Macro and Micro Apologetics
The primitive church produced apologists early on to defend the faith. They had a twofold outreach. First they protected the church from insidious doctrines that were brought in, then they gave an answer to those outside in the Roman empire who considered the Christian's atheists because they would not acknowledge Caesar.
Macro Apologetics is outward, reaching those outside the church, the religions and cults, it is general apologetics.
Micro apologetics is inward. It is protection for inside the church and it takes far more commitment and boldness to refute the error among the saints. This is more accurately name polemics. Today the church is mostly prevented from doing this because the leaders do not want to have watchman and active discernment among the saints to be informed of all the winds of doctrine taking place. In the technological age of the Internet and TV, heresies are able to spring up and catch on faster than any other time in history. Consider what happened with Lakeland and how it was quickly distributed all over the world through God TV. While these movements called revivals cannot be prevented, they can be answered, if allowed.
Macro Apologetics intent is to effect unbelievers become Christian which means we need to strengthen our answers that we can have a greater influence in the world. To see the church grow we need to understand the trends as well as the belief systems of philosophy and religions.
Micro apologetics is to prevent flawed, distorted teaching or rank heresy from spreading among the true church. Both are necessary for the health of the church, in fact some see micro apologetics (polemics) as more essential as the days of apostasy grows and the light is diminished.
Scripture is presented as proactive or reactive.
1) Refuting error is reactive, Israel’s prophets, for the most part were reactive to the situations that presented themselves to the King and the nation.
2) In the New Testament the book of Galatians is reactive; Jude is proactive, warning and preventing error from taking root inside the church.
The majority of Jesus’ teachings were correcting the religious error of the Pharisees that influenced the people. It was both reactive and proactive. To say that Jesus never judged or rebuked is to change the gospel accounts of his daily life. He did not back down from challenges of false beliefs but exercised wisdom to get his point across to those who disputed him and to those who listened around them.
Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit states, Titus 2:15: “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.” Today one needs to be bold to speak up when it is necessary, and care less for their reputation than the people they are protecting.
Paul writes to his disciple Timothy (2 Tim. 4:2-5) “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
As a pastor one must have a gift to teach, to shepherd, to protect. Apologetics is an essential part of the work of an evangelist. Beware of evangelists that are concerned more with unity of churches and numbers, or money, than giving answers to those who are inquisitive or searching. An evangelist is to also reaffirm the gospel to the saved so they do not drift.
Pastors will sometimes mention false teachers but lack explanations on why they are wrong. They expect people to believe them because they are the pastor. To a certain extent, this will suffice, but for those who are able to think things through and are discerning, they want to know more, why they believe something is wrong, they need answers, not just a warning. This is why a consistent apologetics ministry in the church is necessary, it helps equip the pastor and the people. It gives them confidence to witness. This becomes an even greater need in the end when apostasy is increasing.
1 Tim. 6:20-21: “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge-- by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.”
Unfortunately, too many Pastors reject apologetics and they suffer because of it. Sheep are removed or caught in movements because the Pastor[s] do not know that it is unsafe.
Many pastors have no idea what apologetic ministries go through daily to defend the faith. There is a constant onslaught of challengers as well as people looking for answers. To say it’s not an easy task is an understatement. It’s by the grace of God, who called those to this ministry to continue to expose and explain the heresy that wants to attach itself and remove members of the church.
Titus 1:10-13 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith”
Being an independent thinker is not welcomed in the secular world nor is it in the church. However, this is what true apologetics and polemics consist of. Strange or new doctrines must be questioned. Those involved must have only one allegiance, to Jesus Christ and His word, not to any man, ministry or church tradition. As Christian Apologist Walter Martin, who brought the countercult apologetic ministry into daily use said, “Controversy for the sake of controversy is sin Controversy for the sake of truth is divine command.” If we are true to what Jesus said we must take a stand against blatant error. If you cannot think the arguments through and surmise them from the various angles you cannot defend the doctrines of the faith and will not be a good apologist. You will actually open yourself to be influenced to heresy because you are constantly studying what they teach.
May you remember those called and pray this for all those on the front lines keeping the wolves out of the flock…
2 Thess. 3:1-3: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.”