Mar 8, 2021
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Some scholars have built an entire vocation around Apologetics, the discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apologetics) It's not just Christian Apologetics in religious debates today, either. You will find it in Buddhism, Judaism, Muslim, cults; almost anywhere you locate a religious gathering, you'll discover apologists for their belief system.
In the early Christian church, apologists debated attempting to stem the growing persecution against the believers. Trumped up charges against Christians put them in grave danger by the state and their neighbors. Nero accused Christians of burning down Rome. Others charged them with cannibalism by misinterpreting the Eucharist. Still others accused the Christians of incest since they called each other brother and sister when greeting each other. So, the early apologists' debate shared the gospel's truth and the Christian practices that helped support those truths.
Later, apologists focused on the existence of a unique and personal God. Some, like Tertullian, formulated and described the trinitarian nature of the godhead in the persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - one God existing in three personifications. Others explained the means of atonement through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus; how the Eucharist acts as a remembrance of his covenant with believers; and other doctrinal issues within the church.
Today, apologists often work to share what early Christians believed. We have allowed doctrines and theology to stray so far to the right or left of what the early church held as truth; we have a hard time knowing what to believe anymore. Apologists debate the finer points of doctrine, often confusing the situation more than they should. Sometimes I think they hurt the faith as much as they help when debates internally get as rabid as debates external to the church.
But however heated debates might get, it's necessary sometimes to stop and look at scripture, think about what it says to us, meditate on its meaning, and understand what God wants us to do because of its message. Such is the case with many of the Psalms, the Jewish nation's songs, filled with emotion, but also filled with truth. We can see it in Psalms 19, one of the scriptures from this week's lectionary readings.
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat. (Psalms 19:1-6 NIV)
In these verses, we recognize nature will declare the creator God's majesty and power if we won't. When we consider the universe's mechanics, we should stand in awe of God's creative power. Some today scoff at his existence, but how can there exist such an intricate balance between the galaxies and stars and planets without a great designer. If only by chance, I would submit that takes a great deal more faith than believers exhibit. Producing the universe by chance would be like putting the parts of a watch in a bag and shaking it until a watch comes out. But indefinitely shaking that bag of parts doesn't produce a watch, only dust in the end.
All we need do is look around us, and we see the evidence of God. The sun, moon, and stars do not need to speak for us to know God exists. We see his handiwork by their very existence and their precision movement in the sky. We hear creation around us in the voice of the animals, the babbling brook, the sound of raindrops falling, the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees, and myriad others surrounding us. We feel the heat of the sun, the cool of the night, the salt spray of the sea against our face. We innately know God is real because of our physical experiences every day.
Our observations of the natural world tell us something or someone set it in motion. Everything around us cannot be an accident. Things reproduce too perfectly, yet too uniquely to come from chance alone. Something or someone put all the laws in place to make this spot in the universe the perfect place for us to live and grow and multiply. Scripture tells us that someone is God. The apologists use scripture to argue and debate their logic. The non-apologists just look up to the sky and look around them and see the glory of God in all his creation.
When Jesus made his triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, the Pharisees and rulers told him to hush the crowds as they cried out, "Hosanna to the King." The Pharisees feared what the Romans would do because of the praises lifted for this itinerate preacher and teacher. You probably remember Jesus' answer to the Pharisees and rulers. "If these don't praise me, the rocks and hills will cry out their praise."
The psalmist saw creation crying out God's praises whenever and wherever he took time to look. He could not escape the awe-inspiring visage of what God had done. But he also purposed to voice his declaration of God's glory and majesty in the form of a psalm. It is time we, too, declare the glory of God as we look around and see what God has done. Nature will continue to speak on God's behalf, but I don't want nature to speak for me. I want to speak for myself as I share the goodness, the majesty, the incredible power, the glory of the creator God, who rescued us from this dark world and promised to one day restore earth and heaven to their former glory for those who believe in his son for salvation.
You can find me at richardagee.com. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked NIV are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV): Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission of Zondervan