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Feedback Separate apologetics from theology

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#1
Dear moderators and staff,

Since I'm an active Christian apologist in the Australian secular world, I would like to ask a few questions about the 'Apologetics & Theology' directory in which Scriptures are to be given in responses, to follow CF guidelines. This is not possible in the apologetic world in which I engage because these skeptical Aussies do not want Scripture quoted as many of them don't believe the Bible. They want engagement at a different level because of the nature of their questions or comments:
  1. 'Your Bible is nonsense; it's nothing more than a fairytale, myth from the Iron Age' - quoting Scripture will not answer this issue. I need to engage with them on how to determine the accuracy and dependability of any document from history. Quoting Scripture doesn't help them on this part of the journey.
  2. 'It's foolishness trying to convince me of your god when there are so many gods in the world, including Allah, Buddha and thousands of other deities. Promoting your one God is nothing more giving me your indoctrination'. This means I have to begin this discussion way before reaching the Bible.
  3. The occasional more informed person raises issues such as: 'Your Reformation hero John Calvin agreed to the slaughter of the Geneva Reformer Michael Servetus who was burned to death for heresy. One of your leaders is as guilty as the ISIL terrorists in killing those who oppose them'. Therefore, this is not the point to begin by quoting Scripture. I have to begin way back before I can come to Scripture.
I would like to encourage CF to separate apologetics from theology and not to require the quoting of Scriptures for every post that starts or continues an apologetic topic. Even in theology there are topics that may encourage starting or continuing with a discussion that doesn't directly cite Scripture to begin with. I'm thinking of the way that postmodernism is influencing theology. A refutation of postmodern theology (which Millard Erickson has done magnificently in the latest edition of his Christian Theology) may not involve the quoting of Scripture in various aspects as responses.

I urge you to broaden your view of Apologetics so that you can equip believers to engage with the secularist who is raising strategic issues that need to be addressed by the Christian community. A requirement to quote Scripture is not always the best starting point when we are finding common ground. If we do this, CF can be more actively involved in equipping apologists for the challenges of the secular world.

I do hope you will give positive consideration to these matters for CF that I'm raising here.

Sincerely in Christ,
Oz
 

WIP

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#2
Oz, thank you for your feedback. I think I understand your question. We have actually discussed this a bit among ourselves. One thought has been that maybe we should change the title of the forum to "Christian Apologetics and Theology" rather than "Apologetics and Theology." Adding "Christian" to the title might be more accurate because the rules here at CFnet do not allow non-Christians to attempt to undermine our beliefs therefore, using the Bible as the source of our defense is appropriate. Very few non-Christians debate in this forum and I suspect this is partly why.

Maybe we should revisit this question.
 
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#3
This is a section of the Mission Statement for this site.
"ChristianForums.net desires to serve non-Christians, seeking answers to questions about Christianity, by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ so they too may acquire the hope, joy, and peace that come from fellowship with the saving grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

"The biblical significance of Mars Hill is that it is the location of one of Paul’s most important gospel presentations at the time of his visit to Athens during his second missionary journey (Acts 17:16–34). It was where he addressed the religious idolatry of the Greeks who even had an altar to the “Unknown God.” It was this altar and their religious idolatry that Paul used as a starting point in proclaiming to them the one true God and how they could be reconciled to Him. Paul’s sermon is a classic example of a gospel presentation that begins where the listeners are and then presents the gospel message in a logical and biblical fashion. In many ways it is a classic example of apologetics in action. Paul started his message by addressing the false beliefs of those gathered there that day and then used those beliefs as a way of presenting the gospel message to them."

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Mars-Hill.html#ixzz3gXRpbHQ8
 
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#4
OZ PM'd this idea to me last night and I suggested he start this thread to get everyone involved. It seemed I remembered some talk of this before but couldn't remember who brought it up. I agree that maybe it's time to take a closer look at what alternatives we might have and how we can improve, if we can, whether it be an addition to the name, a separate new forum, or some other ideas someone may come up with.

I think the basing of posts on scripture has been a good thing for "Christian" apologetics, but Oz is talking about apologetics as used in convincing non-christians, much like Deborah is talking about at Mars Hill. That really is a different concept using different tactics than Christians working out and explaining our theological views to other Christians.

