Extreme Apologetics!

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Biblical Apologetics and Discernment Ministries ~

Extreme Apologetics!

       In the current time in which we live, the genuine need for "Biblical apologetics" is at a level unprecedented in Church history. With the approach of the millennium and the proliferation of religious cults and sects of every size and sort, Biblical theological/doctrinal purity is becoming a uncommon commodity. Thus, in response to this overwhelming deluge, the ministry of apologetics comes to bear.

       First, what is apologetics? Webster’s Dictionary defines an “apologist” as “a person who defends an idea, faith, cause, or institution”. And so we get our word apologetics. And in the Christian and Biblical world, that person defends the faith of the Church as contained in the Bible.

       Yet another “ministry” that has cropped up these past few decades is the dubious ministry classified as the “discernment” ministry. These individuals feel led to seek out and refute questionable doctrines and teachings being presented by ministers and teachers in the Church. They then categorically lay out the perceived errors in the teachings or doctrines and publish and distribute their writings, whether individually or under the auspices of a particular denomination or independent church, to the public at large.

       The purpose of this particular literary piece is not directed at the legitimate apologetics ministries and individuals out there that are trying to serve the Lord in what they feel to be a position that they were called to. The Christian Research Institute is one respectable institution that comes to mind and has developed a reputation of esteem in this particular field (see link below). Rather, I wish to target the particular apologetics and “discernment” ministries that take their perceived calling to the absolute extreme.

       Having been a Christian now for almost two decades, I have had opportunity in my training schedule under His command, to deal with pretty much every type of individual and institutional religious philosophy out there. And ever since my online experience, the valid apologetics ministry has been invaluable in making their resources available. But that being clear, the most dangerous and damaging group I have found is the discernment and apologetics “ministry” that has, in their zeal, broken from the honorable course, and careened into the fraudulent.

       First, lets be very explicit, Biblically, where the individual soldier ultimately gets his/her training.

       “Shew me they ways, O LORD; teach me they paths.” Psalm 25:4

       “The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.” Psalm 25:9

       “Teach me they way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.” Psalm 27:11

       The LORD is the Teacher. The individual Christian ultimately answers to the Lord Himself on Judgment Day, and will have no one individual, Pastor, or denominational representative standing with them when they answer for the things they have done in their life. We are finally, at the end, personally responsible for what we have believed in our particular interpretation of the Bible and our understanding of our relationship with Him.

       “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:10-11

       As the noble Bereans, we should keep a constant emphasis on personal Bible study that we may be able to defend ourselves against the enemy, the secular challengers of our faith, and the varied attacks of the world.

       “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15

       Why? Because with the advent of the digital age and Internet and the vastly increased communications capabilities that they offer, not only do we have every honorable ministry coming online, but also every loony, fly-by-night extremist outfit also. Unless the individual Christian is founded and settled in the Word of God, firmly convinced of what they believe, balanced in the whole counsel of God and not just in a small part, the Internet suddenly can become a very dangerous and sinister place. Satan has been toying with weak Christian minds for many a century, and the Internet offers him and his cohorts a wide open field of fire for the many “spiritual greenies” that naively choose to traverse it’s long, lonely roads unarmed.

       From my own personal experience, I would like to lay out a few things to look out for when you find yourself poking through these particular sites, or should you find yourself unfortunately the target of one of these organizations’ or individuals’ assaults. These are a few personal “red flags”.

Text/Dialogue presentation.

       The text of their writings will more than likely be riddled with various combinations of bold or capitalized italics, which smacks of hype rather than a calm, confident, carefully reasoned approach to their argument. With a weak footing in their particular position, most fall back on this particular tactic in their presentation to shore up their irregular and weak defense. To be sure, this type of text presentation can be used sparingly to emphasis a word or point of thought, but used to the extreme, signals something wrong.

Threats against you or your family.

Some people are just angry.       In the midst of what should more than likely be a borderline hysterical tone in their writing/dialogue, they will very confidently tell you that unless you immediately believe along the narrow lines of their personal interpretation of the subject matter in question, you will most assuredly, right along with your family, and I quote one in particular, “burn in the fiery hell of God’s judgment against you."  End quote.

       It’s a basic scare tactic, plain and simple. It's also downright illegal from a Biblical point of view. The Bible is clear in it's assurance that the true believer has escaped the judgment of God, that judgment having been laid across the shoulders of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

       “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:22-27

       Born again “Christians” condemning other born again Christians to hell because they don't agree with a particular interpretation of scripture shows a truly warped view of our Heavenly Father, if not a complete lack of understanding of the revealed Word of God, and insults the awesome finished work of the Cross. Immediately reject any of this type of behavior.

•Bizarre, incoherent, down right difficult to read text/dialogue structure.

       This type of tactic is one that the sects/cults use to reel in their victims. Jesse Penn-Lewis, in her book, "War On The Saints" said this:

       "Scripture is generally used as the basis of these teachings and is skillfully woven together like a spider's web, so that the untrained are caught in the snare. Single texts are wrenched from their context and placed in the perspective of truth; sentences are taken from their correlative sentences; or, texts are carefully picked out from over a wide field and netted together so that they appear to give a full revelation of the mind of God — but the intervening passages, giving historical setting, actions, and circumstances connected with the speaking of the words, and other elements that give insight on each separate text, are skillfully dropped out.

       In this way, a wide net is made for the unwary or untaught in the principles of Scriptural exegesis, and many a life is sidetracked and troubled by this false use of the Word of God."

