Unfortunately the erosion of the faith from within the Church continues at the hands o f brilliant young intellectuals who propagate the nonsense of their mentors and sweep rooms for new legions of unclean spirits. And even the sin cere believer who fails to check the Bible for the details of his teaching contributes to this. Both leaders and Christians must be come serious, persistent Bible stu dents and force each other into this studious role or the pathetic weakness will continue. The third task o f apologetics is by far the most complex and difficult. Historically, often it has been detrimental to the faith and currently seems well-nigh impos sible. The efforts o f the medieval doctors and modem liberals cre ated religious monstrosities. By- and-large, this function of the Church is still exercised by men who are openly critical of the Bi ble and its teaching and who have developed a series of short-lived alternatives in our century. Excellent defenders of the faith have exercised their talents dur ing this century. J. G. Machen and Cornelius Van Til have most ably underscored the uniqueness of the faith. Benjamin Warfield and E. J. Young have given strength to the crucial doctrine of inspiration, and a large number of evangelicals have rallied to de fend particulars of Biblical reve lation. Unfortunately, this era of social upheaval and intellectual and cultural disintegration has rendered the creative apologetical function in the traditional sense virtually impossible. Communism and technology seem to divide such intellectual loyalty as still re mains; the former blatantly de nies the God whom we serve and the latter is inapplicable except on a “how to” basis. Add to this the absence of any elegant philoso phies of life in our era, the in creasing disinterestness o f evan gelicals in squaring faith and thought in today’s casual atmos phere, and this dimension of apol ogetics becomes a near impossible problem.
im BOOK J lP I F E A T U R E
Apo loge t ics
by (jUilliam UJ."Bass C hr istian apologetics has been concerned with the three chief tasks throughout the varied his tory o f the church: 1) defending the faith against outside attack, 2) forestalling corruptions intro duced by false shepherds and cor recting the erroneous teachings introduced by them, and 3) stat ing the faith in relationship to current thought patterns that the Christian message might have meaning and be without unneces sary offense. The frequent and often intense attacks from outside have taken many forms — from the open hatred o f a Celsus or Paine to the technical and well-meaning criti cisms of a Hume or Kant. For the most part these threats were han dled competently and easily by men o f God of the era. Today’s secular world, in its most respon sible areas chooses to ignore Christ or cons iders the faith meaningless rather than making frontal attacks. This may prove to be the strongest type of affront — precisely because the world thinks itself independent of God, self-sufficient, autonomous, free. Attempts have been made to
meet this threat by borrowing worldly ideas and terminology in a great “me too” effort to im press a world which is technologi cal, hollow and demonic. Thus Christianity too has become in creasingly man-centered in its at titudes, tools and techniques — only to find the world still spurn ing the twisted form of the faith, while the Church becomes increas ingly embarrassed. The exercise of the second func tion of apologetics has proved to be much more fruitful. There has been a bracing effect and a sharp ening of doctrine when aspects o f Biblical truth have been ques tioned from within. The fact of Christ’s deity was clarified dur ing the fourth cen tu ry even though the Church was wallowing in Neoplatonic Philosophy. Again during the Deist era when the unique biblical truths were being neglected or denied, there were victories in specific areas, as that regarding God’s historic and fu ture control of Israel. In our cen tury, the Bible, the Virgin birth and resurrection of Christ and the uniqueness of creation have been abundantly validated and set forth with renewed certainty and vigor because of criticisms and appropriate answers.
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