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Lutherans and apologetics

Discussion in 'Theologia Crucis - Lutherans' started by Sérgio Junior, Jan 20, 2019.

  1. Sérgio Junior

    Sérgio Junior Simultaneamente Justo e Pecador.

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    I realized that Lutherans don't care much about apologetics as do Catholics and other Protestant groups. And why Lutherans don't care much about apologetic questions such as: "The Problem of Evil", "Existence of God ", "Origin of the Universe" and "The Resurrection of Christ." Doesn't apologetics matter to Lutheran theology?
     
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  2. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    Luther's position regarded a ministerial vs. a magisterial use of knowledge. In other words, people use their knowledge to serve God rather than attempting to master knowledge so it will serve people. Apologetics too often explains God in human terms, and that is bound to be flawed.

    At one time I dabbled in apologetics quite a bit, but have less and less interest as time goes by. Apologetics is not a debate of logic, but a debate of assumptions, and, therefore, unwinnable by either side.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  3. Athanasius377

    Athanasius377 Is a little right of Atilla the Hun Supporter

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    I would disagree with that assessment. First, I think there is the appearance of a lack of apologetics that is likely due to Lutherans being such a small segment of a population. By way of comparison Roman Catholics have media conglomerate like EWTN plus several publishing houses. Here in the US the more confessional and conservative church bodies engage in apologetics while the more liberal lutheran bodies generally do not. Of a population of about 330 million only 4 million at most are of the more confessional bent. In other words we are a tiny segment of the population to begin with. Second, we tend to address these issues while children during catechism so a lot of the topics have already been covered. If you are an adult convert you will not have benefited from such education however adult converts should have received an adequate catechism where this topics should have been discussed.

    Those points aside, there are several sources of Lutheran apologetics I would point out. The first would be John Warwick Montgomery. He used to run an apologetics camp/class in Strasbourg in France each summer. There are others such as Adam Francisco though I am not as familiar with his work. In our parish we send our children to a retreat called "Higher Things" where the focus is on apologetics and how to respond to the world's objections. The goal is to expose our young people as early on to the secular arguments and inoculate and empower them by apologetics.

    What you won't find is something like "Catholic Answers" in a nicely produced format with hundreds of books mostly because our faith isn't filled with contradictory statements and doctrines ;).

    If you want a good source of material that covers apologetics amongst other things you might try this site:
    Steadfast Lutherans | An international fraternity of confessional Lutheran laymen and pastors, supporting proclamation of Christian doctrine in the new media.
    There are links to other sites including an excellent podcast called "Issues Etc" that I have listened since 2003 when I stumbled across: KFUO Radio

    They are separate entities now for a long a complicated reason.

    I hope this helps.
     
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  4. John the Ex-Baptist

    John the Ex-Baptist Member Supporter

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    If by apologetics, you are referring to a defense of the Christian faith, then I couldn't disagree with you more I'm afraid. As someone fairly new to Lutheran theology, one of the main attractions for me was the way in which Lutheran forms an unashamed defense of what it believes, teaches and confesses to be the truth according to God's Word.

    So often in the past, I had gotten tangled up in so called apologetic arguments that were nothing more than personal opinion dressed up as orthodox Christian doctrine. This was often marked at its most heated points, by either a complete lack of Scriptural grounding for the argument being made, or out of context passages being forced to fit like an ill fitting shoe.

    I would say a distinct marking of Lutheran apologetics is that if the doctrine is not clearly taught in Scripture, then don't bother too hard in defending it. But if the Scripture teaches something clearly, then defend it with all your strength, and whatever the cost.

    As a confessional Lutheran I can look to the Book of Concord, and in it's writings see probably the most clear and concise writings defending the Christian faith throughout the entire church history, ranging from the early creeds, to the Formula of Concord. There is no attempt to find anything new or distinctly "Lutheran", but simply a desire to defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints directly from the Scripture.

    Thankfully now as a Lutheran, I don't have to make creative attempts to back up what I believe, because if it ain't taught in the Bible, I can simply shrug my shoulders and let the blind lead the blind as they utterly insist on doing.
     
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  5. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    I have a great amount of respect for JWM and his impact extends beyond Lutherans. With that said, he is atypical of Lutherans (and his Tractatus Logico-Theologicus was a disappointing conclusion to his work).

    Lutherans have produced great theologians (David Scaer), great historians (Andrew Steinmann) etc., but the nature of Lutheran discourse is different from what the Evangelical mainstream considers "apologetics".

