After our conversation(as she aptly put it) with Prof Acolatse on Making Christianity Relevant to Our Culture, the second part of the afternoon’s session of our retreat commenced at 4pm. This session was a Skype interaction with L.T. Jeeyachandran, the Director of theRavi Zacharias International Ministries (Asia-Pacific), based in Singapore. Our talk centered on The Disciplines and Character of an Apologetic.
L.T began his talk by quoting 1st Peter 3:15 “but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”. The focus of this scripture that apologists hold dearly is not,as some are wont to think, in the always be ready aspect, but in sanctifying the Lord in our hearts. The apologetic discipline he said, isn’t worthwhile if all we have to convey to the world are beautiful words that wows the critics’ voice into silence. As 1st Thessalonians 1:5 says “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” L.T talked about one main danger of apologetics, which is this: to defend truth in the abstract is very easy. The difficulty lies in our transmitting the truth we defend into our lifestyles. Defending an idea is easy; a life of honesty and transparency is the real hurdle. Is there a dichotomy between what we say we believe and passionately defend, and the lives we actually live?
According to L.T, speaking about truth correctly is not the same thing as living a righteous life. True spiritual discipline then, is a relational exercise, not a religious one. What do we know of the Christ we preach? Have we encountered him personally? Do we have an active relationship with him. 1 John 1 sums it all up for us when it says”that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your[a] joy may be full.” We are to talk to the world about a Christ that we have a relationship with, not an abstract concept shrouded in beautiful words.
What are the disciplines and character of an apologist? The apologist, like the evangelist, is sustained by both a personal discipline and a communal discipline. L.T started with these communal disciplines,the disciplines that should be intrinsic to the body of apologists. We were able to catch these three before a technical hitch from his end brought our conversation to a premature conclusion. And they are
- encouraging one another
- accountability to one another
- a general realization that apologetics is not an end in itself, but the method one employs in conveying the message to the world. the focus is the message and the relational contact we have with the message. if this realization is overlooked, the instrument becomes more important than the Object.
The following topics are worthy of remembrance
- to defend truth in abstract is easy
- being true and transparent is where the interest lies
- speaking the truth correctly does not equate rightful living
- relational exercise, not a religious exercise .
- relation, relation relation