Go Forth And Shut Up About The Gospel!
by Lindsay Brooks
I love the very shape of the Christian life.
Consider the way we start our days in prayer: how it puts us in our place in the universe and in relationship to a holy God; how it readies us for a day of loving our neighbors as ourselves. It prioritizes our works, helping us to attend the weightier matters of life and not get confused about what is heavy and what is light. Family takes its place at the epicenter of the practical exercise of our faith, and thus becomes a rich ground where other relationships can take root and grow because of the forgiveness that is the central imperative in all our dealings with others.
After appreciating the warp and woof of how we nurture our Christianity and it nurtures us, I’m prompted to consider the place of apologetics in this Christian life. How does our defense and explanation of the notion that we have peace with God, afforded us by a foreign righteousness imputed to us, figure in all this? Can’t we just do as the quote oft attributed to St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words?”
As charming as that notion seems, our answer has to be “no.” God has ordained an end, the calling of a peculiar people to Himself, and also ordained the means, the preached word. This is a preaching of propositional sentences regarding the nature of man, of God and of the only means of reconciliation between God and man—the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary. These are truths that cannot be conveyed by simply living well and waiting for someone to notice and ask, “Hey, what’s the reason for the hope that is in you?”
But affirmations beget denials, and more so with the subject of religion than any other. The Bible says that man is fallen. Yet many believe the famous quote from the inspirational book The Diary of Anne Frank, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are basically good at heart.” Either we’re talking about two different things or one of us is wrong. This is certainly not the kind of question that is answered by simply living life as a nice person. It must be met with discourse while we remain nice people.
Christianity is filled with propositions like this that must be explained and defended…
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