The series continues.
Voddie Baucham says in “Doing Apologetics in an Anti-Apologetics Age” that there are two reasons why apologetics has fallen out of favor, today: sentimentalism and mysticism. I’ve addressed sentimentalism. Now we look at the second: mysticism.
Voddie Baucham says the second reason for this anti-apologetic atmosphere is mysticism, and consequently anti-intellectualism. He begins this at 7:00 in “Doing Apologetics in an Anti-Apologetics Age.”
Mysticism obviously has broader effect beyond apologetics. Being confessional, having structure around our faith is thought of as a bad thing and as counter productive to the Christian life. Dr. Baucham is addressing seminary students, and he knows full well that they have been warned! Seminary (where such things as systematic theology happen) is seen as a danger.
Voddie Baucham mentions a college fund motto: “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.” He then says that American Christianity has a different opinion:
we just believe a mind is a terrible thing. We talk about “head knowledge” as though it’s a disease that needs to be cured. Right?
He is right. I’ve seen it. By the way some evangelical churches are, you think it would be spiritually healthier to have a lobotomy. It’s as if we live as Christians in spite of having minds, like the mind is a handicap. In the Garden, everything was perfect. Then the Fall happened, sin entered the world, and we have minds now. Resisting the devil and the flesh is synonymous with resisting rational thought, critical thinking, logic, etc. Knowledge is a hindrance. Forget about the noetic effects of sin (effects of sin on the mind). It’s all bad.
“Head knowledge.” Shoot, I heard that all the time. It’s an inherently derogatory and negative expression. You might as well leave out the “head”, because what everyone’s hearing is “knowledge is bad.” I’m having flashbacks, right now. Honestly, I want to kick something every time I hear that phrase, “head knowledge.” I rarely hear it anymore, thank God, because I’m no longer in an anti-intellectual community. I still cringe every time I hear that expression, though.
On a side note, I object to any use of the phrase “head knowledge” (except the above use, calling it out as wrong). I think it plays in to the already present false dichotomy between “head” and “heart” that many believers assume, which is not biblical. So using “head knowledge” affirms that dichotomy, for people. I think there are more clear and less laden ways to communicate your point without using such a loaded phrase. Anyway . . .
Because everybody knows if you really wanna love God you gotta be ignorant!
Don’t ask questions, just believe. We have faith, we don’t need reasons or evidence. You can’t prove Christianity, you just know it’s true. You have an internal witness (ironically, like Mormonism teaches).
We’re more like Mormons, to be honest. “I bear you witness because of my burning in the bosom. These things are true because of my internal witness to these things.”
Oneness Pentecostals believe the same thing, as well. “The Holy Spirit revealed it to me, and he’ll reveal it to you, too.” Unfortunately (and unbiblically), many Christians believe this. That’s where their trust is placed. As Michael Horton is fond of repeating, “You ask me how I know he [Jesus] lives, he lives within my heart.” This comes out especially in “evangelism” by sharing their personal testimony.
You feel it. “I had a personal experience, so I don’t need reasons to believe.” It’s about “faith” not reason. The intellectual is not “spiritual.” Logic is contrary to the Bible, because “God’s thoughts are higher than ours.” It’s not about being rational. Christian faith is all about my experience, not knowledge. The more you know, the less faith you have. The less spiritual you are.
He goes on to say that, in this context of mysticism, we don’t gauge the rightness or wrongness of things by the facts presented, but based on the emotions we experience when they are presented. A perfect example is how you react to “worship” at church. What makes a wonderful worship service, for you? How those “worship” songs or the sermon made you feel? Are you even able to tell false doctrine when you hear it? Are you even looking at the facts? Or are you there for the experience?
“That was powerful. That was awesome.”
Well, did you recognize that it was heretical? (the audience laughs)
“You’re so judgmental.” (more laughing).
Heard variations of that conversation, too.
So in an evangelical culture where we evaluate and judge things, not based on the categories of Scripture (what’s true, what’s right), but based on our emotions, how do we expect apologetics to fit? It just isn’t going to click with people. Apologetics does not comport with mysticism.
Gauging rightness and wrongness of things based on facts is a large part of apologetics. If Christians aren’t used to doing that then apologetics isn’t even going to seem Christian. Because the whole Christian life is about emotions, experience, what you know internally, not evaluating based on facts and what Scripture says. In a culture where what’s heretical flies around undetected because of how it makes us feel, apologetics itself needs an apologetic.
It’s in that context that apologetics just doesn’t make sense, because we’re not thinking according to biblical categories, and apologetics fits within the Christian worldview. We’re thinking like the culture around us, so apologetics just doesn’t even fit into our “Christianity”, because our Christianity is so polluted. We can’t make sense of apologetics, because our worldview has anti-Christian beliefs involved.
Meaning, as I have learned, that we’ve got to do some demolition and construction before we can get to training in apologetics. The mysticism has to go, biblical categories have to be set up, then apologetics makes sense. Basically, some worldview work needs to happen. Which, ironically, is apologetics in action.
So in this evangelical Christian culture, this mixture of sentimentalism and mysticism, apologetics is objectionable.