Proverbs 26:4-5 and Presuppositional Apologetics

Well, it’s been two months of nothing.

tumbleweed

I obviously haven’t been blogging, but I also haven’t really been on any other social media at all.  I literally have 15-30 minutes of time per day for all web related things, so this post has been in the work for weeks.  Still, here’s some thoughts on a topic I’ve left for far too long: apologetics!

If you’ve been around Reformed theological circles for any length of time, I’m guessing you’ve come across that phrase presuppositional apologetics.  In this post, it’s not my goal to unpack what presuppositional apologetics is.  If you’ve never heard of presuppositional apologetics, a great place to start would be this article.   That would direct you to some good print resources and the website would have some decent resources (as would this one…if you’re brave).  There’s no shortage of web resources, but they’re not all of equal quality.  That’s actually what brings me to this topic.

Not only are all presuppositional apologetics sources of varied quality, but all apologists are of varied skill sets.  Apologists tend to gravitate towards studying philosophy or theology but precious few of them tend to study biblical exegesis (at least beyond a surface level –  an example of the type of problems arising from the typical apologists’ focus away from exegesis is here).  That’s not saying that apologists are biblically ignorant or grossly incompetent with the text of Scripture, but they tend to be enthusiasts rather an experts when it comes to exegesis.  What’s worse is that most enthusiasts who think they’re experts fall into enthusiast-level errors; common confusions if you will.

I’d like to offer some exegetical assistance today on a specific text that is probably the most widely known “common confusion” in presuppositional apologetics: Proverbs 26:4-5.

Here are those two verses:

“(4) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.

(5) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

Now in presuppositional apologetics circles, those two verses have been misunderstood and misapplied to the apologetic process in a specific way.  Starting with the late Greg Bahnsen (a patron saint of modern presuppositionalism), those two verses have been taken to give a two-step biblical process for apologetics.  Bahnsen specifically took Prov. 26:4-5 as a two-step guide to arguing with a fool (aka. unbeliever).

greg-bahnsen

Here’s my attempt at summarizing Bahnsen’s misunderstanding of Prov. 26:4-5:

(4) Don’t assume a fools’ worldview (as common ground) when arguing with him.

(5) Assume his worldview when arguing with him for the sake of pointing out the internal inconsistency of his worldview.

In his book Always Ready, Bahnsen describes this two-step process when he writes:

“In the first place, the unbeliever should not be answered in terms of his own misguided presuppositions; the apologist should defend his faith by working within his own presuppositions. …But then in the second place the apologist should answer the fool according to his self-proclaimed presuppositions (i.e., according to his folly). In so doing he aims to show the unbeliever the outcome of those assumptions. Pursued to their consistent end presuppositions of unbelief render man’s reasoning vacuous and his experience unintelligible; in short, they lead to the destruction of knowledge, the dead-end of epistemological futility, to utter foolishness.” (Always Ready, 61-62)

American Vision has definitely continued on Bahnsen’s confusion on Prov. 26:4-5.  They’ve got an article on their website that spends several pages explaining the two-step process laid out in Prov. 26:4-5.  The article says:

“Now then, what does Solomon mean in Proverbs 26? Why does he direct us on the one hand not to “answer a fool according to his folly” (v. 4), while on the other, he urges us to “answer a fool according to his folly” (v. 5)? This seems contradictory. But it is not; and it precisely outlines the Presuppositional Apologetic’s two-step procedure: Positively, you must present the truth and, negatively, you must warn of folly. Be aware: though biblical apologetics involves these two steps, you do not have to use them in this order. The apologetic situation might require that the order be reversed. Nevertheless, both steps are necessary, even if not in any particular order.” (7)

Answers in Genesis also tows the Bahnsen line on Prov. 26:4-5.  They have an article here which says:

“When we are engaging skeptics with the truth of God’s Word, we can apply the ‘don’t answer/answer’ strategy found in Proverbs 26:4–5. We don’t accept the skeptic’s ‘folly,’ his terms for the debate. We stand firmly on our presuppositions. Instead, we show the skeptic the logical consequences of his foolish presuppositions and point him to the truth of the Christian worldview.”

