March 11, 2015

Always being prepared to…what?

by Lyndon Unger

One of the key passages that comes up when talking about apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15-16.  Every apologist out there cites it at some point, and everyone has a pretty similar take on it (seeing that many use the text to justify their very existence).  It’s apparently a divine command for every Christian to be continuously ready to let rip when someone challenges some aspect of Christian belief.  Seeing that most Christians aren’t prepared to defend the Christian faith against the wide variety of attacks that come against it, the apologists are the big guns that are necessary to help defend the faith (and train others to do so).

Tank

Now I don’t doubt or question the value of apologists, but rather I do question the generally accepted interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15-16.  Most apologists are decent enough theologians, but almost none of them are properly trained biblical exegetes.  In other words, I can only think of a handful who know their biblical languages and have seminary training that’s relevant to exegesis.  That’s not to condemn them but rather to recognize that there is an area of apologetic thinking that I can help with.  I’m not a trained philosopher, historian or theologian (well, that last one is partially untrue) but I am a trained exegete and I’d like to walk through 1 Peter 2:13-3:16 an offer a little exegetical insight into a commonly cited text.

1 Peter 2:13 begins an extended passage on submission to “every authority”, which includes authorities in the government (1 Pet. 2:13-17),  the workplace (1 Pet. 2:18-24), the home (1 Pet. 3:1-7) and the world at large (1 Pet. 3:8-22) in the specific context of submission in the face of suffering. The main thrust of the extended passage is on the necessity of holy living; that one’s life should be properly representative of one’s relationship with God, even when life is horribly difficult.

In the government, the Christian should submit to “every human institution,” including rulers (1 Pet. 2:13) or their subordinates (1 Pet. 2:14), and to do this for the sake of the Lord (1 Pet. 2:13).  This submission is how the believer “should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (1 Pet. 2:15) and the believer should “not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil” (1 Pet. 2:16).  Honoring those who rule is part of the proper manifestation of the fear of the Lord (1 Pet. 2:17).

In the workplace, the Christian should submit to both the righteous and wicked master (1 Pet. 2:18) and even do so when it is unjust suffering (1 Pet. 2:19).  This is how the believer follows Christ’s example (1 Pet. 2:20-21); restraining one’s mouth (1 Pet. 2:22-23) and fulfilling the difficult duties that their masters require, for the sake of God (1 Pet. 2:24-25)

In the home, wives should “be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (1 Pet. 3:1-2).  They should focus on beauty of character, not clothing (1 Pet. 3:4-5), and not live lives marked out by fear of that which is normally a source of anxiety (1 Pet. 3:6). Husbands should “be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (3:7).

Pan

In the world, Peter writes “all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” (1 Pet. 3:8)

Is this meant to be a directive of behavior only between Christians?

Peter appears to make a broad application when he writes “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Pet. 3:9)  It’s possible that Christians can treat other Christians in an evil way, but there’s no “between believers” specificity in the text.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is how believers should respond to non-Christians, right?  A testimony from silence is not an admonition to anything at all, and Peter clarifies by quoting Psalm 34:12-16. There are only two people in that Psalm; the righteous and the wicked. “The Righteous one” must keep his tongue from evil and keep his lips from deceitful speech.

Why?

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Pet. 3:12)

Either one is acting in accord with “the righteous” or “the wicked”.  One the Lord is for, and one the Lord is against, and they’re known by their words and the conduct.

Then Peter asks the rhetorical question “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” (1 Pet. 3:13) The obvious answer is “nobody”, but Peter still recognizes that Christians will not be free from harm if they do good.  He addresses this when he writes“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed” (1 Pet. 3:14) and quotes Isaiah 8:12 to justify his point, saying “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”

The Christian doesn’t fear harm from conspiracies of the wicked or  those who hate him, ultimately since the Christian does not fear the grave.  Nothing that anyone can do to a believer need be feared.  The fear of the grave is something that marks the lives of the unregenerate and that fear is one of the things from which Christ has delivered believers (Hebrews 2:15).

