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Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Pergamum, Aug 15, 2009.
Unregenerate Knowledge of God
I haven't read the article, but would take issue with the quote and suggest the question doesn't have much utility. An apologist isn't teaching, he's defending, and an attacking unbeliever won't admit to any knowledge (and almost certainly won't be aware of it) for the use in the debate.
No-one is taught into salvation; an apologist defends the faith against incorrect attacks.
I learned some basic things before the Holy Spirit saved me. No one is saved without being taught something, right?
I've had to think about the above issues since getting involved in Muslim evangelism, but I think the question of going from what is known to the unknown encompasses witnessing to people from all backgrounds.
Though the J.W. or Mormon speaks of Jesus and the Bible, they have the "wrong" Jesus. Knowing that, I'll try to start with common ground beginning with their definition/understanding of who Christ is and then work from there.
Similarly, there are certain things that Muslims believe about Allah that line up with a biblical understanding of the attributes of God, yet, there are so many other things that are simply wrong. Sometimes I'll use surahs from the Qur'an to point back to biblical truths --going from what is "known" about God, Abraham, Jesus, John the Baptist, etc., to the unknown (Paul on Mars Hill?).
I think, in one sense, we can also take the "known to the unknown" framework as a working apologetic method when speaking with Arminian Christians.
Paul speaks in Galatians about a time when the gentiles didn't know God, but (now) they do know him, or rather are known by Him (Gal. 4:9). I think that the knowing of God can have at least two "senses." There's a sense that even the animals (creation) have --a general fear of God as Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all the universe; and then, in a salvific way --a personal, father/son relationship. I think that Martin Luther had the first sense before he was saved --he knew God and feared Him as his Judge.
I'm curious to read more responses.
You referenced the following passage:
Does the unbeliever possess a knowledge of God? If we're talking about facts then the answer is yes. The unbeliever may possess a knowledge of certain facts about God. These facts are based on what they have learned. The key difference between the believer and the unbeliever is spiritual appropriation. Jesus said, about the Pharisees:
The Pharisees were unequaled in their knowledge of the Law. Unfortunately that knowledge did not necessarily translate into spiritual appropriation. Many of the Pharisees were as saved as a bag of hammers. They did not possess the Holy Spirit. That is the difference between having head knowledge and having heart knowledge. The things of the Spirit are spiritually appraised, and without the Spirit you really don't know God.
So, the noetic efffects of sin may not effect head knowledge, only heart knowledge?
It may be argued that the Christian has more of a thorough knowledge of sin than the sinner. The sinner is blinded by his own sin and may not be able to see it as utterly sinful.
This topic is the impetus of the question, "Can God save the pygmy who has never heard the gospel?" The short answer is that if God sends them the means (the Gospel), then yes, He can saved them. Apart from the means there is no salvation. Even if there exists an abstract idea that there is a God, apart from the illumination given by the Spirit through the Gospel, that abstract idea is not enough to save.
Where is this pygmy guy, and why hasn't he heard the Gospel (maybe too short to reach the table to read it?)
Not sure if this is a serious question or not... but this pygmy guy is right where God placed him, and he hasn't heard the Gospel because it was never God's intention for him to hear it, so He never sent it to him.
Was it God's desire for him to hear? And was it the Church's sin for not being more zealous to do so?
back on topic,
How does this article affect the way we do apologetics? Does it lean more towards presup or evidentialism, or can both parties agree when reading this article?
If it was God's desire for him to hear it, then He would have sent the Gospel to him. And YES it was the Church's sin for not being more zealous to do so. But I'm sure you know this already.
Do you mean how does the reader's perspective on apologetics affect the reading of the article?
Yes, sort of.
If it's God's desire, it will happen.
God doesn't desire us to sin. How does that happen? I guess what I'm getting at is, are there two wills of God?
But is apologetics the same as evangelism? Apologetics is aimed at people who attack and misrepresent our faith - they are not open to being "taught" and it seems irrelevant to me whether they have some internalised knowledge of God or not because they won't admit if for the sake of their attack. Apologetics explains and teaches that they are wrong. I wonder if people are, to some extent, conflating the two. The gospel is not something so complicated that it needs to be taught; it is something that is proclaimed.
I've tried too many times to reason someone into faith. Due to spiritual blindness it doesn't work, in fact cannot work. It didn't work (and couldn't have worked) on me when I was spiritually blind and dead. Practically, I proclaim the truth of the gospel and don't argue it; I start to do apologetics if someone then attacks Christian doctrine and only then if the details won't obscure the proclamation. The former is obedience to God so that He can work salvation; the latter is to defend the honour of His church.
The trouble with conflating them (even to some small extent) is that people begin to think that one is saved when one realises the truth i.e. it is their work of agreement with the gospel that gives them entrance. SO many "broad evangelicals" get so worked up trying to convince someone of the gospel that they fall deeply into this trap.
Now, if the question was concerning evangelism and whether unbelievers have (or can have) a knowledge of God on top of which you can proclaim the gospel; then I would say absolutely yes. I don't have to start with, "God is the absolute Being who created the universe" - everyone knows that is what is meant by "God" - unless I was in a Hindu setting or something, in which case the concept would be easily recognised.
You have to distinguish different ways the words "will" and "desire" are used.
In Scripture, "will" is sometimes equivalent to "command". This imposes a moral obligation on us.
Sometimes it is equivalent to "decree". This infallibly determines what will happen.
God commands many things, but He does not always decree that we will follow His commands.
If you want to follow this up more, I would recommend two things:
1. Read some of the previous threads upon this (a search for the phrase "two wills" should get some interesting hits).
2. Take it to another thread so this one doesn't get sidetracked.
Good thoughts. Yes, there DOES seem to be a distinction between evangelism and apologetics.