Studying apologetics can be a daunting endeavor because it tackles so many different topics. When I was first starting out, I would barely grasp one concept only to be made aware of ten more things I needed to know—right now. I wanted to know All. The. Things. While simultaneously trying to grasp the cosmological argument, biblical Greek, the history of philosophy, world religions, and textual criticism, I found myself with several open books and an overwhelmed mind. As I learned how to prioritize, I discovered eight things that helped me simplify and study apologetics in a fruitful and productive way:
[Today I'm thrilled to feature this guest post from my friend Diane Woerner. Diane is a brilliant thinker who specializes in the cultural and theological implications of God's design for sexuality, marriage and gender. For more of her writings, visit her website, bereansnotepad.com.]
Every year someone comes up with a list of new words people have created, and a number of these make it into the official dictionaries of our culture. At the same time, words get left behind—often without anyone noticing they're gone.
Two words I believe to be currently on the endangered species list are these: masculinity and femininity.
In their original use, these words simply designated manliness and womanliness, those qualities to which men and women should aspire. But our world is rapidly rejecting any exclusive descriptions of the nature or roles or appearances of men and women. Instead, we all get to think and act and look like any combination of characteristics to which we might be inclined at the moment.
How did we get here?
One of the most common misconceptions about the New Testament canon (the list of books the church recognizes as authoritative) is that early Christians didn't have any Scripture until hundreds of years after the life of Christ and the Apostles. The church then examined all the books they had and "picked" the ones they thought should go in the canon. However, this is not how it happened.
Most of the earliest Christians were Jews, so they had the Old Testament Scriptures, but concerning the 27 books of the New Testament, there wasn't an official canon until three or four hundred years later. That doesn't mean they didn't have New Testament Scripture. In fact, the word "canon" does not need to be confined to a formal and final list, but rather reflects "the entire process by which the formation of the church's sacred writings took place." (1) Here are 5 facts that point to an early canon:
Last November, just as the Christmas season was about to kick off, Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan published articles about Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of HGTV's popular home renovation show Fixer Upper. Apparently it was newsworthy to report that the Gaines attend a church whose pastor teaches that homosexuality is a sin, prompting the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee to respond with a tongue-in-cheek piece entitled, "Nation Shocked, Horrified As Christians Hold Christian Position." The Gaines remained relatively silent, other than a couple of tweets from Chip which many people understood to be in the context of the controversy:
Famed neuroscientist, philosopher, and atheist Sam Harris, in his Letter To A Christian Nation, wrote:
Consider the question of slavery. The entire civilized world now agrees that slavery is an
abomination….Consult the Bible, and you will discover that the creator of the universe
clearly expects us to keep slaves.
What is he talking about? He goes on to reference Leviticus 25:44-46:
Your male and female slaves are to be from the nations around you; you may purchase
male and female slaves. You may also purchase them from the foreigners staying with
you, or from their families living among you—those born in your land. These may
become your property. You may leave them to your sons after you to inherit as
property; you can make them slaves for life. But concerning your brothers, the
Israelites, you must not rule over one another harshly.
There are a lot of difficult words there. Slaves. Purchase. Property.