Monday I wrote a blog post referencing a two-part dialogue that a popular Christian apologist had with a representative of a false religion back in January. Recently, another popular Christian personality has launched brutal attacks on the apologist, accusing him of compromise, secretly following the other religion and apostasy.
I’ve deliberately decided not to identify any of the parties. Readers who know about the controversy already know who the people involved are, and readers who don’t know needn’t be drawn into gossip. I’m more concerned with what we can learn from this situation than with naming names or writing sensational articles.
Up until yesterday, I felt fairly comfortable with the actions of the Christian apologist. Back in January, I experienced some misgivings about the dialogue, but my husband encouraged be to focus on the apologist’s motives for engaging in the dialogue. Both my husband and I greatly appreciate this man’s overall ministry, and we prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Additionally, I’d been on the second Christian personality’s email list for three or four years, and had felt increasingly disturbed by some of his positions. So his delayed reaction to the apologist seemed consistent with other incidents in which I believe he lacked true discernment. Clearly, he ignored the second evening of the dialogue, conveying the idea that the apologist fawned over the false religionist without ever giving the Gospel. That characterization was absolutely untrue!
In Monday’s essay, I championed the apologist’s premise that, by understanding what people in false religions actually believe, we can more effectively evangelize them. I still agree with him on that point, and I hope I can get better at learning what people really believe before I blast them with the Gospel. My Tuesday series on the Reformation, for example, has taught me the importance of understanding how Roman Catholic theology interprets issues like justification, thereby allowing me to more firmly grasp the differences between Catholics and Bible-believing Christians. Dialogue with a Catholic commenter on this very blog has proven invaluable in helping me better understand why Reformed Theology is more Biblical than Catholic theology.
That said, an article in yesterday’s The Cripplegate entitled A platform for porn and a dialogue with the devil forced me to consider the idea that holding a dialogue with someone who espouses a false religion, particularly in a church setting, is not wise or appropriate. Although the apologist went to the false teacher’s place of worship the following evening and clearly articulated the Gospel (a fact consistently ignored by his critics), the article in Cripplegate gave me a perspective that made me regret having written what I did Monday.
I keep going back to Proverbs 18:17.
The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him. (ESV)
I now believe I wrote about the controversy before considering all sides of the matter. While I still maintain that the personality who started the current nastiness misrepresented much of what actually happened, I’m a great deal less confident that the apologist should have held the dialogue in the first place. Perhaps, despite his motives of wanting to open doors in order to advance the Gospel, he inadvertently communicated that the differences between the two religions don’t really matter.
If the apologist made a mistake in how he dealt with the differences between Christianity and the false religion, okay. Let me process everything more before I write about it any further. I wrote too soon, without adequately thinking over all the ramifications of the situation. Whether my position Monday was right or wrong, my haste in offering an opinion was definitely wrong. For that reason, I want to put forth a partial retraction of Monday’s blog post.