Friday, March 23, 2012

Dare to be a Lutheran Apologist


Here are the necessary (and yes, I looked it up; I'm that nerdy) dictionary facts:
[ok-si-mawr-on, -mohr-] Show IPA
noun, plural ox·y·mo·ra [ok-si-mawr-uh, -mohr-uh] Show IPA, ox·y·mor·ons. Rhetoric .
a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”

Origin: 1650–60; < Late Latin oxymorum < presumed Greek *oxýmōron, neuter of *oxýmōros sharp-dull, equivalent to oxý ( s ) sharp ( see oxy-1 ) + mōrós dull ( see moron)

Here are even a few examples:

Microsoft Works
Post Modern
Atheist Evangelism
Kosher Ham
Nerd Chic
Regional Pantheists
Anarchists Unite!
Religious Tolerance

By the way, feel free and add to the list if you've got any good ones, especially an oxymorons of the nerdy variety!

Tragically, here's one that often gets thrown into the list of the popular sub-genre, Lutheran oxymorons: Lutheran Apologetics. But it's really not a real oxymoron at all. Lutheran. Lutheran and apologetics - that is the defense of the Christian faith - are not self-contradictory, incongruous or merely a clever rhetorical locution.

In fact Lutherans have been apologizing since the beginning. And by apology I mean defense, not, "I'm really sorry that you don't like the biblical doctrine of Justification by faith, Emperor Charles." No. Here we stand: Lutheran apologists. We have a long history of this vital task in theology. Luther and the other reformers did it in the 16th century in many different contexts than we do in the 21st century. But the content and even the methodology (to a variety of degrees) has stayed the same. Declare the Good News: Christ Crucified for you. And when necessary, defend the truth with every tool at your disposal: evidence, history, textual arguments, logic, reason and a host of other first article gifts.

In fact, many of the world's leading apologists are Lutheran - John Warwick Montgomery, Rod Rosenbladt, Craig Parton - or have been influenced greatly by Lutheranism - Alistair McGrath, R.C. Sproul, Craig Evans.

There are many Lutherans who would say that apologetics is nothing more than an oxymoron at best, perhaps unnecessary and even heretical at worst. I would contend that most of these folks neither understand apologetics nor Lutheran doctrine - you really can't have one without the other. They're not mutually exclusive; nor are they incompatible. Lutheran apologetics is thoroughly Scriptural: see 1 Peter 3:15 and Paul at Mars Hill in Acts 17. And it is needed now more than ever. It's not just the college students who are bombarded with secularism and a myriad of attacks on the Christian faith. Each day the age of atheist accountability is getting lower and lower. My youth group kids have friends who are Muslim, Mormon, Atheist, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness and Buddhist (just to name a few). On any given day both our high school students and the average person in the pew probably hear more attacks on the Christian faith than they do reasonable and well articulated arguments in favor of the truth of Christianity and its central claim: Christ is risen. 1 Corinthians 15 is essential reading here.

Now, all of this is a rather lengthy introduction to a fantastic new resource on Christian apologetics, not to mention Lutheran apologetics. Higher Things recently published the spring issue of their magazine entirely on apologetics. I am extremely proud of our Lutheran contribution to this field of theology, and in particular proud to support the work of Higher Things as they continue to dare to be Lutheran apologists. The caliber of writing in this magazine is phenomenal. These articles are a fantastic resource. This is how we should be training up our children in the ways of the Lord. So, click the link below and download this special issue for free. That's right, just like the Gospel. Free.

Special Apologetics Issue of Higher Things Magazine

Lutheranism has much to offer the Christian Church when it comes to apologetics: the best of both worlds really, clear witness and caring service, coupled with the veracity of the historic Christian faith in all its richness and verifiability. And at the end of the's simply one more means by which we are given opportunity to speak the Word that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself not counting our trespasses against us. And what a blessed oxymoron that Blessed Death and Loving Sacrifice is, a Good Friday indeed.

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