Archive for June, 2011
In conversations with preachers, I often mention my conviction that we must infuse our preaching with apologetics. In J.I. Packer’s recent book, Affirming the Apostles’ Creed, he defines spiritual doubt as:
A state of of divided mind — ‘double-mindedness” is James’s concept (James 1:6-8) — and it is found within faith and without it. In the former case, it is faith infected, sick, and out of sorts; in the latter, it belongs to a struggle either toward faith or away from a God felt to be invading and making claims one does not want to meet.
As our expositional sermons are infused with apologetic content, preachers help true saints, whose faith is to some degree “infected,” work through their own difficulties and questions while simultaneously equipping these same believers to be sent out on gospel-proclaiming mission in and to a world that is hostile to Christ. In infusing expositional preaching with apologetics, we model for the saints what it looks like to wield the “sword of the Spirit,” the “living and powerful Word of God,” the spiritual “weapons of our warfare” in the face of the wisdom of this world. Paul wrote, “We destroy arguments and qevery lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Packer goes on and explains how we can help doubters; he lists the following three ways:
- “By explaining the problem area” (often doubts arise from misunderstandings or from exposure to caricatures).
- “By exhibiting the reasonableness of Christian belief at that point, and the grounds for embracing it (for Christian beliefs, though above reason, are not against it)”
- “By exploring what prompts the doubts (for doubts are never rationally compelling, and hesitations about Christianity usually have more to do with likes and dislikes, hurt feelings, and social, intellectual, and cultural snobbery than the doubters are aware)”