For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1:16 (ESV)
It is so much easier to write about sneaky squid spirits and people commanding legions of angels for financial breakthrough. Those are what we refer to as low hanging fruit. Behind the scenes however are more innocent appearing teachings that are more insidious because they seem so innocuous. The average Christian sees these stories and rolls right past them because they seem so innocent or inconsequential in nature but they reveal the damage done by the poor NAR theology infecting the church today. I do not know Pastor Bobby Conway and make no claim of ill intent. I will assume he was well intended when he wrote the above linked article. It is however yet another attempt at the usurpation of God's power. It is the sin of Lucifer. It is the sim of Eve. To be like God. Let us reason together once more.
The sin of Lucifer was his desire to set his throne above the Most High. Lucifer wanted to be God but the job was taken. The result of this rebellion was him being cast out of heaven. Fast forward to the Garden of Eden and we see Satan tempting Eve with the exact same sin. Eat this fruit and you will be like God. Fast forward to today and we see many modern heresies following the same sin pattern. Word Faith teaching says that our spoken word has the same power to create that God's spoken word does. It does not. False signs and lying wonders seek to usurp the miracle powers of God. So the notion that man would seek to usurp that which belongs to God is quite old. What is in discussion today is a very simple concept by Pastor Conway. He is teaching that in order to reach this generation, the evangelist needs training in apologetics. Sounds simple. Sounds reasonable. It is not beloved. Let us see what Pastor Conway briefly had to say:
"Former pastor Dr. Bobby Conway, known as "The One-Minute Apologist" on YouTube, breaks down why it's so crucial for pastors to help their church understand apologetics in the context of evangelism. Essentially the art of defending our faith, apologetics goes much deeper in that it also requires us to know the culture we're trying to reach." -- Charisma News
Let's start with simple definitions. Evangelism is obviously sharing the Gospel, also known as the Great Commission. Missionaries are evangelists. Street preachers are evangelists. Apologetics is the art of defending our faith. It is an intellectual discourse. Great apologists often debate atheists for example. They know how to answer the great six-day creation debate. They know how to answer the criticism of minor inconsistencies between Gospels. They understand how biblical acceptance of texts far exceeds that of other established historical contexts. Apologists have a crucial role within the body and anyone who is saved would benefit greatly from apologetics teachings. Primarily to defend their own faith when it is attacked by the world and the devil. Prior to salvation however? Therein lies the rub.
'"We can't reach this culture the way we did in the '50s," Conway says. "The culture used to share the values [of] the church. Now, the culture has legalized what became our material that the Holy Spirit used to convict people of sin. ...' -- Charisma News
The NAR has often used this refrain to justify many of their unbiblical teachings and practices. That this generation is just too difficult to reach with the Gospel alone. That is simply put -- garbage. There is nothing special about this generation from one a hundred years ago other than access to information. The second NAR talking point is this notion that back in the 50's and before, the culture shared the values of the church. No they did not. Perhaps they behaved differently. Perhaps sin was less obvious because there was no social media or Internet. It is silly to think that the unsaved people of the 1950s shared the church's values more than the unsaved people of today. That is a dangerous mindset. The hell that the unsaved in 1955 faced is the same hell that the unsaved of today face. There remains only one thing that can deliver them and that is the Gospel. Once again, therein lies the rub.
'"We have to go out, meeting the culture where they are. Not jumping out and immediately giving a defense, but doing a little concessional apologetics--'I can't imagine what it would be like to have same-sex attraction; I can't understand what it must feel like to be told to submit when you're in a culture of feminism and you've had these types of ideologies.'"' -- Charisma News
The third NAR core teaching espoused is this notion that we have meet people where they are at. This refrain is used to justify the watering down of the Gospel message and the allowance of seeker friendly elements into the church. Look at what Conway is proposing here. Giving credibility and justification to one's sin is not evangelism. The larger sin problem here is one usurpation of God's power. You see salvation is a supernatural act of God alone. The key verse specifically states that only the Gospel has the power of God unto the salvation of man. Consider these verses as well:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -- Romans 10:14-17 (ESV)
Our job in salvation is to preach the Gospel -- not defend it. While I hope Conway's intentions are benign they are the end result of a lot of poor NAR teaching. We cannot intellectually convince someone to be saved. It does not work like that. In that world, we are God. This is the same mistake made last year by mega-heretic Andy Stanley. He realized that most of the kids he sent off to college came back as atheists once they faced the world and scientific reason. The reason their faith failed was because they did not have saving faith of course. They attended a church that did not preach the Gospel, which is required for salvation. Instead they attended pizza parties and watched veggie tales. Then they went to college and when their peers and professors mocked them, they sided with the world. Quite frankly, they could have used some apologetics training before going off to college but it would not have mattered if they were not actually saved. Andy's conclusion however was that he needed to stop preaching Christian faith based upon the inerrancy of scripture and instead started teaching to convince people that Christianity was legit by way of historical facts. Ugh.
Either God is God and He can do what He said He can do or He is not. I do not blame a heretic like Stanley who does not grasp the power of the Gospel to begin with. For the rest of us though we must realize our role in the grand scheme is to evangelize with the Gospel alone. It does not need to be watered down, sugared up, made relevant, or accompanied with intellectual arguments. God draws. God saves. Just like Lucifer and Eve had to discover the hard way -- the job is filled already. God is not giving up His throne, nor His glory. We should be honored that He chooses to use us in any capacity.