Love and apologetics

A few days ago I retweeted this:

For my friends who are involved in Christian apologetics, I would rephrase this to say that “if your apologetic doesn’t make you love people more, it’s wrong.”

Gagged ManThere are two reasons that I say this. The first reason is that love of neighbor is the second great command (Matt. 22:39) and our defense of the faith must be done in a way that fulfills this command.

The second reason can be found in the familiar verse, 1 Peter 3:15. At the end of that verse, Peter encourages us to give our defense with gentleness and respect. The word translated respect is phobos, which has the literal meaning of fear. Perhaps the idea is that we should have some fear of giving an offense. In other words, the message might be offensive, but the messenger should never be.

Most of the apologists I know (and read) seek to do their apologetics in a loving way, being courteous with those who disagree . There are a few who are rather brash and belittle the arguments of those who they oppose.

But all of us, through impatience or pride, sometimes fall short of the command to love the one with whom we disagree. If love of God and love of neighbor is not our motivation for engaging in the discussion, then we are better off remaining silent.

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Mark McIntyre

A follower of Jesus Christ who shares observations about how Scripture should impact the church and the world. Mark is the original author and editor of Attempts at Honesty.
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  1. Tim Inglis says

    Hi Mark,
    Great post once again my friend.
    I think it’s interesting to note that the word “phobos” is translated in the NASB as “reverence”. I can’t help but feel that the gentleness is for our neighbour/opponent and the reverence is for the fact that they are created Imago Dei. Just a thought.
    God bless,


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