If a Lion Could Talk: The Apologist’s Imperative

by Jonathan Ruth

if a lion could talkSo my dad gave me an assignment the other day…

Title: The Apologist’s Imperative
Subject: Wittgenstein’s famous statement, “If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.”
Tools and hints: 1) Contextualization and 2) Meta-communication

It was a perfect topic for me to wrestle with because, well, essentially, it relates perfectly to my intended purpose for this site.  So, here’s what I came up with…let me know what you think:

Apologetics is the theological discipline concerned with producing systematic, well-reasoned arguments that defend the divinity and authority of Christianity.  An imperative is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “an obligatory act or duty.”  We are therefore concerning ourselves here with discussing the essential, necessary responsibility of anyone who claims Christ – that is, how do we effectively communicate the Gospel message of salvation to the world?

Using Wittgenstein’s quote above, I can infer certain characteristics of effective communication – principally, that a shared language is a basic helpful ingredient.  If a lion spoke to me, then I would have absolutely no way to discern what he was telling me because he and I would not (presumably) speak the same language.  The same could be said for an individual that approached me and asked me a question in Mandarin Chinese.  This truth is as old as time.  When God wanted to halt construction on the Tower of Babel, He confused the language of the workers.  Verbal communication was an a priori requirement, and without it they were lost…


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