As I continued to think about what I had written and shared in that piece, I found myself becoming more and more intrigued by the subject, which caused me to go looking for more spiritual meat to chew on regarding this topic.
So, as my fascination with debates, discussions, and studies that strive to clearly explain the place for Apologetics in Lutheranism grew, it became apparent to me the more I listened to and read that the Book of Concord (BoC), coupled with a proper teaching on the "Doctrine of Vocation" too, should definitely be the primary tools used in Lutheran Apologetics.
My research led me to a couple of lectures from a 2014 Conference held at Bethany Lutheran College that seeks to do just that.
This past week Bethany Lutheran College held its annual BW Teigen Reformation Lectures. The theme was "Lutheranism and Apologetics." Retired Bethany Prof. Allen Quist spoke on "The Doctrine of Creation in Lutheran Apologetics." His talk gave a Lutheran approach to Apologetics and connected the doctrine of creation to the cross. The other featured speaker was Dr. Daniel van Voorhis of Concordia University Irvine. He spoke on "Lutherans and the Defense of the Faith." He gave an historical account of Lutheranism and the Apologetic task from the Reformation era to our present calling to confess and defend. He traced the decline of Lutheran involvement in Apologetics with the rise of Pietism. He connected Apologetics to the Lutheran understanding of vocation. Both of these talks are available on the Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary Youtube channel.
Both presentations are 1.5 hours long each and are jam-packed with rich content for the Confessional Lutheran, thinking Christian.
Ok, so now that the introduction is out of the way, let's take a closer look at the first lecture as delivered by retired Professor Allen Quist...
Allen Quist is a retired Professor of Political Science at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN), a Master of Arts Degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a Bachelor of Divinity Degree from Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary (Mankato, MN).
I love that he decided to hone in on the Doctrine of Creation, because I've always maintained that what a Christians believes about the very first Book of the Bible will determine what they believe, teach, and confess about the rest of it.
Mr. Quist's opening remarks echo these sentiments, but he gives such a declaration even more weight when he connects the Book of Genesis to the Gospel and then cites Jesus Christ's own words about Creation (Quist: "To give up the historicity of Genesis, is to give up everything!"; "Sin and grace cannot be fully understood without the context provided by Genesis.").
I also like that he used Pope Francis' pro- "Theistic Evolution" comments as a springboard to emphasize why this is so important.
Interesting that he pointed out the existence of Apologetics in every single sermon recorded for us in the New Testament as well as the use of the term by St. Peter in 1 Peter 3:15 too.
You can download a written copy of his lecture that includes the images he showed on the slides by CLICKING HERE.
Next, is the presentation from Dr. Daniel van Voorhis of Concordia University Irvine...
This one really resonated with me, especially given my growing affinity for the writings of John Warwick Montgomery and my studies pertaining to the history of Lutheranism and it's Confessional documents themselves as fantastic Apologetics tools and resources.
Personally, I believe that Dr. van Voorhis hit a home run here by touching upon this topic's direct connection to Pietism and Vocation too, which seems to be an important (and obvious) relationship.
I think it's absolutely vital that we heed his assertion that Apologetics is knowing when to segue into a discussion of the Gospel and knowing when to "shake the dust off your feet" (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). The key is keeping objective truths at the forefront of any exchange.
Please feel free feel to share your own analysis of both lectures in the Comments Section below.
Noted Lawyer, Professor, Lutheran Theologian, and prolific Author, John Warwick Montgomery, acknowledges that, "Indeed, the tone of the Reformation Lutheran Confessions in general, with their constant stress on refuting 'antitheses' as well as setting forth 'theses,' reveals a veritable preoccupation with the defense of sound teaching over against falsehood."
In other words, Apologetics should be expected within Lutheranism, and yes, there is such a thing as "Lutheran Apologetics" then. In fact, you can read more in his "Christian Apologetics In The Light of The Lutheran Confessions" for additional insights on this topic.
For example, he helps summarize the importance of Apologetics by clearly explaining how each and every one of us should hold it in high esteem as Confessional Lutherans when he writes...
The task of the Christian apologist may be said to embrace three major activities: (1) clarification (he defends the faith by disabusing the unbeliever of misconceptions concerning its nature), (2) refutation (he defends the faith by showing the fallacies and unworthiness of opposing positions), and (3) positive argumentation (he defends the faith by offering positive reasons to accept the Christian world-view in preference to other philosophical or religious options). To what extent, if any, does the Book of Concord engage in apologetic activity along these lines? Undeniably present throughout the Lutheran Confessions are arguments of a clarifying and refutory nature in defense of biblical religion.
This is most certainly true.
Apologetics is always necessary to some extent in this fallen, sinful, unbelieving world we live in and it is always about contending for the faith and defending the faith even though we recognize that the Lord does not need our help to accomplish His plans and purposes for humanity (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 1:3).
Even so, Christ's Church is a "Confessing Church" indeed, and when you have been given possession of the truth, how can you not stand and speak it to those who desperately need to hear it?
To withhold from the dead the very truth about the Truth Himself that has the power to make them alive is truly unloving.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, such Apologetic discussions with others (Christians and non-Christians alike) should always be viewed as being most certainly helpful and necessary, but we should never believe that such Apologetics debates and discussions somehow serve as a "Means of Grace" in and of themselves.
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, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 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/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) 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 I 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 footnotes 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 under-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 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!