September 22, 2021

Are You Ready To Do Apologetics The Jesus Way? (It Takes Guts)

Are You Ready To Do Apologetics The Jesus Way? (It Takes Guts)
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Maybe it’s the easiest way to show the world Jesus, maybe it’s the hardest — I’m not sure. Either way, this is the Jesus way. If you don’t like it, take it up with him, not me. While it takes guts to humbly follow Jesus and not yourself, it takes no other special knowledge or talent. Simply put, the Jesus apologetic method is quite simply “Christan oneness”.

That’s it, unity, one body, the body of Christ.

Not a big deal? Well, hang on and let’s see.

What Jesus said

The following is a part of Jesus’ prayer, sobering and causes us to think:

“[I pray that] they all [those who believe on Christ through the Apostles teachings] may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”  (John 17:21-23)

But what about….

I’m not totally sure what unity ought to look like. I just know since Jesus taught it, I should try to follow. What should I make of the differences, denominations and divisions in today’s Church? What about beliefs I don’t hold? It seems many can be debated and discussed with charity. To disagree over unclear issues is one thing, but to divide and deny brotherhood is outside of my jurisdiction of judgment. Nobody agrees on everything and I have no right to reject other parts of Christ’s body.

On the other hand, some differences seem quite big. Many are nominal Christians. Consider those who deny Christ’s bodily resurrection, a rejection of the Gospel. Denying the teaching of the Trinity denies Jesus’ identity. Supporting, promoting and practicing immorality denies Christ and sanctification. In his prayer, Jesus also noted sanctification through the truth, separate from the world, fullness of God’s love and obedience to God. These really do demarcate believer from blasphemer.

Do you do unity, or not?

However, let me note, oneness is still part of the prayer. We may think we are some super spiritual person, but if we ignore unity we’re not even close to the mark of Christ, please no excuses. Let me put it this way, I wonder how many of us (including myself) would recognize Jesus if he walked in our midst? I also wonder if he would recognize us? Would our beliefs, ideas, traditions and sectarianism blind us from the real Jesus, especially if we can’t spot his real brothers and sisters right now?

Authentic unity may be hard to identify, but we can at least see what it’s not. Unity is not “just my little house church because nobody else is good enough”. There are true house churches where fellowship and growth takes place. However, “my family” elitism is not Christianity unity.

Nor is the cultic “my elitist congregation” mindset unity. John’s 3rd letter notes the infamous Diotrephes, an elitist leader who denied the reception of other believers.

If we scale up some, we encounter denominational elitism. “Brotherhood” and “unity” is not limited to one’s denomination, any child could understand why this isn’t close to biblical. Denominations aren’t even a biblical concept, and brotherhood unity is not sectarian membership, rather membership in Christ’s universal body (see note 1) .

Unity is not…

Cultic elitist mentalities opposed to authentic brotherhood are not the only concern. Promotion and practice of disunity in Christ’s body is not godliness (obviously), rather it opposes Christ’s and the Apostle’s teachings (again obviously). Here are a few actions that promote disunity within Christ’s body.

Screaming “Heretic”: Many Christian teachings aren’t negotiable and deviation is really heresy. However, many topics are unclear and we need charity. I have no authority to scream heretic when another holds another view on some unclear topic, such as a differences of most eschatological positions. These topics should be discussed and debated, but not cause division.

Illicit “Church Discipline”: We rightly mourn the infamous excommunication illicitly used in ages past. However, various Christian subgroups today still illicitly discipline with “disfellowshipping”, “shunning” or “excommunication”. There’s no biblical authority to discipline one who transfers denominational attendance, when one questions leader’s ideas or when one marries outside the subgroup. Discipline, rather, is to lovingly bring sinners or erring members to repentance.

Sectarianism: Group elitism and isolationism is no biblical etho. Scriptures command reception of fellow believers. Demarcation between believer and blasphemer is not a culture or criteria we make. Rather it’s dependent upon biblical specification. As previously noted, the apostle John already addressed this, he lambasted the infamous sectarian Diotrephes.

