How Many Times Must You Bring a Horse to Water?

I get numerous questions sent in. Most emailers are polite and respectful but a few are full of anger and express hatred towards any who do not support their own view of the Bible...

It is said that 'you can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink.' The Christian Apologetics writer has to face this frustration regularly.

S ome of you, perhaps most of you, will know that my wife and I originally came out of a seventh day observance background. It was only after much study of Scripture, of early church history, many sleepless nights and quite a bit of agonising that I finally had to admit that the whole typical 'seventh day' theological approach is wrong; actually, well-meaning though it usually is, it is flawed to the core, forcing Jesus to play 'second fiddle' to the law.

Perhaps it is because many know our background that quite a few seventh-day type people come to our website. Now, I get questions, of course, on all sorts of Christian/Scriptural/theological issues every single month but the 'seventh-dayers' certainly form one typical questioner group (among several others). Some of these are armstrongist, others are clearly SDA folk. I have started to think there must be some sort of giant 'internet arrow' pointing 'seventh-dayers' in our direction!

In general, this is not a very 'open' questioner group; most (admittedly not all) are convinced that they are right and that I am some sort of lapsed and compromised former believer. I have tried giving patient explanation to many of these people but - oftentimes - I don't get too far. This group are also characterised by something else: they will never carefully read anything on any link which I send them. Why carefully read anything if you know you are already right?

Typically most of the questions which these people put to me are heavily Old Testament and Ten Commandment based. Jesus Christ will almost never get mentioned. The truth is that many of these people have never grasped the difference between the Old and New Covenants; they accept what I call the 'continuous covenant' error; that is, that Jesus and the New Testament must be added to the old covenant, rather than accepting that Jesus came to offer something far better, with the mosaic covenant now being set aside, or annulled. This part these people never seem to 'get.' This means that such people - sincere though most of them are - will ask quite earnest questions about verses in books like Leviticus, Numbers, Judges and Jeremiah. For them, nothing is lost in authority within the Old Testament by the coming of the Lord Jesus. The reason they ask these sorts of questions is that the seventh day groups get very inferior and flawed teaching. Christ is always demoted (although these people will never admit to this), Old Testament law commands loom large to them, and Justification by Works is the teaching (rather than Justification by Faith), again, most of these people seem completely blind to this fact.

These people almost always have a literalistic, legalistic and sensationalist view of the Book of Revelation too since their views usually come from various seventh-day extremist prophecy teachers such as William Miller, Ellen G. White or Herbert W. Armstrong. One may point out that such teachers have led many thousands of sincere people astray and point to Christ. A few take the pure water on offer, but others turn away. They accept the adventuristic approach to prophecy (largely a 19th century American phenomenon) which separates prophecy from the Bible itself in an attempt to align it with 19th/20th century "end times" as viewed from a western perspective. One can point out that the early church usually did not have such a view of prophecy and of the apocalyptic writings at all but not usually get too far. At least I always know where they are coming from, lamentably this does not necessarily make it any easier to get through to them.

Other Typical Visitor Groups

Okay, I have mentioned the 'seventh-dayers,' but there are other regular question-asking types. By the way, don't get me wrong, most of those who ask Bible questions are polite and sincere, I am looking here at a minority who always seem to feel that they have all the answers yet will make a real effort to take up hours of my time (if I let them). A second prominent group have no confidence in God, they are hyper-arminian. They think God calls people but then is prepared to suddenly turn his back on these people when they don't measure up - and how many of us do constantly measure-up? I really find it hard to 'get' this group. The real problem is that they don't believe God. When I tell them that they certainly can count on God and on His promises, they turn rude and abusive against me; they hate the entirely biblical doctrine of Eternal Security with a rare passion. I show them the relevant Scriptures and ask them to read them carefully and without prejudice. But they are already in an entrenched position and have no intention of shifting. What can one do? Recently one such questioner compared me to Satan; nice people aren't they?

A third group just love the teaching of evolution. They say that they are Christians yet then amaze me by stating their admiration for both Charles Darwin and sometimes even arch-atheist Richard Dawkins. This is another group that I just don't 'get.' They seem to want to keep a foothold in two different camps, two camps which are bound to be in opposition to each other. To quote an old saying, 'they like to run with the hares and the hounds!' They will say things like, "Mr Darwin was surely a very fine and clever man; it's just that we Christians misunderstood him." That, with all due respect, is just pure nonsense! A few of these people claim to be believers, yet support the 'gap theory.' It really bothers me that many of these people are just not getting good biblical teaching in their local churches, so they are left confused on certain issues. What is the 'Gap Theory'? Many people have tried to place a gap of indeterminate time between the first two verses of Genesis chapter 1. There are many different versions as to what supposedly happened in this "gap" of time. Most versions of this theory place millions of years of geologic time (including billions of fossil animals) in between these two first verses of Genesis. However, this seriously undermines the fundamentals of the gospel since it allows for sin, death, disease, and suffering before Adam's sin. Most versions of this theory accept the millions of years dating for the fossil record, thus allowing the fallible theories of modern evolutionary science to determine the meaning of Scripture. Satan is usually believed to have fallen during this supposed period. But any rebellion of Satan during this 'gap' plainly contradicts God's description of His completed creation on day six as all being "very good" (Genesis 1:31).

All versions of the gap theory impose outside ideas on Scripture and thus open the door for further compromise. Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a Scottish theologian and first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, was perhaps the man most responsible for the gap theory, yet the idea, in some shape or form, can be traced back to Episcopius of Holland (1583-1643). In the 19th century, Cyrus Scofield also supported this idea and popularized the idea in the United States. The gap theory was an attempt by Christian theologians to reconcile the time scale of world history found in Genesis with the belief that the world is millions, or billions of years old. It is a woeful and completely unbiblical compromise. So, for this group, the creation from Genesis 1:2 is actually a re-creation since the first one (Genesis 1:1) was irrepairably damaged when Satan fell. The 'gap theory' is plainly 'eisegesis' (that is, reading things into Scripture which are actually foreign to it).

Another group who sometimes 'drop by' are not Christians (in any shape or form), they are very typical modern liberals. They make sneering comments accusing me of being naive, foolish and unsophisticated. They just cannot understand how I could support Christianity which they perceive as being irrational, outdated and only for weak people. They get short shrift from me. I often retort with an attack on their own liberal beliefs, pointing out that they too follow a religion: that of fundamentalist modern secularism.

I Will Continue to Make Myself Open to Challenge...

Most Christian Apologetics websites are not 'open.' That is: they may occasionally answer people's questions but offer no assurance about doing so. A few never do. From the beginning I was determined to have an online ministry in which I would be contactable and open to receiving questions and I intend that to continue. I rejected - and still reject - having a blog site in which visitors could freely post their own comments on-site. Somebody warned me early on of the difficulties of running such a site, especially the continuous need to monitor and supervise comments which would appear and could be abusive and/or lead others astray. But it continues to be the case that I may be - relatively easily - contacted, questioned, and challenged. If the good Lord continues to spare me, that will not change.

Robin A. Brace. October 12th, 2012.