However, the believers were not to be frightened (1 Peter 3:14). Why were they not to fear? They should not fear because they had truth on their side. Peter redirects the believer’s focus to the reason that they were believers in the first place—the truth of Christ. It is here that 1 Peter 3:15-16 is given. The believers could face opposition and give a well-reasoned and rational defense for their faith because of the truthfulness of the faith. However, the believers were to provide the reason (Gk “apologia,” also translated “defense” [ESV]) for their faith but with the previously instructed good behavior and gentleness. Barker and Kohlenberger note that “Christian hope is so real and distinctive that non-Christians are puzzled about it and ask for a ‘reason’ (Gk 3364). The type of questioning could be either official interrogations by the governmental authorities (cf. Ac 25:16; 26:2; 2 Ti 4:16) or informal questioning.”[4] The believers were to have orthodoxy (“right belief”) an orthopraxy (“right conduct”) as part of their apologetic argumentation.

    Conclusion
    From the three points observed (the context of the book, the surrounding chapters, and the text itself), one can safely say that apologists are correct in using 1 Peter 3:15 as a proof-text for the use of apologetics. Modern Christians find themselves in a similar situation as the recipients of Peter’s first letter in Asia Minor. For our brothers and sisters in places of great persecution, 1 Peter speaks to them to continue to stand strong despite the woes they face. The rewards will be greater in heaven for those who have suffered martyrdom than for those of us who do not have to live with the threat of physical harm. However, for Western Christians, 1 Peter has a lot to say, as well. Western Christians find that pressures against them for holding their Christian faith are increasing at an alarming rate. A society which once adhered to the principles of the Judeo-Christian worldview is quickly crumbling into an abysmal moral chaos. Like the believers of old, modern Christians must stand firm, honoring Christ as Lord, being quickly ready to provide a defense (an apologetic) for the hope that one holds. 1 Peter 3:15 strongly advocates the use of Christian apologetics. Modern Christians would do well to listen to Simon Peter’s appeal.

    Keith says:
    November 4, 2016 at 4:19 am
    Pastor Chilton

    I wanted to clarify that in my original response I did not question the biblical idea of apologetics. But I question the Contemporary use of it within most Apologetic Ministries.
    My first contention is to question the mantra of most Contemporary Apologetic ministries in that 1 Peter 3:15 mandates all Christians be doing apologetics as they do and say. As in ever seeking out in masse to be ever preparing intellectual rationale defenses about generally proving God. For which I ask does this idea even fit in 1 Peter let alone in 1 Peter 3:15.
    For indeed it does seem that in Apologetics Today that our hope or more precise the hope spoken of in 1 Peter 3:15 and throughout the whole of this epistle is premised to be solely about scientifically, intellectually, and philosophically proving God.
    And that yes for which the proof-texting of 1 Peter 3:15 is utilized as the basis for formulating, debating, teaching others the same and to do the same.

    But rather I would contend Peter’s point (1 Peter, 1 Peter 3:15) is more about the viewing of our personal witness by being holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). This Christ likeness seeing us as we i.e. “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…” observed in the midst of real time suffering is the defense that bids the question that holds the answer of our hope. Intellectual reasons or reasoning is not in view here.

    In which I might even be more precise by asking does the original meaning of the text of 1 Peter 3:15 support the ways and means of Contemporary Apologetics. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)

    Here is my defense: 1 Peter 3:15 seems more a decree to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, than to always be ready to give an answer. In fact we ought to realize that the Imperative is attached directly to the word sanctify. As well the words ‘ready’, ‘always’, and ‘answer’ are not verbs.
    So we must ask ourselves if this command being inferred to the readying (as almost every Modern Apologist does) is correct, possible, or actually not true at all.

    What if in obeying the only direct command in this first of only two verbs found in this verse is of itself the readying or being readied.

    Or if indeed the command is attached to the readying (and be ready always to give an answer…”) would it not then be in accordance with the sanctifying, not regardless or apart from it? And then would it not be fully in context with the question about hope: that one specific question ‘asked’ (only other verb in this verse) about?

    And I simply ask is it not presumption (eisegesis) rather than (exegeses) that the text at hand includes any defense other than our lively hope seen and known. I am not here saying that we should not defend our rational Faith or that historical and scientific truths are not going to prove God and His Word for they always will. And I am by no means here saying we should not be able to answer the questions that the unbelievers ask us.

