J.P. Moreland in his book, Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power, references Michael Green from his work, Evangelism in the Early Church.  Green contends that there were three factors central to the early church’s explosive growth in her first four centuries.  One of these factors was the church’s ability to engage in persuasive apologetics and outthink her critics.

Moreland shares a statement made by Justin Martyr in A.D. 155 as he appeals to the Roman emperor Hadrian to be fair in considering Christianity:

Reason requires that those who are truly pious and philosophers should honor and cherish the truth alone, scorning merely to follow the opinions of the ancients, if they are worthless… In these pages we do not come before you with flattery, or as if making a speech to win your favor, but asking you to give judgment according to strict and exact inquiry – not moved by prejudice or respect for superstitious men, or by irrational impulse.

Notice how he, a knowledgeable Christian leader,  appeals to reason, not faith.  Moreland complains that when the media seeks out an evangelical perspective on today’s issues they invariably will seek out a megachurch pastor.  In contrast when he states when Catholics or Jews are asked to present their views they have university professors, trained ethicists, or other highly qualified intellectual advocates.

Why is this?  Pastors for the most part, while many are highly intelligent and skilled and are to be honored for their work teaching and shepherding the flock, they are not scholars.  Moreland says, “they simply are not qualified to speak about abortion, homosexuality, church/state issues, or a host of other topics that must be carefully nuanced and articulated if a solid Christian perspective is to be presented.

The fact that this takes place shows us that we are very different than Justin Martyr and those like him.  Why is this?  We have many scholars that can be deferred to.  When it comes to bioethics I would rather see the media interview Dr. Nigel M. de S. Cameron than Rick Warren.  When it comes to church/state matters I’d rather see Chuck Colson sought out than Bill Hybels

Do you agree with Moreland’s assessment and complaint?  If not, why not?  If so, why do you think this is the case?

9 comments
  1. I agree Shane. I guess it is all about selling air-time and someone like Rick Warren might attract more viewers than Evangelical scholars.

    What do you think about someone like Tom Wright speaking to many of these issues? He is a fairly good thinker.. and a bishop to boot 🙂

  2. I agree Shane. I guess it is all about selling air-time and someone like Rick Warren might attract more viewers than Evangelical scholars.

    What do you think about someone like Tom Wright speaking to many of these issues? He is a fairly good thinker.. and a bishop to boot 🙂

  3. I agree Shane. I guess it is all about selling air-time and someone like Rick Warren might attract more viewers than Evangelical scholars.

    What do you think about someone like Tom Wright speaking to many of these issues? He is a fairly good thinker.. and a bishop to boot 🙂

  4. It is my personal contention that if one is going to live by a document (bible) to guide their lives and then teach others to follow it (pastors) then they better know that foundational document in some depth.

    I think if someone comes to us with questions concerning something and they want an answer – we should be able to give one – something coherent at least.

    Not saying we have to answer all questions out there though. I can claim God is a creator but not have to know everything about science…not even answer science to be honest. Science is still in the search for the best asnwers – for me – a creator gives the best answer (and I am in the business of human morality not scientific discovery).

    So i think all churches should be able to answer for their positions in a qualified way – and if they cannot – I would personally advise the frustrated to leave a church without a good system for finding the answers. It creates no growth and I support life – life is about growth.

    SocietyVss last blog post..Reason #2 – I Left Church Behind

  5. It is my personal contention that if one is going to live by a document (bible) to guide their lives and then teach others to follow it (pastors) then they better know that foundational document in some depth.

    I think if someone comes to us with questions concerning something and they want an answer – we should be able to give one – something coherent at least.

    Not saying we have to answer all questions out there though. I can claim God is a creator but not have to know everything about science…not even answer science to be honest. Science is still in the search for the best asnwers – for me – a creator gives the best answer (and I am in the business of human morality not scientific discovery).

    So i think all churches should be able to answer for their positions in a qualified way – and if they cannot – I would personally advise the frustrated to leave a church without a good system for finding the answers. It creates no growth and I support life – life is about growth.

    SocietyVss last blog post..Reason #2 – I Left Church Behind

  6. It is my personal contention that if one is going to live by a document (bible) to guide their lives and then teach others to follow it (pastors) then they better know that foundational document in some depth.

    I think if someone comes to us with questions concerning something and they want an answer – we should be able to give one – something coherent at least.

    Not saying we have to answer all questions out there though. I can claim God is a creator but not have to know everything about science…not even answer science to be honest. Science is still in the search for the best asnwers – for me – a creator gives the best answer (and I am in the business of human morality not scientific discovery).

    So i think all churches should be able to answer for their positions in a qualified way – and if they cannot – I would personally advise the frustrated to leave a church without a good system for finding the answers. It creates no growth and I support life – life is about growth.

    SocietyVss last blog post..Reason #2 – I Left Church Behind

  7. @Bob – I can’t say I know a lot about N.T. Wright. I’m sure he would be good on a number of issues. I know that he and John Piper had a tiff awhile back on the issue of justification.

    @SocietyVs – Oh I’m not saying that pastors shouldn’t comment or give answers, and many are extremely intelligent and knowledgable on various subjects. You are right that church’s should be able to defend their positions.

    Moreland would say that we should recover the Christian mind (it’s even in the title), so we should be able to answer questions and point to people that our faith isn’t blind, but also reasonable. He would say we need to practice persuasive apologetics.

  8. @Bob – I can’t say I know a lot about N.T. Wright. I’m sure he would be good on a number of issues. I know that he and John Piper had a tiff awhile back on the issue of justification.

    @SocietyVs – Oh I’m not saying that pastors shouldn’t comment or give answers, and many are extremely intelligent and knowledgable on various subjects. You are right that church’s should be able to defend their positions.

    Moreland would say that we should recover the Christian mind (it’s even in the title), so we should be able to answer questions and point to people that our faith isn’t blind, but also reasonable. He would say we need to practice persuasive apologetics.

  9. @Bob – I can’t say I know a lot about N.T. Wright. I’m sure he would be good on a number of issues. I know that he and John Piper had a tiff awhile back on the issue of justification.

    @SocietyVs – Oh I’m not saying that pastors shouldn’t comment or give answers, and many are extremely intelligent and knowledgable on various subjects. You are right that church’s should be able to defend their positions.

    Moreland would say that we should recover the Christian mind (it’s even in the title), so we should be able to answer questions and point to people that our faith isn’t blind, but also reasonable. He would say we need to practice persuasive apologetics.

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