One thing I wouldn't want to see is any removal of the scripture requirement from the guidelines of the forum that we have now. Even though this has created a lot of editing work and drawn terrible fire from some members against the mods (yours truly in particular lately! :lol), it has also done a lot to stop the horrible fighting and verbal abuse that had been taking place there at one time. To me it's worth the time and effort, so perhaps there are some ways we can make it even better now...
 

WIP

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#6
Probably the most significant concern I have has been mentioned by Obadiah already. I think it is no secret that the A&T forum can be one of the most hostile forums we have...well, maybe the End Times forum can give it a run at times. I don't mean that the A&T forum is a hostile place but as it compares to the rest of the forums on CFnet it can be one of the less inviting.

There are some very strong convictions among those that post and things seem to get out of hand rather quickly at times. As Obadiah has already mentioned, we applied the rule to back up our position with scripture for a couple reasons and one of them was to help curtail some of the arguing, fighting, and verbal abuse the forums tend to bring out. By focusing on God's Word rather than our own opinions or even egos, it can help keep things more objective rather than personal. After all, who can argue with God?

The Holy Bible is the basis of our faith and in my opinion it seems more than appropriate that the sacred Scriptures would be the primary source of reference. I guess I struggle to understand how one can defend Christianity without using the Bible to do so.
 
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Kenny_ms

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#7
After all, who can argue with God?
The unsaved can and will, and In think that is the gist of the OP and where the OP's concern lies, convincing or getting too those unsaved.

This is not possible in the apologetic world in which I engage because these skeptical Aussies do not want Scripture quoted as many of them don't believe the Bible. They want engagement at a different level because of the nature of their questions or comments:
I've often considered the same for the exact same reason but from what I've seen, sometimes the rules override the actual purpose of the site in several ways that I won't go into, but for that reason and as WIP mentioned, my guess is, for the sake of those rules, you'll have a tough time getting what you want, only a change in wording of the title of the thread.

My point, I think it's too bad it has to be that way, but I'm still behind you on this.

Maybe a renamed Christian Apologetics and Theology and a separate extreme Apologetics as you suggest.

And since the heated conversations or fighting, whatever we call them, are a concern here, (point being this is relevant here and not just a general moaning and groaning about the rules), let me add, the mods may want to rethink what is considered fighting as some of these threads seem to be getting stopped for no reason whatsoever or the reason seems to be made up as an excuse to stop people from talking. People get passionate about important things, and we're talking eternal life "important" here, so don't throw debates out for little or no reason. That or make another place for these "arguments" like the OP is suggesting call it the pits or something, but don't shush important issues that while being, and after they are, discussed/solved can not only change the speakers lives but may reveal truths that can change readers lives, truths that can sometimes only be revealed/realized in a heated/passionate manner.
 
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Kenny_ms

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#8
Since this seems to be connected to what OZ is asking, if not exactly what the main idea of their post is, maybe the flat out question of why not an "anything goes" part to this board, should be asked?
 

WIP

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#10
To address some of your questions Kenny, I'll start with showing some examples. Please bear in mind that I am not trying to pick on you but just using what you typed as an example.

The following statement, which you wrote above, insinuates something that is completely unfounded in truth. It may be how you feel but it is not based on truth but instead bears false witness. As a result, saying something like this immediately puts the other person on the defensive and very likely invokes a negative response. Historically, this does not serve to edify anyone but instead takes the discussion down the path to destruction.
some of these threads seem to be getting stopped for no reason whatsoever or the reason seems to be made up as an excuse to stop people from talking.


why not an "anything goes" part to this board, should be asked?
I think there are a few members that have been here long enough to remember but before I became a member of CFnet, discussion about Catholic doctrine was allowed on the boards. These discussions became so heated and unruly that it was determined necessary to the health and image of CFnet to limit these types of discussions. Flat out arguing, bullying, and arrogant attacks from Christians toward other Christians is hardly a message of hope and love. We have a responsibility as ambassadors for Christ to present a Christ-like attitude toward each other as well as nonbelievers. There are a lot of people that view the discussions on CFnet but are not even members including nonbelievers. I was one of them before I became a member of CFnet. I had anonymously viewed a few different forums and it was the friendly inviting attitude of the site that prompted me to join. Other sites where things were more hostile and abusive didn't interest me but rather intimidated me.