Instead of fearing harm (and the threat of the grave), “in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” (3:15). Instead of cowering under the fear of death (and losing all the things are treasured on earth), believers need to submit ourselves to Christ.

As well as re-orienting the believers’ fears from fearing the grave to fearing the Lord, Christians need to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

What is it that believers are supposed to “give an answer” (this phrase is translated from the Greek term apologia) for?

Believers are supposed to apologia (give a speech in defense of) “the hope that you have”.

Hope.  That’s one word that is thrown around rather flippantly these days.

Hobama

What is that hope in the New Testament?

There’s an interesting answer to that question.

The term translated hope is the Greek term elpisIt appears 54 times in the New Testament.

In Acts 2:26 it appears and Acts 2:24-36 is a passage talking about one thing: Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

In Acts 16:19 it appears and refers to the “hope” of making money that was lost when Paul cast a demon out of a possessed girl.

In Acts 23:6 it appears and Acts 23:6-10 is a passage talking about the resurrection from the dead.

In Acts 24:15 it appears and Acts 24:15  is a passage talking about the resurrection from the dead.

In Acts 26:6-7 it appears and Acts 26:6-8 is a passage talking about the resurrection from the dead.

In Acts 27:20 it appears and the term is referring to the “hope” of being saved from being lost at sea.

In Acts 28:20 it appears and Acts 2:28:20 is a passage talking about “the hope of Israel,” but that phrase is not explained.

That is all the occurrences in the book of Acts.

In the preaching of Paul as recorded in Acts, there’s a very consistent pattern that emerges.

I’m not going to walk through the entire rest of the occurrences in the New Testament and pretend that the term “hope” always refers specifically to the resurrection, since that’s not the case (though the other occurrences in 1 Peter do: 1 Peter 1:3, 21…which is also worth noticing).  What the term does refer to is a wide variety of specific and general events/experiences associated with the second coming of Christ.   In the New Testament, the ‘hope” of the believer is specifically associated with Christ’s return (and I’d suggest  that the resurrection is the event associated with that return that believers specifically look forward to).  The “hope” of believers is those things that are a’ comin.

HoJesus

Unless I’m horribly mistaken, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” is in no way a command for every Christian to be able to deal with the cacophony of skeptical arguments coming from the world that is desperate to disbelieve the  Scriptures and rebel against the God who wrote them.

Christians need to defend their hope.

That may involve any wide number of areas of knowledge, but the defense (at least in 1 Peter 3:15-16) is aimed at a specific target.

With regards to that defense of the specific target of “the whole that you have”, there is an caution:

“But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience” (3:15-16).

Why?

“So that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (3:16).  When you set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts, you do so by giving Christ preeminence in your mind, even above your fear of death. You bear witness to your hope by explaining it and you conduct your explanation in a way that is marked by gentleness and respect, and the measure of what is “gentleness and respect” is the conviction of conscience…which confirms your claims of submission to Christ as Lord.

I can think of a rather long list of possible applications, but I’ll toss out two:

A.  In the renewed passion for evangelism that has brought the evangel back to evangelicalism, our evangelistic efforts must get to the point of the resurrection of the dead.  From what I see in Acts, Paul brought the matter up before every unregenerate person he talked to.

B.  Eschatology is actually important.  A proper understanding of your hope may very well be the missing driving element in your own pursuit of holiness(1 John 3:2-3).

If you have other thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Lyndon Unger

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Lyndon is a pastor/teacher who’s currently between ministry work and in the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Witness Protection program. If you think you saw him somewhere...you didn’t.
  • Morné Fouché

    Great points, Lyndon. Greetings from South Africa.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Thanks Morné!

  • Hungry

    Hey Lyndon, I have a question. Being a frequent commenter on this site, I have used a different name, because I’m preparing for the judgment that will follow.  You said, “I can only think of a handful who know their biblical languages and have seminary training.”  Where did seminary originate and what is the Scriptural basis for the existence of such an institution.

    2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2

    I don’t see Paul saying to those who are willing and able to pay for it.  Is seminary only for the wealthy or those who are able to be saddled with loans for however long it takes them to work them off?

