Debate in Apologetics: Secondary Issues of Primary Importance

by Ken Mann

genesis oneSince it began Christianity has been involved in debates. From Jesus’ encounter with the Sadducees to dealing with early heresies on down to the present day, Christians have encountered arguments against their worldview. Learning to deal with external arguments is a central task of the Christian apologist.

There are however many doctrinal issues that are arguably internal debates within orthodox Christianity. Two qualities typically set these issues apart from other doctrinal topics that confront today’s apologists. First, both side of the discussion are typically considered orthodox views. Second, these topics sometimes generate far more “heat” than “light.”

So one might ask, what is at stake in these debates? Why bother engaging in them? Simply put, to engage such questions is at the heart of 1 Peter 3:15. The best way to know why you believe what you believe is to understand all the arguments for and against any given position.

Debates surrounding secondary issues hold a hidden danger for the apologetics project. It is sometimes argued that while orthodoxy may not be affected, the implications of a view may be problematic. The debate surrounding how the word “day” is interpreted in the first two chapters of Genesis is the canonical example of the deceptive power of arguing the implications of a view. There are a variety of interpretations on this subject. (A fair-minded and spirited discussion can be found in, The Genesis Debate : Three Views on the Days of Creation.) This post is concerned with what is known as the 24-hour view, more commonly known as young earth creationism or, in popular media, simply creationism.

For the sake of clarity I would like to offer my explanation of how the young earth view potentially harms apologetics. For the sake being irenic I will be brief. Proponents of the 24-hour view argue that the simplest, most obvious, reading of the creation narratives is six consecutive 24 hour days. They contend that other non-literal readings of yom (the English transliteration of the word translated “day”) open the door to treating other scriptures in a figurative manner. Given the nature of man, the nature of sin, and the necessity of salvation through the God-man Jesus are established in Genesis, this admonition should be taken seriously…

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Debate in Apologetics: Secondary Issues of Primary Importance | Hieropraxis

 

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