In this chapter Guinness begins by pointing out that Christendom has enemies from without and also from within. Enemies from within the ranks are responsible for heretical doctrines and a syncretism that undermines the Faith once delivered to the saints and are unfaithful to the LORD of the Church. These are responsible for weakening the church through their anti-intellectual bent and their abhorrence of the apologetic enterprise (pg.211).
These heretics Guinness calls revisionists who essentially imbibe the cultural climate of the day, and what’s in vogue is promoted (I.e., the culture determines truth, not Scripture). Now, more than ever, the church needs Christian advocacy with the prophetic spirit of St. Paul, Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, etc. who are radically Bible-centered using the best arguments available to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
It’s time for prophetic courage to say what’s not popular and declare what the culture views as passé. Unfortunately, many Christians in the past and presently scorn apologetics for good reasons, but in so doing have thrown out the baby with the proverbial bath water. They have unwittingly weakened the bride of Christ by deriding some members of the Body of Christ (See 1 Cor.12).
Apologetics has fallen on hard times and negatively viewed such that instead of persuading with the Gospel we are only to proclaim it, instead of defending the faith we are called to dialogue about the faith (Pgs.212-215). Unfortunately, these divisions of duty are contrary to Scripture (Mt.28:18-20; 1 Pet.3:15; Jude 3) and rather than strengthening believers have left them vulnerable and ineffective in their being salt and light (Mt.5:13-16).
Guinness says the two major objections to apologetics are that it has first, trumped the authority of the preached word and second, that it has been used to grieve the Holy Spirit. Where that charge obtains, it should be corrected and not be tolerated. But let us not kid ourselves that only apologetics is guilty here. I contend that unlike apologetics; inept preaching, unbiblical leadership, finite power struggles among believers, petty rivalries and more, have often stripped the church from coming under the Scriptures authority and has grieved the Holy Spirit perhaps more than apologetics.[i]
The sad reality is that through abandoning the apologetic enterprise the church has been left weak a defenseless: it’s weak because it does not understand the power of the Gospel and it’s defenseless because it does not know how to fight darkness with arguments wedded to prayer. Said defenselessness has permitted the revisionist’s (I.e., the heretics within the church) to denude Christianity from its historic roots and Scriptural authority.
This denuding has come in the guise of liberal theology that’s not challenged but assumed to be true. Assumptions like; what’s new is good and true, but what’s old and traditional is false and bad, what is left of the traditional is adapted to bend to the spirit of the age and is assimilated in the syncretism of culture such that the Christendom which remains is a shadow of the reality (pgs.222-226).
Revisionists betray the LORD of the Church and weaken His Bride not with a kiss, but through a pen, as they twist the meaning of Scripture and suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness, not only to their own destruction but also to those who hear them. This is serious business, not a joke. Thus the apologist must speak to the maladies outside the church but also combat those within her ranks.
[i] I say perhaps more but actually more is closer to reality. Too many professing Christians I’ve observed are lazy and don’t read the Scriptures much less in context, making them less inclined to seriously make disciples and to engage the spiritual warfare we are in with arguments (2 Cor:4:3-4; 2 Cor.10:1-5) and prayer (Eph.6) which was Jesus’ and Paul’s practice.