I could produce more quotes from presuppositionalists, but needless to say that Bahnsen, American Vision an AiG are sufficient for the purpose of illustrating that this confusion is indeed common.  This isn’t to say that it’s a bad idea; the idea itself is great.  What Bahnsen calls an “internal critique” of a worldview is a great rhetorical tool and is something that can be very fruitful in practice, but there’s one problem: it’s not taught in Prov. 26:4-5.
muppets
Let’s take a look at Proverbs 26 and examine what the passage does teach:

Proverbs 26:1-12 contains a cluster of proverbs related to fools.  The passage starts off warning that honor is unbecoming a fool (26:1) and then warns the reader against careless cursing (26:2).  I’d take a guess and suggest that 26:2, being the only proverb where the word “fool” doesn’t appear, is included as a cautionary warning against being quick to label someone a “fool.”  That’s not a hill I’d die on, but only an educated guess.

The passage continues on warning that the way to get through to a fool is with a beating (26:3). Then comes 26:4-5, where we have two proverbs that appear to contradict one another rather blatantly.  That apparent contradiction has caused consternation to many people, but I’d suggest that 26:4-5 uses identical vocabulary for the purpose of juxtaposition (contrasting two ideas for the purpose of illustrating a point).  The idea here is that one can do the same thing to two different fools and have two different results (v.4 vs. v.5) because they’re fools; they don’t act rationally and don’t respond predictably to things.

In other words, if you deal with a fool in accord with his foolishness, he’ll think you’re a fool (v. 4), but if you don’t deal with a fool in accord with his foolishness, he may think he is wise (v. 5).  Both are sadly true of fools.

For “exhibit A”, I subject the entire website of Facebook.

For “exhibit B,” I submit the following illustration that appears bi-monthly somewhere on Facebook:

If you respond to someone saying something utterly foolish (i.e. “Did you know that John MacArthur said that Christians can take the mark of the Beast in the tribulation and still be saved?), they’ll think you’re a fool (“here’s the clip moron! How do you explain that away?”).

If you don’t respond, they’ll think they’re right (“I sent the clip to Phil Johnson and he was too scared to answer!  He knows that John MacArthur is a heretic but won’t say anything because John is his boss!”).

I used to get a dime every time I heard that example, but I cashed them all in when I had enough to buy me an old jalopy.

gold lambo

Getting back to Proverbs, fools don’t act rationally or reasonably. That’s why they’re unbecoming of honor (v.1).  That’s why they need a rebuke with percussion (v.3) instead of melody (v.4-5). That’s why you don’t rely on them for relaying messages (v.6) and that’s why they don’t respond to wisdom (v.7). That’s why you never honor them (v.8), listen to them (v.9), or hire them (v.10). They don’t learn from their errors (v.11)

Then the passage takes a shocking turn, building on all that has been said before: a fool has more hope than a proud man who thinks highly of himself (26:12).

Yikes.

Vs. 12 is kind of the capstone of the preceding 11 verses, and is a blistering admonition against being prideful.

But 26:4-5 is not a two-step formula for defending the Christian faith against unbelievers.  Rather, it’s a warning that any sort of arguing with a fool may be unproductive, regardless of the tactic a person takes.  With fools, you never can be sure.

I don’t bring this up because I want to score points showing that some miniscule exegetical point of Bahnsen (and a whole lot of other folks) is incorrect.  They’re all far more significant folks than me and I have no interest at all in being more famous than I already am…especially in Christian circles.  “Christian fame” is the absolute worst kind of fame.

The reason I point out the popular misunderstanding of Prov. 26:4-5 is because some presuppositional apologists make Bahnsen’s two-step process out to be the main course of their apologetic practice.  They make presuppositional apologetics appear to be, at least on the street,  mostly arguing about the laws of logic with fools (who often are so caught off guard with the nature of the argument that they’re floundering to participate in the argument in the first place).

Prov. 26:4-5 offers a warning against that sort of thing instead of commanding it.

