Unbelief: roadblock to true worship (INTRO) – APOLOGETICS AS WORSHIP

March 18, 2008

Having been raised an Atheist, I understand the power of unbelief – it can act as a religion unto itself, and can be as much a world-view shaping belief system as the most controlling cult. Now, as a Christian, and a worship leader, I have recently recognized one of the hindrances to passionate, full-personed (heart, mind, soul, & strength) worship: unbelief. All too often our personal faith is based merely on experience, and though our personal experiences can supplement a deep, intellectual wrestling with facts to find the truth, even the Bible is FULL of individuals who had radical experiences of God, who later – sometimes quickly – turned from that very God whom they experienced. To truly worship God, we must KNOW HIM (experience) with our Heart, KNOW ABOUT HIM (apologetics/theology/doctrine) with our Minds, HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM ON A SPIRITUAL LEVEL (it is not enough just to have a spiritual experience once, and to like the IDEA of God – we must have a soul-level on-going spiritual relationship with Him), and actively WALK WITH HIM (walking out what we know is true). We must love the One we know about in an on-going relationship that results in living differently – that is loving God with your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And we can only do this if our mind is on board, which is why there are such a thing as ‘apologetics’.

I once told a former house-mate of mine that I was speaking at an apologetics conference – he said that he was very sorry. Maybe that’s you – but seriously, since I’m going to start this on-going series on apologetics I feel it only right that I should AT LEAST touch upon what apologetics are and why we should even bother, before attempting to DO apologetics. William Lane Craig, author of Reasonable Faith, defines apologetics as “that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide a rational justification of the truth claims of the Christian faith.” So, for the uninitiated among us, “apologetics” is basically a “Case for Christ” – giving a “Reason for God”. Apologetics makes us ask the question, “How can I rationally defend my faith?” Though there are many passages we could look at concerning this, I’d like to glance quickly at just a few verses that I believe should encourage every one of us to recognize the importance of a having a good, personal apologetic, not primarily for the sake of sharing your faith, but MAINLY in order to make you a better worshiper.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Notice that at first this verse seems to encourage argument, which seems to be in conflict with much of the wisdom of the Old Testament Proverbs – after a closer look I believe the second half of this verse clarifies it’s intended meaning – the arguments and pretensions that we are to demolish are ‘thoughts’ – ideas that take root in our minds, planted there by life in this fallen world. This verse encourages us to develop our critical thinking skills, so we can grapple with the ideas we encounter, and sift them like wheat – literally demolishing anything that acts to hinder our faith. This is truly what it means to “love the Lord with all of your mind” – giving all your thoughts to Him, and seeing which stand true — studying that we might know the truth, and seeking to think more “Christian-ly” about the world in which we live.

Secondly, let’s look at a handful of passages from Luke’s sequel; the book of Acts 17:2, 17, 18:4, 19 say as follows; “Paul…reasoned with them from the Scriptures”, “…he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day…”, “Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks”, and lastly, “He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.” In every one of these verses, Paul is recorded as not giving just a simplistic Gospel message followed by an alter-call. Instead Paul put great time and effort into REASONING with non-believers. In Athens, in fact, he even uses a local “alter to an unknown god” to make a case for the truth of the Christian God. Another significant thing to note, however, is the centrality of the Bible to good apologetics; Paul didn’t just use fancy philosophy to convince people of the truth of Christ, but “he reasoned from the Scriptures.” It is important to remember that, even in apologetics, the Scriptures are central to what we do – if it is indeed true that “the word does not return void”, then we’d be foolish to begin elsewhere. Often, one of the things that leads us to doubt is that we are not in the Scriptures regularly, and when we are there, we do it merely as a chore – not expecting to meet God within its pages.

If God requires of us as believers to love Him with all of our “heart, mind, soul, and strength”, we should recognize the true Gospel appeals to the whole person AS A PERSON – not as merely a ‘sales pitch’, which is what has too often occurred. Though the Scriptures require of us to “always be prepared to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15)our intent is not to merely win arguments – even with our own doubts – it is to lead ourselves and others to further see the greatness (and TRUTH) of God, so we can better worship Him, and be better ‘worship leaders’ (in the broadest sense of the word) to a world that grows continually more skeptical by the minute.

