I was pondering a statement I saw this morning from William Lane Craig. It represents the form of apologetics that is based upon non-Reformed theology and soteriology in particular. It is, without a doubt, far more “popular” than the methodology I am committed to. The statement contains truth, but it is placed within a matrix of sub-biblical thinking. Here it is:
“Successful evangelism involves not only harvesting, but sowing and watering, too. We must never think that because a nonbeliever remained unconvinced by our case that our apologetic has failed. For one encounter is not the end of the story.” (Five Views on Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), p. 288.
How many times have I said something that sounds so very similar, but is yet so very different? Maybe if I rephrased it:
God-glorifying evangelism involves not only harvesting, but sowing and watering, too. We must never think that because a rebel sinner continues in his rebellion despite the declaration of God’s truth that our proclamation has been in vain. For God is always glorified when His truth is proclaimed, and He may well draw His elect in another way at another time.”
See, the reason even rejected proclamation is never a waste of time is because such a proclamation is honoring to God, because it is the declaration of His Lordship and truth. The impact of a sub-biblical theology, a sub-biblical view of the gospel, and a sub-biblical view of man, is seen in Craig’s phraseology. Rebel sinners who reject God’s truth are merely unbelievers. Their rejection of the Gospel is not a sinful act of rebellion; no, they merely remain “unconvinced.” What is presented is “our case,” rather than God’s Kingly rights. And what has not “failed” is “our apologetic,” when in fact, the real issue is whether the Holy Spirit of God will cause God’s truth to come alive in the heart of that rebel sinner, bring the miracle of regeneration, and glorify the triune God through the salvation of another undeserving sinner!
Doing apologetics to the glory of God, knowing the truth about those who will hear us, is a very different thing than trusting in our “case,” our “approach.” A friend told me recently that he was talking to a student of WLC who said he would rather lose a debate than use my “approach.” Well, I can understand that. The difference in these approaches is not a matter of taste or style, but of substance. The differences lie in our foundations, in the very Gospel we seek to proclaim to the honor and glory of our Lord.