Uniformity is not unity: Divisions in Christ’s body caused by man-made demands of uniformity isn’t Jesus worship, rather it’s culture worship. We’re aghast at stone and metal idols of those in ages past. But culture uniformity is not biblical unity, rather is like the idols we find within sports, entertainment and money.

Physical Fighting: While unheard of today (fortunately), the reformation and previous Church history included war and murder of believers…by so called believers! Not only was one physical body killed, but also it dismembered Christ’s Church body (at least those murdered were part of that body).

As a side note, we rightly condemn this evil from Church history, but do we recognize that we too “murder”, in a sense, with disunity? Separation and division atrociously dismember Christ’s body. Division in Christ’s body causes people to leave the faith, disillusion the seeker, and blinds the world to Christ and who he is.

So let me ask the simple question, do you have the guts to do unity?


The apostle Peter taught us to have answers for our faith, which is what I try to do here. I would love for you to follow iApologia to get the latest updates to your inbox. Plus, I will send you my Free Quick Guide why that gives 8 reasons science points to God.


Note 1: It is my opinion that denominations, in themselves, aren’t wrong, as long as we have a robust knowledge of Christ’s Body. In addition, this can’t just be nominal knowledge, but rather knowledge acted out as the Bible commands. In other words, this means we are to actually receive and treat Christ’s brothers and sisters, independent upon their subgroup, really as Christ’s brothers and sisters.

 

Please tell us your thoughts below!


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10 thoughts on “Are You Ready To Do Apologetics The Jesus Way? (It Takes Guts)

  1. In my opinion, denominations can be and have been destructive to church unity. Historically, they seem to be nothing more than the intentional segregation of believers by uninspired opinions about belief and practice (or race, or politics). It is the church leaders’ responsibility to explicitly teach that no one has had apostolic authority to dictate beliefs to the church for close to two thousand years, so his or her teachings, as well as that of the denomination, are provisional at best.

    It would pay all believers (especially young scholars, who tend to lionize particular teachers) whenever they pick up a book, hear a sermon, watch a video, or take a class on doctrine or practise, to say to themselves, “this is not inspired, therefore there is at least some error here.” We all read the word, and write about it, through the lens of what we already believe. Luther, Augustine, Calvin, Piper, MacArthur, Geisler, Edwards, etc. are no different. Actually it seems likely such teachers believe more error than the average believer, since they have a larger set of theological categories to be wrong about.

    How wonderful it would be to consistently read, study, and live with others who believe differently about non-essentials! Maybe we would find ourselves doubting the truth of some corollary teachings that we have believed unquestionably for years. And that is a good thing.

    I could be wrong, of course.

  2. So how do we avoid the ubiquitous and seemingly inevitable phenomenon that “birds of a feather flock together?” Do we really need to avoid it? As I look into the Bible and try to follow the teachings of Jesus and the apostles as closely as possible it seems to me that I am naturally drawn to other believers who have come to conclusions very similar to my own. Because of the uniformity that exists in my denomination, I have formed many relationships with people who think almost exactly like I do in any number of categories. I’m sure it would be possible for me to find fellowship with believers outside of my denomination, but I have enough friendships within my denomination that I do not find it necessary to pursue other relationships. It is not that I intentionally avoid Christians from other circles, I simply don’t go out of my way to manufacture opportunities to interact with them. After all, my need for fellowship is adequately met by people who agree with me. With them I feel I can understand and experience the “oneness” that Christ talked about, but I have a harder time imagining how this would apply to my interaction with a Christian who holds completely different beliefs (for example one who stands on the opposite side of the Calvinism/Arminianism debate or who disagrees with how I view the concept of not resisting evil as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount).

    What if I would choose to exchange fellowship with believers from my denomination, who think and live similarly to me, for fellowship with believers from other denominations, who think and live differently from me? What would the advantage be? It seems to me that would be something other than a pure search for true biblical unity.

