We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Friday, May 6, 2011

Apologetics Decorum

I have noticed often that some people in the apologetics field, and some who attack those in the apologetics field, often lack common courtesy, and direct abusive and mean-spirited comments towards their opponents.  In an e-mail I received today it was suggested that I might do a post about this, so here it is.
Jesus did not mince words when he attacked the Pharisees, nor did Paul when he attacked false teachers.  They called them hypocrites and false prophets and false teachers - called “a spade a spade.”  Paul even said that false teachers should be eternally condemned!  However, I don’t think anyone could accuse Jesus or Paul of being mean-spirited or using ad hominem attacks.  Nor did they make up things or misrepresent the false teachers.
Some articles I have read by those who are upset at false teachers spend more time on the teachers’ looks and mannerisms than they do on the problematic teachings!  Likewise, those who are upset about apologists’ legitimate concerns viciously attack their person rather than addressing the issue (this has happened to me quite often as I am called every name in the book because I had the audacity to say someone’s teaching was in error).
I have also read books and articles about a cult which totally misrepresented the cult so as to make them appear ridiculous and even more bizarre than they are.  Believe me, the cults have enough problems such that we have no need to make things up or misrepresent them!
Let’s all remember that we are supposed to be representing Christ whether we are apologists or those who are upset at the apologists.  We should use proper courtesy and respect and do what we do in love.  Love for the lost, love for those burdened with false teachings, and love for the false teachers; in this way we can perhaps affect them so that they will come to salvation, leave the legalistic or otherwise burdensome false teachings, or become a teacher who leaves his false ideas behind.
I read a quote once from James R. Spencer (whoever he was) which I think sums it all up quite nicely:

Truth without love is too hard; love without truth is too soft.

7 comments:

Drew said...

If you're referring to the people who mock Rob Bell for acting effiminate...well, I think he *should* be mocked for that.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Well, it depends how it's done. If someone says, "wow, he sure does act effeminate - what is that about?" that's one thing. But if they say, "The guy's a flaming fag!" That would be mean.

Dan said...

I was reading in Galatians 5 the other day and these words struck me:

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

So far so good. But six versus later he says this:

"As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!"

I have been giving the word "love" a lot of thought lately. I'm convinced that something has changed. So many people are pointing to "love", but somehow I get the feeling that it's not the same thing Paul was talking about. I don't think Paul would have been very accepted today for being too "unloving".

072591 said...

As someone who was recently personally attacked - and then blocked from commenting so that I could not respond to the attack - from the same site that attacked you, I agree and stand with you.with you.

Yvonne said...

Thanks for this reminder, Glenn!
We all need to remember that our motivation for standing for Truth is our love of Jesus and His Holy Word. Also, our desire to see men saved should motivate our hearts to speak the truth in love, which I often am guilty of NOT doing. Thanks again for your ministry.

laura said...

I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful site. I am learning so much and didn't know that this information was available until recently. My eyes have been opened. I had never heard of apologetics. I will be seeking a new church and am just amazed at the things I have recently discovered. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Laura,

Thank you for your kind words.

Once you get into apologetics, it is very easy to get hooked!