    I believe that this verse speaks about our hope in Christ as our personal Lord and Savior in relationship to Him and His promises. Not just that we have rationale truth on our side we have Christ and His Holy Spirit in us.
    In Christ,
    Keith

    REPLY Bellator Christi says:
    November 4, 2016 at 11:33 am
    Keith,

    I appreciate your response. On the one hand, I agree that one’s personal witness is being addressed. On the other hand, one’s personal witness is part of the person’s apologetic witness to the world. Sanctifying Christ means that one offers a defense to others.
    The word “answer” in the KJV is from the Greek term “apologia” which is better translated “defense.” Now you note the verb and the context of the verse. However, one cannot properly offer correct exegesis without placing the verse in context. As I note in the article (thus, will not rehash the argument), the context of the letter of Peter is apologetically focused.
    So in conclusion, yes, I think the verse does note the importance of one sanctifying Christ. But that sanctification is demonstrated in the way one lives and by the apologetic/evangelical influence that the person has with others. The context of the verse as I argued in my article demands quite differently than what you propose. I would argue that to exclude apologetics from this verse is to exclude a major portion of the verses meaning.

    In addition, Jesus was an apologist. When John the Baptist had doubts and send disciples to Jesus asking if He was the Messiah, Jesus performed miracles proving His claims. After His resurrection, Jesus performed many infallible proofs to prove that He had in fact risen from the dead.

    The apostle Paul used a variety of apologetic methods to proclaim the gospel not only to those in Jerusalem, but in Athens as well. Tertullian once argued, as you seem to imply, that Athens (intellectualism) has nothing to do with Jerusalem (faith). I think Justin Martyr rightly defended, as did Jesus and Paul, that Athens finds a home in Jerusalem.

    Thus, we should carry on Sanctifying Christ in our hearts and proclaim and defend the message of the gospel.
    Blessings,
    Brian

    REPLY Keith says:
    November 6, 2016 at 4:27 am
    Pastor Chilton

    I wanted assure you that I am not saying nor do I mean to imply that anyone should abandon the apologetic intent of 1 Peter 3:15. I am saying that we need to be sure that we are interpreting it aright, an applying it aright.
    Nor do I suppose that intellectualism (for which I think that you mean our ability to know natural truth) has nothing to do with faith. Rather I am saying that it has nowhere near as much to do with faith as Modern Apologists vehemently project. Also I do not understand what your statement about Athens and Jerusalem have to do with 1 Peter 3:15 and the proper interpretation and thus application of it. Also what exactly do you mean that Athens finds it’s home in Jerusalem?
    And if I may interject Paul himself compared ‘all things’ but rubbish compared to Christ (Philippians 3:4-7). In which he did not say that all things were as trash and need be thrown away, but in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus his (as) Lord (part and parcel of sanctifying Christ) they amount to nothing, as rubbish, as dung.

    “8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11 KJV)

    In Christ,
    keith

    REPLY Bellator Christi says:
    November 6, 2016 at 9:41 am

    In that regard, I would agree with you. It seemed in your previous post that you were implying that natural revelation (metaphorically related to Athens) had nothing to do with special revelation (metaphorically compared with Jerusalem). I must ask, how do you define faith? You said, that apologetics “has nowhere as much to do with faith as Modern Apologists vehemently project.” How, then, do you define faith? Is faith a blind acceptance of what cannot be known? Or, is it a trust built on something that can be Known?

    Blessings,
    Brian

    REPLY Keith says:
    November 9, 2016 at 5:02 am
    Brian,

    You ask a very important question!

    I believe faith is a trust authored and built on what has been revealed, thereby known, and thus accepted. Hence I would define faith as believing, obeying, and hoping in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom was revealed to me, via his Word and His Power. Which was initially instituted on my sinful position being revealed to me, and thus my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Not a blind faith but eyes opened wide by God faith.
    Furthermore I would say that the spiritual explanation of faith found in scripture would be a foundational idea of faith for which I hold and thusly am assured of what He promises. In which indeed it would further help explain, even as we have been discussing, the proper interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15.
    “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrew 11:1 KJV)
    So as Athens goes yes we can know and even be persuaded to know that God does exist. For which natural revelation will always point toward this end.

    But as to being reconciled to God in Jerusalem as in being restored to a right relationship with Him natural revelation will not provide.

    Therefore if one is not supernaturally (via God’s Word) brought to Jerusalem there convicted of their sin and their need of the Savior all the truths and intellectual acknowledgements of and about God through Athens will be for naught i.e. so again as Paul said:

    Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11 KJV)

    Thus my fear and convictions of Modern Apologists is that they spend so much time in Athens, while leading others to do the same, that they fail to project and provide the only path to Jerusalem. Which dare I say in within Apologetics Today the Truth of SIN and the reality of it is actually (naturally) sidestepped or even taken out of the picture.

