Can we argue someone into the Kingdom?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by D. Paul, Oct 13, 2009.

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  1. D. Paul

    D. Paul Puritan Board Sophomore

    From a Worldview class I attend, this comment came up that we can't argue someone into the Kingdom. I've heard it frequently. The idea is, of course, that the Holy Spirit is the one who moves on the heart, so our argument does not "save" a person. OK, so why are we in a Worldview class or why do we do apologetics?
  2. MrMerlin777

    MrMerlin777 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I think Josh has just 'bout covered it.
  3. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    I think another aspect is that God uses means to His ends. Why did John write his Gospel? Why did Paul "reason" with the unconverted? And beyond that, "we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). I'm a presuppositionalist, but I also think that the proclamation of the Gospel is more than a statement of bare facts. I also don't think it is against a belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation to ask sinners why they don't believe and then show them why their excuses are not valid ("I'm too great a sinner," "I am a good person," "I'll believe in Jesus later," "What if I'm not elect?")

    Like you said, it's the Holy Spirit who must regenerate them, but He does it by the Word!
  4. JTB

    JTB Puritan Board Freshman

    "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?"

    Preaching the Word of God is always an argument, and hearing the Word of God exposited is the normal means by which God regenerates souls.

    I would say it is more difficult to NOT argue a soul into the Kingdom, than it is to argue a soul into the Kingdom.
  5. ewenlin

    ewenlin Puritan Board Junior

    Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of God. I think gospel preaching and apologetics falls within that. Like what MarieP already said.
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Just a few passages to share.

    You might not be able to preach, pursuade, or argue someone into the Kingdom but they will not enter without it most likely.

    One of my oldest and dearest friends came to Christ because I was willing to argue with him about Catholicism and Christianity. I started witnessing to him and sometimes it would get heated. He eventually believed in Christ's work alone for his salvation. We have been best friends since 1982.
  7. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    'Argument' (whatever that means exactly) must be accompanied by charity.

    1 Cor 8:1 ... we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
  8. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Is it "our argument" that leads a person to salvation, or the Spirit's prompting? I'd say that's a false distinction... since the Spirit lives in us, speaks through us, works alongside us. If we live by the Spirit, our arguments are a part of his work.

    Then again, I would hasten to say that nagging is not one of the Spirit's more typical tools to convert lost souls. But gospel proclamation is. Prayer is. The Bible is. Let's use 'em.
  9. tlharvey7

    tlharvey7 Puritan Board Freshman

    i have thought about this quite a bit...
    when i enter into dialogue or debate with people i simply try to get them to examine their worldview. for example, i was shocked a few years ago when i convinced a coworker that abortion stops a beating heart. in all my years of talking with people i have never seen a person change their mind about abortion. i was shocked! if you can shake up a person's world view, or convince them of their depravity then that is a good thing. the Holy Spirit does the rest
  10. D. Paul

    D. Paul Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks, Marie. Basically that is what I was driving at. I mean, we are commanded to preach and engage with the world, but while it is "the Lord who gives the increase" our speech and our words ought to be so carefully framed within scriptural principles that there is effect.

    I know the person was not saying "Don't witness", there just needed to be something added.
    :ditto:ewenlin, JTB, PuritanCovenanter

    One thing was added to the conversation: the idea that Theology was separate from our apologetic. I think the person was misusing "Theology" but he said it nonetheless.:scratch:
  11. carlgobelman

    carlgobelman Puritan Board Freshman

    In general I would agree with this statement, but as others have said, "arguing" about the kingdom gives a reason for the hope that we have. There is another reason why we argue for our worldview, and that is to 'shut the mouths' of unbelievers. I think it's Proverbs 26:4 (or 5) that says, "Answer a fool lest he be wise in his own eyes." Of course, we need to also know when to shut up (the other half of Proverbs 26:4-5; "Answer not a fool, lest you become like him").
  12. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    The Holy Spirit uses the preaching of the gospel to regenerate people. He opens people's heart to Christ.