Rams

A fool that is shown the error of his ways often will become a confused fool who will likely respond with anger, not thanksgiving.  Showing internal inconsistencies in the worldview of a fool will, more often than not, be an ultimately fruitless endeavor since they’re unpredictable and irrational in the first place.

Unbelieving skeptics need the gospel.  They don’t need to be forced into a corner and have their faces rubbed in the fact that their worldview is incoherent.

Sadly, I swallowed the Prov. 26:4-5 confusion for several years and got really good at showing unbelievers that their worldview couldn’t hold water.  I once even argued a proud and educated fellow into a corner to the point that he surrendered the argument and admitted defeat…and promptly became a Hindu.

You can even still do things like applying an internal critique to a worldview (I’m not against that either), but I’d suggest that if you’re taking Proverbs 26:4-5 as some sort of divine formula for the apologetic encounter, you’re trusting God to bless a process he never gave you.   I would recommend not focusing on arguing logic or worldview as the main course of your interaction with foolish objectors to Christianity. In fact, you may find yourself trying to circumvent those discussions (like I try to do with the list technique that I use), at least initially.

Also, take this clarification and build on it.  Presuppositionalists need some better “on the street” tactics than we’ve currently got.  I’d encourage readers to come up with some fantastic new approaches to practical dialogue, informed by responsible and accurate exegesis, and offer some great and much-needed positive rhetorical strategies to presuppositional circles.

After all, in this coming era Christians will need increasingly persuasive rhetorical packaging, right?

Let’s get on that now.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “I’m not saying I’m smarter than (insert apologist/ministry)” Unger

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68 thoughts on “Proverbs 26:4-5 and Presuppositional Apologetics

  1. Pingback: Third Week of October 2015 Presuppositional Apologetics Links | The Domain for Truth

  2. Mr Smarty Pants,
    Excellent article and another excellent reminder for me to ALWAYS read things in context. I’ve heard both of those verses isolated to defend apologetic methods!
    What I’ve learned from debating things with skeptics is that A: evidence isn’t persuasive enough
    B: Logic isn’t persuasive enough
    C: Destroying their worldview isn’t persuasive enough
    D: Accurate exegesis and the gospel are powerful enough
    But unfortunately I go to D as a last resort if I even go to it at all. Shame on me.

    I’ve tried to let 1 Corinthians 2 be my apologetic guide more than anything else. I’ve got the gospel in my back pocket and I’m more concerned about proving moral relativism wrong? Doesn’t speak well in regards to my motivation. Do I want my “opponent” saved or do I want to embarrass him for lack of consistency in his worldview?

    Thanks for the convicting post!

    Tim

  3. The two verses seem very simple:Verse 4 speaks about not descending into the same foolish discordant attitude; do not lower yourself by disputing or arguing with him, where more heat than light is generated, and where he is looking for an argument than a discussion and isn’t teachable and open to reasoned dialogue.
    Verse 5 speaks about using language that is aimed at his level of understanding and comprehension, whilst not becoming foolish and irresponsible, in order for him to be exposed according to his own “folly” line of reasoning and foolish thinking.

        • I thought I did in the article…

          1. The juxtaposition is far simpler than most would suggest. It’s not some sort of complex insinuation. Hebrew poetry doesn’t work like that, and neither does the Bible (outside of prophetic literature).

          2. The whole notion of an apologetic strategy being shoved into 2 Proverbs is absurdly anachronistic. It’s eisegesis in its purest form.

          3. The flow of thought in the cluster of Proverbs suggests nothing of the sort. The cluster aims at showing the negative traits of the fool and then saying that a proud man is worse than a fool.

          4. The whole “answer/don’t answer” strategy doesn’t work for the simple sense that the vocabulary is actually identical. The verbs don’t have subtle changes in form or tense, the nouns are identical, etc. When the Bible makes subtle points, it tends to use subtle shifts in verbal form or contrast two similarly related nouns. Neither occurs in Prov. 26:4-5.

          5. It doesn’t mash with what the rest of Proverbs says about fools. Not even close. One of the ideas of “fool” in Proverbs is that the only one who can get through to them is God, and he often does that via pain or trial, since they lack the general acumen to see good sense for what it is.