"ChristianForums.net desires to serve non-Christians, seeking answers to questions about Christianity, by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ so they too may acquire the hope, joy, and peace that come from fellowship with the saving grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

When our fellowship looks like a brawl, I really don't see how we can fulfill the above mission.
 
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#11
I have brought this up in the past. Since apologetics is mainly for reaching non-Christians and is quite different than mere theological discussion, it makes sense to have the two as separate forums. Even Other Religions and the Science forums could be grouped under an Apologetics forum. The point being that while apologetics does make use of theology, it also makes extensive use of philosophy and other disciplines to make a good and proper defense of the Christian faith. As such, not all of it can necessarily be directly supported by Scripture.
 
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#12
To address some of your questions Kenny, I'll start with showing some examples. Please bear in mind that I am not trying to pick on you but just using what you typed as an example.

The following statement, which you wrote above, insinuates something that is completely unfounded in truth. It may be how you feel but it is not based on truth but instead bears false witness. As a result, saying something like this immediately puts the other person on the defensive and very likely invokes a negative response. Historically, this does not serve to edify anyone but instead takes the discussion down the path to destruction.





I think there are a few members that have been here long enough to remember but before I became a member of CFnet, discussion about Catholic doctrine was allowed on the boards. These discussions became so heated and unruly that it was determined necessary to the health and image of CFnet to limit these types of discussions. Flat out arguing, bullying, and arrogant attacks from Christians toward other Christians is hardly a message of hope and love. We have a responsibility as ambassadors for Christ to present a Christ-like attitude toward each other as well as nonbelievers. There are a lot of people that view the discussions on CFnet but are not even members including nonbelievers. I was one of them before I became a member of CFnet. I had anonymously viewed a few different forums and it was the friendly inviting attitude of the site that prompted me to join. Other sites where things were more hostile and abusive didn't interest me but rather intimidated me.

"ChristianForums.net desires to serve non-Christians, seeking answers to questions about Christianity, by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ so they too may acquire the hope, joy, and peace that come from fellowship with the saving grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

When our fellowship looks like a brawl, I really don't see how we can fulfill the above mission.
Agreed. Our primary purpose is to bring glory to God and an "anything goes" forum will do anything but that.
 

WIP

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#13
I have brought this up in the past. Since apologetics is mainly for reaching non-Christians and is quite different than mere theological discussion, it makes sense to have the two as separate forums. Even Other Religions and the Science forums could be grouped under an Apologetics forum. The point being that while apologetics does make use of theology, it also makes extensive use of philosophy and other disciplines to make a good and proper defense of the Christian faith. As such, not all of it can necessarily be directly supported by Scripture.
Please expand on this. Maybe we can find a common ground?
 
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Kenny_ms

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#14
If OZ, or anyone for that matter, is willing to stick his neck out and take some punches for the sake of doing what Jesus told him to do, seem to me, the least we could do is let them.

Remember, no one quickly walked up to John the baptist, gently put their arms around him and told him he should not stir things up and should stop saying what he is saying or he could bring trouble upon himself. He was allowed to do what he was mean to do, get out there in the trenches and get his hands dirty.

JB was no pansy and most likely would have been offended had we treated him like he should be for the sake of keeping the peace.

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
 
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#15
If OZ, or anyone for that matter, is willing to stick his neck out and take some punches for the sake of doing what Jesus told him to do, seem to me, the least we could do is let them.

Remember, no one quickly walked up to John the baptist, gently put their arms around him and told him he should not stir things up and should stop saying what he is saying or he could bring trouble upon himself. He was allowed to do what he was mean to do, get out there in the trenches and get his hands dirty.

JB was no pansy and most likely would have been offended had we treated him like he should be for the sake of keeping the peace.

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Sure but that is not what Oz is asking. He wants the forum to help equip Christians, which is desperately needed, and is along the same lines of something else I have suggested to the staff recently. There is simply no way, IMO, we can have an "anything goes" forum and maintain a good witness for God. And it is not needed to discuss apologetics.
 