    There is nothing wrong with using arguments. If you were witnessing to a Roman Catholic or Mormon, you would show him from the Bible that his gospel is a false gospel. You would also show him from the Bible what the true gospel is.

    Preaching the gospel involves using arguments. For example, in some sermons that I have heard before, the preacher would prove from the Bible that the penal substitutionary view of Christ's atonement is the correct view of the atonement and that other views of Christ's atonement such as the ransom theory or governmental theory are false.
  13. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The Apostles mixed apologetics with their preaching and evangelism. I am sure they would have used Christian philosophy where appropriate too.

    We should follow their example.

    Christianity is the reasonable faith. People today need to realise that Christianity is the only reasonable faith, not, especially, secular humanism.

    The Spirit blesses good argumentation, and even sometimes poor argumentation, just as the Spirit blesses good preaching and poor preaching But we should try to do our best.
  14. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    Why do we do apologetics? Many here have stated well that apologetics can be used to evangelize the lost, but I also believe apologetics is used to defend against the barrage of un-biblical preaching and teaching that many good Christians are being deceived by today. I'm sure we all know of a good Christian friend or relative that has fallen for false preachers in today's mix of prosperity gospel and emergent movements, along with all the free-willers that sell a salvation one can lose. We need to be armed with the truth to help our weak brothers and sisters in Christ.
  15. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I think Rick from the post above me has the right idea. Apologetics is a defense of the faith, not a convincing proposition to sway someone into belief.
  16. JTB

    JTB Puritan Board Freshman

    Why does it have to be one and not the other? If I use the Scriptures to correct or reprove a brother of his error, am I not also defending the true faith to him?
  17. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, I agree it is both. I feel called of God more to help brothers and sisters than I do to present or defend against unbelievers. Hopefully I can be a witness to unbelievers if so placed in that position.
  18. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I guess I don't understand your question. In my eyes, correcting/reproving a brother is defending the faith. You are defending it against a false belief, regardless whether that belief manifests in doctrine or practice.
  19. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    I guess I didn't read his question well either. I'm saying apologetics can be to defend against false doctrines that creep into the church and also to present the gospel (faith and reason) to unbelievers.
  20. JTB

    JTB Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree that we defend whether or not the defense results in persuasion. However, I don't think we are to defend simply to defend, but rather in order to convince. Yes, we've still obeyed if conviction does not occur, but it would be incomplete to offer a defense apart from the hope that God would use it eiher to bring our interlocutor into repentance, or to glorify Himself in furthering their condemnation.

    I'm not sure we are disagreeing on anything material, but perhaps a matter of emphasis.
  21. D. Paul

    D. Paul Puritan Board Sophomore

    The emphasized sentence is an excellent summary of the purpose for my Q in the first place. We all know, based upon Scripture, that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, but if we are going to spend our time engaging in apologetics, as is also a directive from Scripture, then it had ought to be toward that stated purpose. Thanks, JTB.

    -----Added 10/17/2009 at 09:39:15 EST-----

    I can see why you state it that way, but given that we do not know who the elect are, we proclaim the Word to all creatures. Would not the result be the same as preaching from the pulpit to an unsaved person?
  22. Reformed Thomist

    Reformed Thomist Puritan Board Sophomore

    We cannot be the ultimate cause of one's salvation (which is, of course, to be attributed to God alone), but we can be an instrumental cause -- a 'tool' by/through which God works to achieve His aim.

    This is why it is valid to speak of, for instance, having been 'saved' under/by so-and-so's preaching, or even having been 'saved' at any point in our lives (despite having been ultimately saved not by any human being's words or at any point in our lives, but rather by Christ's work on the Cross 2,000 years ago).

    To deny instrumental causes with regard to salvation is Hyper-Calvinism, not Reformed theology proper.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
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