Monday, October 31, 2005

Missional Apologetics Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Okay, I think I’m finally getting it. We can’t rely on “old methodologies” anymore because they just “don’t work.” According to the Institute for Creative Explanations, several thousand “counter-cult ministries” around the globe have logged approximately 120 gazillion hours of “confrontational apologetics” since Walter Martin first started wearing “crosses” in front of his “ties,” and what do they have to show for it? Even though more people than ever are using Watchtower and Awake! Magazines as reefer wrappers, far fewer Jehovah’s Witnesses are becoming Christians today than they were shortly after midnight on December 31, 1975. To make matters worse, even though not a single Mormon institution of higher education offers a course in Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics, you can now find copies of the Book of Mormon right next to Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms. So it’s painfully obvious that all our outreach efforts have failed, and we must thus completely forget about everything we’ve ever done to bring these cultists (uh, New Religious Movement members) to Christ and come up with a completely new strategy.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that as I try to even skim the surface of the impressive body of literature that has been accumulating on What To Do About This Major Disaster, I soon become so overwhelmed by all its technical terminology that my mind drifts back to the “Green Acres” theme song, and I start seeing Eddie Albert bouncing on a tractor in a three-piece suit. But despite being totally out of my depth here, I think I’ve gleaned just a few basic principles that separate the old way from the new way, and upon which I think we would all do well to reflect. And as part of my unceasing effort to boil down exceedingly complex issues so that even a counter-cult apologist can understand them, I present them as follows:

Talking to pagans the way Christ spoke to the Canaanite woman (“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” Matthew 15:26): BAD!

Talking to pagans the way Paul did on Mars Hill (Acts 17:15-34): GOOD!

Pointing out that Paul essentially called the Athenians “ignorant” and openly contradicted their most basic metaphysical assumptions: BAD!

Using very big words to convey very small ideas: GOOD!

Depending solely on special revelation (i.e., Scripture) to convert people: BAD!

Depending on general revelation (including pagan texts, practices, etc.): GOOD!

Fearing syncretism, or even being a little too cautious about it: BAD!

Re-theologizing away undesirable portions of the Protestant Reformation: GOOD!

Accusing anyone who opposes these procedures of being a knee-jerk reactionary who really needs to educate one’s self by reading all the missional literature on this subject before opening one’s big, fat mouth: ALSO GOOD!


Anonymous said...

Preach on!

Anonymous said...

I like what you said. However, in the realm of Mormonism, I wonder if the "explosion" has not been caused because the methods have changed, but because the emphasis has been changed in the Mormon Church. Over the last 15-20 years they have done everything to appear more Christian. I don't feel the counter-cultists have done much to "counter" this, and instead their tactics have only made LDS more mad and set in their ways. It seems the relatinalists are trying to "counter" this movement. I'm not saying one is right and the other is wrong. What I am saying is that perhaps the relationalists aren't responsible here, for in fact they are trying to fight the very battle that I don't see counter-cultists caring much about. I wish there was a way to combine efforts, work together, and stop the movement of Mormons being accepted as another Christiand denomination.

Call Me Ishmael said...

What explosion? I didn't hear any explosion. Did I mention an explosion?
And who are these relationalists? Are they related to relativists?
And why do you think that it's only been in the last 15 to 20 years that the Mormon church has been trying to appear more Christian? The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was selling albums of hymns, Christmas carols, and what-not back when Thomas Edison still had patents on the phonograph.

John W. Morehead said...

Ishmael, I love the humor in your blog. Maybe I'm reading too much into this post (much as evangelicals do with the Bible code!), but I "heard" echoes from themes touched on in my blog, and with a heavy dose of sarchasm. Humor can indeed be a good communication tool, but I fear that the post missed the mark in touching on the differences between heresy-rationalist and missional apologetics.

Call Me Ishmael said...

Fear not.

Anonymous said...

"Talking to pagans the way Christ spoke to the Canaanite woman (“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” Matthew 15:26): BAD!"

How dare we call what Jesus did as being bad. DH

Call Me Ishmael said...

Yes. How dare we?

John Smulo said...

Very interesting, I'd say in response to John Morehead that this sounds even more like what I've written on my blog!

What are your thoughts about apologetics Ishmael?