    1. Thanks Matthew for your thoughts! I guess, as I note in my post, I’m technically not opposed to denominations. They have a purpose to help give us clarity, purpose and consistency. It is my view that there is nothing wrong with them as long as we have a robust view of Christ’s body and really do treat other authentic believers as his brethren.

      We also have to remember that we are not called to uniformity, rather unity. This is not man-made intradenominational “unity”, predicated upon artificial denominational walls. “Denominational unity” may be great, but it’s not biblical unity taught by Jesus and the Apostles.

      The concept of unity is contingent upon having togetherness on a specific thing. In this case, it happens to be the person and teachings of Christ. If one is not a Christ follower, we aren’t called to Christian unity with him or her.

      I’m willing to hear out anyone who thinks I’m wrong in my above argumentation. However, just a straightforward reading of Jesus’ and the Apostle’s teachings repeatedly teach oneness and reception of other believers. Passage after passage could be given. In addition, to put this in perspective, I don’t feel I’m special enough reject other authentic believer when Christ himself calls him or her his brother or sister.

      On the other hand, I know of no place that says we should grab everyone’s hand who claims the name of Christ to sing “Kum-ba-Yah”. Nor do I see the necessity of tramping from group to group for fellowship, I think we are responsible to take care of our local body (congregation) we belong to. But fellowshipping with other believers does not strike me as wrong either. I was raised to acknowledge the biblical doctrine of Christ’s Universal Body, a view I still hold. I also grew up fellowshipping with believers from various groups, as I still do. I unashamedly receive and treat them as my brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christ has done to me.

      I think the ultimate question comes down to this “why Christian unity?” The answer is simple: because Jesus and the Apostles say so. That alone strikes me as being enough, I put my faith in Jesus’ and his ways. That is what a Christ follower does. However, Jesus does not just give us this command, but he goes on to tell us why. As noted, he wants unity like he has with the Father so the world may know that the Father sent him.

      Now, this does raise real questions, such as how should one handle the various beliefs that one will encounter? I guess there are three items that come to mind. First, there are no two people who will agree on every point. Just a quick reflection shows this is true. Even in a denomination, people will hold various positions. The wisdom of the early church was simple doctrinal statements on the core essentials. As specificity goes up, unity goes down. This rises the second item, we need to know the difference between the essentials and nonessentials. Sometimes this is easy…but other times it’s real hard too! My position is that various culture mores can vary, however, morals can’t. Some beliefs are secondary or even tertiary, others are non-negotiable. This leads me to my third thought, we need to have a robust knowledge of biblical truth so we will not be deceived and persuaded by unbiblical ideas. That takes work, but that is part of the work we are called to do.

  3. 1 Corinthians 11:19 No doubt there have to be differences among you …
    biblehub.com/1_corinthians/11-19.htm
    New International Version No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. New Living Translation But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized! English Standard Version for there must be factions among you in order …

      1. I am just pointing out Scripture seems to say they are unavoidable; I think this is why we have different church denominations. I believe sin has blighted out understanding of the one true interpretation of Scripture, though there any many applications made by the Holy Spirit.

        1. The reason why I asked is that some use that passage to try to validate divisions within the body of Christ. It does not sound you are making that claim. If you were, I’d propose that one should look at the context of that verse. It is part of the second half of the chapter that is talking about division, how it is bad and sin. If I understand it right, it seems to be what the “unworthy manner” means.

          1. I see your excellent point, but wasn’t one of the problems in Corinth the groups of people following certain leaders, Paul, Apollos, Christ … Aren’t those the factions, and today we have similar things in denominations, some of which were started the same way, following just one leader?

          2. Yes, I think you are right, chapters 1-4 really hammer home that issue. Paul even calls them babies! I do think you have a point too on denominations. That has been my concern. However, I guess I’m OK with denominations, as long as we have a robust view (and actions) on treating fellow believers as such. However, I could be wrong on that.

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