Schematic for Biblical Apologia
Every approach for communicating the content of biblical revelation comes under the authority of Scripture itself. There is no such thing as neutrality of method when it comes to teaching, preaching or defending Christian theology. Here I wish to provide a concise proposal for how apologists should carry out the task of defending the Christian worldview as well as refuting views that contradict orthodox Christian doctrine.
Step one – abolish fear. Peter writes this periscope in the face of what appears to be impending persecution. Instead of fearing people, Peter instructs his Christian audience to fear God. [Davids, Peter. I Peter, NICNT, 131]
Step two – set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts. Stiffen your resolve comes into view. Firm up your faith. Focus on Christ as Lord in your heart.
Step three – Be prepared to give a defense of the reason for the hope that is you. The sense is one of urgency. One gets the sense that this pressure is already being applied or they are right on the cusp. The idea is be ready to go into the courtroom of Christian defense now!
Step four – But do so with courtesy and respect. We now come to the “how” of Peter’s instructions. Given the challenge-riposte that was popular in this culture, the Christian might be tempted to render one insult or attack in response to insult and attack as was common in the Mediterranean culture at this time. Peter deals this approach a stunning blow, urging Christians to play the game differently. Now, since the unbelieving crowd isn’t going to be convinced by the power of human reason and sophisticated argument due to his depraved condition, challenge-riposte isn’t going to work to bring people into the Christian group. It would take the power of God through the foolishness of preaching. Peter goes on to say that this responding with courtesy and respect aids in keeping a good conscience toward God and it ends up shaming the antagonists by demonstrating with good works rather than merely rhetorical skill.
The word blaspheme in the Greek is blasphemeo. It appears 34 times in the NT. Blasphemos appears 4 times in the NT. Blasphemia appears 18 times in the NT. When persons are presupposed as objects, it can have the simple meaning, disparage, slander, defame. It also carried the meaning of vile gossip. [EDNT, Vol. I, 220] It shows up in the list of vices in II Tim. 3:2. The range of meaning is abusive language, railing, slander, revile, malign, spoken of as evil, etc. You get the picture. How a person could think that words like “stupid, idiot, moron, bully, bigot, and hypocrite (falsely applied) would not meet this definition is puzzling.