Let's Go Logging
T.D. Higgins is a member of Reformed Baptist Church of Elizabethtown, KY.
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matt. 7:5, AV)
Once upon a time, I was caught in the allure of internet apologetics. This idea has been religiously promoted among the "reformed camp," especially among men of my age (under 30s). The celebrities of conservative Christendom are no longer pastors in the true sense of the word; they are internet sensations. They are men who have redefined the term "apologetics" to suit their own needs. The Greek word behind our word "apologetics'' means "give an answer", or "give a defense." But in popular internet usage, it has come to mean "launch an attack." In Scripture, this idea of giving a defense is typically directed toward unbelievers. We are to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us to those who are outside the Christian camp. But in modern usage, it is often associated with attacking the views of other Christians. This is the aspect of modern internet theology that I have, in all sincerity, come to utterly despise.
These attacks typically consist of two characteristics: they are usually focused on secondary or tertiary issues, and they consist solely in passing judgment upon others. Not all judging is bad judging (contrary to popular secular appeals to Matt. 7:1), and it is true that some of the commentary offered by internet apologists is centered around primary gospel issues. More often than not, however, that is not the case. One clear example of this, based upon my own personal experience, is regarding the hotly contested textual controversy. There are men on both sides who have fallen into dangerous territory in their speech. On one hand, some modern textual critical advocates deride those who hold to a traditional view (whether majority text or received text) as King James Only heretics. On the other hand, there are those in the traditional camp who call John MacArthur (who has been a valiant pastor since before I was born) a heretic because he does not agree with their particular view. This issue of the text is important; but it is a secondary issue.
The idea of modern "apologetics" (in quotes because it is rarely the biblical usage of the term in modern times) is so appealing because it takes the focus off of ourselves. It is easy and comfortable to focus on the mote that is in our brother's eye. The hard thing to do is to first concern ourselves with the logs in our own eyes. Instead of being quick to point out the faulty view of our fellow Christians, we should be quick to find and remove the beams that hinder our own vision. Rather than asking, "Why is John MacArthur wrong on the issue of text," I ought to be first asking myself, "What idols still have their high places in my heart?" One thought more than any other has led me away from listening to celebrity "apologists": I cannot recall any time when a popular internet apologist has publicly confessed sin and repented. This reveals a lack of introspection, a lack of examining our eyes for logs.
New years always begin with new resolutions. This year, let us be resolved to first cast out the beams that are in our eyes, before looking to the mote in our brother's eye. Helping our brothers and sisters in Christ remove those obstacles which hinder their vision of Christ is an essential Christian duty. But we can only do so properly and lovingly if our own vision is actively being cleared of debris. So, brethren, let us go logging this year.