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Lutheran Apologetics? Yes!

This is an interesting website I just found today.

I'm not yet sure how "safe" it is for a "Newtheran" like me to be spending any time with it, but perhaps someone out there who's reading this can tell me what they think about it in the Comments Section below.


Lutheran Apologetics? 
Apologetics is the defense of Christianity, usually on intellectual grounds. Lutherans have a mixed attitude towards Christian apologetics. Interestingly, in my experience with Lutherans, it is not a mix of people who support apologetics and those who are indifferent to apologetics, but rather people who support apologetics and those who are downright hostile to the endeavor. As a committed apologist myself, my own view is not sympathetic to those who are hostile or dismissive. 
It is my position, in fact, that out of all those in the Church, it ought to be the Lutherans that are leading the way in apologetics. Lutherans have a long history of supporting education, establishing schools alongside churches and investing millions of dollars on creating university systems. This recognition of the importance of the intellect and of education would lead one to believe that Lutherans also thought the intellect was important in the promotion and defense of the faith. This is generally not the case but it is something that I’d like to change. 
At this time, this site is devoted merely to raising the issues and putting forward a number of resources. The resources can be useful for anyone but I hope that they will be good starting points for Lutherans in particular. 
I myself am the Executive Director of Athanatos Christian Ministries, an apologetics ministry I founded several years ago. It is not a Lutheran apologetics ministry, per se, but it is an example of an apologetics ministry carried out by a Lutheran with much help, assistance, and input from like minded Lutherans. Check it out: www.athanatosministries.org 
Sincerely, 
Anthony Horvath 
Executive Director 
Athanatos Christian Ministries


I was personally intrigued by it simply due to the fact that "Apologetics" isn't a word you hear all that often in Confessional Lutheran circles (at least I haven't in my experience so far).

Of course, there's still a "Lutheran Apologetics" group on Facebook that I belong to described as "links and discussion of interest to Lutherans for defending the Lutheran faith" that has been very helpful so it not like it's a completely foreign idea to us Lutherans.

Even so, Apologetics generally seems to be something you hear a lot more of from the Evangelical and Reformed crowd.

Why is Apologetics important? Why should we never dismiss Apologetics outright?


An Apologetic for Apologetics By Dr. Norman L. Geisler 
Christianity is under attack today, and it must be defended. There are attacks from within by cults, sects, and heresies. And there are attacks from without by atheists, skeptics, and other religions. The discipline that deals with a rational defense of the Christian Faith is called apologetics. It comes from the Greek word apologia (cf. 1 Peter 3:15) which means to give a reason or defense. 
There are many good reasons for doing apologetics. First of all, God commands us to do so. Second, reason demands it. Third, the world needs it. Fourth, results confirm it. 


Clearly, Apologetics is a "good" thing for Christians.

The Bereans thought so and were even commended for it (Acts 17:10-11).

Just in case you're still not quite convinced, here's some additional thoughts for your prayerful consideration from Higher Things.


 
Lutheran Apologetics, Augsburg Style 
"Apologetics" is about defending the faith. When you have the truth, how can you not stand and speak it? Our series of Apologetics articles begins with Pastor George Borghardt's article reminding us that doing apologetics is just another part of daring to be Lutheran! Remember, you can access all the articles in the Apologetics Spring Issue of Higher Things Magazine here! Stay tuned for more article spotlights from this awesome-packed issue! 
After the Gospel became clear to Dr. Luther, the Lutherans presented a statement to Emperor Charles V on June 25, 1530. They confessed that salvation was by Jesus alone, that it is by grace alone, and is received by faith alone. Although they quoted the Fathers of the Church, their arguments were based solely on Scripture. 
The Emperor was not impressed. His reply, written by the Roman Catholic theologians at Augsburg, was read to them on August 3, 1530. It was supposed to be the final statement on the matter. No written copy was even given to the Lutherans! Thus, says the Church and the Emperor, “You are done. The end.” 
Would you be done? Would you back down? If you knew you were right, if you believed that you were right, if every time you looked at the Scriptures, all you could see was that salvation is freely won by Jesus’ death on the cross and freely delivered in the Word, would you tuck your tail and run back home just because some theologians and the Emperor said you were wrong? The Lutherans didn’t. A layman, Philip Melanchthon, who taught at the University at Wittenberg, prepared an Apology to the Augsburg Confession. The Lutherans weren’t saying they were sorry for anything they had confessed. They were defending it! An apology, (in Greek ἀπολογία), is “to speak in defense of something.” 
Lutherans historically have always engaged in apologetics. We have defended the Christian faith -- even when it might mean certain death. When you know you are right, when you can’t see anything other than the Truth, you defend it. 
Apologetics is all about defending your faith. When you defend your faith, when you defend what you believe in Christ, you are doing apologetics. You are doing apologetics when you talk to your friends about why you believe what you believe as a Lutheran. You are doing apologetics when you stand up (respectfully!) to your teachers and professors about how God made you and all creatures. The question is not whether to do apologetics, but when you do them, what’s the best way? 
“What does this mean?” in our catechism is followed by, “Why does this mean what it means?” The why always comes from Jesus’ death and resurrection. The answers flow from the Scriptures with sound reasoning to a world around you that thinks everything you believe is just plain foolishness. 
But Christ’s death and resurrection is anything but foolishness to you. His death and resurrection is the basis for all that we believe in (1 Corinthians 15). The faith of Christ flows from the death and the resurrection of Christ. If Christ rose, then everything we believe in really is possible -- 
a seven day creation, Noah’s flood, Jonah and the big fish, Jesus’ birth from a Virgin, eternal life...even heaven itself. And for Lutherans, that especially includes the belief that salvation is by grace alone received by faith alone. 
What was published as “Melanchthon’s Apology to the Roman Confutation to the Augsburg Confession,” became the official Lutheran Confession of faith. Since that time, it has been included in the list of our doctrinal confessions. Apologetics has been, still is, and should always be what we continue to do as Lutherans. We confess and we defend because who Jesus is and what He has done is the unchanging Truth. 
Rev. George F. Borghardt is the senior pastor at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in McHenry, Illinois, and serves as the Deputy and Conference Executive of Higher Things. His email address is revborghardt@higherthings.org.


Yes, "Apologetics has been, still is, and should always be what we continue to do as Lutherans." Amen!

In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's Apologetics that helps laymen like me and you to better understand God's truths so that we are "always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

2 comments

  1. I think some of the backlash to "apologetics" that may come from Lutheran circles could be due to our love of the irrational character of the Gospel. Not saying that we should be opposed to apologetics because of this, but I think that's something we at least are aware of/concerned with...I definitely agree that apologetics is an important area for us to be well versed in especially in this time when the Scriptures and our faith is under attack in ways we have not experienced before in this country. However, as Lutherans, we also have to balance defending the faith along with recognizing that we can't "prove Christianity" to people or create faith through apologetics, as it is the irrational Gospel through which the Holy Spirit creates trust in Christ. Not exactly sure where I'm going with all that, but just some thoughts I had as I was reading your post. I guess I'm saying apologetics is certainly important, but Lutherans have always been wary of "rationalizing" the faith at the same time. Answering the skeptics is good and necessary, but does not in itself create faith. Perhaps Lutherans see apologetics as more of a means to an end rather than an end in itself? Hope that makes some sense, and thanks for sharing your thoughts as well! Just kind of thinking out loud here!

    God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Joe Muench,

    You're absolutely right -- we can't "rationalize/reason" anyone into heaven.

    Reminds me of this verse too...

    1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

    Well stated, thanks for commenting!

    Grace And Peace,
    JKR

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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