Do Christians Get Brownie Points For Being Ignorant? Is Anti-Intellectualism Biblical?

by Eric Chabot

Time to Wake Up?

“It is no longer enough for you Christians to believe something. We won’t accept simple belief.” You have to be able to explain your beliefs and defend them to a growing number of skeptics who do not hold to your assumptions. Step up to the plate, or stop trying to present Christianity as a valid system.”

These were some comments made by a listener who phoned into a radio debate between a Christian and an atheist in the Spring of 2007.

All of us in the apologetics endeavor know that there are plenty of people who aren’t familiar with apologetics. And in some cases, I find myself giving an apologetic for the need for Christian apologetics. Of course, God has told us to do apologetics. Peter gives a verbal defense of the faith: 1 Peter 3:15:16 (J.N.T): “But treat the Messiah as holy as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you yet with humility and fear. Keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are spoken against, those who abuse the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah may be put to shame.”

In the context of this passage, Peter is writing to a group of persecuted Christians. The word “Lord” (Gr. Kyrios), is an indication of Jesus’ divine status (Acts 2:34-36). In Paul’s letters, the title “the Lord” is often a substitute for Jesus’ name. If Jesus is truly the Lord of our lives, we will desire to make an application of 1 Peter 3:15. Peter does not just suggest we be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us, but he commands that we do it! As we are called to give a reason for what we believe, it is imperative that we follow the pattern that Peter has left us. We are called to be both gentle and respectful.

J.S. Reid offers a formal definition of apologetics:

“The word apology and its cognate Apologetics are of Greek origin. Apologia (in general, meaning defense), and its verbal form apolgoumai (make a defense) are words used in classical Greek, in New Testament Greek, and also in Patristic writings. Their meaning in three linguistic forms does not differ significantly. But it is with their employment in the New Testament that we are concerned. The words appear with some frequency. The lexicons show that apologia occurs about eight times and the verbal form about eleven. This is evidence enough to show pretty accurately what their meaning is. It appears that the verbal form always and the nominal form usually, denote an answer given in reply to a charge leveled against an individual or an argument justifying a claim advanced by an individual.” (1)

In the book Five Views of Apologetics, John Frame says apologetics has three elements for both the Christian and the seeker: (1) proof, rational confirmation for faith; (2) defense, replies to criticisms; (3) offense, bringing criticisms against non- Christian ideas.

So despite offering some clarifications about apologetics, I generally hear the objection, “The Holy Spirit doesn’t need us to do apologetics. We just preach the Gospel and He is the one who opens the heart of the individual.” So with this in mind, here are some points to remember about the relationship between The Holy Spirit and how He uses apologetics…

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Do Christians Get Brownie Points For Being Ignorant? Is Anti-Intellectualism Biblical? « Ratio Christi-Ohio State University

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