My response to Mumon’s 5 questions, as posted here.

1. Although your recent post referring to another post on Every Thought Captive started to go in the direction of this question, it’s still the most obvious one. Blaise Pascal had basically said that apologetics and counter-apologetic arguments did nothing to convince the unbeliever, but the believer became more convinced. The obvious answer then is that apologetics are done to strengthen one’s faith. There are other ways to strengthen one’s faith as well, among them worship or ritual or contemplative practices. Why favor one over the other?

First, that post doesn’t even say anything about that subject. In all actuality, I have a total of 23 words which are not quotes from that article – and 6 are simply the links to the blog, and the article in question. Which leaves us with 17 words left over. Those words are:

“has an interesting topic – and, it seems to be right up my alley.”
“and take a look.”

How you derive all of that, from 17 words, I may never know.

Now, the post that I linked to says nothing of the sort either. It is a critique of the post-modern/Emergent Church tendency to dismiss apologetics.

1. Because they believe people cannot be “reasoned” with. (Which sort of comes into this topic)
2. Because they hold to no objective standard of truth

Now, since this post is a critique of that standpoint, I would posit (and the post will bear me out), that Phil is saying exactly the opposite of what you are taking Pascal to say, and, myself to say. I wholeheartedly disagree with the premise you have given, the premise you are saying Pascal is espousing, and the premise you are claiming I have advanced.

Apologetics is a defense of the Christian faith. Primarily to/from non-Christians – NOT Christians. Now, there is a secondary objective, which is to train and equip others to do the same – but that is, as always, secondary. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence”

The word used for “defense” is the word “apologia” – from whence we get the term “apologetics”. ”

A verbal defence, speech in defence
A reasoned statement or argument

So, in closing – for a frequent visitor, I find it a mystery that you have misidentified the purpose and goal of apologetics.

It is to defend Christianity’s tenets from outside attacks, misrepresentations, and bad theology.
It is to take the fight to those of other religious beliefs, and to compare, contrast, and explain the superiority of the objective truth of Christianity, and Christianity’s God, to any and all.

THAT is the purpose of apologetics. It is not a way to worship, contemplate, or build up the believer – that is NOT the point. The point, regardless of what you, or Pascal says, is to defend the faith (defensive), and to tear down strongholds (offensive).

So, when tenets of Christianity are misidentified, (like, oh, apologetics, in this case 😀 Albeit a minor tenet, that I happen to know a good deal about.) maligned, or misconstrued, our job is to put the record straight.

Which is what I just did – in a very short-form manner. I’d be happy to explain it further – but that should suffice for now.

So, basically, I reject your premise. Hope that helps.

2. How do you know when it’s the Holy Spirit leading and guiding and inspiring you and when it’s just you?

I don’t feel myself “inspired”, really. Inspiration, in my view, is reserved for the writers of the Bible. Am I walking with God? My writing should reflect it. Am I estranged from God, due to my own sin or mistakes? My writing should also reflect it.

As far as “led and guided” – I do feel led, sometimes, to write about something in particular. Those topics, I’ve found, are the most heavily visited articles I’ve written – and I usually write those types of articles in a single sitting, with heavy, heavy, heavy references from the Bible.

That’s about the extent of “led and guided” I can tell you about. For the rest of the time, I’m just a regular old Joe Christian – with a very hardcore interest in apologetics, and in defending what I believe. I go to a Baptist church – not that I particularly consider myself much of a Baptist, as I grew up in non-denominational churches. But I agree with the vast majority of their theology, and they have stood firm against the encroachment of liberal theology more than any other denomination in recent history. My church in particular is singularly unimpressed with liberal theology, or even the hint of it.

All of that goes to say – while I do recognize, and welcome, the presence of the Holy Spirit, I do not feel that I am “inspired by” the Holy Spirit to write what I write, nor do I feel that my writing is directly led by the Holy Spirit. I feel, and am convinced, that my writing is led, as much as possible, by the Word of God, and by men who are rightly dividing the Word of God.

That’s what I base my writing on. Feelings can deceive, and I will touch on that later. Truth cannot deceive. It is antithetical to deception. It is the Rock upon which the Church was founded – and there I will remain.

3. One of the big divides between moderates and progressives and those who send money to Focus on the Family involves spanking children. What’s your thoughts on spanking, and if you never had to spank your kids, would you still do so (assuming the answer is that you follow biblical advice on spanking)?

I think that children, when they willfully disobey (ie: defiantly flout what I tell them to do) deserve, and should receive, a spanking. Spanking should never be done in anger, should match the level of the offense, and should be done in a manner which corrects, and turns toward right behavior – not just as a punishment.

If a child never merited a spanking – they would most likely be the second child in the history of the world to ever accomplish such a feat.

I have two children, and I am the oldest of 6. I have been around, and in the midst of children my entire life. I have never, not even once, seen a child who did not merit a spanking at least once in my interaction with them, for willfully disobeying what someone told them to do, and was in their own best interest.