    In Christ,
    keith

    REPLY Bellator Christi says:
    November 9, 2016 at 11:17 am
    Keith,

    As I have before, I agree with the gist of what you are saying but find myself in disagreement with some of the details. Faith, biblically speaking, is a trust and dependency upon someone or something. Faith is trusting someone who has proven themselves trustworthy. Thus, as you note, natural revelation offers us the opportunity to know that God exists. In addition, it also affords us the opportunity to know that Jesus existed, that He was crucified, and that He rose from the dead as all of the aforementioned are evidentiary in nature.

    However, special revelation reveals that Jesus is in fact the Son of God. Special revelation reveals the inspiration of the Bible as God’s holy Word.

    So, in many respects, I agree with you. However, since you agree that natural (aka., special) revelation is important, I find it amazing that you hold so much disdain for modern apologetics. It is not my experience that apologists bypass or neglect sin. In fact, many apologists stress the nature of sin more than many in today’s pulpits. Concerning Hebrews 11:1, the author is not suggesting that faith believes things that cannot be demonstrated as demonstrably true. Rather, the faith suggested in Hebrews 11:1 describes the trustworthy nature of God’s future working.
    Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

    REPLY Keith says:
    November 18, 2016 at 5:52 am
    Pastor Brian,

    At the risk of misunderstanding each other I guess when I define or speak about Faith especially Biblical Faith: I mean Faith in God our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, initial salvation Faith (Romans 10:9), and ‘hope’ rejoicing Faith (Hebrews 11:1).

    “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2 KJV)

    Consider you tagging of: Why Do So Many People Misunderstand the Word “Faith” by Eric Chabot. Notice if you will the comments toward the end of the article.

    “Objectively speaking, the Holy Spirit works (has already worked: Romans 1:18-20)! in conjunction with the evidence for the truthfulness of the Christian faith to enable us to understand that God exists.” Here is Athens, here is ‘Natural’ revelation, finite understanding i.e. limited because: Romans 1:21-29:

    “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”

    “However, from a subjective perspective, the Holy Spirit also enables an individual to place his trust in God. (John 16: 12-15).” Here is Jerusalem the supernatural movement (enablement) of the Holy Spirit. That by Grace (Ephesians 2:8) enabled conviction of ones awareness of their sinfulness before our Holy God a/the prerequisite toward Salvation.

    Then we read:
    “In other words, one can trust that God exists and still not be a true believer. So we can conclude by stating that humans not only need to believe that Christ is the Savior, but that they also need to put our trust in Christ to become a follower of Him.”

    Which this trust/ belief/ Faith which we define Biblically, does include enabled awareness of our separation from God in our Sin. Likewise to this knowing by the Holy Spirit through His Holy Word that Christ is the Messiah. This includes our ability to accept His sacrifice on our behalf thereby being reconciled to God, through ones Faith in and through Him as our Savior and Lord.
    Now at the end of this article the gist of what I am saying is implied about my contention of where the ‘natural’ path of Athens so tread by Present-day Apologists tends to lead.

    “One Piece of Advice to Christian Apologists”
    “… If the object of my faith was evidence alone, than evidence would be an idol. Instead, the object of my faith is God or Jesus Himself. So while reason and evidence does support my trust in Jesus/God, it does not take the place of God Himself. If you are at the place where you have allowed evidence to take the place of faith, you need to pull back and find some balance on this issue.”

    Hereby as I do contend, directed to this place by way of Modern Apologetics natural drift toward misappropriating scripture that dishonors our Lord.

    Here is where my discernment and convictions reside. That is to say when Scripture is wrested one quenches the Spirit and brings disrepute to God.

    In which 1 Peter 3:15 is one of many verses that (in view of God’s Word) many heavy hitters in Apologetics Today miss-interpret and misapply!

    Therein is my fear (phobos i.e awe and reverence of God not phobeo), sometimes, yes even as you say to the disdain of the erroneous teachings that Modern Apologists of these days purport.
    Even in your responses I believe I see an overemphasis of adherence to one’s ability (for the Modern Apologist & the Natural Man) to diagnose/discern (1 Corinthians 2:14) Truth within well-reasoned and rational defenses.

    Up to now I have refrained from outright saying but I must say your interpretation of 1 Peter is inaccurate and misleading. To say that it is apologetically (all about offering natural demonstrably true defenses) focused, not only differs from what I propose, it strays even outside most if not all commentaries in what they have proposed, and most of all it does not align with Peter’s inspired words.

