Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Further comments on the question of Cultural Apologetics vs. Biblical Apologetics:

Frank Beckwith:

My comments concerned whether one can move from an encounter with two missionaries to a definitive judgment about a particular way to approach Mormons, which is you did your entry. Gina, your judgment about the wisdom of these methods may very well be correct. But there is no warrant from your experience with these missionaries that would establish that judgment. In fact, when people rely on such paltry evidence on other matters we dismiss those judgments, and rightfully so. For example, suppose one were to make a judgment about the overall quality of Frank Pastore's intellect from his wildly pitched comparison between the Emergent Church and Al-Qaeda. That would be a hasty judgment, to be sure, one that would be an unfair assessment of a man with many fine qualities. So, Gina, let me encourage to re-read my comments carefully. They are not meant to be a defense of anyone. They are meant to be a correction of sub-par reasoning that does not set a good public example for other Christians.

Gina Pastore:


Believe it or not, I get your point . . . . Actually, you're incorrect when you claim that I came to a "judgment" regarding the encounter with the three missionaries. I just sent a report to my friend Jill about what happened, and she raised the common concerns over the approach being used by certain Cultural Apologists (e.g., Hazen, Johnson, etc.). Many of us are concerned about the effectiveness and long-term consequences of such "conversational" "let's-just-be-friends" approaches to evangelizing Mormons.

If LDS missionaries are now saying, "Some evangelical leaders believe Mormons are Christians," I think that's a huge problem. Don't you? The whole approach seems to advance the LDS agenda rather than the Gospel.

I've never met you, though Frank (my husband) did several years ago, and he spoke well of you.

I'm so saddened by the way you and Greg Johnson went after Jill several months ago. Frank, you know as well as I do, there are Christian Apologists who are trying to defame the late Walter Martin and his ministry. Dog piling on his daughter for defending her father's rich legacy is just inappropriate. I know you have great philosophical and intellectual training, and can point out the structural flaws of argumentation . . . but, could you also demonstrate Christian character? I know all of this grieves the Lord. If we really care about witnessing to Mormons, we need to demonstrate the love of Christ to one another first.


JohnD said...

Miss Gina,

Please don't get suckered into softening your position for any reason. The "let's be friends" approach sometimes comes through the "was that the best way to witness?" debate among "believers" ... or the "was that the most intellectual approach?" argument...

Chuck Swindoll said it best... I am just a beggar showing others where I found bread.

If a Mormon was about to step out in front of a bus and you could grab them... how would you approach this? Intellectually? Friendly?

If you saw children playing in the street in front of that bus, would you wax philosophical?

How much more devastating is going to hell than being hit by a bus!

This same fairness doctrine we have embraced in the Church and society was what the enemy needed to gain a foothold and an eventual stronghold in politics as well as Church politics.

How ridiculously tolerant we have become of those who would cloud the absolutes with uncertainty. All in the name of fair play.

8:34 AM  
John W. Morehead said...

Hello, Jill. This post caught my attention so I thought I'd pass along a few responses.

I find it unfortunate that you frame this in terms of a dichotomy between an alledged cultural vs. biblical apologetic. By this perhaps you mean your perceptions that some evangelicals are compromising in an effort to engage the culture or specific subcultures, whereas the Bible allegedly offers something different. Please note that this is a false dichotomy in that the Bible provides many examples of a both/and blending of concern for theology and forms of cultural engagement that include apologetics that are contextualized appropriately. It is a mistake to characterize some of what is going on as the compromisers who just want to play nice vs. those unflinching apologists who clearly follow the Bible. This is a caricature, and before we can really discuss our differing theologies and praxis we have to accurately understand the situation.

Some of us are trying to apply the insights of Scripture, the history of Christian mission, and the discipline of missiology, to the subcultures of the new religions in order to develop contextualized forms of communicating gospel and appropriate forms of apologetic. That this is somehow simply dismissed as culture vs. the Bible is unfortunate, mistaken, and another example that we simply have to do better in understanding each other. I hope this comment helps open the door for such a possibility.

3:43 PM  

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