The following article was originally published in the Spring/1991 issue of the Pros Apologian theological journal. The article is presented in its entirety as it was published.
Evangelism in the Secular World
“What is Alpha and Omega Ministries?” When we are asked this question, we normally respond by saying, “We are a Christian apologetics and counter-cult ministry.” Rare is the occasion when this satisfies the curiosity of the questioner. “What is apologetics?” is normally the follow up question. Well, apologetics is the defense of the faith. But, what does that mean?
The Need for Apologetics
Before we can define the term apologetics properly, we need to define the need. What are we defending? We are defending the faith. What faith? The Christian faith. But what is the Christian faith? Now there is the real question. Many people go running out to “defend the faith” without ever defining the faith they are defending! In fact, given that it is not extremely popular today to insist upon accuracy and consistency in theology, in belief, in faith, we see many people busily “defending” a rather nebulous, unclear set of “beliefs.” The result, of course, is confusion on all sides. Can we imagine the ridiculous situation of a general who issues the command to his troops, “Defend!” “Defend what?” they ask. “Nothing in particular, just defend!” Such a force is doomed to frustration and failure.
We are involved in a defense of Biblical Christianity. We believe in a Christianity that is defined by Christ in His Word. We do not believe we have the right to “edit” the faith to our liking, or to pick and choose what of the Biblical revelation we will, or will not, believe. We must take everything God has shown us as truth, and we will not compromise that truth for the sake of anything-including such things as “popularity” or the desire to avoid offending the “natural man.” Without apology (no pun intended) we assert that the clearest, most accurate, most God-honoring and Biblically-based presentation of the faith is the Reformed, or “Calvinistic” one. The Reformed view does not compromise God’s sovereignty or freedom, two elements of the faith that are constantly under attack by the forces of atheism and humanism. Rather than attempting to “dodge” those issues that are so offensive to men, we seek to assert God’s truth boldly, trusting that the Spirit of God is the true and best defender of the faith!
But does God’s truth need to be defended? Yes, each of us as believers is called to the task of apologetics in 1 Peter 3:15. But is there a need for something “larger” in the idea of a studied preparation for defending the faith against specific attacks?
We believe strongly that there is. Throughout history mankind has devised ingenious ways to deny the truth of Christ and to avoid His claims upon their lives. Today, in our own country, practical atheism in the form of humanism (specifically, the philosophy of naturalistic materialism) holds sway in most of our institutions of higher education. The idea that man is at the center of his own little universe, and that man is the proper basis for all decision-making in the world (God being left completely out of the picture) is part and parcel of the American mind, the American way of thinking. Christian students in many a local college or university find their faith held up to ridicule in “philosophy of religion” courses taught by men and women who are inveterately opposed to Christianity. Theories concerning the Bible that are based upon anti-Christian philosophies are taught as facts not only in secular schools, but in many, many seminaries as well! Students are told that the Bible is little more than a collection of ancient myths and legends, good for some moralistic teaching, but little more.
Enemies of the faith come in all sorts. Some wear religious mantels and titles, and are called “Christian scholars.” There is an entire group of these “scholars” who have recently released a “version” of the Gospels minus what they think was not actually spoken by Jesus. These same scholars announced a few years ago that Jesus never claimed that He would return, so, He isn’t! Atheists and others make great use of these “Christian scholars” in their work to stop the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.
The cults are as active as ever as well. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) has topped the 7-million member mark, and is continuing to grow. The Mormons are making inroads into many Christian denominations by down-playing their theology (something many Christian groups are doing themselves), making the proselytization of the Christians an easier task. It is only after one has been indoctrinated into the entire system that one begins to really understand that the LDS Church teaches polytheism and the concept that men can become gods themselves!
Jehovah’s Witnesses are as busy as ever, going door to door, spreading their message to all who will listen. Recently, the Watchtower released its “Should You Believe in the Trinity” booklet, a publication that is, without a question, the most inaccurate thing the Society has ever published. But, the Witnesses play upon the ignorance of most Christians regarding the central doctrines of the faith, and they continue to grow, feeding upon conversions from Christian churches.
