Sunday, March 26, 2017

Engage versus Attack

Engage or attack?  I've been loosely following some controversy regarding the reformed apologist and pastor James White.  He is, you likely know, one of the top apologists and debaters in the world, travelling far and wide most recently to debate Islamic scholars.

The criticism against White comes from the likes of Sam Shamoun and Dr. Robert Morey who prefer the flamethrower technique when "engaging" Islamic apologists (where they are likely to start a debate or discussion by calling Muhammad a raging pedophile and go from there).

White's approach is to give the theological adversary some basic, human to human respect and actually engage . . . rather than just start leveling vitriolic broadsides and self-righteous dismissals.

Now, regarding Islam, there are many nuanced versions.  Every Muslim is NOT a radicalized, "ISIS"-style jihadi.  White never shrinks from defending clearly The Gospel and preaching it's saving truth, but rather than merely start bashing and skewering with his theological sword wanting a "win" in the argument arena, he actually wants to win a soul to Christ . . . knowing that it is The Spirit Who will ultimately decide an adversary's fate and not necessarily devastating or barbed polemics. . . .

And because James White does not enter into his engagements with the Islamicists with instant hatred and disgust for the other side, he has been savagely criticized and even called an apostate by his new detractors.  They have even contacted churches and organizations he is associated with demanding that all ties to White be severed and he be cast as anathema with The Body.

In a much smaller and less important way, I can nevertheless relate to James' situation.  I have set out to engage with the popular culture through the arts, through music.  It puts me in constant contact and relationship with people who not only don't believe as I do but are often outright hostile to such beliefs.  However, I know that among them are God's elect, interspersed, just waiting for a tap, a lighting, from the Holy Spirit.  A major knock against Jesus in his time and during his ministry was that He mingled with "the tax collectors and sinners".

10Later, as Jesus was dining at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Him and His disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’a For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  --Math. 9:10-13

These critics are they who say: ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me,
            For I am holier than you!’  --Isa 65:5

Jesus saved his harshest rhetoric for the self-righteous religious leaders who did little more than criticize and take potshots at He Who actually went to the people, to the unsaved, the sick, the needy, the lost. . . .

There is nothing easier (and I dare less effective) than to stand on the sidelines and lambaste those who are trying to actually engage and enlighten the culture with love, finesse, compassion. . . .

1 comment:

Linda L. said...

Ravi Zacharias and his team members from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries debate with respect. This video is a debate between a Muslim scholar and team member Nabeel Quereshi (ex-Muslim) is just one example. I think people will be more inclined to listen to and consider what a person has to say if they are treated with respect than throwing flames.

Brother Thomas ©2015

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