Monday, March 24, 2014

Defending a Lion

Several "Christian" films1 are opening in theaters this year, one of which centers on a philosophy student's attempt to prove to his classmates that God exists.  I haven't seen the movie; I've only read this review, which brought to mind a passage from Martyn Lloyd-Jones' Authority:
I am not sure that apologetics has not been the curse of evangelical Christianity for the last twenty to thirty years. I am not saying that apologetics is not necessary. But I am suggesting that, with a kind of worldly wisdom, we have been approaching the world on the grounds of apologetics instead of (with the apostle Paul), determining not to know anything 'save Christ crucified'...We assert Him, we proclaim Him, we start with Him, because He is the ultimate and the final authority. We start with the fact of Jesus Christ, because He is really at the centre of the whole of our position and the whole of our case rests upon Him. It is to me interesting and rather extraordinary that Evangelicals should ever seem to forget this...I am convinced that most of our troubles today are due to the fact that we have become so immersed in secondary details that we have lost the main picture. We are missing the whole, because of our interest in the parts. If we could but stand back and just look at the New Testament and the whole Bible with fresh eyes, I believe we would be rather amazed at the fact that the really big claim, which is made in the whole of the New Testament, is for the supreme authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. If what they say about Jesus is not true then they have nothing much at all to offer us. (pp. 14 -15)
I've been pondering this idea quite a bit lately, that believers (myself included) are often more prone to speak based on their assumptions about God rather than relying on God's Word itself. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the necessity of staying in the Word so that we can offer biblical, sound advice to others. As my Sunday School class has gone further in the Book of Job, I keep coming back to this key concept. For example, when Job tells his friends that they "...lift me up on this wind; you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm" (Job. 30:22), I think of Ephesians 4:12-14. Paul exhorts us to pursue spiritual maturity "that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.."

Why is it that instead of giving others pure spiritual milk, we offer the theological fluff that's so plentiful these days? Is it our belief that the sugary stuff is easier to swallow? Or is it our own lack of devotion to the Word that makes us feel inadequate to defend it?

Even if we guard against offering fluff, there is the danger of believing that our words - rather than the Word - can bring people to salvation.  Yet the apostle Paul tells us that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). And the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, "The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation." (Q. 89) (see Nehemiah 8:8-9, Acts 20:32, Romans 10:14-17, 2 Timothy 3:15-17)

Spurgeon said, "The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself." I don't believe he was intimating that apologetics is not necessary; rather, I believe he knew this truth: that if we speak the Word, we won't have to rely on man-made defenses of God. Why would we want to use the dull knife of our own logic, when we have the two-edged sword of God's Word? (Hebrews 4:12)

Which is one reason this blog exists - to encourage women to know the Word and to know Whom we have believed. As Rebecca wrote in her first post here,
If you were to ask me what practical use there is for theology, this is the answer I'd give. Right living begins with right theology; solid theology builds solid women. 

But theology is much more than motivation for right living. It soars above the practical to the doxological; it is down-to-earth—and up-to-heaven, too. The overflow of the love for God that grows from theology learned well is praise. Theology writes the hymnal of the Christian heart. (emphasis mine)
Studying the Word of God isn't as easy as reading the latest how-to guide or popular devotional. But the rewards will be greater than anything we can imagine. And with that goal in mind, we ordinary theologians keep writing in hopes that we will exhort you to make this your first priority: "...know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)

__________________________________
1I have not seen any of these films and make no claim as to their "Christianity"; I use the term as the films themselves are labeled.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Melissa. I think all too often we need to be reminded that the Word is living. And I'm glad this blog exists. You women are such an encouragement.

    ReplyDelete