Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do We Also Need To Do An Apologetic For Logic?

There is also at this time a renewed interest in the work of Francis Schaeffer. I was present at Wheaton when he presented the sermons which later became the book: The God Who is There. Schaeffer had a profound and beneficial effect on my thinking and my spiritual walk. There is a core part of his methodology that needs to be thought through again.
Schaeffer was one of the first to wrestle with both apologetics and evangelism to what we now call post-modern people. He understood the central issues of post-enlightenment thinking and was able to marvelously illustrate them from the arts. He also grappled with the work of the Holy Spirit and of the Word of God and the reformed rejection of natural theology, which is the attempt to prove the existence of God apart from the revelation contained in Scripture.
However, he believed that apologetics is not only possible, but biblical. For him John 20:31 “but these are written that you may believe” is an invitation to apologetics-- the giving of reasons to believe, which is more than a defense.
Schaeffer spoke of “taking the roof off” of a person’s intellectual and spiritual house and letting existential rain come in. What he meant by that was that logic should be used to demonstrate the flaws in a non-theistic worldview, especially a worldview that we would now speak of as post-modern but which he spoke of as being “below the line of despair.” He saw the “roof” as the delusion of post-modern man that they can have modernism in science but post-modernism in ethics, art and spirituality. Once the roof was off, the rain could come in, that is, the reality of what the world really would look like if one actually lived out this worldview.
I think this approach, which he used in thousands of evangelistic conversations, has much for us to consider. The respectful approach that does not fear to engage a non-theistic or non-Christian worldview is very important. Further, when Schaeffer exposed the devastating consequences of post-modern thought and its linkage to the existential pain frequently being experienced by the people to whom he spoke, he would go beyond apologetics into soul care and soul cure.However, there also seemed to be in Schaeffer a need to convert people from a post-modern/Hegelian (below the line of despair) epistemology to a modern epistemology as part of “taking off the roof.” Schaeffer saw this from a non-acceptance of logic to an acceptance of logic, i.e., accepting that A cannot be non-A. This raises for us the issue: is it possible to do Christian apologetics without first doing an apologetic for a preferred epistemology?


Anonymous said...

It's good to see that your blog has been resuscitated - I think it's exciting that you've chosen to be in conversation this way.

To pitch in a thought here, I don't think it's necessarily that post-modern Christians "fear to engage a non-theistic or non-christian worldview" - instead, it's that rather than primarily engaging post-modern people through written and verbal means, we feel that these times largely call for an apologetics based on action. In the past, the defenders of the faith have often been guilty of saying too much and doing too little. (I'm often reminded of these words from Thomas A Kempis: "What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity?)
So, while in some instances there still may be "a continued need for a hard-core logic-based Christian apologetic response" - I find myself feeling that evangelism might be bolstered moreso if we decided to have a moratorium on the written apologetics altogether.

sanjo said...

Indeed there is definitely less emphasis today on the hard core logic-based apologetic, and more emphasis placed on tangible, meaningful, immediate ways of demonstrating God's grace and love. If we look to Jesus' example we see him proclaiming the kingdom, healing, and casting out demons. This is a practical apologetic in action.

Franklin said...

OK, so action has always been an authenticating factor of the gospel. However, without the gospel, would you have action? And, if action (let us say good deeds) are to be put out there as a stand alone (no written apologetic)then how do I know what they are pointing to? In reality, a number of other religions do good deeds. Atheists do good deeds. Billions of dollars are right now being spent by non-religious foundations to do wonderful things. So, my point is, somewhere, somehow, you have to say: "this is what we believe, this is why, and, yes, because of that, this is how we behave."

Darryl said...

Really enjoyed this thread!

one question i have is, does post-modern man really want modernism in science?

I don't claim to understand either modernism or post-modernism really but i think more and more people are embracing the duality of believing in science but loosing faith in medical science for one example. I know that polls don't always serve but i wonder if people have ever trusted logic or science above their desire to believe in UFO's or sasquatch or 911 conspiracies, or love at first sight, or horoscopes etc etc etc.

Franklin has anyone ever suggesting any theories beyond world-view as determining what kind of apologetic is fruitful.

Personality, culture, age, race, gender, etc?

I think i like that while Paul could debate with the best of em, at the end of the day he said simply, for i know Whom i have believed.

Thanks again for letting us in on your learning.