    Now if you were to say (in which you almost do but come short of acknowledging) the focus of 1 Peter, of chapter 3, and the periscope of 1 Peter 3:15 was apologetically focused as in the defense: Hopes reason of we as Christians sanctifying Christ in our sufferings, through our lives lived in lively hope towards God, then yes I would agree. Here the Divine path of Jerusalem onward toward Mount Zion.

    Whereas right suffering (1 Peter 1:6, 2:19-20, 3:14-18, 4:1, 4:12-19, 5:1, & 5:6-11) for living for Christ is what should be understood, which is more the focus, the theme, and the message of this Epistle. 1 Peter 3:15: supernatural sanctified lives lived and thus witnessed by outsiders for the Lord’ sake 1 Peter 2:12-15 :

    “12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as dsupreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:”

    Within the overview of your exposition you say much here to my convictions and fear:

    “However, the believers were not to be frightened (1 Peter 3:14). Why were they not to fear? They should not fear because they had truth on their side. Peter redirects the believer’s focus to the reason that they were believers in the first place—the truth of Christ. It is here that 1 Peter 3:15-16 is given. The believers could face opposition and give a well-reasoned and rational defense for their faith because of the truthfulness of the faith.”

    Your interpretation and your application do not align nor square with these verses. Even in your suggestion concerning fear you are amiss: Yes in 1 Peter 3:14 were are told to not fear:
    “And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;” (1 Peter 3:13-14)

    Now consider this verse in whole and how it speaks volumes about context, indicating: probable harm, conditional to being followers of ‘the’ (a definitive article in the Greek) good, being yet happy (literally in view of us here being blessed) that is but and if conditionally ye (plural) we are suffering (literally) for our righteousness (doing and being the good that God requires). And finally, too be i.e. “…not afraid…”
    We should be aware that this statement is very important to the context here at hand. Firstly “…be not afraid…” is translated from one Greek word phobeo which indicates a state of fear for which we are not to be in. As well this verb is in the passive voice here attached to “…their terror…” Remarkably “…their terror…” actually has two moods indicated in it. An imperative (command) and a subjunctive:

    “Subjunctive — the mood that normally presents the verbal action as being probable or intentional. The subjunctive can also express verbal action in terms of mere possibility. In Greek, it is the optative mood that points to possibility more than probability.” (Michael S. Heiser and Vincent M. Setterholm, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Lexham Press, 2013; 2013).
    For which I would suggest in meaning implies that probably we will be tempted to be afraid in such distressing circumstances. But that we are commanded to not to be in that state of fear on account of the terror coming from those whom confront us.

    Now we should acknowledge that in the very next verse, 1 Peter 3:15 we are told to fear! “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (KJV)
    As far as our respond-ability in fear concerning the mode or motive or our answering we might assume, which so many do, that the object of this fear, or respect (ESV) is for he that asketh about your hope. Not that neither the text nor myself am saying that we should not give due respect to others be they friend or foe everywhere and always.

    This is how we are to be regardless if we are staged before an audience in debate, commenting on a blog, and or in real-time (it came to pass) face to face everyday dialogues. For that would go against being rightly meek would it not.

    No God forbid we are not to tremble in fear concerning those whom persecute us, for we were just informed in the previous verse to not be afraid or troubled by them or theirs.
    Rather this fear is far more relevant and profound than any phobia that we may have toward anyone or anything here on earth or otherwise.

    This word here translated to fear is the same one used in 1 Peter 1:17: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:”

    Indeed this is that wonderful, sound, and righteous fear of our Holy God. Which does and should often include trembling Mark 5:33, even before men in this Holy Fear: 1 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 7:15, Ephesians 6:5. And lest we neglect Paul’s inspired words in Philippians 2:12-13:
    “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

    This word here translated to fear is defined as:“53.59 φόβοςd, ου m; δέος, ους n: profound respect and awe for deity—‘reverence, awe.’φόβοςd: καὶ πορευομένη τῷ φόβῳ τοῦ κυρίου ‘and (the church) lived in reverence for the Lord’ Ac 9:31.δέος: λατρεύωμεν … μετὰ εὐλαβείας καὶ δέους ‘let us worship … with reverence and awe’ He 12:28.” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 540.)

    So our answer is to be every inundated with reverence and awe toward our God. Which in all cases could and should guide, protect, and infuse all our relations and communications? And here specifically, and most appropriately pertaining to the “HOPE” words that we should speak in Holy Spirit instilled reply (Matthew 10:19-20, Luke 12:11-12, & Ephesians 6:19-20). No readied rhetoric, or rehearsed responses here implied nor suggested.

    I as well have some comments and questions that yet linger in my considerations of your defenses within our conversations.

