Apologetics 4: Skill in Scripture

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 27, 2021 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

"To be an effective warrior in the battle for truth today, several old fashioned, Christlike virtues are absolutely essential: biblical discernment, wisdom, fortitude, determination, endurance, skill in handling Scripture, strong convictions, the ability to speak candidly without waffling, and a willingness to enter a conflict."
~John MacArthur: The Truth War, page 146

When we deal with apologetics, there is nothing more important in terms of your knowledge than skill in Scripture. The rest of the virtues have to deal with character and mindset. This one is the only of MacArthur’s list that deals with actual content. When I opened this series, one of the statements I made is that apologetics must have one of two goals if not both: 1) to proclaim from Scripture or 2) to show the reliability of Scripture, then in all that to reveal Christ. If we aren’t doing these two things, we may be able to present truth about the existence of God or good political talk, but we’ve completely missed the point of doing apologetics. If our apologetics point to and praise the works of men over God, we preach a false position. As much as I love listening to men who preach the truth, I must be careful about idolizing them. While I can learn truth from those who speak it, the only value they have is when they speak the truth of Scripture. The same is true about me. The only thing of true value that I know is that which has its source in Scripture, in the words of God. As much as I love science and I love to talk about science, that is a very weak source when compared to the Holy Scriptures.

Voddie Baucham gives an excellent analogy for this issue. He describes two knights going head-to-head in a duel. Knight 1 draws his sword. Knight 2 proclaims, “I don’t believe in your sword.” Knight 1 has three options: 1) put his sword away and don’t use it b) put his sword down and explain why his sword is dangerous to the other knight, or c) hit Knight 2 anyway and ask, “Do you believe in it now?” What is Baucham addressing here? He is answering the ludicrous idea that if someone doesn’t believe in the Bible, you can’t use it as your authority. Why? Why let them dictate the “rules”? I reject the principles of naturalism and uniformitarianism. I reject the premise that “science” is the only valid way to know if something is true. I reject the premise that ANY authority that man has discovered or contrived has any influential say on what Scripture states nor can it override what Scripture states.

So, what does that say about the person who rejects these things? If someone rejects the Bible, perhaps we should throw their own argument back at them. “I don’t believe in your ‘scientism.’” Make them answer for their own standards. In all, the Bible is our authority as Christians and it saddens me how few actually use it as such, especially in apologetics. When I first tried my hand at apologetics, I thought I could prove a young earth without the Bible (and I parroted Kent Hovind’s presentations). Needless to say, I didn’t get far because I didn’t understand how the arguments or authorities worked. The Christian apologist needs the Bible as their primary authority, and then they need skill in using it.

As I’ve written about the Armor of God, when I talk about the “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace,” I describe how in any sport or activity, footwork, proper footwear, and having grip of the ground are the most important thing. If your feet are in the wrong place, if you don’t have traction, if they are heavy and don’t move, you are toast. The same is true in the spiritual battle field. You must know the Scriptures, and you must be able to “rightly divide” the Word of God. No one on this planet today is ever going to get it 100% correct, nor will anyone ever exhaust the mine of truth it contains, but we must know what it says and how to use it.

We must have proper exegesis. The Bible is not a book you “interpret” based on what you think or what you know. The true Christian doesn’t “read the Bible.” The Bible reads the true Christian. It’s the instruction manual for life. It’s the mirror that shows you who you truly are. It’s the lens through which we can see reality. If you want me to tune out of anything you have to say about the Bible, open with “I think.” The Christian is not to operate that way regarding the Bible. When we put our opinions about things to the Bible, we are putting our intellect and our ideas and our thinking as the authority over Scripture; enabling us to pick and choose what we like, and what we don’t like. Instead, we must submit to Scripture. We don’t dictate what it says; it tells us what it says.

We must have more than mere surface level understanding of Scripture. I need to make this clear: different does NOT mean deeper. In a debate between Kent Hovind and Hugh Ross, someone in the audience suggested that “day” meaning ordinary day is the initial meaning, but then meaning long period of time is a “deeper meaning” and offered that as a solution to the YEC/OEC debate. The true answer to this suggestion is that any deeper meaning MUST be in perfect agreement to the initial meaning. Just as calculus is a deeper level of math than addition and subtraction, if the calculus denies basic arithmetic, it’s not math. Likewise, ANY model that suggests “day” is not a normal day (as the language commands) is not a deeper understanding of anything. It’s an entirely different construct.

I have had conversations with some people who proclaim Christ, but their knowledge of the Gospel is very superficial and surface-level at best, and they are trying to “educate” me about theology and tell me that I need to listen to the Holy Spirit. If someone picking your brain on a topic can only get to the surface level and not get further, then you don’t know it well enough. My former pastor told me after hearing me speak that if someone were to pick my brain, they would not be able to hit the bottom in Bible knowledge and general apologetics. But there are fields where I am not afraid to admit that my knowledge doesn’t go very deep on that field. I also don’t talk about those fields very much. On the other hand, I have had people tell me that their theology is far more important than their studies of geology, yet when they talk, they are extremely articulate in geology and can’t or won’t dig into the theology of their claims. Which one have they really studied?

We must be skilled in Scripture. Jesus was a master of it. He didn’t merely have it memorized; He knew precisely what it said, what it meant, and how to use it. We should learn from His model. Study Scripture and keep studying Scripture. Get to know the author through Scripture. It will not merely help you through defending your faith; it will help you live your life. Next week, I will conclude my study of this MacArthur quote with the last phrase: “having strong convictions, speaking candidly, and being willing to enter a conflict.” After that, we’ll take a thorough examination of 2 Timothy 2:24-26 and the surrounding context.

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