What a day! Everything has to be civil and politically correct or believers are accused of being negative, mean spirited, faultfinders and haters. However I think if Jesus were on earth today He would be accused of the same thing. Jesus was the greatest apologist that ever lived because He was truth. He was gentle with broken sinners and repentant seekers, there is no doubt about that. But with the religious Pharisees and the cult of legalism and unbiblical tradition He was scathing and charged in with both feet. He was a man on fire. Matthew 23 shows Jesus at His apologetic best and it might do us well to re read that chapter a few times. And yikes – this same Jesus got rough and overturned a few tables because of religious corruption! We might want to re read Acts 2 as well and the very “uncivil” sermon of Peter. He was highly exercised and politically incorrect.
What has happened to apologetics today? I fear it has succumbed to the virus of political correctness and a paranoia at being called uncivil and is really no longer apologetics at all. The ground rules are being set up and structured by those that we should be critiquing. The litany that is repeated today come from, if not the words at least the spirit of the old song by the Beatles, “All we need is love”. Years ago everyone knew that apologetics meant a vigorous defense of the faith (Jude 3) but not any longer. Correction is out and sentimental mush is in. Loving sinners no longer means loving them to the Gospel but rather loving their sin with them.
That gets me to dumpster diving. Let me venture an illustration that I think captures today’s scene better than I could describe it. Some years ago, when I started research into heresy, religious aberrations, cults, and apologetics I would warn people about “dumpsters” (work with me here) and how unhealthy it would be to eat out of dumpsters. We all know they are gross places. Restaurant dumpsters are especially vile places. They smell! Dumpsters are filled with moldy rotted food and are places where one could get really sick. Heretical cults are spiritual dumpsters’ plain and simple and they have no merit or appeal. Read First and Second Timothy carefully and note how often Paul contrasts sound or healthy doctrine to false, unsound and unhealthy doctrine. When I started into apologetics people were advised to go to clean restaurants or to purchase healthy and wholesome food. Who would have ever thought to tell people that dumpster diving is not really so bad after all – you just have to be positive. Yes once upon a time folks were warned about dumpsters.
Not any more!
Nowadays that is all changed and the new apologetic says we must see dumpsters in a new way – a compassionate way – a loving way. Even dumpsters need hugs. Dumpsters are our friends after all. We must crawl inside of the dumpster to really know it and experience it. We might even get to enjoy the smell. Maybe the McDonalds dumpster has some left over French fries, wilted but edible. Maybe there is a half eaten hamburger that mold or maggots have not caught up with yet. There might be a few Mcnuggets that have not started to rot in the heat. It can’t be all bad in there can it? Can’t we be positive and look for some redeeming factor? Surely we can salvage the dregs of a warm watery milk shake; maybe even our favorite flavor. It is our responsibility to salvage all we possibly can from the dumpster before we start criticizing the dumpster! Who do we think we are? Dumpsters have been around for years and have some social value and contribute to society after all. Can’t we look for some good here since dumpster’s can be a food source for the homeless? They could even be seen as a type of Christ taking on all our garbage on to Himself on the cross. Even if we have to scrape the green fuzzy mold off the hamburger roll there might be a portion of it that is not moldy and looks good. Have you hugged a dumpster today?
I guess we have just forgotten that dumpster’s to be really salvaged and redeemed would have to be scrubbed out thoroughly and radically disinfected and sanitized on the inside. They would not be accepted as they are, to stay as they are. Adding more moldy scrap to the dumpster would have no redeeming value for the dumpster. Painting the outside of the dumpster and declaring dumpsters good would change nothing in all reality. Laying in the dumpster for long periods chanting slogans of the dumpsters goodness might make you real sick. Being mean to those who won’t climb in would not help. If dumpsters are dumpsters why try and pretend they are something else?
In Galatians 2:14-21 Paul confronts Peter in regard to the dumpster of legalism and finds no scrap of redeeming value. He does not flatter Peter or point out all his good points but rather confronts Peter. He rebukes him by using the doctrines of the unity of the church, justification by faith, freedom from the law, and the gospel and grace, (See Be Free, by Warren Wiersbe Pages 52-59).
A current disappointment for me and a further illustration is a contact I had with Radio Bible Class questioning their quotes of Henri Nouwen used in Our Daily Bread. This publication is used by many naïve young Christians. The gist of the response to me was that Nouwen has good quotes and is quoted by so many “sound” people. Well it is a lame excuse for them and all I could think of was the half eaten moldy rolls in the McDonald’s dumpster and the chance finding of a “good” scrap of roll. Nouwen’s errors and heresies are many and massive and include a quasi universalism, promotion of homosexuality, defective Christology and so many more tainted ideas.(See, “Evangelicalism’s Favorite Priest, Is Henri Nouwen a Friend of Foe?”, PFO Journal, April- June 2011). Finding anything good in Nouwen’s beliefs is dumpster diving at its very worst.
Another example with great longevity is the old standby devotional book, Streams in the Desert. I cannot say it has not helped people because it has. It has helped them because they were ignorant of the source of most of the quotes and more often than not poured their own meaning into what they were reading. I used the devotional for years in the way described above unaware of who was being quoted. The Book in truth is filled with good brief quotes from some very bad people. But then again even a broken clock is right twice a day as they say. The big problem with Streams in the Desert is that it makes some really bad people look quite OK. Maybe someone would then go on to believe everything those writers write is “gospel”. In other words it paints the dumpster in beautiful colors but never divulges what is inside.
The strange inconsistency of those who use the new politically correct apologetic is that they are not hard on sin and error but rather on apologists who seek to correct doctrinal error. What a switch!
Christian’s need to abandon dumpster diving and seek out good clean places to eat. Dumpsters will always be dumpsters. Apologists need to affirm over and over the nourishment of good doctrine and be a good “Board of Health” for the Church at large. At present, apologists are the abandoned and orphaned children of the church but someone has to stand up and do it. If not, the church at large will only get sicker and sicker, smellier and smellier. Apologists do what they do out of love for God, the truth and the souls of others. Mock them, malign them, misunderstand them, misquote them or whatever, they are not going to go away. They will go on trying to pull people out of the dumpsters no matter how loud they protest that they might find something good in a very bad and unhealthy place. Now you know about dumpsters and the new apologetics.