    7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Matthew 10:7

    Years ago I approached my then pastor and told him that I wanted to go into ministry, he told me, “That is great, first you need to get a bachelors and then apply to seminary.” I would love to attend a seminary, either in person or online but financially that is impossible.  Is this how it should be?  I don’t want to begrudge anyone a living, I just want to know how we can deny those who are financially incapable the knowledge of Scripture that seems to be reserved for a few.

    I’m really not trying to be a jerk, I just want to understand. I guess there is some bitterness in my heart that I need to repent of.

    • chrisleduc1

      Hungry, You asked’ “Where did seminary originate and what is the Scriptural basis for the existence of such an institution.”

      An example could be found in Acts 19 where Paul opened the school of Tyrannus and taught daily for 2 years. We can be sure this was some serious training.

      Keep in mind, at the time of the writing of the NT, the audience knew Greek. Some knew Hebrew. There were still practicing Jews around who had a temple and understood the law and traditions etc. They (the people alive in the 1st century) also knew the customs and manners that were being referred to. They knew the history of the various cities. They knew their own geography. For example, do you understand the significance of the geography of Acts 16:1-8? Or the verb tenses? I, like you, am not trying to be a jerk. Im trying to give an honest example. The tenses indicate that Paul was continually trying to enter. He was repeatedly prohibited. He ended walking about 500 miles on foot. This is after he had just finished having significant ministry success. Then all of the sudden he is prohibited by God, with no explanation, and that happens as he travels, on foot, through the mountains, for 500 miles! There is A LOT in that story. What are the implications of all of that? Lessons to be learned? Remember every word is inspired and there for a reason, its not merely historical fact. What hermeneutical principles are used in historical narrative to bring this out, in contradistinction to proverb or poetry and epistle? These are rhetorical questions.

      You asked, “Years ago I approached my then pastor and told him that I wanted to go into ministry, he told me, “That is great, first you need to get a bachelors and then apply to seminary.” I would love to attend a seminary, either in person or online but financially that is impossible. Is this how it should be? I don’t want to begrudge anyone a living, I just want to know how we can deny those who are financially incapable the knowledge of Scripture that seems to be reserved for a few.”

      Let me comment. What do you mean, “go into ministry”? This is a rhetorical question. Remember that we will all be judged for every word spoken and not many of us should become teachers as the judgement will be even stricter. We are called to rightly divide the Word. So if this is the ministry you want to be involved in, then dont you think its reasonable to become prepared to rightly divide the Word? That requires the languages, unfortunately. That requires hermeneutics. That requires church history as well as systematic and biblical theology. That requires pastoral counseling training. There is absolutely no “profession” in the world that comes close to that of the ministry. Not even a Dr deals with the eternal soul, nor will his performance be held to the same standard. How could we possibly expect any less training from someone entrusted with the care of the soul? I am certain that you realize the responsibly on teachers and the training that is therefore required. I am sure you understand the profound spiritual needs of the congregation and therefore the need for proper training.

      Regarding the financial impossibility, while I don’t know your exact situation, I can still comment. I believe that God opens the doors for the work He has called people to. How that plays out is different for everyone. What I can tell you, from being at seminary myself, and being here with men from all of the world, literally, some with financial support, and some without, I’ve come to see that nothing is impossible with God. There are men here who dropped what they were doing, moved here with 5+ kids and they are making it. There are single guys here. There are people from every walk of life and every financial situation. There are guys who move here with their families and work full time, and then take one or two classes. There are guys here who have raised support from friends and family. Additionally, the seminary is now offering a lot of night classes, as well as lots of summer classes, and the first-year classes online. They are doing everything they can to get this teaching in the hands of the people that God has called. Again, I don’t know your situation, but I do have experience with the men here. I do know that God opens the doors and God provides.

      Feel free to respond if you would like to continue the conversation or would like more guidance. Trust me, I understand where you are coming from. I’m here to help.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Thanks Mike Ricardi. You don’t have to use pseudonyms in fear my judgment with understandable questions.

      I suspect that your question comes from a little confusion that my be my fault.

      I wasn’t talking about generally being “in ministry” or being a pastor.