        • I don’t wish to upset you further; I guess I’ll just have to beg to differ, by applying Proverbs 26:4 & 5, as I understand it.
          God bless

        • I’m not upset.

          You’re free to ignore me.

          You may be right and I may be wrong…though you may want to have reasons for your interpretation beyond a surface reading of the Scripture.

          You’re free to make the Scripture mean whatever you want it to mean and ignore whoever doesn’t agree with you…I didn’t write the Bible. It’s no affront to me if you disregard it or twist its meaning. You don’t answer to me…

          But you do answer to God.

          God may have issue with willful ignorance or twisting of his word, but you’ll have to take that up with him.

        • Furhter apologies, mennoknight, for causing you further frustration and agitation.
          I’m sorry that you feel I have undertaken only “a surface reading of the Scripture,”, which isn’t an accurate statement.
          I’m saddened that you feel that I’m attempting “to make the Scripture mean whatever you want it to mean and ignore whoever doesn’t agree with you” and that I’ve taken it upon myself to “twist its meaning,” as I only gave my own understanding of these verses, which was my contribution.
          As I read your comments I though of 2 verses – Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” & Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the USE OF EDFYING, that it may MINISTER GRACE unto the hearers.”
          Thank you, once again.
          God bless.

        • Are you trying to psychoanalyze me?

          I’m not upset.

          You haven’t come back with any sort of reasons for taking the reading that I spent time correcting, so that appears to be a “I don’t really care what you say” attitude.

          Stop projecting emotions on me; you don’t know what’s happening on my end of the conversation.

        • I really DO care about how God’s WORD is understood and interpreted; it’s important for ALL true Christians. I apologise for offering my contribution and understanding of these verses and having offended you in some way,as they don’t agree with your understanding and for quoting God’s WORD in my response which appears to have antagonised you further.
          God bless

        • Goodness me. I’m not in grade school.

          If you get offended at disagreement or someone who doesn’t engage in interaction, that doesn’t mean I do.

          I would love to interact about the actual text of Scripture or specific ideas, rather than having me say something and then you responding that I seem frustrated and ignoring the words I said.

          If you do care about God’s word, can you offer any explanation for WHY you think Prov. 26:4-5 teaches the two-step model of apologetic interaction with fools?

        • I’m not the one who comes across as offended, I just didn’t realise, out of ignorance or dullness on my part, that I wasn’t allowed to disagree or offer up God’s Word.
          Many thanks for clarifying that for me.
          Much blessings

        • mennoknight
          OCTOBER 22, 2015 AT 12:27 PM
          Oh sheesh.

          This is going nowhere.

          Ironic that this thread is occurring on this post though.

          http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sheesh
          “interjection
          1.
          (used to express exasperation).
          Origin of sheesh Expand
          euphemistic shortening or alteration of Jesus or ****”

          Nice language for a ‘Christian’

          (Comment was edited by admin with the expletive removed)

        • I said “sheesh”, not the expletive you want to pin on me.

          Do you think that you win some sort of “righteousness point” if you can convince yourself that I meant to swear at you but didn’t?

        • Jer. 5:21: “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.”
          Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”
          Matthew 12:36: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,”
          Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

  4. “A fool that is shown the error of his ways often will become a confused fool who will likely respond with anger, not thanksgiving. Showing internal inconsistencies in the worldview of a fool will, more often than not, be an ultimately fruitless endeavor since they’re unpredictable and irrational in the first place.”

    The key statement of your welcomed article.

    I spent years shaping and sharpening my ‘apologetic’ and encountered this condition far more often than not.

    Now, I’ve spent years talking about Jesus Christ. The “Liar, Lunatic or Lord” meme has had the most impact (as far as I’m able to see) along with answering the ‘hypocrite’ charge with:
    “You have a ‘worldview’ right? Do you live it out perfectly? (always no) Then come join the rest of us and deal with who Jesus Christ is!
    I’ve never had any visible impact on someone who is comfortable in their life (visibly). I’ve had the most impact (or rather my conversation about the person, work, and promise of Jesus Christ) with those who are in visible, desperate need (broken people crying out for answers).

