Thoughts on apologetics and theological discussions

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J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 23 2021 2:38 PM | Locked

MJ. Smith:
To me, apologetics against another group is non-sensical -- apologetics would be how to explain one's own faith to someone of that faith NOT how to show someone of that faith why they are wrong. [...] I distinguish between a discussion about theology in which the focus is on the content of a particular view with no regard as to the accuracy of that view (factual subject to "standard' logic) and a discussion of theology where the focus is on the accuracy of a particular view or a comparison of multiple views to ascertain which theological belief is more accurate (subject to "belief revision" logic).

Maybe I haven't understood you, but if you believe there is a legitimate place for what you call a discussion of theology then why not think there is a legitimate place for a discussion of different faiths or worldviews (i.e., to discuss the inaccuracies of another faith or worldview)? 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 23 2021 2:46 PM | Locked

J. Remington Bowling:
Maybe I haven't understood you, but if you believe there is a legitimate place for what you call a discussion of theology then why not think there is a legitimate place for a discussion of different faiths or worldviews (i.e., to discuss the inaccuracies of another faith or worldview)? 

You did misunderstanding me. I am saying that such works don't fall under "apologetics" ... I would put them under a branch of dogmatic/confessional theology OR history OR religious studies depending upon the approach of the author. I would NOT place them in the same category because the type of logic that applies is different - classical logic vs. belief revision logic. The former is oriented towards individual statements while the latter is more concerned with how an individual statement interacts with a cohesive system of beliefs.

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 4 2021 4:01 PM | Locked

Gregory Lawhorn:
"Please keep your discussions focused on Logos Bible Software: our software, products, websites, company, tools, etc." 

Hi Gregory.

Context is important. MJ posts in this threads seem to me are due to some answers she got in another thread:

https://community.logos.com/forums/p/199793/1159673.aspx#1159673

So if she is gathering information for a possible future development of an apologetic guide, I think is proper she clarifies terms, so that people understand what we are dealing with.

A poster in the apologetics guide thread articulated the issue nicely in my opinion:

PL posted:

"I don't know if this belongs to an Apologetics Guide, or a separate new guide, but you know those "3/4/5 Views on xyz" "Perspectives on xyz" books? It would be nice to have a starter guide on the many controversial / debated / unsettled issues/topics within the broader Christian faith, e.g. baptism, Communion, predestination, church government, supernatural gifts, church & politics, end times, divorce and remarriage, women ordination, etc etc. (all the stuff we're not supposed to talk about on this forum).

Eventually I'd like to see all these specialty guides be centralized in one place, i.e. Factbook, rather than having Theology Guide, Counseling Guide, Topic Guide, Sermon Starter Guide, as well as the one(s) proposed here."

So I can understand trying to clarify the subject the way MJ is doing it, even if it means bending the guidelines a bit.

It seems to me that MJ does not want to polemicize, but to find a correct conceptual framework where apologetics can be fully explored for comparison, understanding, etc.

Of course this is just my opinion as a non-expert.

Peace and grace.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 5 2021 4:39 AM | Locked

I realize this topic has a long, "glorious" history...but it is worth considering whether "apologizing" for YHWH is something He appreciates, or whether it is something that enrages Him. I don't think He wants "your" defense. I'm pretty sure He rejects it. It is a poor assumption to think that "be ready to give an answer" equates to "defending ':Elohhiym". Explaining His will and defending what you believe aren't the same thing. 'Iyyohbh's three miserable comforters all defended ':Elohhiym, and all it got them was ire. Job 13:12 is His opinion of "human defenses of His character". Rather, any defense we present should be for ourselves to Him...based on how well we fulfill His will. That's what 'Iyyohbh did, and he was ultimately commended for it, after his eyes were finally opened to what he didn't understand of YHWH.

For the sake of clarity, YHWH simply needs no defense and He never offers a defense. He expresses His will and expects a pliable response. If He doesn't get it, He eliminates the problem. Suggesting His need of a defense is offensive to Him.

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scooter | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 5 2021 5:47 AM | Locked

David Paul:
'Iyyohbh's

I do not know what this means.  

David, when I see your name, I purposely seek to read your postings, as you are lucid writer.

