How a Weak Gospel Leads to Apathy About Apologetics

guest post by Eric Chabot*

apologetics - apathyIntroduction

Many of us in the apologetic endeavor have lamented over the fact that there is still a lot of apathy among churches about the need to defend the faith in the public square.  I am convinced that one of the problems is that we are preaching a very weak Gospel. And if anything, it is a pragmatic Gospel. In other words, the Gospel is more about what Jesus can do for me. This can lead to a very self-centered Christian life rather than a mission centered Christian life. Don’t get me wrong: I know churches send their people on short- term mission trips. This is done to try to get people to  break Christians out of their narcissistic attitudes. But let me mention some other issues:

Can someone accept Jesus as Savior but not Lord?

To make Jesus as Lord of one’s life is a lifelong process. It is a call to daily surrender. It certainly means we are under NEW MANAGEMENT. We are called to yield our time, bodies, goals and gifts to His Lordship. Is it easy? No, not at all. I struggle with this quite a bit. But we do have a Helper to give us the grace to do it (hint: study the ministry of the Holy Spirit). So in other words, we say ‘”Lord Jesus, have your way with me. I am relying on the work of the Holy Spirit to yield myself to you on a daily basis.”

There is no doubt that in a world that wants instant results, self- sacrifice is tough sell.  As I said, part of the problem is that churches preach a Gospel that promises that Jesus will fix all our problems. And when things get tough, many people bail out. A long-term commitment to our Lord which involves self-denial (Luke 9:23) is hard to swallow for those that have been told The American Dream is the way of happiness.

Being a “Doulos”

This leads me to bring up the issue of slavery in the New Testament: The epistolary literature focuses on the figurative usage of slave. These books frequently use the primary term for slave, doulos [dou’lo”], as a metaphor of being a servant to God ( Rom 1:1 ; Php 1:1 ; 2 Tim 2:24 ; Titus 1:1 ; James 1:1 ; 1 Peter 2:16 ; 2 Peter 1:1 ), to fellow believers ( 2 Cor 4:5 ), and even to sin ( Rom 6:20 ). This is a most striking metaphor because a Greek person linked personal dignity and freedom together. Freedom was power and something about which to be proud. The use of doulos [dou’lo”] to image relationship to God and fellow believers sent a message of commitment and abandonment of autonomy ( 1 Cor 7:22 ; Eph 6:6 ; Col 4:12 ). [1]

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To become a slave of Christ was a tough sell in the first century (who would make up such a thing?) and it is tough thing to swallow today. Also, in a culture that demands personal autonomy and personal rights, it is only going to get harder. Perhaps this is why Jesus said “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”- Matthew 7: 13-14.

What’s My Point?

If we preach the Biblical Gospel and show that the Gospel will call for self-denial, we will see whether people really want to follow our Lord. And when we truly make commitment to follow Him, we will want to attempt to obey his commandments. Hence, when we step out and obey Him, we will want to see people become disciples of Jesus (Matt 28:19). It is when we engage others about the Gospel that we will get objections and be forced to defend our faith (1.Pet.3:15-16). Therefore, apologetics will no longer be an option.

Sources:

[1] Walter A. Elwell , Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: MI: Baker Books) 1996.

The Poached Egg Apologetics*Apologist Eric Chabot is a Ratio Christi chapter director and blogs regularly at the Ratio Christi-Ohio State University blog.

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED RESOURCES FOR FURTHER READING:

Why Trust Jesus?: An Honest Look at Doubts, Plans, Hurts, Desires, Fears, Questions, and Pleasures

The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters

 

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