The Gospel – its own apologetic

From the beginning Christianity has been a proclamation, not a thesis supported by various logical arguments. The apostles called for commitment to Christ by preaching the gospel of sin, righteousness and judgment (Jn. 16:8-11). When that emphasis has been diluted or abandoned, as it has to a very large extent today, the glory of the Lord has departed, the power of the church has been weakened, and belief in God has faded away.

Gerald Bray in The Doctrine of God

I would add something, but I think this speaks for itself.

7 thoughts on “The Gospel – its own apologetic

  1. Have you read Bray’s book – “Biblical Interpretation, Past and Present”? I found it very accessible, and I required my OTI students to read the sections on the OT. He is a good writer who shies away from the professorese.

    1. I know of it, but have not read it. It is on my short list of future reading. Bray seems to have an unusual talent of communicating very technical material in an accessible manner. I’m using the book this blog post references as a text for an undergrad Systematic Theology course.

  2. Indeed. Rom. 1:18-21 has me questioning the place of any positive apologetic at all! I think that we’re called to some kind of negative apologetic by 2 Cor. 10:5. But, the case for a positive apologetic from 1 Pet. 3:15 seems strained: I think it calls us to assert Christian theology as the explanation for our hope… that’s all.

    1. Actually, Bray’s comments above seem to preclude any “means” of communicating the gospel other than proclamation. So, in addition to argument this would leave out any sort of pandering to popular culture’s norms. We don’t need no bongo to share our love for Jesus! It remains to be seen whether jumping up and down for Jesus will be a better form of proclamation than simple verbal presentation and the singing of theologically competent songs.

  3. But Paul himself in Acts 17 used a brief apologetic to reason with the Greeks, who did not have an understanding of the true God, sin, the Word of God, and the need for a Messiah. Preaching the gospel to the Jews was a much simpler proposition – they knew the Word, they knew the history laid down by the one true God, they knew that a Messiah was coming – they just missed Him when He came. The Greeks, however, knew none of this, so Paul had to take them back to the beginning, the Creator God, and give an albeit brief apologetic.

  4. Granted, the definition of apologia can be pretty broad. If you examine Acts 17, however, you find little of the so-called classical apologetics — no first cause, prime mover, or teleological arguments. Instead, you find an assertion of a particular narrative of reality. Although, I am not so naive as to deny that even the so-called classical apologetics assumes a narrative. Paul appeals to the philosophers’ own sources of authority, but he really refrains from arguing for the faith after the manner that Aquinas developed following Aristotle.

    The gospel lives by clear proclamation not by clever argumentation.

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