    1) You said: “One of the greatest arguments for doing apologetics is from the fact that Jesus and the early apostles were in fact apologists!”
    Why do you say that Jesus and the Apostles were Apologists? How can say that the Apostles were Apologists let alone Jesus Christ?

    Jesus Christ was, is the Son of God. His Words spoken, written, healings, and miracles performed were His workings, God’s workings, and Holy Spirit Providentially empowered. Which includes those thus inspired words written through His Apostles. This confusing statement and thus argument seems simply to be a Modern twist to over emphasize the ‘natural’ by placing it in the same sphere and influence as ‘supernatural’.

    2) You state: “But even if one person did, we would, according to 1 Peter 3:15, be obligated to provide a defense for the faith.” But you never answered my question concerning if 1 Peter 3:15 does in proper interpretation really say we are obligated as is in commanded to be ready to give an apologia?

    3) I notice that you hold to and often say, as do most Apologists Today that the Church is guilty of intellectual laziness. Rather I would say the Church has more of a problem with spiritually Lethargy resulting in a great lacking of Discernment. Kind of like the Corinthian Church consider 1 Corinthians 2, which has very much to say in contrast to the Apologetic of these days.
    Here, is where I stand neither in opposition to you personally nor any other person, but in reverence for Christ and my right founded fear of misrepresenting Him and His Word. Brian I do not wish to disparage you nor any Christian in your endeavors to serve our Lord. I do however pray that we, the both of us consider if what God’s Word claims in these matters is what we are in fact defending as for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    In Christ,
    keith

    REPLY Bellator Christi says:
    November 18, 2016 at 10:45 am
    Keith,
    Our conversation is starting to become quite repetitive. Thus, I will not respond to every aspect of your comment as I have already given answers to some of your objections. I will, however, make three observations.

    1) You again note your disagreement with the modern apologetic use of 1 Peter 3:15. I have already demonstrated in the article that 1 Peter 3:15 as well as the First Letter of Peter is rooted in an appeal for the Christian to do apologetics. You have not given evidence to dismiss the claims outside of borderline ad hominems. Claiming that apologists are misusing the text is not enough. I could claim that the dismissal of apologetics is just as abusive to the text. But neither of us get anywhere unless data is provided. The quotation of texts in Greek do not provide evidence in an of themselves. The text must be placed in its proper context. When placed in its proper context, I have already demonstrated that the text (as have many highly-trained, scholarly apologists and biblical scholars) is rooted in an appeal to defend the faith.

    2) You note that Jesus and the apostles were not apologists. I find this quite bizarre. Why do you think that Jesus performed miracles? They were apologetic in nature as they verified the claims that Jesus was making. I have argued for this already. Thus, there is no need to rehash it here. But I find it intriguing that you are using apologetic argumentation to dismiss the use of apologetics–possibly bordering on a formal logical fallacy.

    3) Herein is my most important observation from our conversation: I feel the root of our disagreement is not one of a biblical nature, but rather a philosophical one. I assume that you hold a hardline hyper-Calvinist stance (that is, the belief that there exists no human response to the divine grace of God conferred). Or, that God does not provide persons the freedom to respond to God’s grace. From your comments, I also assume that you hold a presuppositional stance (that is, that evidence is unnecessary due to the presuppositions that everyone holds). A good example of a presuppositional theologian is one Cornelius Van Til. If this is the case, your systematic theological system disallows natural revelation, thereby negating the apologetics enterprise.
    I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian. I am a Congruist (which is a subset of Molinism). That is, I hold to both divine sovereignty and human freedom. In addition, I do think that individuals are given a great deal of information about God through creation. Thus, I am an evidentialist and, therefore, a classic apologist. I could discuss the issue in much more detail, but it would extend the reply to a greater length than it should be (this response is probably too long as it is).

    Nevertheless, I do appreciate your views and the tactful way you presented your opposition. I encourage you to check out my article concerning Thomism, Molinism, and Congruism as better alternatives than Calvinism and Arminianism right here on the website. I also encourage you to study up on the various stances concerning presuppositionalism and evidentiary forms of apologetics. I think you will find that presuppositionalism is found to be greatly lacking in substance
    Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

    I considered not responding, but then I did, and I sent this: He did choose not to post this comment, however he soon began conversing, on this same comment past mine. Apparently with a facebook person whom disagreed much the same as do we.

    Brian,
    I do agree that we might be getting repetitious. As such I pray that we could reach an understanding as Christian brothers. That is that we do not have to agree with each other. But I do hope and pray that each of us would do as our Lord and Savior would have us to do, moving forward toward His return.

