It strikes me once again that the hardest thing about teaching apologetics is convincing people they ought to do it. After writing about it since the fall of 2014, I find myself continually writing about the need for apologetics rather than apologetics per se. It remains true that most church-going folks aren’t convinced that antinomian apologetics is antithetical.
A pastor friend likes to joke about the pet theological terms one of my favorite theologians and apologists likes to use. Dr. R C Sproul likes to throw out the term antinomian more often than some. Unfortunately, I’m cut from the same cloth. I believe that the Church is poorer when she neglects the historically and theologically rich language of her ancestors. So, antinomian it is.
The term antinomian is a theological term used to describe an attitude toward grace that gives a person license to sin. It is what Paul argues against in Romans 6.
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!” (Romans 6:15, NET)
Antinomianism is the belief system that disregards our duty to present ourselves as “slaves to righteousness” to God rather than remain “slaves to sin”. That makes a mockery of grace by taking advantage of what God has freely given. Antinomianism is an attitude of “I’m good with God so I can do whatever I want” and tells a story of cheap grace and an unchanged heart. It says, “I can live how I want; God’s will will be done regardless of me; holiness is merely how I’ll become after I die”.
In apologetics, antinomianism regards the hard work that must be done as someone else’s. It sees apologetics as the job of the pastor. It leaves the heavy lifting of loving the Lord with all your mind to those with a more ‘intellectual personality’.
Antinomian apologetics is no less sin than any other kind of antinomianism.
Antinomianism apologetics, the attitude that says 1 Peter 3:15 is not for me, is antithetical to the Christian life. It is the same as saying that the Great Commission is meant only for those with the gift of evangelism. Nothing is farther from the truth.
Over and over apologists and pastors have taught that the imperative (command) in 1 Peter 3:15 applies to each Christian. To ignore Peter when he writes “Sanctify Christ as Lord” would be at your own peril. To miss the prescription of how we do that, “be ready always to give a defense for the hope we have”, would be more than slothful. The fact is, most people already know that they ought to be engaging in apologetics. They just don’t want to take the time or do the work that it requires.
Here’s my point. If that’s your attitude, your attitude does not fit inside the boundaries of Christianity. In fact, it wars against it intellectually. It is antithetical. It is sin.
There! I said it!
Now, I know that there are those who may whine that “I’m just not an intellectual”. Or, some might say that “I just want to love Jesus”. I hear you.
But, let me ask you a question. Do you think the Apostle Peter was an intellectual? He was a fisherman. He was a blue-collar country boy with a big mouth. I’ll bet that if he lived in our part of the country he’d ride a pickup truck with a rifle in the back window and listen to bluegrass.
Yet, he stood before the Sanhedrin and said that he would obey God rather than men. He preached to thousands that they had crucified Jesus. He wrote to the persecuted Church and encouraged them to be ready to defend the Faith.
Do you feel guilty yet?
Oh, and I’ve heard local churches described or excused as “just a little country church” or “just a blue-collar church” as if that’s original. I even had one pastor and one of his elders tell me that “our church is more like a hospital”. Really?
Well, bless your heart.
I might accept the hospital description if by hospital they meant a healing center with a grand medical school attached where patients came in to be healed and then were trained to go out and heal others. They didn’t mean that so I’m going to discard that as just another bad excuse.
If folks aren’t encouraged to sanctify Jesus as Lord in their local church, where should they? If local churches don’t train people to give a reason for their hope, who will? When we look at our culture and its present demise, why are we surprised?
When the local church awakens to its responsibility as a place of discipleship where Christians are taught and trained to engage a culture opposed to Christ, the culture will begin to look different. But it won’t happen one day sooner!
All we need is love.
There are always those naysayers who oppose arguments and say we can never argue someone into heaven. “We just need to love people”, they say.
Well, I have some news for you. You can’t love anyone into heaven either.
In fact, it is my position that you don’t truly love someone who you’re unwilling to tell the truth. If you want to love your neighbor, you must engage them with the things that matter most. In the end, there’s no participation award. They don’t get points for trying. There’s no “E” for effort.
I think if you’re unwilling to risk your relationship to the extent that you’d neglect to tell the truth about reality, it’s not really them that you love. If you choose to avoid the risk of being called judgmental or intolerant just so you can maintain a relationship, it’s the relationship that you love, not the person.
Apologetics Antinomianism is Antithetical
If you decide to neglect your duty of being ready to give a defense for the hope you have, you are an apologetics antinomian. You take for granted the Gospel and mock the grace of God and neglect God’s moral law to love God with all your mind. You choose comfort over work and license over duty.
That attitude is antithetical to neighbor love, righteous living, the marks of a church, and the Gospel. Apologetics is in that way a non-negotiable.