Friday, October 28, 2011

St. Simon and St. Jude, Defenders of the Faith

A blessed Saint Simon and Saint Jude day to you all. This post will be very brief. But once I saw the church calendar this morning I couldn't help but recall a few thoughts related to Christian apologetics on this feast day. During college I attended several lectures by John Warwick Montgomery, perhaps the world's foremost Christian apologist in our lifetime. His works have been and will continue to be highlighted here for their wisdom and insight into Christian theology, especially in the defense of the Christian faith. His books have also had a huge impact on my own theological learning and apologetic training. But so has the work of his students, most notably, Rod Rosenbladt and Craig Parton. During that college lecture series I asked Craig Parton to sign my copy of his new book, The Defense Never Rests: A Lawyers Quest for the Gospel. After his signature he wrote the following inscription from Jude 3:

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Everyone loves to quote 1 Peter 3:15 for apologetics. That is, after all, where the word comes from. Apologia. Defense. Thankfully, Peter wasn't the only one to write about this vital Christian word. Jude did. Paul did. All the early apostles all did this - they lived this - that is, the defense of the Christian faith. Some of them made their defense with their blood shed on upside down crosses or in coliseums or with stones piled high upon their frame. Not even death could silence their testimony. That which they saw from the beginning, which they heard and touched concerning the Word of life. The Word made flesh; the babe of Bethlehem come to die on the cross for the sins of the world. The eyewitness of Jesus' death and resurrection (and those that followed afterwards) clung tightly to this common salvation Jude writes about. They contended for the faith. And truly, truly, I say to you, an apologist is not above his master. 

Just like her Savior, the Church - and her eyewitnesses - are not hard to track down. Just follow the trail of blood. Look at the work of St. Simon and St. Jude. While precious little has been written about them and lesser yet is even known, what we celebrate today (and any feast day for that matter) is Christ who is known, revealed and manifested - first among the apostles and through them to us. That's part of the joy of feast days. The focus is on Christ. That's the way it was for Jude and Simon. That's the way it is for all witnesses of the truth, for all who contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, apologists past, present and future. Jude's letter was written long ago but his work - or, rather our Lord's work - continues on through His Word and those whom He sends to declare and defend it. For in this life, the defense never rests. The witnesses are never silent. The Word of testimony - the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation - is always an open case, with a clear verdict: you are justified - declared and reckoned righteous - by grace for the sake of Christ's blood shed on the cross. 

Thank God for his saints, past and present, who are diligent in writing concerning this common salvation - Christ Crucified - that we too may contend earnestly for the faith. "Praise, Lord, for Your apostles, Saint Simon and Saint Jude. One love, one hope impelled them to tread the way, renewed. May we with zeal as earnest the faith of Christ maintain, be bound in love together, and life eternal gain" (LSB 518:28).

  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
      And to present you faultless
      Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
       To God our Savior,
      Who alone is wise,
      Be glory and majesty,
      Dominion and power,
      Both now and forever.

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