Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Evangelism and apologetics: Which one is mandatory? Which one is optional?

The answer might surprise you – it surprised me! J. Warner Wallace explains. (H/T The Poached Egg)

Excerpt:

Why do we embrace the burden of evangelism while relegating the burden of Case Making to professional “apologists”? Paul says something interesting in his letter to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:11-13
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Paul repeatedly tells us that some of us are designed and given to perform certain functions. Some are apostles, some are prophets, some are evangelists, some are teachers, and some are pastors. Think about that for a minute. The reasonable inference here is that some of us are given to function in this waysome of us are not. You may be gifted and given by God to be a pastor or you may not. In a similar way, you may not be an evangelist. We may be called to share our faith (as described in the passages in Mark, Luke, John and Acts), but we probably shouldn’t beat ourselves up and feel guilty if we aren’t great at evangelism. That may not be our gift or our God-given role.

But there’s another calling we ought to feel on our lives as Christians that we usually ignore altogether. Look at what Peter says in a letter written to “exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia”:

1 Peter 3:15-16:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

When addressing Christ followers who had been dispersed into regions filled with non-believers, Peter reminded Christians that everyone shared a responsibility to defend what they believed.

I attended Intervarsity Christian Fellowship while getting my undergraduate degree and Campus Crusade for Christ while getting my graduate degree. Both groups had leadership teams that rejected apologetics – including the showing of debate DVDs – because evangelism was mandatory while apologetics was only for professionals who had a special gift. It turns out that they had it exactly backwards. Make sure you get your marching orders right.

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