      I was talking about being a vocational apologist (like William Lane Craig, Greg Koukl, James White, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, Ken Boa, John Ankerberg, Hank Hannegraff, Norm Geisler, John Lennox, Mike Licona, etc. I recognize that “apologist” is the sole job of only a few of those folks…).

      Secondly, I wasn’t talking about seminary training in general, but specific training in biblical exegesis.

      Maybe those two clarifications help, maybe not.

      Seminaries have been around for a rather long time. Where they came from is irrelevant, though I’ve heard that they’ve been around since the reformation…possibly earlier. Technically, the term “seminary” doesn’t have anything to do with anything religious; the term has been used historically of schools that offered specialized (or “seminal”) training. A medical school is technically a “seminary”, though the term has a distinctly religious flavor these days.

      In recent history, seminaries were created to train clergy for the work of the ministry, and this training involved learning biblical languages, exegetical tools, logic/critical thinking, homiletics and theology.

      The scriptural basis for such training would be found in things like:

      1. The example of Christ, who took a small group of men and personally taught them for three years.

      2. The biblical mandates for things elders to be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2), be “trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6), “have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths” (1 Tim. 4:7), “teach and urge these things” (1 Tim. 6:2), not teach “a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness” (1 Tim. 6:3), “guard the deposit entrusted to you” (1 Tim. 6:20), “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard” (2 Tim. 1:13), “guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:14), “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2), to not “quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers” (2 Tim. 2:14), “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), “avoid irreverent babble” (2 Tim. 2:16), to “not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Tim. 2:24-25), “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (2 Tim. 3:14), “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2), “be sober-minded” (2 Tim. 4:5), “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Tit. 1:9), “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1), “in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Tit. 2:7-8), “declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Tit. 2:15), “insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works” (Tit. 3:8), “avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Tit. 3:9), to name a few.

      3. The logical necessity of fulfilling those commissions. Seeing that most churches in history were quite small congregations, it was a reasonable proposal for groups of theologically aligned churches to form unions for the purpose of establishing a central location for the training of clergy. If one larger church had a highly competent pastor who was well versed, other small churches would often send their pastors/ministry hopefuls to learn from that pastor. As several of those pastors were established in a common area (i.e. a Seminary), it allowed other pastors/ministry hopefuls to glean from them without the difficulty of traversing the countryside in order to glean from each.

      Also, once the New Testament era was over, and people no longer spoke Hebrew and Greek, there was a necessity of learning those languages for two purposes:

      a. Rightly understanding the scripture.

      b. Being able to combat heretics who construct heresies on fallacious understandings of the supposed “original meaning”.

      Before I knew my languages, I frequently ran into errors that were simply beyond my pay grade because I couldn’t go to the original languages and see if someone was lying or not.

      Not that I DO know my languages, probably 50% of my use of them is in evaluating and responding to heresy/heterodoxy. Heretics always build arguments on fields of understanding outside the sphere of knowledge of regular people; that’s why their horrid ideas appear so convincing.

      Mormonism wouldn’t exist today if people in his day knew Egyptian; they would have immediately seen through his absolutely idiotic claims to know “reformed Egyptian” or be able to translate the “book of Abraham”.

      Beyond all that, there’s also the learning of rightly applied hermeneutics and proper biblical exegesis. Probably 90% of what passes for “Christian doctrine” (at least on a popular level, around the globe) is actually incorrect, if not actual heresy. One of the most concrete ways to rebut incorrect understandings of Scripture is with correct understandings of Scripture.

      Sadly, I run into a whole lot of pastors (let alone church people) who are admittedly “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14). In other words, I get e-mails from a lot of pastoral friends who have unbiblical (or heretical) ideas running amuck in their churches and they need help responding to them.

      I don’t hate or judge those brothers, for I understand that most of them don’t have much education and likely didn’t even have the opportunity/finances to do so. I gladly help them however I can.

      Nailing both of those previous ideas down with a concrete example, let’s look at Matthew 10:7-8.

      Matthew’ 10:7-8 says ”
      And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”

      Now is this laying down some sort of precedent for Seminary being free?

