“Help from the Maker”
Dear Members and Friends of our ELS:
Delegates to our June synod convention were treated to an essay and devotions centering on the wonders of God’s creation. A verse from Psalm 121 served as our theme for the week: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (verse 2). More than an opportunity for us to reﬂect with thanksgiving and awe on the great goodness of God in calling our world into existence and keeping it functioning, the topic provided another purpose. Behind our selection of the creation motif was an apologetic objective.
Christian apologetics can be loosely deﬁned as giving a defense for what we believe, teach, and confess as Christians based on the clear words of God in the Bible. The aim of apologetics is not “to win an argument,” but to give opportunity for the Word to be heard. We want the individual(s) to see Christ as our loving God and Savior from sin, death, Satan, and hell. Here, of course, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is key. So our observations of creation in light of God’s Word help us “always to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have,” and we pray that God has us do this “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
In relation to creation, we wish to set the stage for the Christian worldview. This way of looking at the universe contrasts sharply with the prevailing theory on how everything evolved over eons of time. To keep the focus on our Creator and Redeemer – Christ Jesus – the Genesis account must be underscored. Otherwise, the fall into sin and the consequential necessity of humanity’s fallen nature to be rescued will not be fathomed or grasped. Presenting what God’s Word states on sin and then on forgiveness, as bought by a promised Savior, is how the Holy Spirit moves hearts to embrace the Christian message.
In our efforts to be true Christian apologists, we constantly need to check that our lives and demeanor support our message. Martin Luther gave this reminder: Since we, as Christians, have the forgiveness of sins and are now the people of God and children of the Kingdom, who
no longer belong to this Babylon but to heaven, we should also know that during the time we are still to live here among strangers we should live godly, honorable, and orderly lives. We should aid in maintaining the common civic and domestic people and by our advice and help serve and beneﬁt even the wicked and ungrateful. Meanwhile, however, we are continually to remember and ponder our inheritance and the Kingdom for which we are destined (cf. E. Plass, What Luther says, no. 669). Within our synod, a specially formed committee is suggesting annual seminars to serve as a workshop for apologetics. The second such seminar occurred this year on the day following the synod convention. The focus was: Making the Case for the Truth of the Bible: Bringing Jesus to My Unbelieving Neighbor.
We look forward to more of these opportunities planned on our Bethany Lutheran College campus. A generous donor has offered a pledge challenge to support the seminars: a $10,000 matching-fund gift to be granted per each of the next two years. If you are interested in contributing, please use this address:
ELS Apologetics Seminar
6 Browns Court
Mankato, MN 56001
Rev. John A. Moldstad, ELS President