The Many Faces of Apologetics
There was a day, not long ago, when we could simply share the basic gospel call with people without any other “worries.” The Bible was generally viewed with respect, and people would listen, at least on a surface level, to what it had to say. That day has long passed. Open disbelief and rejection of the Bible is more and more common. Therefore, apologetics has simply become a part—a vital and necessary part-of evangelism. If we wish to share the gospel, we must do so in a manner that is understandable to those with whom we are speaking. Today, this involves knowing what the lost believe, and why they find so many objections to the truth that is in Christ.
We have always believed that the primary concern in training people in apologetics is not studying what is wrong, but knowing what is right. Studying the Word of God is the first and foremost task of the one who would defend the faith. Alpha and Omega Ministries has always emphasized such things as Scripture memorization and study of systematic theology as the first duty of anyone who would desire to share the gospel with those involved in cults or those who would attack the faith from a position of unbelief. We would rather have five people standing outside the gates of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City who know their faith and can communicate their faith to others than 500 people who can do nothing but rip Mormon history or theology to shreds, but who have nothing to offer in place of the error of Mormonism.
This is not to say that we should be unfamiliar with the specifics of the beliefs of a cult group to which we are ministering, or the ideas behind the philosophy of an atheist-certainly not! We strongly encourage everyone who works with us to be completely balanced-knowing the Scriptures, and knowing the opposition so that he or she can communicate effectively. But the first priority is a knowledge of truth. This is true whether one is dealing with a cultist or an atheist or a person who claims to be a Christian but has embraced the concepts of modem liberalism that reduce the gospel to a feeling and the Savior to a subjective experience.
Every believer in Christ is called to give a reason for their faith. This is not an option, it is simply a part of sharing the gospel with those around us. This is why it is so important that we be involved not just in “devotional” study of the Word of God, as important as that is, but in deep, serious, systematic study as well. We must not “duck” the tough issues, but meet them head on, having faith that God has revealed to us everything that is necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Our faith will grow tremendously when we discover, for ourselves, the consistency, harmony, and complete truthfulness of the Word of God. This will not happen unless we are willing to examine our faith and wrestle with the arguments of our opponents.
Obviously, not every Christian is called to go to Salt Lake City and pass out tracts to the 30,000 some odd folks at the very gates of the Temple during the General Conference of the LDS Church. Not everyone is able to meet with Jehovah’s Witnesses in private homes to both share the gospel with them and to keep others out of the clutches of the Society. Not everyone should be on radio stations debating “former Christians” who now work for atheistic, anti-Christian organizations. But those of us who do these kinds of things (and more!) need to know that you support our efforts. What we do is always difficult, often controversial, and sometimes discouraging. We know that there are many who pray for us and wish us the best, but we don’t often hear from those folks! Just as the soldier on the front line is greatly encouraged by a note from home and a package of chocolate chip cookies, so we too like to hear from those who believe as we do and who support our work in apologetics.
Alpha and Omega Ministries has been ministering the gospel to the lost since 1983. We have always felt that ministry must be our priority. While we have begun a bookministry as part of our over-all effort of apologetics, and while that book-ministry helps in a small way to support the ongoing missions projects (such as missions trips to Utah, 24-hour recorded phone messages in Phoenix and Las Vegas, a computer bulletin board system in Phoenix, etc.), we do not wish to ever allow anything to overshadow directly sharing the gospel with the lost.
Would you like to answer the attacks of atheists, astrologers, skeptics, Mormons, etc., on radio programs, but can’t? Would you like to be in Salt Lake City sharing with Mormons right on the street comers and sidewalks, but can’t? Would you like to be able to provide solid Christian answers to people who are in need, but can’t? You can have a part in all of that kind of work, and more, when you help Alpha and Omega Ministries. We need the support of Christians who are willing to take a stand and speak the truth in love. Financial support given to Alpha and Omega Ministries provides continuous ministry, missions work, and good, solid Christian responses to the various attacks of the world. Please consider being one of those who stands with us in this work.
Alpha & Omega Ministries
P.O. Box 37106 – Phoenix, AZ 85069
www.aomin.org – 602.973.4602