      Well, who’s talking?

      – Jesus.

      Who’s the audience?

      – The twelve disciples (10:5).

      Where were they going?

      – “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (10:5-6).

      What were they doing?

      – “And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” (10:7-14)

      So is the passage talking about some sort of training of the disciples?

      No. The context of the passage is one of being sent out on a mission by Christ…and exclusively to Israel at that.

      What did they receive “without paying”

      “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (10:1).

      Spiritual authority, not some sort of training.

      I’d suggest that if you were more adequately trained in exegesis, you wouldn’t have pulled out that verse as a supporting text.

      That doesn’t mean that I’m angry or that I think you’re stupid, but only that the passage doesn’t suggest what you think it does. Careful reading and interpretation helps unpack the meaning and guards us both from making unfounded application on the basis of a misunderstanding of a passage.

      ******

      Now as for your plight, I really do understand.

      And for the record, all the things that I listed don’t necessarily require going to Seminary to learn. You may be able to find a solid fellow within your area who may be able to teach you those things. I live in Canada, and pretty much all the people in ministry I know are either untrained or trained in matters essentially irrelevant to biblical interpretation and exegesis…so I knew I had to go to seminary.

      My process to seminary was a period of 6 years of preparation. As a Canadian, I needed to come up with over $30,000 just to cross the border. I was a single guy working a $10/hr job. In August of 2006, after selling EVERYTHING I had accumulated over the last decade, I packed everything I owned in a Honda Civic and drove down to California.

      Needless to say, through a tsunami of unforeseen providential acts, I somehow not only made it through, but bought my wife a ring, got married, and paid off around $10,000 of debt while I was down there. My wife and I don’t even really know how it all happened, but we continually laugh that somehow we had MORE money while I was in seminary than we did for years afterward.

      In around 2004, Jonathan Rourke told me “If God wants you at TMS, then he will figure out a way to get you there. Just fill out the paperwork and do everything that YOU need to do to get down here”.

      At the time, I actually laughed at him and thought he was pretty ignorant of the facts of reality. Money doesn’t grow on trees, right? I’m not laughing anymore, and have been reminded of the practical implications of Psalm 24:1 many times since.

      That’s not some sort of Prosperity Gospel pitch, but a recognition that problems of money (which seem insurmountable to us) aren’t necessarily even on God’s radar. If you’d like to talk a little more about this idea (which PROBABLY sounds like a slap in the face, I admit), I’ll gladly talk more with you about it.

      • Hungry

        Thanks for responding Lyndon, and for showing me my error in quoting the Matthew text, I see now that it was taken out of context. But, what about the Timothy passage, was Timothy not instructed to teach other men for the purpose of being elders/pastors in the church? I just don’t see any Scripture that point to a pay-to-play type training.

        I’m not sure why you and chrisleduc1 seem to believe that I
        don’t see the need for training? I would have never had the desire to attend seminary if I believed that. If I worked the full time job I have now, took on another job to pay for schooling, how could I be a faithful husband and father. That’s not even taking into account
        the time to study. I’m not lazy, nor do I believe that in this “internet era” everything should be free. A man should be paid for his labors, but would you have sought a position as a seminary professor if it never existed? I don’t question your right earn a living; I question the existence of seminaries.

        My question is, have we taken a secular system and imposed
        it upon the church? For example: In most churches when a pastor is needed, a committee will perform a search for a qualified man. Interested candidates will submit résumés’ and be interviewed.
        The candidate will be interviewed and give the pulpit a test drive for a congregation who will vote on the pastor that suits them. Is this model biblical? Have we turned the sacred office of pastor into a profession, no different from doctors and lawyers etc.? How can a congregation know that the candidate meets the requirements for a pastor given in Scripture, when they are virtually strangers? Shouldn’t elders be raised up from within a congregation (maybe even sent to seminary if needs be)? It seems that the church is too at home in the world and pragmatism has taken over.

        Thanks again, and I did enjoy the post.

        • Lyndon Unger

          From your comment, it seems like you have more or a problem with the way churches choose pastors than the way they train them.

          The seminaries aren’t necessary.