Thinking back to not only my own walk, but looking around at the spiritual walks of so many others, I think of the fire that so many of us had when we first met Jesus, which grows dim as personal tragedy and heartbreak hit, and we let ourselves grow skeptical. How can I expect to be used of God to set a room of worshipers aflame with passion for Him, if I, myself, am not on fire for Him? For that reason – both for my own soul, for other worship leaders with whom I have contact, and for the sake of those I am blessed to lead, I am going to begin a weekly blog entitled “Unbelief: roadblock to true worship”, which I hope to publish every Tuesday. I hope that in the process of your mind growing more convinced, that our hearts with grow more passionate, our spiritual lives will flourish, and that the reality of Christ will be undeniable in our lives – which IS worship lived out.

I hope you will go on this journey with me.

So be it.


9 Responses to “Unbelief: roadblock to true worship (INTRO) – APOLOGETICS AS WORSHIP”

  1. J M said

    Fantastic post! I’m really looking forward to your weekly installment. As a worship leader, I often feel the same way, and you are spot on with your thoughts here.

    Thank you.

  2. Ryan said

    Very well-thought out and highly accurate post. In many Christians there is often a gap between heart knowledge and head knowledge. It used to be that people needed to get what was in their heads into their hearts (they had the knowledge of Christianity but didn’t live it.) I believe now that we need to get what’s in people’s hearts into their heads (as you mentioned, we have experiences, but we don’t have a clue about Theology and therefore have a very hard time reasoning with anybody).

    One side note: I think it’s healthy to “argue.” Not in the sense of being a quarrelsome person as Proverbs warns about, but in the sense of being able to present a valid case, to reason with someone. Argument, in it’s simplest form is just discussing two opposing viewpoints rationally. Unfortunately, rationality gets thrown out the window often because all we have to say is, “Well, yeah, I’ve believed it my whole life, so there!” Which gets us no where.

    You are so right about the importance of apologetics and I’m looking forward to reading more of these posts!

  3. […] First, unbelief.  It is impossible to worship God if we don’t believe in Him.  Shannon from 4whatitsworth has a great article about this. […]

  4. Shannon,
    OK, I confess – when I saw “apologetics”, I’m one of those guys who thought, “on man, I’ll skip yet another Shannon blog that makes my head hurt w/ knowledge and facts and stuff”. You see, I’m that guy your commentor is talking about – my heart is full of God, and in my head, I do know the Word … but when it comes to reasoning and laying it out to non-believers, I just don’t get into that at all … it’s never interested me. In a very simple-minded way, I think “I believe this way because … well … because … I just know it’s right in my heart” ….

    “The Spirit bears witness” comes to mind .. yet, I realize is a total cop out from having to be prepared to give answers.

    The thought of “enjoying” apologetics or the exahustive, night-long discussions doesn’t move me at all … yet, at the same time, I’m convicted with the post … yep, I read it all – word for word .. it was excellent, and I am hungered to be a better student of God’s Word so that I’m prepared to give an answer.

    Thanks for the challenge – I commit to read these posts … even when my simple-mind says “blah, blah, blah” .. hahahahah! (don’t take that personal, bro … I mean, this stuff is great, I’m just admitting that I’ve never been drawn to apologetics!) … you are swaying me to read and learn, though!


  5. saintlewis said

    Wow. Thank you, Fred. I look forward to your comments! Also, I commit to try the best I can to write this stuff on a level that someone entirely unfamiliar with ‘apologetics’ can understand, which is my goal.

  6. Thanks man … that’s why I enjoyed the setup so much .. it actually convinced me that there is a scriptural REASON for it … in the past, I’ve always just written it off to a certain type of temperament/personality that liked logic … which is typically not the mold I’m created from.

    Look forward to the ongoing discussion on Heat & Light as well – just commented (oh boy!) at:

  7. […] AS WORSHIP: Christ (part 1) A couple of weeks ago I explained the Biblical importance of Apologetics – ultimately to be obedient to two particular Scriptural mandates: first, to take our own thoughts […]

  8. […] AS WORSHIP: Christ (part 2) For the first 2 parts of this series, see the INTRO, and PART […]

  9. […] AS WORSHIP: Christ (part 3) If you want to keep up, please first read the INTRO, PART 1, & PART […]

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