A Fundamental Misunderstanding
Today I received an email from an organization dedicated to teaching Christian apologetics.
Apologetics seeks to give a rational and reasonable defense of the Christian faith, and benefits believers and unbelievers alike. Apologetics provides believers with an informed faith; and unbelievers who have an open mind with something deep and worthwhile to think about. All to the end that they might come to baptism, obtain the remission of sins, and gain eternal communion with God in Christ.
When a Christian explains how the theories of evolution demand more faith than belief in the six day creation confessed in Genesis 1:1 - 2:3, he is engaging in apologetics.
Nonetheless apologetics has its limits. Unbelief cannot be overcome by logic, but only by the hearing of God's Word. For it alone has the power to convince sinful humanity of all the Christian verities.
The organization that contacted me today entitles its upcoming seminar: Can Your Students Explain Why The New Testament Is Reliable. The question immediately causes me to ask another question: Reliable for what?
The seminar, though borne of good intent, labors under the common Protestant error that the Bible is a textbook of theological truths and doctrines that answeres every question. To be sure the Bible contains those things. Incomparably so! There is no more reliable source of truth to be found. But the Bible cannot be studied like a text book.
Instead, the Bible is the church's foundation for worshiping the Father in Spirit and Truth (Jn 4:24) and has no life apart from that worship.
Think of a lovely aquarium filled with exotic fish. You can gaze in wonder at them for hours. You can admire them, study them and praise God for their beauty and purpose. But only within the aquarium. Should you take them out of their proper setting and try enjoy them the results would be disastrous.
This is how it is with Sacred Scripture. It has no independent life apart from the worshiping community. Nor is it a text book at all, but a worship book from beginning to end. One given us by God to be used in the church, by the church and for the church. There its goodness, truth and beauty are made obvious to all who have ears to hear.