          Churches could (and should) train up leaders…but that’s assuming that most pastors have the skill set/time/drive needed to do that.

          I know a handful of pastors that do.

          I know hundreds that don’t.

          Hence seminaries exist.

          The reason they cost money is because they’re expensive to operate.

          That may change in the future as education models change and seminaries start utilizing the benefits of modern technology to become less centralized. A good example of this is the Expositor’s Seminary. A lot of seminaries will likely look like that in 30 years.

          • Hungry

            Thank you. I think we could go on and on, and still disagree.

            Is there any basis in Scripture to charge a fee for training to “rightly divide the word?”

            “Hence seminaries exist,” isn’t that just saying “well we’ve always done it that way?”

          • Hungry

            Yes, I can see why seminaries are expensive to operate. I have seen and toured a few. Very nice, beautiful campuses. I’m sure they cost a great deal.

          • Hungry

            I apologize for the last comment, that was sinful on my part.

          • Lyndon Unger

            I gladly offer forgiveness brother.

            There’s no hard feelings here. I’ve been on the web and interacting fairly sharply with people for 20 years now.

            Swashbuckling isn’t the same as mud-slinging, even when it’s tart or sarcastic, but if your conscience was bothered than it’s best to let conscience rule.

          • Hungry

            Thank you for your graciousness. As you can probably tell, this is a very personal area for me. As much as I try and give it over to God. Inevitably it rears its ugly head.

      • Hungry

        Lyndon, if I offended you with my question I’m truly sorry, It was not my intention. I will continue to seek answers because I believe it’s a valid question. I don’t believe that a government that hates Jesus Christ and His church will allow seminaries to exist much longer. And I think we should get this type of education into as many men of God as possible, not just the privileged(and yes I consider men who can work their way through schooling to be privileged).

        I’ll continue to comment and ask questions under my old name and hopefully comments/replies will not be tainted.

        God bless.

        • Lyndon Unger

          Thanks.

          I wasn’t offended as much as wanting to push back a bit.

          I’d challenge you on your assumptions of working one’s way through school. There’s a difference between privilege and providence.

  • I never realized there was a different take on this verse than what you put above. I can see how people may expand the scope of what we are giving a reason for, though. For example, in order to explain my hope in the resurrection, being able to explain original sin and the atonement could come in. I guess what I mean is that some of what we are ‘defending’ can be defended by also explaining some underlying doctrines.

    I wrote about this years ago here if you’re interested. http://michaelcoughlin.net/blog/index.php/2010/11/1-peter-3-15/ My writing has improved since then, I promise.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Yeah. The scope of the defense does certainly necessitate getting beyond simply talking about the resurrection as the sole subject matter. Defending the resurrection would implicitly involve defending the scriptures, the teaching of Paul on the subject (and thus aspects of Pauline theology), etc.

      The problem that I see arises when people are debating with atheists/skeptics/liberals and never actually get to the topic of the resurrection, or the general hope of believers, at all.

      I see that quite frequently, at least in what some apologists toss online as a portrayal of their own activity.

      • Absolutely.

        We need to keep an eye on the cross at all times, even if it makes us cross-eyed.

        My work is done here.

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  • Fibber MaGee

    Forgive me for regressing and send me an invoice if necessary since I do view your time as valuable. You responded to a question (Feb.19) I asked regarding innerancy and the “original writings”. I have been disconnected from the Matrix and didn’t see it until now. It really was a serious question (Etienne Grobler), actually it was more like a probe. I don’t believe this is too far off topic. I’m not trying to be a wise guy (or a jerk), but I can’t seem to grasp why there is all this concern over innerancy. I trust my bible 100% and no, I don’t use an NIV. I believe in the sovereignty of God, so I’m already convinced. Saying that the bible is only inerrant in its original letters when we don’t have the original letters seems to cast a shadow of doubt over any translation, Greek or English. I suggest you read the statement of faith from Ligonier concerning the bible, big difference, to me. I am familiar with the generally low percentage of discrepancies between the text groups, but there still are discrepancies and they can be as high as 15% (NT) in some cases. This is just with the existing texts, so who truly knows how much error exists between these and the originals. Do you understand what I don’t understand? Why open the door when you don’t have to? It just seems like a loop hole that doesn’t need to be there.