    I do stand by my convictions and my fears aye maybe to a fault. Nonetheless having said that I fully understand if you choose not to post this, my last defense, I would not be offended nor regretful. For indeed our conversations thus far have been a blessing, as I therefore am all the more humbled, by your humility in you defenses, God bless you Brian.

    I too must make some observations.
    1) It would seem that you do not allow the hermeneutical exegesis of Scripture to be used as ‘data’ or even as a defense of God or scripture itself. In fact you seem to call it ‘borderline ad hominems.’

    Which I think you mean I am almost kind of attacking or refuting apologists and or you rather than addressing theirs and your scriptural assertions.

    This can all but be deduced by you saying, “You have not given evidence to dismiss the claims outside of borderline ad hominems.” Even though I offered exegetical interpretation of Scripture, and Scripture to verify its claims.

    As well when you say: “The quotation of texts in Greek do not provide evidence in and of themselves” I would not argue with that. But that is not what I have done. I did not quote any Greek text (nor did you) I quote from the KJV Bible, the New Testament which was originally written in the Greek Language.

    And your point on proper context is correct. However I would add that being contextual sound is not derived just by utilizing only historical or cultural milieu’s to deduce meaning. Even as it is here that you do begin your defense on 1 Peter 3:15 in your article: “Is 1 Peter 3:15 Accurately Used as an Apologetic Text?”

    “ What is the message of 1 Peter as it pertains to 1 Peter 3:15? The apostle Simon Peter writes this letter to the provinces in Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1-2) during the 60s.[2] For the Christians in the area, the 60s were a time of great hostility. Not only did Jewish groups ostracize the early believers, the Roman imperial government was in the process of turning up the heat on them as they were thought to be “‘atheists’ (for rejecting the gods), ‘cannibals’ (for eating Jesus’ ‘body’ and drinking his ‘blood’) and incestuous (for statements like ‘I love you, brother’ or ‘I love you, sister’).”[3] Obviously, any casual student of the Bible, much more a serious one, will know that these accusations were ungrounded and rooted in a false understanding of the Christian faith. Thus, the ancient Christian would need to hold a good apologetic in order to defend his or her faith against the false indictments posed against them in popular society, both eccelesiastically (Jewish opposition in the synagogue) and governmentally (Roman opposition in the courts). Therefore, 1 Peter 3:15 holds an apologetic thrust when held against the context of the book. But what about 1 Peter chapter 3? Is it apologetic-oriented?”

    And quite frankly it is how you end it as well: Which does indicate that you lean heavily towards your idea of proper context i.e. Cultural/Historical to deduce your interpretations.
    “… Peter has a lot to say, as well. Western Christians find that pressures against them for holding their Christian faith are increasing at an alarming rate. A society which once adhered to the principles of the Judeo-Christian worldview is quickly crumbling into an abysmal moral chaos. Like the believers of old, modern Christians must stand firm, honoring Christ as Lord, being quickly ready to provide a defense (an apologetic) for the hope that one holds. 1 Peter 3:15 strongly advocates the use of Christian apologetics. Modern Christians would do well to listen to Simon Peter’s appeal.

    Indeed the Bible is not simply an historical document written by innately wise men it is Holy Writ.

    So the meaning i.e. lemmas of the Greek words used and their grammatical makeup are needed as well to conclude proper interpretation. That is if we do truly believe that the authors of scripture were Holy Spirit inspired to write what they wrote.

    For which I do, that is I put my faith in the infallible and inerrant Word of God. Therefore I quoted numerous verses within 1 Peter and others to back up my statements, in which I would hope that you did read (observe) and consider (interpret with proper exegesis) each of them to Berean (apply it out) and I broke down the morphology of certain Greek words in some verses.

    Likewise I as well in disagreement with your demonstration of Peter’s fist Epistle and 1 Peter 3:15, put forth evidence with scripture to discern otherwise than what you had determined. That is in that your interpretation of the focus and scope of the intent of this verse and epistle are not correct:

    “From the three points observed (the context of the book, the surrounding chapters, and the text itself), one can safely say that apologists are correct in using 1 Peter 3:15 as a proof-text for the use of apologetics.”

    For which I know am disposed to ask you, when you preach do you, or do you not use the original Greek words and their meanings or morphology of them in your exegesis toward proper context and interpretation of Scripture?

    2) Theology (The Revealed Truth of Scripture about God and His Creation) is the subject at hand that I am proposing, yes even presupposing. Not Philosophy (Man’s take on God and himself) as you appear to suggest.

    3) Your assumptions about me are not so far off, I hold to what Christ and His Word says which validates what John Calvin believed. And I in fact believe and have believed for a long time that God’s Word and the working of His Holy Spirit in and through us as we faithfully obey adequately defends itself.

