October 31, 2020

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

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I am going to comment on some of the things stated by Robert Rowe of ‘Sentinel Apologetics’ in regards to the topic of apologetics. I first saw it shared in a Facebook group, but it is also on his website:

This might come as a surprise to most Christians, but I don’t think Christians should engage in “apologetics”. Though I and Hunter run Sentinel Apologetics (because that sounds quite ironic/hypocritical), our goal is the scientific method, and not “gotcha” games.

I have spoken with these people on many occasions and it seems nothing actually gets through. Firstly, there is no scientific method. That is a meme believed by village atheists. There are various methods with similar elements that can be grouped together as “scientific methods”:

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2017/08/08/a-start-for-a-philosophy-of-christian-science-part-1/

Secondly, he seems to later admit that Paul engaged in apologetics using the OT to combat the ideas of his day:

The Greek word “apologia” doesn’t appear there (you’re talking about the use of “dialegomai” there). It appears only eight times in the NT:

– Acts 22:1; 25:16;
– 1 Corinthians 9:3;
– 2 Corinthians 7:11;
– 2 Timothy 4:16;
– 1 Peter 3:15;
– Philippians 1:7, 17.

Paul’s approach in Acts 17 is actually his engagement with the best arguments of Greco-Roman philosophy in light of the OT data. Here’s a helpful chart of that OT data.

I think too much is being placed upon the Greek word ‘apologia’. Suppose it doesn’t refer to some rational defense of one’s faith. That doesn’t entail the Bible doesn’t command Christians to be rational about their faith. Further, the broader issue simply is epistemology. What does God have to tell us about man and questions about how man gains knowledge. So, Robert confuses ideas with words.

I’ve seen this on both sides in atheist vs. theist debates, regardless of how informed they are. Basically debates are for the lazy. I am being somewhat loose with that term “scientific”. What I mean is that Christians must be critical, must engage peer-review, and if anything is to be learned or evaluated, the so-called “debate” tactic that apologists utilize will only lead to the use of filters and narrow-minded bigotry.

I agree that written materials are better than debates. The difference is that written articles aren’t as popular as video/audio debates. So, it seems they have a popularity function. Secondly, debates on ‘Modern Day debates’ are lazy because they let everyone have a debate. For those that have serious debates, they actually require a bit of preparation. They also can be guides for those to go further into scholarly research. By learning debater, arguments, and other various details. I was a much less informed individual before watching debates and still certain questions certain individuals haven’t tackled in written works they may have been asked by an inquiring mind in a Q/A or cross-examination. It’s like saying interviews are for lazy people. Also, don’t forget that Robert Rowe himself engaged in these frivolous and silly debates to entertain all the lazy stupids.

Some of his arguments undermine his own position. Where did Jesus command us to go into all the world and preach to every creature the good news of ‘peer review’? Where are Christians command to search the unknown riches of liberal articles provided from our scholarly overlords? Where does it say to pray to Michael Heiser?

You might be thinking about 1 Peter 3:15 and how that urges Christians to make an “apologia” for their faith. I hate to burst your bubble, but that verse technically isn’t about what apologists do. The context of that verse is about suffering and persecution, and the “reasons” why a Christian ought to continue in that way of life. The “reason” then is the resurrection, and basically Peter is reiterating what Paul says elsewhere (in the negative sense): “if the Messiah has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still imprisoned by your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)

I agree with the sentiments about 1 Peter 3:15, but I think that his take misrepresents what modern people mean when presenting this about apologetics. They derive principles from the verses in their particular circumstances and apply them to the current day.  It is clear about how we engage unbelievers(behavioral), but it is correct that there is no sign of thinking it refers to a rational case for the Christian Gospel. The problem is that Robert already conceded a case of apologetics in Acts 17 and we can take other evidence from Paul arguing in the synagogues for engaging with unbelievers.

But, if Christianity is true, and if we are to honestly be seekers of truth (after all, the patristics favored the “logos” concept, and pointed out Christ’s urgency on how “truth” can set one free), then we shouldn’t need to defend it in such a manner. Let the data-points speak for itself, regardless of where it may lead us.

The problem is that facts don’t ‘lead us’ anywhere. Interpretations of the facts lead us to places. What worldview are you suppose to interpret data according to?

In other words, we have filters, and it’s unfortunate that Christian denominations for the last 2,000 years have not helped to make a critical “defense” of the faith (I am generalizing here to make an ultimate point). If things become uncomfortable, so what? There are many uncomfortable (and yet fascinating) data-points in the sciences. I could bring up astonishing things that Paul highlights in his ministry (that a woman’s hair is a substitute for male testicles in 1 Corinthians 11; and yes there’s scholarship for this via Greco-Roman medical texts).

This wouldn’t be an article by Robert Rowe if it didn’t mention Pauline genitalia confusion, Biblical flat-earth cosmology, Divine Council, biblical scientific errors, or Michael Heiser. Of course, I’ve been critical of this view of inerrancy for a while now:

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2020/04/26/the-normative-reading/

He’s simply peddling his own denomination. I argue a compromised denomination. Robert’s filter is of liberal OT scholarship and I find no way around such.

The bible is not a monolithic book, but a collection of books. It’s also an entirely human work. So, how does God fit in that? Well, that’s what makes it so impressive (and hair-raising). The providential message embedded in the text (once you go through the details with a fine-tooth comb), is universally applicable. It’s as if the human authors had omniscient knowledge about the depths of human anthropology.

To translate, once you use his strainer, and strain all the mistakes and errors you can arrive at the universal principle. Once you put the bible through his modern filter, then the words of God just come out! The problem with this understanding is his view is idiosyncratic. The Biblical writer didn’t view it that way, neither did the audience. So, why think he can derive divine intent?

If Jesus is literally active (as he promised in John 14) as a witness along with the other members of the blessed Trinity, then the faith commitment and explanation you give to someone (and here’s the evangelism coming into play) involves the current circumstances. Remember, space-time isn’t static. Since it’s dynamic, everyday is a new day, and what happened in the past becomes merely a distant memory (this now goes into philosophical notions of a-theory of time in relation to b-theory, but I digress).

A place where he seems to disagree with the consensus about the theory of time, but if you disagree that 1 Cor. 11 refers to Greco-Roman medical text about women’s hair being genitalia, then you’re just the anti-intellectual bigot.