    My favorite part,

    “Unless I’m horribly mistaken,
    “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the
    reason for the hope that you have” is in no way a command for
    every Christian to be able to deal with the cacophony of skeptical arguments
    coming from the world that is desperate to disbelieve the Scriptures and
    rebel against the God who wrote them.

    Christians
    need to defend their hope.”

    Thanks Lyndon

    • Lyndon Unger

      Well, the question is about the truthfulness and reliability of the scripture, as well as being honest and open about the history of the Bible.

      Unlike Muslims, Christians are open about the history (and related difficulties) of their religious text. The Muslims suppress any sort of discussion about the textual history of the Qu’ran and any talk of competing or alternate versions of the Qu’ran is dangerous talk indeed.

      It’s true that Christians don’t have the autographa (the piece of paper/whatever that the apostles personally wrote on).

      We do have the originals, meaning “original reading”. The manuscript corpus from which the Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic books of the Bible are extracted contains every single word that the prophets/apostles put down.

      Things have been added, but we can figure out what those things are.

      Nothing has been lost.

      The compiled Greek New Testament or Hebrew Old Testament has every single word that the prophets/apostles wrote (with a few extras). Your GNT has around 101% of the New Testament, and the study of textual criticism attempts to peel away the extra 1%.

      We talk about inerrancy in terms of “the original” because fidelity to truthfulness demands it.

  • sandylu

    there is even today believers who hear the preached Word from an unpaid,plural ministry.
    The good shepherd who is the author of our
    salvation, tells us inJOHN 10:12 the hireling
    ministry of his day til this present evil daydo not watch for the souls
    of men-he will flee when in danger bcause
    for filhty lucre’s sake,(working for money)
    he neither owns mor loves the sheep. Hungry,
    the seminaries of today-ask yourself …how
    many are sending true servants&followers of
    JESUS CHRIST into HIS KINGDOM?

    • Lyndon Unger

      I agree. There are many believers that get preaching from unpaid, untrained fellows…

      …who then show up on blogs and suggest that John 10:12 has something to do with seminaries…or that anyone affiliated with this blog or the Masters Seminary somehow flees when in danger because of filthy lucre.

      I don’t know if you caught the Strange Fire conference, but that didn’t exactly make TMS & friends very popular. The same can be said for how openly we oppose liberalism, the normalization of homosexuality, the emergent church, the false gospels of modern fluff evangelicalism, etc.

      In response to your last question: “Hungry, the seminaries of today-ask yourself…how many are sending true servants&followers of JESUS CHRIST into HIS KINGDOM?”

      Uh, I don’t know.

      Do tell.

      How many seminaries murder their grads?

  • Chris M

    Good article-I am a pastor, apologist, and experienced in the languages and I teach I Peter 3:15-16 as giving the “hope” of our belief in the Resurrection, Christ’s return, and future eternal life with Christ. As an apologist I then help my students explain to those who they may be talking with, the reasons for that “hope” so that those listening will hopefully be edified and driven to the Scriptures themselves. I teach that my students should always interact with others “in gentleness and respect”, representing Christ-like behavior at all times regardless of how others respond back (and to maintain a true Christ-like reputation so that no one can attack any hypocrisy). Many apologists are little known teachers and pastors who simply want their congregation and/or students to be able to give solid reasons for their faith, but never intend to replace their faith with “arguments”. Some people might have a different view on apologetics when they see young people who are often times brought up in a church that gives shallow answers to their difficult questions. And then when those questions are not answered, these same young people question their beliefs when faced with the world and culture who attack the truth and reliability of the fundamental doctrines of orthodox Christianity. It is to help these kinds of people that I teach as a Pastor and Biblical apologist. When I see people have their hard questions about God, the Bible, and their faith in Christ answered from scripture and from a true Biblical worldview, it is worth every moment of my time and I thank God for helping them understand His Truth and stay strong in their faith.

    • Lyndon Unger

      Well said.

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