       Incoherent and difficult text/dialogue is a tactic to confuse and overwhelm the reader. They then propose to “show you the way.” People who are weak in their standing in the Lord, unskilled in the deployment and management of the Word of God, or under duress and desperately looking for answers, are the ones most in jeopardy of being hurt in this type of situation.

       “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.” II Corinthians 1:12

       “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” II Corinthians 11:3

•Accusation, innuendo, insinuation, sensationalism, and down right lying.

       Another effective tactic that they use to bolster up their position is the ever popular innuendo and insinuation. I see this frequently, and on one site in particular; a very big, professionally assembled one, where they had targeted the very church I attend. In the midst of the writer's evidently weak tirade (hearsay and second-hand news) against the “evil” of this place, he made the comment that the church served “cappuccino” at the church services (actually, this is to prevent the dummies in the congregation from running across the busy main street in front of the church to the donut shop on the other side), implying that the congregation was somehow “bohemian” in it’s make-up. Ridiculous. Also was the assertion that the services were only fifteen minutes in length and primarily “rock” Christian music. The fabrications he put forth were numerous, as in this article there were quite a bit more.

       Well, as a witness to the truth of this particular church, their doctrine, and the way that the services are conducted, the particular article by this writer was completely wrought with insinuations, innuendo, hysterical accusations, and a lot of flat out lies. None of it was true! It was absolutely bizarre. This whole site was completely dedicated to this writer’s exposés leveled against virtually every high-profile and visible Pastor and minister in American Christian society today. Every one. This gentleman’s jealousy and envy was clearly evident in the bulk of his writing, as well as the need for personal endorsement and assurance from anyone he could reach. A very disturbed individual.

       But, when push comes to shove and the final judgment be told,

       “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matthew 12:30

       The Lord still reaches out to the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the imperfect vessel called “man.” Somewhere, sometime, every Christian individual alive will make a comment or hold a belief that might be out of line with sound scriptural teaching. To say otherwise is the height of egotism and pride. If all are condemned as heretics and false prophets, who is left? So we see the inevitable result of this unrealistic and extremist mindset. God is gracious and knows quite well how to straighten out His ministers and keep them on track. Attacking the visible, legitimate, and genuine work of God in the world, along the lines we have seen laid out here, is the nothing but the work of the enemy. We can sit around for an eternity arguing the finer points of scripture, all so very pompous, pious, and devout, and that while the world careens around us, lost into the abyss of eternity forever.

•Playing the “martyr."

       And finally, when you have skillfully and patiently backed them right into a corner in your qualified defense, they will fall back on this tactic by saying “they are just trying to serve the Lord in the best way they know how.” If you are fortunate and effective enough to have come this far with an individual with this type of mindset, then the responsibility falls to you to maintain the highest levels of diplomatic protocol in trying to show them a better way. Some people just plain like to argue! If their belief system has been challenged by the Spirit of the Lord, it needs to be replaced with the Truth, the love and strengthening of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

       But. . . I have never seen this in any hard-core apologetics or discernment minister.

       The very nature of their ministry demands that they take a position of superiority to you in their interpretation of all things spiritual and Biblical, and if they admit they are wrong, this then casts a shadow of doubt over the purpose and legitimacy of their “calling” and qualifications over-all. They then have to face their own fallibility, like the rest of us, as “mere men and women.” Their egos will never permit that.

       I was motivated to finally craft this piece in response to a recent incident I had with one of these ministries. I was unfortunate enough to have used some terminology (purely unintentional), that was sometimes used by a group operating out of line with their particular exegesis, so found myself on the receiving end of a very aggressive and unfounded assault. Even though my defense was clear and adequate, their poisoned minds had all passed judgment on me. “If I change my doctrine, I can come back.” Oh, for real? Ha! The egotism, audacity, and self-importance! Amazing!

       Well, it doesn’t work like that around here. So even now they fade into the obscurity of spiritual irrelevance.

       We, as Ambassadors in service to Him, do not need any endorsements or validations through “acceptance” from mere men. We are only obligated to present the Truth of the Gospel in a clear, easy to understand manner, and then leave the converting work to the Holy Spirit. We can do nothing to “save” any man, by belaboring and assailing them, for if they can be “argued in to the Kingdom of Heaven”, their conversion is probably not genuine, thus they can then be argued out. If an open heart or genuine Christian is presented with the Truth in a calm and professional manner, they will most certainly acknowledge it for what it is.

       In closing, even these errant sites can be used for some research, from a position of strength and confidence in what we personally believe doctrinally. Some of their material can even be salvaged for personal use if it doesn’t fall into any category of extremism. In a lot of these strange literary pieces, there is a lot of truth mixed in. I believe the phrase that is used by the Christ confident is "picking the meat off the bones." It can be weeded out by the stable and level-headed spiritual mind and studied for the purpose of learning what not to do in the future.

       The ministry of apologetics will survive the current chaos that seems to reign in the national forum, borne on the God trained shoulders of the diplomatic and restrained Christian soldier. But the young and green need to use caution when falling across these irregular people and sites. Don’t believe everything you read! No matter how slick the presentation. The damage can be truly extreme. Surrender your critical, analytical, and objective thinking to no man! Make personal Bible study a top priority, so when the counterfeit comes, you will recognize it for what it is.

       "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

       There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

       But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

       And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Ephesians 4:1-16


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Some quotes from "War on the Saints" By Jesse Penn-Lewis