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#16
To address some of your questions Kenny, I'll start with showing some examples. Please bear in mind that I am not trying to pick on you but just using what you typed as an example.

The following statement, which you wrote above, insinuates something that is completely unfounded in truth. It may be how you feel but it is not based on truth but instead bears false witness. As a result, saying something like this immediately puts the other person on the defensive and very likely invokes a negative response. Historically, this does not serve to edify anyone but instead takes the discussion down the path to destruction.
I don't think you are trying to pick on me, I'm not one that's generally oversensitive, I just think that's what you see because it serves your purpose, nothing more. IOW, it tries to convince others that what I said really isn't founded as truth, when it's absolute the truth as I see it and I'm sure others will make up their own mind on whether they think it's the truth or not. And if the truth invokes a negative response, good, that tells me you are at least listening. Understanding? I'm not so sure but I'll keep working on that. :)

On your comment that led to:

When our fellowship looks like a brawl, I really don't see how we can fulfill the above mission.

That just takes us back to the beginning, what looks like a brawl to some of you, is a nothing to me and if I didn't mention it already, I doubt I'm the only one that thinks that? But you disagree and that's fine but, I would appreciate it if you wouldn't dictate it unfounded and me wrong so quickly, when some of us may feel otherwise. There is no doubt in my mind it is.

I should add, I'm not trying to pick on you either, WIP, but just as others do, I will add to the thread and I would hope my thoughts welcome, but if they are not, please pass them by so there is no trouble or just don't respond if you are concerned about replies you may not like..
 
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#17
Please expand on this. Maybe we can find a common ground?
Ultimately, apologetics is grounded in Scripture, and must be. However, there are apologetic arguments that make little, if any, direct use of Scripture and rely extensively on philosophy or extrapolations of Scripture. For these types of arguments, one cannot simply post Scripture to directly support what has been argued. Even if Scripture directly supports what is being said, it is not always necessary nor advantageous to post Scripture, but rather just make the claim. This is where I agree with Oz--since unbelievers dismiss the Bible outright, they don't care to hear what Scripture has to say. But if you can appeal to their reason and show why their arguments are weak or don't work, then you may gain their ear. Of course, there are situations where apologetics will almost always rely on Scripture, namely, where you are dealing with people of other faiths and cults.

With theology however, it is almost always a discussion amongst Christians alone, and then it becomes necessary to use Scripture in order to come to some truth about what Scripture is saying. I suppose one way to look at it, even though there is overlap between the two, is that apologetics defends our theology--apologetics includes theology but also goes beyond it since it is outward focused.
 
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Kenny_ms

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#18
Here is another thing you may find unfounde but I see as absolutet truth. YOu are a mod
Sure but that is not what Oz is asking.
I may have overstepped my/the bounds and pushed for something a little more than the OP was suggesting.

My bad a sorry to slip a bit off topic.
 
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Here is another thing you may find unfounde but I see as absolutet truth. YOu are a mod
I'm not sure what you mean by this.

I may have overstepped my/the bounds and pushed for something a little more than the OP was suggesting.

My bad a sorry to slip a bit off topic.
No worries. As was mentioned earlier, when things were more relaxed in terms of rules and moderation, there was a lot of ugly fighting, between Christians. If we were to have no rules for one forum, it would be Christians constantly fighting, which is the very thing Christians are to not be doing. I don't care so much if a non-Christian comes in and stirs up some trouble--hostility towards the gospel and believers is to be expected. But the Bible expects believers to love each other; it is supposed to be one of the hallmarks of being a Christian.
 
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#20
Agreed. Our primary purpose is to bring glory to God and an "anything goes" forum will do anything but that.
I was clear what I meant, but I just need to bring it all together.

"Anything goes" would equate to something other than yanking, locking threads or penalizing for the slightest nothing, the way over the line over moderation is what concerns me and an anything goes within reason forum where some of these issues can be settled, would be a good thing in my view. I see too much goodness being shut down for the sake of so-called goodness.

I'm not kidding here, I've seen threads stopped for an attack, I go through it and can't for the life of me find any attack or any problem at all for that matter.