But, when you have these type of words too prevalent, I stop reading, because I do not understand.

Perhaps, you could transliterate as you write.  Thank you.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 5 2021 5:50 AM | Locked

Sorry for confusion. I thought the reference to the "miserable comforters" would make it clear. 'Iyyohbh is the Hebrew name for Job.

It's pronounced ee-YOBE.

EDIT: Ha, I noticed that I said there were four of them instead of three. I'm sure that didn't help. I guess I was thinking of ':Eliyhuu' (Elihu), too.

It's pronounced eh-lee-WHO.

I fixed it.

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scooter | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 5 2021 5:58 AM | Locked

David Paul:

Sorry for confusion. I thought the reference to the "miserable comforters" would make it clear. 'Iyyohbh is the Hebrew name for Job.

It's pronounced ee-YOBE.

I guessed it might be Job, but was unsure, as I have no formal Christian training.  I would have incorrectly assumed 'lie-YOBBAH.'

Thanks for the help, David.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 5 2021 6:04 AM | Locked

Yep, the sans serif "I" can sneak up on you. Clearer in a serif font.

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 5 2021 7:33 AM | Locked

David Paul:
For the sake of clarity, YHWH simply needs no defense and He never offers a defense. He expresses His will and expects a pliable response. If He doesn't get it, He eliminates the problem. Suggesting His need of a defense is offensive to Him.

Hi David Paul:

We all come from different traditions and experiences. I see your point, but for some of us, we believe there is a mandate to give a reasonable response when asked about our faith.

There are conceptual ideas that imply that a faith not analyzed in deep, is not really an acceptable faith, since mature stages of faith require understanding well the principles behind one's choice of theological constructs.

Salvation is individual, and it seems that the NT encourages one to look closely at what we believe, why we do (or should), and what to do in real life praxis about it.

Apologetics helps provide a framework to analyze faith. God is a God of clarity, order, and coherence, so we must see that our chosen system reflects that.

Jesus did not seem to be upset when disciples wanted to know more about the Kingdom, God, the prophecies, etc. On the contrary, He provided much needed guidance, and expects of His disciples to teach His commands, which may entail giving reason the why of some.

Different angle .

God is good and His h:hesed is forever.  He is patient with us, since remembers we are dust on the way of becoming living stones in the New Temple of God (the Body of Christ).

That does not mean we will become the Spirit that dwells in that New Temple. Meaning we will never have self-existence, which is a non-communicable attribute of God and we will never have Aseity like He has.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 5 2021 1:43 PM | Locked

Hamilton Ramos:
Jesus did not seem to be upset when disciples wanted to know more about the Kingdom, God, the prophecies, etc. On the contrary, He provided much needed guidance, and expects of His disciples to teach His commands, which may entail giving reason the why of some.

Explaining YHWH and His purposes and intentions is perfectly fine; it's even obligatory. Defending YHWH is abhorrent to Him. Lk. 21:14-15 NASB95 seems to be a pretty clear injunction against prepared defenses.

Hamilton Ramos:
Apologetics helps provide a framework to analyze faith.

Does it? It seems to attempt much more, wandering into inappropriate realms. It seems to muddy waters rather than clear the air. Specifically, it seems to be a tool (which some might perceive as a weapon) for particularized self-justification. There are other -ologies that are better suited to appropriately occupy people's attention. Bibliology and theology are two that come to mind.

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 6 2021 6:24 AM | Locked

David Paul:
Does it? It seems to attempt much more, wandering into inappropriate realms. It seems to muddy waters rather than clear the air. Specifically, it seems to be a tool (which some might perceive as a weapon) for particularized self-justification.

True.

Sometimes it looks like if Christ is left out for Churchianity.

Peace and grace.

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 6 2021 7:39 AM | Locked

Apologetics exists to correct misconceptions and remove difficulties that a person can have that block them from considering the truth. It obviously doesn’t replace Grace. Removing intellectual difficulty ≠ belief.

So, as an example, “Catholic apologetics“ might focus on debunking false claims or putting teachings or statements from a different historical era into context to show why they’re reasonable. I’m sure that non-Catholics can think of their own examples too.