    So yes this is what God’s Word proposes (so here is my presupposition) so here is where I stand. And here I must say to you my brother, neither of these Biblical stances did I come up with, or studied about, or even heard of them until I was brought to these conclusions via the Holy Spirit via God’s Word. Thereby studying and seeking Christ and His kingdom through His Word after my conversion.

    4) I must say that your point here actuality is true: “But I find it intriguing that you are using apologetic argumentation to dismiss the use of apologetics possibly bordering on a formal logical fallacy.”

    But at the same time it did help me to define or to better see our differences:

    In which I would restate saying yes I am using Scriptural exegetical argumentations i.e. defenses, to show the lacking in Contemporary Apologist ways and means of their apologia (answer/defense) logos (reason/message) concerning their elpis (hope/expectation).

    Namely the use of 1 Peter 3:15 as marching orders to ever and always utilize extra-Biblical defenses whether asked or not, whether hope is understood or seen or not.

    As well I am not saying nor intend to imply that we should dismiss finite human truth (extra-Biblical defenses even as they are knowable as true to the natural man and the Christian), but that God’s infinite Truth is first and foremost for conversion and regeneration. Nor should we present natural truth nor utilize it as if it is a valid path toward reconciliation to God in and of itself.

    However I think one can see our main difference of opinion concerning Apologetics here in your comment. For it would seem that you and I have a different interpretation of and or a definition of Apologetics.

    Contemporary Apologists (Classical) and you seem to propose Apologetics= defending God by offering logical innate reasons why you believe what you believe about God (as evidentialists & realists). Utilizing human finite wisdom and anthropocentric formulations about and for God.
    With the intent (good and commendable) seemingly to convince others that by using their limited (aka sin-tainted) understanding they themselves can compute that God exists and that therefore they should or will personally know Him and thus follow Him (by implications at the least). Which quite frankly this convincing is not akin to conviction of sin and dare I says has little to do with the Gospel or even the Great Commission.

    Whereas Presuppositionist and myself propose Apologetics = Bring forth testimonies of our infinite God as He permits, prepares, and provides through us, His Word, and His Holy Spirit in us. That is as we believe and obey (utilize Biblical Faith) even as we suffer aright in Christ (Romans 8:17, Philippians 3:8, Colossians 1:24, & 2 Timothy 3:12) for Christ (who is our hope) i.e. Titus 2:13 &1 Peter 1:3.

    Thereby proving/providentially by testifying of God and His sovereign Way and will. Which includes exposing others to their sinful position before a Holy God via that witness in Word and deed. Which this Spirit founded convincing leads to conviction of sin which has everything to do with the Gospel and the Great Commission.

    So it would appear that we also deliver (apply) our testimonies of and defenses (Apologetics) for God via a different avenue and source.
    And finally yes you do argue that Jesus Christ and His Apostles were apologists. And lest again we miss understand each other I must elaborate on that for which I heartily disagree.
    Ok firstly this is obviously a new take or modern frame of reference to Christ and the Apostles is it not? And I would contend that this is a most revealing, misleading, and dangerous statement.
    Why?
    Because it stands to reason that the main objective of this innovative saying is to authenticate what is being said i.e. contending, arguing, or proposing as a defense. Which does indicate that there are some (Christians) that oppose the approach and usage of apologetics of those (Christians) whom have come up with this contention. Why else would someone have to imagine such a comparison?

    Which then leads to the conclusion that this newfangled defense allegation is definitively meant for those inside the Church. For it is Modern Apologists that say such things to defend their treatment of apologia to Christians whom question their methods and their aims? Then this being the case, why would anyone say this, let alone seem to amplify it, making it as if it were a doctrinal statement or even a thing.

    What about those on the outside of the Church is this used as a defense to them? If it is heard or read by the lost what end or purpose would it serve to tell them what most of them already believe? Jesus was a wise and philosophical man, a most compassionate and reasonable fellow. Yeh sure why wouldn’t they want to come along side this great man, like we portray, whom was very much a consummate apologist right?

    If we as Christians want common ground with the lost, there it is already got it. Common grace natural truth. Yet is this what we need let alone want to emphasize. Think like Jesus the man, walk like Jesus the man, reason like Jesus the man, you got it. Yeh but again God forbid this is not what is written, rather:

    9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual ljudgeth all things, yet he himself is ljudged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16 KJV)

    And whether these whom boldly claim such things mean too or not they may be perceived as implying (by such comparison) that their words are as active and alive as Christ’s or somehow near enough to His to justify their activities. Or worse yet that Christ’s Word is as inactive and dead as our words are in the eyes of the lost. Likened no different than those words (we Christians) construe on our own apart from God’s Word and His Holy Spirit.

