I was recently challenged by someone about including a post about Bible teaching in the subject of apologetics. The purpose of this post is not to argue with the individual but to interact with the idea. I actually think that it is worth reflecting on the relationship between Bible teaching and apologetics and I appreciate his comment.
I suspect that part of the problem is that teaching the Bible seems so ordinary. After all, that is (or should be) happening every Sunday in every church. Apologetics, on the other hand, seems a bit more exotic.
I would like to ask this question: Would it be considered apologetics if a pastor taught the congregation…
- Philosophical arguments for the existence of God
- World religions
Many people would reply with the positive. But why would there be a question about the apologetic value of teaching the Bible?
For myself, I teach the Bible (both in my preaching and adjunct teaching of the New Testament) through an apologetic lens. When I teach apologetics, I focus on the biblical arguments. I don’t really know how to separate apologetics and biblical studies.
Another part of the problem may be that at some point philosophy and apologetics became closely linked. This goes back very early, even to the earliest apologists among the church fathers. This may be because one of the few academic careers that fit with proclaiming the Christian faith was philosophy. You just did not have professional biblical scholars (even the rabbis were not that).
If you were to ask someone how to become an apologist, at some point in the conversation they would say get a PhD in philosophy. I will tell you that I am an apologist and I have never taken even one course in philosophy, much less a PhD.
I am not against philosophy, nor am I refusing to study some philosophy. I am just saying that there are many others out there who are better philosophical apologists than I will ever be. That is why I focus on biblical (especially New Testament) apologetics and I am happy to do it.
Back to my original post on teaching the Bible. I still see the intentional teaching of the Bible, including principles of interpretation, to be highly apologetic. If I had a dollar for every apologetics problem that I have encountered that was based on bad hermeneutics, I would be a very rich man.
So to conclude, if we are going to see apologetics spread across our congregations, an important step of that is going to be pastors teaching their congregations about and giving them a hunger for the Bible.