Have you ever been engaged in apologetics with a person from a Christian-like-cult? For instance a Jehovah’s Witness, or a Mormon. During the public exchange have you found yourself angered by their blatant twisting of scripture and shameless proof-texting? I mean, come on? How could they believe what they are saying? God forbid anyone observing this heresy ever falls for it!
We as Christians have to understand that at some point it is good to not treat them like brothers with valid points. We have been conditioned by our society to be tolerant and polite. Our faith has been taught to us by men with shallow theology for decades. It is no wonder we are so passive and hyper-tolerant. Well, it is time to get angy! I’m not telling you to get angry and sin. I simply want us to be offended when someone lies about God or His word. How would you feel if someone was telling lies about your wife that would get her gossiped about or locked up? How would you feel if someone was telling lies about your child that would affect their future? You, like me, would be angry with them. Why is it we can sit there in front of a crowd of people while a heretic tells lies about the God who saved us from hell and not get a bit emotional? Oh, I’m sure we have had our pride hurt in an argument with a heretic, but that is not what I am talking about. Matthew 15:1-14 seems to be a good example of how to deal with people like the pharisees. 1Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2“Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4“For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’ 5“But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
9‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”
10After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11“It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”
12Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” 13But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14“Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Proof-texting is the practice of quoting a verse, or verses from the text of the Bible, to support, or refute a doctrine. This practice has been used by the orthodox and the heretic. The dangers of proof-texting are varied and manifold. With proper presuppositions proof-texting can be a valuable tool for supporting orthodox doctrines.
First, we will go over the problems with proof-texting. The biggest problem is when a person or group starts with a false presupposition. For example, a Mormon starts with the presupposition that Jesus is a created being. They hold this false presupposition because they believe the words of a false prophet, and teacher in authority over God’s very own word. The Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Muslims, do the same thing.
With this presupposition when they run into texts like John 3:16 “…For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life…” They wrongly understand the word, “begotten” to mean that Jesus was the progeny of the Father. They then, in turn use this as a proof-text for their false doctrine that deny the eternal deity of Jesus, in stark disregard for His proclamation of being the, “I Am.” This, in turn requires more eisegesis, and proof-texting, in an attempt to refute the true doctrines, in conflict with their false ones. When apologetically engaged with a heretic or cult member they are usually more than thrilled to proof-text ad nauseum. This can quickly become counterproductive. If this is done in a public forum it can be disastrous. The onlookers could be convinced of the heretical doctrines.
Our apologetics should be from a capable well rounded understanding of the entire Bible in its own context. It should be founded on the presupposition that the Bible is the truth, and the authority, on What God has to say to man. When we start with a true presupposition, and are exegetical in our reading of the Bible, we can proof-text like Paul to the Jews in Hebrews. When proof-texting is done correctly it can win people’s minds to the truths of the Bible. There is nothing like a good section of scripture quoted in context at the right time to hammer home sound doctrine. God’s word is authoritative and when we speak truthfully with the authority of scripture it is a powerful thing to witness.
I have heard some charismatics claim to be a fool for Christ, and then start laughing maniacally out loud like they are the evil emperor from the Star Wars movies. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what God intended. Here are some verses for you about wisdom and foolishness, enjoy.
1 Corinthians 1:18-24(NASB)
18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19For it is written,
“I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
14I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.