    Kind of like saying all of your words, all of my words, or any Christians words can and ought to be taken as Powerful and as direct as Christ’s Word. Yeh but God forbid. And of course, yes I know that doubtful you or any other apologist would outright say that, but it can be corruptly inferred or ignorantly assumed by witness and practice alone Galatians 2:11-14.

    And lest we forget what about those immature Christians, those that are many, that you suggest are intellectually lazy, whereas I contend they are yet biblically illiterate thus unable to discern aright. These are the one’s whom are at the most risk. Therefore I fearfully and respectfully ask will they automatically or systematically become more biblically literate as they become more intellectually energetic as they pursue Modern Apologetics.

    As here again I state my dreads.

    And I do caution myself, others, and you in that when we, any of us as Christians take ourselves down roads less-traveled or are moved by means less inspired absent sound Scriptural shoring’s, we are headed down a sinful slippery slope. Worse yet when we lead (disciple) others the same, knowingly or not, to Christ’s dishonor and to their shame we will mutually digress all the more.

    In Christ,
    keith

    Brian did choose not to post nor reply to my Final Defense.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, Keith. It is indeed long! 🙂 I did not listen to the podcast. I’ve sent you an email. There is much I could say if I really had the time, but I will offer a few comments.

      I believe Pastor Chilton’s exegesis of this particular passage is poor, as I’ve stated already in the blog articles. Verses 8-18 tell us to live holy and hopeful lives, and not to fear persecution but instead to be always ready to tell why we live a different life from the world. The ‘reason’ is not that our faith is reasonable (though it is). The ‘reason’ for the hope within me is that Jesus died and rose from the dead, my sins are forgiven, I have trust in Him, and this life is only temporary. That’s the reason for the hope that I am to be living and that people should see in me, and I should be always ready to say so if anyone asks, even if it means prison or worse.

      The reason for my hope is not that the Bible talks about the circle of the earth or that the Bible matches what we can observe of human nature or any of the other things to which apologists may refer. The reason for my hope, of which I should be ready to speak, is that I believe in a Saviour.

      I do believe apologetics has merit. I do believe in what theologians call ‘general revelation’ — the first few verses of Psalm 19 are clear, as is Romans 1:20 and other passages. I think it is entirely appropriate for us to point out that what people see and know fits with what the Scriptures say. I believe Paul did exactly that on Mars Hill and also in quoting Epimenedes in Titus 1.

      I do not believe we can or should try to answer every question. Jesus didn’t try to answer all of Nicodemus’ questions, He got to the point. I suspect the woman at the well would have been happy to ask a lot of questions, He didn’t try to give a defense for His answers.

      We have to remember that ‘faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’ — it NEVER comes because someone’s questions have been answered to their satisfaction. And those last four words cover the biggest issue ‘answered to their satisfaction.’ God is not going to ever approach people on those terms, but on terms of faith. Perhaps we could add that one of the most important passages on general revelation in Scripture is Psalm 19, and it transitions to special revelation, and calls it ‘perfect’. Hopefully most apologetics ministries will get to special revelation (Scripture) eventually, but they tend to spend multiple chapters on general revelation first, rather than 6 verses like Psalm 19 does.

      Apologetics can be used to strengthen the faith of believers. It is good Biblical teaching to point out conjunctions between general and special revelation. It can be used to refute ‘the gainsayers’ (Titus 1:10), I believe that is an appropriate usage. It can be used in evangelistic endeavours if someone really seems to be open to the Gospel but they have a difficulty. We know Satan has blinded the eyes of those who are lost, and it may be that a brief apologetics discussion can help them to be ready to hear the Gospel. We are to love the Lord with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and that is the Christian life to which the Gospel calls people, so it is an appeal to the mind as well.

      So I certainly see a place for training believers for apologetics (as it is currently defined) and in some cases for using it with the lost. I don’t see a Biblical basis for the debate culture that has grown up around it. Someone who honestly has questions, we should try to answer their questions. For those who want to debate, I think Matthew 7:6 applies. And I think the misuse of I Peter 3:15 has been a major contributor to this loss of focus in apologetics ministries today.

      I Corinthians 2:1-2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

      Which is almost immediately preceded by 1:18: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness…. And 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness….

      If we were more willing to be seen as fools by today’s ‘Greeks’, we’d spend less time on apologetics and more time on preaching the Gospel — and probably see greater blessings from our Lord.

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