The Whole Christ

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17)

Transcendental men

If you’ve never visited Peter Leithart’s blog before, I warmly commend it to you. I recently read an old post by him on beauty and its relation to apologetics, which can be found here. In it, he argues that the beauty inherent in nature points to the existence of an ultimate beauty – Christ. The argument from beauty is the most neglected of the three transcendental arguments and yet it is probably the most important.

Here are the three transcendental arguments for the existence of God.

1) The argument from morality – the existence of objective morality cannot be adequately accounted for without presupposing a Christian worldview.

2) The argument from logic – the existence of logical laws, of objective truth, cannot be adequately accounted for without presupposing a Christian worldview.

3) The argument from beauty – the existence of beauty cannot be adequately accounted for without presupposing a Christian worldview.

As Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).

One of the main reasons why the argument from beauty is neglected is because it is less objective than the other two. I think though, that suspicion of it is probably rooted in modernism, rather than in Christianity. Let us not forget that postmodernism acted as a useful counterbalance against the liberal thinking of modernistic enlightenment-era Christianity. We need to see the Christ of Christianity as Isaiah did, as a God of Glory and Beauty (Isaiah 6).

Consider this – most Christians in the UK are women. A Tearfund report from around ten years ago suggested that 2 in every 3 Christians are female. I don’t know if that figure is still accurate, but I think it says something about British men. It suggests that they don’t get the beauty of the gospel like women do.

Many have suggested that the Church is too feminine and needs to become more ‘manly’ to appeal to men. Whilst that may be partially true, I think there is an inherent danger in labelling the dullness of British liberal evangelicalism as “feminine”. It carries the implication that women are dull and lifeless, whereas men are fun and exciting, which couldn’t be further from the truth! Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is the feminine person of the Godhead, the glorifier, and that it is through the Spirit that we come to know Jesus.

I think that there is a much simpler reason why the men left the Church: sex. One of the main reasons why men refuse to accept Jesus is because they don’t want anyone to have control over their sex lives. Many non-Christian men I have spoken with have even been very open about this as the reason why! The apologetic answer to the problem is not to concentrate solely on the more logic-orientated arguments for Christianity, which will only evade the deeper issues. Rather, we must unashamedly set forth the beauty of Christ first and foremost, displaying it in our words and actions, so that the word of the gospel of Christ might be made flesh in us.

Top 5 Apologetics Myths

I have recently been reading Cornelius Van Til’s “Christian Apologetics” and it has really got me thinking about how the Church ought to be interacting with the world on some of today’s hot topics. I think all too often we are prone to affirming certain parts of the secular worldview without properly considering the consequences. So here are five things which the good Christian apologist should never agree with the secularist about. There are probably many others, but here are just a few.

1) “Both of us believe in the laws of science”

We should never affirm that any such impersonal, unchangeable ‘laws’ exist (cf 2 Peter 3:3-4). By agreeing with the secularist on this matter the apologist is basically affirming a materialistic worldview from the outset. Contrary to this, we must insist that God directly and personally governs the universe through his Spirit (eg. Psalm 104); the ‘laws’ of science are merely conventions which God is free to break whenever he so desires.

2) “Both of us are honestly pursuing the truth, we have just come to different conclusions”

The Apostle Paul does not reason this way. He insists that those who deny the gospel are fools (Romans 1:22-23) and that they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18-19). Deep down in his heart of hearts, the secularist knows that Jesus is Lord of the universe and he is doing everything he can to actively suppress that truth. He has become so accustomed to doing this that he has become blind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) and hard-hearted (Ephesians 4:17-18).

3) “The existence of God is a complex issue”

Psalm 19 teaches that the existence of the triune God is crystal clear from the world he made; that creation is constantly screaming the good news about its Creator and about his graciousness towards us. It is our sinfulness which blinds us and keeps us from recognising this self-evident fact.

4) “We should begin outside of faith and the Bible and investigate these issues independently”

The secularist is not capable of investigating anything independently because they are blind. They need to recognise the reality of their sinfulness through hearing the good news about God’s grace revealed in Jesus (Romans 1:16-17). The apologist is not seeking to win an argument, but to lead a non-Christian to repentance.

5) “Faith should be a private matter”

Christianity is about proclamation. You cannot be a Christian and be quiet about it. The Apostles did not keep silent even after violent persecution (Acts 4) and neither should we. We would be hypocrites if we failed to speak out against the sinful practices of the world, if we did not denounce evil and rejoice in good. This applies in the ‘political’ sphere just as much as in the ‘personal’ one. Jesus is lord over all the kings of the earth (Psalm 2).