Category Archives: Apologetics

“The ministry of writing books” by Scott Manetsch

“Calvin’s literary corpus is well known, with around one hundred volumes published from the time he arrived in Geneva in 1536 until his death twenty-eight years later.

During the 1550s, Calvin’s literary output ranged from 100,00 to a remarkable 250,000 published words per year.

Late nights spent writing at his desk by candlelight or long days spent dictating from bed inevitably took a toll on his health and spirits:

‘I get so tired from that endless writing that at times I have a loathing for it, and actually hate writing,’ Calvin complained to Bullinger in 1551.

But true religion needed to be defended in print as well as from the pulpit.

‘I would be a real coward if I saw God’s truth being attacked and remained quiet without a sound.’

Theodore Beza also recognized the strategic value of defending reformed Christianity through print media and he encouraged colleagues such as Chandieu, Daneau, and Goulart to join him in this important endeavor.

To a minister friend in Zurich, he wrote in 1575:

‘I rejoice that my colleagues Daneau and Goulart are friends of yours, and I beg that you also exhort them to write [books]. For you see how few men we have today who are able to write with precision and substance– which is the very thing that we need.’

From Beza’s perspective, the ministry of writing books that defended the truth and edified the people of God was of vital importance for the well-being of the church.”

–Scott M. Manetsch, Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 225-226.

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“If you believed in Jesus, you wouldn’t be so good” by Flannery O’Connor

“‘For myself,’ she continued, ‘I don’t have that streak. I believe that what’s right today is wrong tomorrow and that the time to enjoy yourself is now, so long as you let others do the same. I’m as good, Mr. Motes,’ she said, ‘not believing in Jesus as a many a one that does.’

‘You’re better,’ he said, leaning forward suddenly. ‘If you believed in Jesus, you wouldn’t be so good.'”

–Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1949/2007), 225.

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“Enjoy the gospel and then contend for it” by John Owen

“What am I the better if I can dispute that Christ is God, but have no sense of sweetness in my heart from hence that He is a God in covenant with my soul? What will it avail me to evince, by testimonies and arguments, that He hath made satisfaction for sin, if through my unbelief, the wrath of God abideth on me, and I have no experience of my own being made the righteousness of God in Him,– if I find not, in my standing before God, the excellency of having my sins imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to me?

Will it be any advantage to me, in the issue, to profess and dispute that God works the conversion of a sinner by the irresistable grace of His Spirit, if I was never acquainted experimentally with the deadness and utter impotency to good, that opposition to the law of God, which is in my own soul by nature, with the efficacy of the exceeding greatness of the power of God in quickening, enlightening, and bringing forth fruits of obedience in me?

It is the power of truth in the heart alone that will make us cleave unto it indeed in an hour of temptation. Let us, then, not think that we are anything the better for our conviction of the truths of the great doctrines of the gospel, for which we contend with these men, unless we find the power of the truths abiding in our own hearts, and have a continual experience of their necessity and excellency in our standing before God and our communion with Him.”

–John Owen, The Gospel Defended in The Works of John Owen, ed. William Goold, 24 vols. (Edinburgh: Johnson & Hunter; 1850-1855; reprint by Banner of Truth, 1966), Vol. 12:52.

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“The battle is His” by K. Scott Oliphant

“Since Christ is Lord, and the battle is His, we must always be ready to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. We must use the weapons, not of this world, but of the Lord. We must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ as we demolish the arguments, with gentleness and reverence, of those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, exchanging the truth of God for a lie, worshiping created things, rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

–K. Scott Oliphant, The Battle Belongs to the Lord (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003), 5.

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“The entire Bible is an apologetic” by K. Scott Oliphant

“In one sense, the entire Bible is an apologetic. It is given as God’s word. It comes to us as truth to tell us who God is and what he requires of us. Most of it comes into a ‘hostile’ environment, an environment flooded with the effects of sin and rebellion. But because it comes as truth to a hostile world, it challenges the worldviews and opinions of those who would want to oppose its truth. When the Bible begins with ‘In the beginning, God…,’ it is immediately giving us the most foundational of truths, but it is also confronting any view that seeks to deny this God.”

–K. Scott Oliphant, The Battle Belongs to the Lord (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003), 4.

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“The Savior from the sin of autonomy” by Cornelius Van Til

“Dear Dr. Howe:

You are certainly right in saying that I did not, in the discussion among Mr. White, Mr. Grey, and Mr. Black, make any sharp distinction between witnessing to and defending the Christian faith. I am not convinced by the evidence from Scripture which you cite that any sharp distinction between them is required or even justified.

My defense of the truth of Christianity is, as I think of it, always, at the same time, a witness to Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We do not really witness to Christ adequately unless we set forth the significance of His person and work for all men and for the whole of their culture. But if we witness to Him thus then men are bound to respond to Him either in belief or disbelief.

If they respond in disbelief they will do so by setting forth as truth some ‘system of reality’ that is based on the presupposition of man as autonomous. I must then plead with them to accept Christ as their Savior from the sin of autonomy, and therewith, at the same time, to discover that they have been given, in Christ, the only foundation for intelligent predication.

—C. V. T.”

–Cornelius Van Til, in Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, Ed. E. R. Geehan, (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1977), 452.

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“Who are we?” by Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165)

“We follow the only unbegotten God through His Son—we who formerly delighted in fornication, but now embrace chastity alone; we who formerly used magical arts, dedicate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to every one in need; we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live conformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all.”

–Justin Martyr, 1 Apol. XIV in Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Vol. 1, Ed. A. Cleveland Coxe (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 167.

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