August 4, 2008

Biblical Literacy vs. Apologetics: Responding to Kobusingye (Pea)

Last week, I was made aware of a blog post written by Kobusingye (also known as Pea) on our YouTube video series "The Challenge of Cults in East Africa." Unfortunately, the entire WordPress blog site has been taken down, but you can still find Pea's post here. In any case, I wanted to take the opportunity to interact with Pea's critique of ACFAR (and since I don't know whether Pea is a man or a woman, I will use the generic "he" when referring to this blogger).

First, I appreciate Pea's willingness to think through the role of apologetics in the Christian life. He correctly points out the common problem of biblical illiteracy in Africa and is looking for a God glorifying solution. Thus, it is with respect to my co-laborer in Christ that I must disagree with his reasoning and conclusion.

The center of Pea's argument is maintaining that biblical literacy rather than apologetics is the solution to Africa's cult problem. However, in doing so he has misunderstood the relationship between biblical literacy and apologetics. Defending the faith comes out of biblical literacy. So, to learn apologetics is to become biblically literate. Christians cannot defend God's truth unless they first know God's truth.

Additionally, Pea says that we must devote ourselves to God's truth without bothering to learn about error. But this conclusion is simply unbiblical. The Apostle Paul wrote to Titus that church leaders must "be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it" (Titus 1:9). How can church leaders rebuke those who contradict God's truth without knowing what these false teachers are claiming? As a matter of fact, Pea has learned some Jehovah's Witnesses doctrine since in his article he points out their denial of the deity of Jesus Christ.

Pea also seems to adopt a "me-and-my-Bible-are-enough" approach to our faith. But we must not forget that Christ never intended for us to live out our spiritual lives by ourselves or to fight for our faith alone. He has given us His body, the church, with brothers and sisters in Christ to work together in advancing His kingdom. This is where books and resources can be helpful. Believers are able to share their God-given insights with others in these materials, allowing many followers of Christ to grow in their faith and to avoid error. Can books lead to forgetfulness of the Main Book? Sure. But this is due to the sinful tendencies in one's heart, not the result of simply learning through books themselves.

Pea closes his critique by asserting that East Africa does not need a center for apologetics research. He writes, "To tell me Biblical Literacy is impossible without a Research Centre is the same as Juanita Bynum saying she cannot pray for the nations until and unless the church donates $200,000 for her to build a threshing floor to pray on. It's a little too ridiculous for me." While I would never claim that biblical literacy is impossible in Africa without ACFAR, I nevertheless hope that African believers will see the value of having a place to go where they can learn more about responding to the cults and false teachings that regularly challenge their faith. May God use our ministry to further biblical literacy and to defend His truth!