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 Robert P. George sought out than Tim Keller.
Do you agree with Moreland’s assessment and complaint? If not, why not? If so, why do you think this is the case?