Losing God in the Debate
Apologetics is the term we use to describe the discipline of defending the gospel. The word “defense” is somewhat misleading because it assumes that all the apologist does is to ward off the attacks of his opponents. Yet apologetics has an element that is very much on the offense. By synthesizing theology with philosophy apologetics seeks to enter the worldview debate by proving that the Bible offers the most logical conclusions on why the world is as it is. The beauty of apologetics is that it does not necessarily rely on the Bible as its starting point. The Bible becomes an end. An apologist is then able to enter a secular environment and talk about almost any subject from biology to ethics. These are forums that have otherwise exiled religious faith, but the apologist is able to reenter them and contend that “yes” the Bible has something important to say as well.
Being an apologist is a very Biblical thing to do. Some of Paul’s speeches in Acts are known as apologias (Acts 22:1). Peter implored his readers to live a compelling life in Christ, one that would provoke questions. In doing so Peter instructed them to be ready to give an apologia, a defense for their hope (1 Peter 3:15). No Christian is exempt from this skill. If we are to engage the world with the gospel, there will be questions. We do not honor Christ if we cannot offer logical answers.
However, in becoming “apologetic” we must make sure that we do not lose God in the debate. I think this is often the case with Genesis. When most people hear the Book of Genesis their mind immediately races to the creation debate. I am a creationist and I think there is an important forum in which we need to engage this debate, but I am concerned that the church has become so “creationist” that it has lost its passion for the Creator. It is a subtle trap indeed.
The Book of Genesis, measured in chapters, offers us 50. Only two of the chapters inform us of God’s actions in creating. If creation is all we see, what becomes of the other 48? When we see in the Book of Genesis only that “In the beginning God created the world” we miss the overarching theme of the Book, that “this” is who He is. Genesis offers us relatively little on the physical science and physics of how God brought the universe to be, but it paints us a marvelous picture of what this God is like. Genesis is less concerned with “how.” The concern of Genesis is “who.”
The church has a great defense to make, but it also has a powerful story to tell. In the end no one will be argued into the Kingdom of Heaven. No one comes to Christ because they have lost a debate. Paul said that the gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). We must recognize in this statement that it is not up to us to make the gospel believable, nor is it our duty to make it powerful. It already is. Ultimately our responsibility is to tell the story. This is what the author of Genesis endeavors to do. He has nothing to prove, only a wonderful story to tell. Genesis is not a debate. It is God introduced.
We need apologetics. We have something to say to science. We do not need to leave the origins debate. At the same time the church must realize its greatest asset is not logic. The best of who we are is our story, the power of the gospel that has saved us. Let’s be sure to tell the story so that we do not lose God in the debate.