    I’ve watched (and shuddered) at Sye Bruggencate’ Pre-Sup apologetic presentation…

    Finally, I’ve found knowing the variety of worldviews has been very helpful. I know as much about the person’s belief system as they do and am able to point out (subtly) the ultimate failure of the system.

    Peace to you,

    M. Howard Kehr

  5. Well done! I have always had questions about this approach, it just did not fit for me. It seemed to complicated… the Gospel is not complicated. I have never heard of someone being argued into heaven. I like the Ray Comfort approach. God bless, and thanks for another insightful article.
    Angela

  6. Et tu, Lyndon?

    Of course, my first reaction to your questioning of my deeply-held belief is one of pain and dismay…but then my humility reminds me I need to listen or I have become the fool I detest.

    My experience has been analogous to the proverbial pendulum. When I first heard this idea expressed by Dr. Lisle, I was excited and learned it as best I could. I have used it in my own writings extensively and find it a generally helpful approach, especially to get people to recognize that they have a worldview that colors their perceptions and interpretations. (Most people don’t think they are biased. I want to help them see they have a bias and let them know what my bias is.)

    To be sure, I never pretended that the gospel was not the most important part of the conversation with the unbeliever–and I don’t think Bahnsen or Lisle or others would disagree. But it is hard, in the practical reading of their writings, to see how to get to the gospel.

    I trust that my pendulum has found some balance after the inertia from the hard turn I made toward this two-step approach. I still think that the principle has value in many discussions, but maybe it is not best to look to this passage as my justification. I would prefer to lead with the gospel message and use the 2-step approach to deal with rejections that result.

    Do you (or others) think the approach is a practical application of the proverb, even in its context? Or should we abandon such a notion and have a Bhansen book burning?

    Thanks for helping us think rightly about god’s Word.
    Roger

    • Well, I tried to suggest that the two-step approach isn’t BAD per say, but only that Prov. 26:4-5 doesn’t teach it and it therefore definitely doesn’t have some sort of divine seal of approval.

      I think the theological assumptions underneath it are generally sound, depending on what direction a person takes it in. In practice, I have developed a way of getting from the internal critique of a worldview to the gospel, but it’s not perfect.

      I’ll maybe try to blog that some time.

      I too have experienced the pendulum of hard presuppositionalism to something a little more fluid and biblically nuanced. The two-step approach (otherwise called an “internal critique”) is rhetorically useful for some things, but not others.

      I’m answer to your question, I’d say that Prov. 26:4-5 warns against reasoning with a fool since they’re, by nature, unreasonable creatures.

      No need to burn books, but maybe a need to refine and prune away a few unnecessary or biblically questionable ideas?

  7. Great post. I was starting to feel a little guilty about wasting time on another blog post and reading all the comments to the end, and then I read it to the end, and the last comment made it well worth my time.

  8. Last February I had a short personal visit with Sye ten Bruggencate. And asked him a few questions that I hear in the background of some of these comments.
    A misunderstanding which I held and I suspect is common among his critics is that Sye, and other presups, argue instead of proclaiming the gospel. When asked Sye explained that he begins by sharing the gospel and sees no problem with offering evidence to apparently sincere questions, but when the hearer attacks the gospel Sye switches to defending the gospel. If you re-listen to his recorded encounters he repeatedly inserts the gospel into his defense.
    Secondly it is an error to measure the validity of an approach to evangelism by measuring the visible response, the sole measure of the validity must be the content of the message proclaimed, or we will follow the seeker sensitive movement into changing the content in order to initiate the response we seek.
    Finally Sye’s love,patience, soft answers, courage, selflessness and meek attitude are to be admired whether you embrace his approach or not.

    • Sye is a God-fearing man. I have spoken to him also. I really enjoyed his humble attitude and I walked away with alot of food for thought. Funny thing- I have a presup sticker on my bumper and I get the weirdest looks, sometimes some conversations. I am not an apologist but I try to share the gospel with whom ever will listen.

      • Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.”

        Proverbs 12:16: “The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult”

        Proverbs 29:11 l “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

        Psalm 37:8: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”

        • Bud, you’re neither my conscience nor the Holy Spirit.

          You need to figure out Romans 14 and stop acting like other believers answer to you. I don’t, and you don’t get to call me to account to whatever biblically ignorant standard you want to enforce on me.

          If your taking the “stronger brother” tack, you need to act like the mature one.

          How about starting now?

        • Stop being a toddler. You’re now being obnoxious and any hearing that would have possibly happened now is overshadowed by how annoying you’ve become as “the righteousness police”.

          Anymore of this and you’ll no longer be welcome here.

          You’ve been warned.

          Show me that you’re not a fool.

        • A threat?
          No problem. As long as I’ve demonstrated to others how little humility you have. You’re moderator, but been aggressive and offensive to others as well as myself. You’ve shown yourself to be not teachable. My job is done.
          How can you expect to be takeb seriously, with a self-righteous heart. I get it…your way or the highway…Sye, bahnsen and others are all idiots because they differ from you – despite their experience and qualifications. I understand completely. You are the Oracle, and others are just minor players. You been abusive t others, even on this thread; you’ve done it before…you’ll continue to do it. You’ve been exposed.

  9. When speaking of fools, apparently there is a feature fools have, one that readily identifies the fool to others, and that one (fools especially) should not forget to be thankful for.
    I was wondering if I was going to read here somewhere the quote by the actor Anthony Quinn playing Auda Abu Tayi from the movie Lawrence of Arabia that explains that particular feature well.
    “Then you are a fool. Be thankful that when God gave you a face, he gave you a fool’s face.”
    As for truth, and those who utter truth, and those who don’t, in the same movie Claude Rains playing Mr. Dryden says:
    “If we’ve been telling lies, you’ve been telling half-lies. A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.”

    Are scriptural inaccuracies meant to be more tolerable if propounded by a fool with such a poor memory for the truth he has forgotten how or where to find it? Or is that just a convenient label for those that happen to disagree with what we believe?

      • E.O. Wilson suggested that he was blessed to have so many brilliant people that disagreed with him over time. Even though I don’t believe that you are going to have too many Nobel prize winners posting here, I hope you do eventuality find something positive from what is posted here. Perhaps what I should have said before is that when one finds an idea or motive that runs counter to our own, it is easy to see that other person conflating along with their opinion into a fool. I learn a lot about scripture from the articles you post. Thanks. I also learn about human nature by reading the comments. Notwithstanding the Biblical concern about labeling anyone as a fool, Matthew 5:22, I find such labels pejorative. That said, I am perplexed by those that wish to take you to task on the information you provide (for free) on your site. It’s almost as if you, Lyndon, have to be proven wrong so someone else’s faith can survive intact. Does Biblical scholarship get so entwined with one’s faith in God that for holding any expressed opinion outside of whatever the critic believes at any particular point in time threatens the whole fabric and foundations of the (your) critics faith? It almost appears that way to me from reading what others have posted here. Why would anyone want to engage you here by mentioning his or her perspective that happens to run contrary to yours? Why not just ask you a question and hope for an answer? I personally don’t have the ability to challenge your Biblical scholarship, but I can appreciate it whether I agree with it or not. I hope you remain in good health Lyndon and that you find the time to be able to continue to post here. You do have a gift and it is my opinion that you should continue to exercise that gift.

  10. That is on me.

    Sorry, you got tagged for it.

    I do not care for what I have seen of the interactions between Sye and opponents. I do not know him but neither am I ‘judging’ him (as a person) regardless of your interpretation of my ‘shuddering’.

    I agree with Lackey on his second assertion. But…no, I’ll leave it alone.

    I’m reminded again, why I should not comment on blogs.

    Grace and Peace to all.

    • Dingo, is this aimed at me or someone else?

      I wouldn’t judge your shuddering. I’m curious as to why.

