Apologetics Church Perspective Theology

Don’t Be An Apologetics Elitist!

“You fight great, but I’m a great fighter.” –Apollo Creed

That’s a great line from the final moments of Rocky III, one of my favorite movies.

It’s a point well taken and I’m afraid a weakness of mine. No, I should confess that it is actually a bad attitude that I have to own.

My guilt doesn’t necessarily stem from my methods of apologizing or defending the Christian Faith, although I’m sure some should. What I’m actually referring to is my attitude regarding my vocation.

I’m a professional driver…

and if you don’t believe me just ask my wife, I’ve told her several times.

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apologetics elitist-dont attempt these manuevers

Seriously, I am, but not in the sense that I’m like the guy in the disclaimer on the Lexus commercial. “Don’t attempt these maneuvers. Car driven by a professional driver”.

I do drive for a living though,  have been extensively trained and am retrained quite often, and am reminded daily of my training. Driving is more than 50% of my job responsibility and I am considered a professional.

The problem that I have is that I make that fact quite clear in my attitude in too many situations.

I condescend to other drivers…

not only in my method but my madness. I communicate by driving defensively but I go too far when I tell others that I am simply more qualified than they are.

It’d be easy for me to limit my transgressions of aggressions to the occasional defensive cutting off of an aggressive driver, the necessary pass of a slow driver, or even speeding up when someone tries to pass me on the right hand side-a dangerous maneuver that can’t be tolerated. But, that would only be half-truths.

I am also guilty of sneaking in condescending remarks and statements while acting as if I am simply stating the facts. In so many words I am more than happy to let you know, even discretely, that I am the pro and you are not.

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.[1]

I am a driving elitist.

That’s bad enough and it requires some confession pretty often. Repentance is tougher though. I like being the most qualified person in the room. It’s a malady most of us reserve for the politically minded.

There’s an elitism that is potentially more harmful though. You may have witnessed it. You may be guilty of it.

This elitist comes wearing a few different hats. They might be an apologist, a theologian, or a pastor.

I’ve met some high-profile apologists. People like Frank Turek, Greg Koukl, and J Warner Wallace seem to always be approachable and authentically humble people. It’s well known that many other apologists suffer from elitism though. It’s just too easy to have a haughty attitude when you have knowledge and/or training that the majority of folk in your church haven’t experienced.

I heard a pastor practice his own form of elitism a long time ago. He was talking to someone about discipling an excited young Christian man who had studied hard, had a heart to do God’s work, but had no formal Christian accolades. He had no MDiv, no ThM, no PhD, but he had drive, he studied hard, he needed direction. The pastor didn’t speak of their relationship as a mentor/teacher and a young exuberant student though. He saw himself as the more qualified, level headed, seminary trained pastor and the boy as the “who do you think you are” kid with illusions of grandeur.

It’s hard not to do this…

even when you’re only slightly trained. One may catch himself or herself correcting, butting in, or even filling in when that behavior is not helpful. The motive-look at me!

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith[2]

Apologetics is prone to this.

After all, isn’t it our job to correct people’s bad theology or philosophy and protect the Faith?

So, what can you do about it?

Well, the first step to curbing this inhospitable trait is recognizing the fact that we have it, taking ownership of it, and confessing it in prayer often.

After that, all you have to do is STOP IT

 

For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also[3]-Calvin

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 12:16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Ti 1:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Donnie
I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice
http://www.southernbyhisgrace.com

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