You can’t argue someone into the Kingdom!
Wait… really? I personally know dozens of people who experienced “arguments that brought them into” the kingdom of God.
I think I know the source of the objection, though. As a Lutheran, I affirm the statements and explanations in Luther’s Small Catechism. The objection to “arguing someone into” the kingdom is most clearly addressed in the Third Article of the Apostles Creed.
THE THIRD ARTICLE
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him.
But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
In this Christian Church he daily and fully forgives all sins to me and all believers.
On the Last Day he will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.
How do I see the role of apologetics in relation to this clear helplessness to choose Christ?
Simple. What do you think the Holy Spirit is doing when he CALLS and ENLIGHTENS.
A person in the fallen state cannot overcome their prejudices, personal biases, and suspicions of new information without EXTERNAL help. As this person hears arguments for God’s existence, the reliability of the scriptures, etc, they need the spirit’s help to even consider the views that are contrary to their own positions on those topics.
For more on this topic, I hand you off to my friend, Philosopher and Theologian Ken Samples at Reasons to Believe. Here is the first part of a 4 part series on the role of Apologetics in Conversion.
In historic Christianity the field of apologetics (a reasoned defense of the faith) is considered a branch of theology. Apologetics often has a close connection to evangelism (communication of the gospel message) by attempting to remove intellectual obstacles that may stand in the way of a person embracing faith (conversion).
In this four-part series we’ll take a look at how apologetics can directly impact conversion by examining the historical case of Augustine of Hippo (354–430). St. Augustine had one of the most famous conversions to Christianity in history, and various apologetic elements facilitated his coming to faith. Read more…