      I also have seen interactions with Sye that were hard to stomach. That’s part of why I am now willfully ignorant of him. I actively seek to avoid infighting on these issues via ignorance.

      I somewhat agree with Lackey, but that point is often pushed way too far. The truth of the message is a significant component, but the Scripture doesn’t make content the sole and only evaluative principle for evangelistic engagements.

      The Bible advises believers on the nature of those sorts of interactions as well…but certain schools of thought conveniently don’t seem to recognize those portions of Scripture.

      Feel free to comment. I’m interested to know what you think.

  11. Not aimed at you. (You were dealing with Thad ‘the Troll’.)

    Earlier in the comment thread you wrote:

    “Why do you think I’m even alluding to Sye?

    I’m not attacking him. Why are you jumping to his defense?”

    I tagged in and took responsibility.

    My original comment was intended to relate that I was once such a one as he (Sye), and I changed because I saw the carnage I left behind.

    There is a place for Sye’ apologetic, as Paul did against the various civil rulers of his day, and parents have failed miserably in the this area (I do not believe this is a ‘church’ issue. But failing parental guidance it could be supplementary.)

    Lyndon, not much more to add here. What I said originally stands: Preach Christ and Him crucified (in all humility).

    Do not let trolls keep you away from writing…

    M. Howard Kehr

  12. Well this seemed kind of like JMac’s welcome back this past summer. I think you would have had a better reception of you had gone against the Fathers.

    So much for Sola Scriptura I guess.

    • I’m sorry but I’m not sure I’m tracking.

      I’m guessing you’re alluding to the Scottish “prophet” but what’s that about “the Fathers?”

      Also, did I somehow abandon the Scripture or something?

      • Sorry, I was rather cryptic. I was noting how the reaction to you disagreeing on a point of interpretation with Bahnsen et al was more vigorous than it likely would have been had you disagreed with the church fathers on a similar matter of interpretation. And I was especially noting how it seems that many, though reformed in name, have nevertheless created their own de facto authoritative tradition, thus effectively abandoning Sola Scriptura.

        I really appreciated this post though. I too had questioned the common interpretation of this verse, but have not had the time or ability to study it very deeply.

  13. Wow the comment section got…interesting.
    Good post and what I appreciated is how you point us to see the larger picture of what’s going on contextually. It’s important to take a step back and see the bigger picture of what’s going on. I also appreciate your point also that this verse isn’t a justification to beat down someone talking about the account of logic and not share the Gospel (which is an apologetic itself).
    I’m just thinking aloud, while I agree with you that Proverbs 26:4-5 main point and meaning isn’t to give us a fully orbed Transcendental Argument, would you say it does have any implication for how we deal with fools in the arena of apollogetics? I’m thinking of this in light of the fact that I’m guilty myself of not considering this passage more contextually when I cited it in my thesis.

  14. Hmm. When I encounter fools (all who reject the gospel and many who accept it) I demonstrate interest, and care. No throwing up on them with the Gospel before I even know them. Now I grant if you find open air preaching to be effective in whatever culture you engage well then the gospel is the very power of god and his complete provision for their sin.

    But in the US, few find the Bible to be credible. And sharing from a book that is not credible is a waste of time. But getting to know them, loving them in ways that are mean flu to them, and listening to their story seems helpful. The HS seems to highlight the worldview cracks and the emotional damage that they are blaming God for.

    After a month or two when they feel safe (with regular prayer for the HS to soften the soil) they often will invite me into these places of wreckage. I approach cautiously. They expect Christians to only want to be interested in converting them to our worldview. But I gently point out some inconsistencies and the ask if they are interested in continuing the discussion.

    “It seems to me that…,” “on that view don’t you have this problem,” “my current thinking on the matter is …,” are helpful phrases to engage in a gentle conversation. Philosophy, apologetics, and a timely delivery of the gospel are necessary. But those prerequisites are usually mastered early in Evangelical life.

    Demonstrating love and care for as long as it takes (I have one individual who I have been reaching out to since 1981) seems lacking.

    My presupposition is that if The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, so too can I be patient doing the work of the evangelist.

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