What Focus on the Family has to do with it, I don’t know. I do know Dr. Dobson has been teaching about parenting since before I was born. I was raised with a lot of help from him, so my parents say. I don’t think I turned out too bad.

You just like picking on ‘ol James, don’t you?

4. Why can’t Christian music come up with something really genuine today, something that doesn’t seem to be an echo of the commercial world? (As in, when are we going to see a Christian Frank Zappa?)

Well, buddy, old pal – you’re in luck. I’m the son of a music minister, and I’ve been hip-deep in the Christian music scene since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Just because the things you hear on the Christian radio station are just as depressingly cliched as the things you hear on secular radio, doesn’t mean that the entire of Christian music is all knockoffs – just like your usual pop station will be.

It all depends on what you like. If you want rock that doesn’t suck – I suggest Skillet. If you want a bit softer rock – Jars of Clay rules.

The Newsboys are always fresh and different, while people like Toby Mac (formerly of DC Talk fame) and KnowDaVerbs can throw down with the best of them, in the hip-hop world.

Whatcha like?

I probably have just the band for you. My brother is a first-class collector of erratica in Christian music, and another brother plays the bass – and collects Christian rock albums.

5. If someone had the same physiological and psychological responses as you, the same subjective experience as you (peace, understanding that surpassed knowledge, etc.), the same change of behavior, or repentance as you, but believed in a different religion, why – apart from what the bible said (my imaginary construct also has a book, you see) – would you say that guy might be damned and you might not be?

Heh. There’s so many caveats in this one… it’s about impossible to answer this, without deconstructing the caveats. It’s also hard to answer, given that you use so many knee-jerk response words, for most Christians.

See, I’m more used to “deciphering the lingo” than most – non-Christians define things with spiritual components as merely physical entities – so you have to “read between the lines”, almost. So I’ll *try* to do that for you, and give as close an approximation as I can.

Christians believe there is a distinct spirit, a distinct mind, and a distinct body. A sort of human equivalent to a trinity (now, this is not universally held, but it is something you’ll find in a good bit of Christian thinking) – and the interactions between the three is the subject of much debate. When you say that someone would have the same “physiological and psychological responses” as I would, you are trying to compare apples and oranges, in my view. Granted, there is a physical response to spiritual things – and there is an intellectual response to spiritual things. I interact, chiefly, with the intellectual response to spiritual principles, as an apologist. So I know what you mean there. However, that is merely the manifestation of something else. The spiritual connection to the God I know, and believe, loves me.

When you say “the same”, I think you are kidding yourself. No one’s “experience” is the same. That is why I reject “experiential” Christianity. But you probably know that. The Christianity that is based on the Bible, on prayer, on study, discipline, and the practice of the principles found therein, are the guiding force in my life. I’m not big on “feeling” saved. I’m big on “being” saved. ie: Living out what I believe, in life, and in what I write. That has very, very little to do with how I “feel” about it. I feel like a crappy Christian, most of the time. Anyone with a lick of sense, and an understanding of what our human nature is, would likely agree with me. I DO, however, know that I am a child of God. As such, my responsibility is to act like it, and to live up to the name I have been given.

Same goes for “experience”. Although I have experienced that peace, and that understanding – that does not rule my life, or direct how I feel about my salvation, or how “good” a Christian I am. Those are gifts from God. Nothing more, nothing less. As undeserved as the gift of His salvation was, in the first place. ” By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” That’s the identifier. It’s a heart thing – engendered by the love God showed to us.

The same change of behavior, the same repentance… look, man. All of these things are irrelevant. They are all based on things the person has experienced, how they act, what happens to them. A Christian doesn’t care about what subjective experience someone had, or what action was carried out. What someone is saved by is very simple – God’s grace. It’s not about what experience you had, what you did or did not do, or whether or not you repent of sin. You can repent of sin all you want. If you fail to make God – the God of the Bible – the Lord and master of your life – it’s useless to say you’re sorry, and you turn away from sin. The point is, there is a very specific, very narrow way to go through.

God’s way. I don’t care about the fictional character who says he’s done everything I have. The rich young ruler did “everything” too. He was told to “sell all you have, and follow Me”. That’s the point. You have to deny yourself. You have to realize your total unworthiness. You have to repent of your sin. You have to humbly, tearfully, brokenly, ask the One who died for you to save you from you sin – from yourself. Then, in heartfelt gratitude, and love – you make that One the Lord, and Master of your life. And, since He has shown you the greatest love imaginable – you share it with others.

I don’t care about experiences. I care about God, and His unimaginable holiness. I care about His Son, His Word, and His Grace, abundantly granted to someone as wretched as myself. I care that He is maligned, mocked, and degraded constantly – and I want to do something about it.

In short – your fictional character is just that – a fiction. There is no identical experience, no identical God to believe in, and no identical Grace to be received. There is only one God – and that God is my God. So – if that person believes in my God, and has been accepted as His child – he will be saved, and I will joyfully meet him in heaven. If not? I hope he gets to know Him. I also hope you do, as well.