I think some people confuse apologetics with evangelism or proselytizing (the two are not the same thing).

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 6 2021 5:34 PM | Locked

David Wanat:
Apologetics exists to correct misconceptions and remove difficulties that a person can have that block them from considering the truth. It obviously doesn’t replace Grace. Removing intellectual difficulty ≠ belief.

Hi David, that sounds right. But until David Paul explained his point of view, I had not considered an issue:

Are we living epistles?

What good is to reason through arguments and give evidences, if our actions speak louder than our words?

So one may approach a person from an oriental religion and talk pretty and all, yet the person can probably see that there is a difference between a Christian member of Christianity, and a Church member part of Churchianity.

That right there would be a turn off to them most likely, if they perceive one is selling denomination, instead of proclaiming Christ and the Holy Spirit (Our Paraclete).

Are we followers of Christ or followers of a particular tradition? and this is particularly true when that tradition seems to be at odds with Jesus' teaching.

As far as living epistles, take Saint Francis, Muslims were so impressed with him, that told him that if all christians were like him, there would be no conflict. What kind of apologetics did he use to elicit such good impression on them?

Peace and grace.

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, May 6 2021 11:24 PM | Locked

It seems to me that “Churchianity” can be a loaded term used to make ad hominem attacks. So I’d be careful in using it.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 7 2021 6:27 AM | Locked

David Wanat:
It seems to me that “Churchianity” can be a loaded term used to make ad hominem attacks.

Of course...any tool can be misused...but that's is precisely the point. Apologetics often descends into (or never rises above) ad hominem attacks. And, of course, one can try to argue that "real" apologetics is nothing like that, but tell that to the abusers who insist they are "merely" engaging in apologetics. Aside from that, there's the unavoidable fact that the Church, pretty much just like Israel, has a checkered history consisting of many more black squares than white. It seems to me that Christianity needs a widespread Churchianity to be a real, enduring specter, for otherwise all the boundless mess must then be laid at its own feet. Perhaps it should be? This condition ought not be news. Many of the books available for purchase in Logos declare as much in their own marketing blurbs, offering their own contents as a remedy.

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 7 2021 7:00 AM | Locked

David Paul:

David Wanat:
It seems to me that “Churchianity” can be a loaded term used to make ad hominem attacks.

Of course...any tool can be misused...but that's is precisely the point. Apologetics often descends into (or never rises above) ad hominem attacks. And, of course, one can try to argue that "real" apologetics is nothing like that, but tell that to the abusers who insist they are "merely" engaging in apologetics. Aside from that, there's the unavoidable fact that the Church, pretty much just like Israel, has a checkered history consisting of many more black squares than white. It seems to me that Christianity needs a widespread Churchianity to be a real, enduring specter, for otherwise all the boundless mess must then be laid at its own feet. This condition ought not be news. Many of the books available for purchase in Logos declare as much in their own marketing blurbs, offering their own contents as a remedy.

You seem to be confusing “apologetics“ with “polemics.” The former is a defense of what is right. The latter is an attack on what is wrong. Both are tools, and you’ll see them used in the Epistles of St. Paul. Both can be used or misused. They are properly used with love of neighbor with the aim of teaching. They’re wrongly used when we reduce the person we are in discussion with as an enemy to be conquered. You seem to be focused on the abuse of apologetics, which is not a reason to reject it properly used. It’s a reminder that we need to teach the Greatest Commandment to those who evangelize.

CS Lewis’ Apologist’s Evening Prayer makes that point clear:

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 7 2021 7:28 AM | Locked

David Wanat:
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

You forgot to capitalize Trumpery.

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 7 2021 8:29 AM | Locked

David Paul:

David Wanat:
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

You forgot to capitalize Trumpery.

Why inject politics into the discussion?

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Jan Krohn | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 7 2021 9:11 AM | Locked

David Wanat:

David Paul:

David Wanat:
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

You forgot to capitalize Trumpery.

Why inject politics into the discussion?

Let's inject hymn texts instead.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 7 2021 10:40 AM | Locked

David Wanat:

Why inject politics into the discussion?

Are you kidding? A ball teed up that pretty? Yeah, I'm gonna take a swing at it!! Stick out tongue

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