    Yes, and I suppose that is apologetics of a sort. But I've never had discussions led by synodically trained Lutherans about "The problem of evil", etc. - the types of things @Sérgio Junior refers to. I learned about those puzzles from people of other denominations. If we are to call the catechetical training done in Lutheran churches "apologetics", then it is of a very unique flavor wherein we are taught to retain a theology of the cross and not to slip into theologies of glory.
     
  6. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    That is definitely true, and something that continually leaves unbelievers I speak with perplexed - that I so willingly shrug my shoulders and concede what they think is vital ground. I'm not sure Lutherans do apologetics as it's typically rendered. If we do, it is a very unique approach.
     
  7. John the Ex-Baptist

    John the Ex-Baptist Member Supporter

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    Unique I would agree with totally, especially when defending the faith against unbelievers, as opposed to defending sound doctrine with other Christians, which I would also label apologetics. Probably a little messy too, especially when contrasted with apologetics from Calvinist circles etc., that seem to have everything neatly in it's place with all the i's dotted and t's crossed. (I only say that because that was my own background before becoming a Lutheran).

    What I would say however, especially in relation to unbelievers, is there is a strong sense of honesty from Lutherans when defending the Gospel. Because we have such a strong reliance upon the clarity of God's Word, especially in relation to how we receive the gift of salvation personally through the sacraments Christ Himself ordained; we are far less fearful to simply admit we do not have a definitive answer with regards to more secondary issues.

    Also I have noticed myself (especially here in the U.K. where confessional Lutherans are as common as unicorns), we truly do have a fantastic understanding of the freedom of the believer to serve our neighbour in our vocation. We are far less likely to try and separate our spiritual lives from our daily lives, in order to seek a more godly life. Instead we are heartily encouraged to serve our neighbour, whoever that may be, knowing that in doing so we are truly serving God as faithful children. And in my opinion, especially to the unbeliever, there is no more weighty argument in favour of the Gospel being the truth, that to witness someone serving freely and joyfully simply because it is.
     
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  8. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    Well said. Excellent.

    A confessional Lutheran in the UK. That is indeed rare, so I'm glad to make your acquaintance. Though a typical American, my cultural heritage is from the British Isles - mostly Scottish. It came down to me filtered through the frontier churches that were absorbed into the Disciples of Christ ... well, no need to bore you with that long and twisty story.

    Suffice to say I had to do a bit of "finding myself" as an American-Scot raised in a Lutheran church. It resulted in a history degree where I specialized in the history of the intersection of education & church - the ways in which cultural identity is formed. As part of that journey, one of the special curiosities is religious life in England - a Protestant church that never wanted to be Protestant with a sort of love/hate relationship with Lutherans.

    I'd love to hear your take on it.
     
  9. GreekOrthodox

    GreekOrthodox Psalti Chrysostom

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    Blinks... Most of the Book of Concord IS apologetics! As a former LCMSer, the big apologetics texts would be Pieper's 3 volume Christian Dogmatics, Chemnitz Examination of the Council of Trent, Melachthon's Loci Theologici.
     
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  10. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    I guess my use of the term is narrower than most people. For example, I see "dogmatics" as intended for the membership of the church and apologetics as a defense against challenges from the outside. Dogmatics = inward facing, apologetics = outward facing.

    One could use a dogmatics text as reference material for apologetics, but I don't think of its intent as apologetic.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  11. GreekOrthodox

    GreekOrthodox Psalti Chrysostom

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    Gotcha, I think a lot of Lutheran apologetics is historically focused on defending Lutheran teachings rather than critiques of Christianity as a whole.
     
  12. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    My two cents worth:

    I think part of the issue is what we mean by "apologetics". The popular use of apologetics seems to be, "Finding arguments by which to convince other people they are wrong and we are right, and make them join our group." I think the entire Lutheran paradigm doesn't really sit well with that way of thinking, instead Lutheranism articulates itself by asserting what we believe, by confessing our faith, and grounding it in the truth of Scripture and the consensus of faith based upon that truth.

    So it isn't about "Here is why you need to believe as I do." but instead, "Here is why we believe as we do." Our confidence isn't in our ability for argument, but in the word of God upon which we make our profession and confession of faith. And there is a confidence that when this word is preached, God acts, as Romans 10:17 says, that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

    We will stand firm in our faith, that is our apologetical model. In other words, our confession is our apology.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
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  13. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Dietrich Bonhoeffer considered the sort of counter-modernist and counter-atheist apologetics that are common in American and British evangelicalism, to be misguided, and gave them no truck.

    I actually think the Lutheran thing to do is to concede a great deal to the critics of Christianity. Honesty is much better than further embittering people by trying to be in the right all the time. "Oh, you don't believe in that God? Well, neither do I." sort of thing.
     
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