Why I Don’t Debate Some Issues

Is it important for the apologist to be able to answer everything? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We who are in the field of apologetics often use 1 Peter 3:15 (incorrectly in my opinion) and the verse tells us to always be ready to give an answer. The danger is that we think that it is important for us to be able to answer every question. It’s not.

You mean there are some objections to what you believe that you don’t bother answering? That’s right.

How is that possible?

It is possible because I realize that I am one person and I am not capable of being a specialist in every field and when you step out into fields that you do not study well, you will be devoured by those who do study them well.

It is because of this that I have decided to put my focus on what I consider the most important issues of all. A great danger I have seen in Christianity today is too often we are marrying our Christianity to aspects that it does not depend on.

What do I mean by that? Well if you enter into a marriage, it’s till death do you part. You are not to break that covenant under any circumstances whatsoever barring extreme situations. (Yes. I do think there are cases where divorce can sadly be the best option) You enter into a relationship where the two of you are bound together so that if one falls, the other falls as well.

Recently on the Unbelievable broadcast, there was a debate on the age of the Earth and the young-earther was asked the question of what difference this makes. If you were to find out that the Earth was old, what would that do to your faith?

I was disappointed. The young-earther never really answered the question but gave the viewpoint that if you can’t trust Genesis, then you can’t really trust the rest of the Bible which in turn I take it to mean, you can’t even trust the resurrection.

The reality is that most Christians be they young-earth, old-earth, theistic evolutionists, etc. will say that they trust Genesis. What do they not trust? They do not trust an interpretation of Genesis that they believe to be in error.

The great danger in this is that if YEC falls, then that means automatically that Christianity falls for some people. I would not want that to be the case either for OEC or for TE. If you are wrong on creation, well you are wrong on creation. It does not mean that your interpretation is equal to what Scripture says or that everything in Scripture is wrong.

A sad part of this to me is that we Christians are meant to be people of the new creation. Does that mean old creation does not matter? Not at all! By all means, have an opinion! Have a strong opinion! Just always remember that your doctrine of creation is not the foundation of your faith. When Gentiles were being preached to in the NT, it is doubtful that the first people to evangelize them came out and started with Genesis 1. They likely started with Jesus Himself.

In fact, this is why I don’t even bother debating evolution any more. Does that mean I’m TE? Not at all. Does that mean I oppose TE? Not that either. It means simply that I don’t really care. It’s an interesting topic, but I really don’t have the time to focus in on it and do the study to answer the questions as I am busy studying other areas.

To use an analogy, sometimes, someone will send me one of those items that shows how big and massive the universe is in comparison to us. You’ve seen some like that I’m sure. I find it utterly fascinating. There are many things about space that I probably become a little boy again at and just get thrilled, but I don’t really have the time to go out and do the reading on the topic. It’s interesting when I see it, but then I need to get back to my main focus and if you asked me for my opinion on astronomical matters, I might be able to give one, but the most I’d say is that it just looks interesting.

Now suppose on the other hand that you are qualified in the field and can discuss matters such as evolution and you think this gives you an opening to spread the gospel? I’m not going to stop you. If you’re convinced and you think you can make a case, who am I to say no? I just won’t be the one joining you on your side of the debate because I do not know the issue.

It is also why I do not sign up immediately on the ID bandwagon now. In fact, as a Thomist, I do have some concerns with it. Still, if someone thinks they can make the case, let them. I’m not intending to stop them.

I have instead focused my efforts mainly on the question of resurrection. If that is true, then Christianity is true. Could I still have some questions I wonder about like the origin of life, the interpretation of Genesis, or any other issues? Of course, but I have my main question answered.

To which, let me bring up another issue here. When we defend the resurrection, we don’t need Inerrancy to do that? I hold to Inerrancy, but it is not an essential. Note in saying something is not an essential, that does not mean it is unimportant. Yet when it comes to Inerrancy, I will make it a point to not play what I call “Stump The Bible Scholar.” This is where the unbeliever keeps presenting “contradiction after contradiction” and if you cannot answer one of them to his satisfaction, then he has no need to study Christianity. (By the way skeptics, please try to review anywhere you can for answers to such contradictions beforehand. Most of these have already been answered in the past 2,000 years. It’s doubtful you’ve found a new one)

Unfortunately, I’ve seen several atheists play that game. It doesn’t work. For instance, NT scholars who don’t hold to Inerrancy will tell you that it is an indisputable fact that Jesus existed, was crucified, that the disciples claimed to see Him alive again, and that James and Paul converted. How do they know this? Inerrancy? No. Historical research.

In the same way, I’ve seen Christians before say that if there is one contradiction in the Bible, then Christianity is false and the resurrection is not true. Christian. I cannot state this strongly enough. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER take that position! If you do, you are going to be walking a fine line thinking you have to carry with you an answer to every single contradiction. Note that I think thus far they can all be answered, but while I consider myself to have an excellent memory, I do not think I could memorize the replies to EVERY SINGLE objection.

I also think this is consistent. I would not think the evolutionary scientist should be able to give an explanation for every single animal in existence and answer every single creationist argument. I don’t think anyone could do all the research necessary in one life to answer such claims. They need to establish the main event and even if there are some problematic positions, oh well.

My advice to readers of the blog today is to also choose your area and focus in on it. Do the best at it that you can, but if you seek to try to answer every single objection that there could be to your worldview, you’re just going to end up embarrassing yourself as you can’t master it all. Choose where you want to learn and focus in on that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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5 Responses to “Why I Don’t Debate Some Issues”

  1. Potato Says:

    I see this happening frequently.

    For example, with ClubS, as I was speaking with her, she essentially went “Oh yeah?! Well what about the flood, the Exodus, Solomon’s Temple, Tower of Babel, etc.?!” The topic wasn’t really anywhere near those things. And some of the items themselves have mass debates by themselves. Of course, if you decline from going off topic, they take it as “Ah ha! I disproved Christianity mwahaha!” And if you respond to it even slightly more than that, the argument drags on and on ad nauseam.

    Unfortunately, many “fundy atheists” do not like to stay on topic very well.

  2. Potato Says:

    In fact, I recently saw a TWeb post that was about this topic.

    They said something along the lines of “to be a good apologist you need an adequate understanding of Greek and Hebrew; the context of the various texts, along with their literary style, purpose, etc.; archaeology; history; prophecy; theology; cosmology; biology; physics; philosophy; geology; etc., etc., etc. ad infinitum.”

    I may have added somethings in there, but it was along those lines.

  3. Bunto Skiffler Says:

    [NickPeters]In the same way, I’ve seen Christians before say that if there is one contradiction in the Bible, then Christianity is false and the resurrection is not true. Christian. I cannot state this strongly enough. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER take that position!

    Heh, why lose any sleep over plain bible contradictions? I think the blatant admissions are much more telling about the faith.

    [1 Corinthians 15: 16-19, DRA] For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again.
    And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins.
    Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished.
    If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

    Nietzsche did say that the only true christian died on the cross.

  4. Thomas Henry Larsen Says:

    Another thing to keep in mind: a community of specialists is collectively more knowledgeable than a community of generalists.

  5. Pet Clothes for Small Dogs Says:

    Why I Don

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