Incarnational vs Informational

Incarnational and informational apologetics are absolutely connected in any successful approach to evangelism.  Before presenting the theological argument for this position, let’s look at the life of Christ for the answer.  He was the very model of the blending of the two approaches.  His informational approach started as a boy in the temple learning and questioning scripture.  (Luke 2:41-52).  He taught continuously from the scriptures in his adult ministries: to the Sadducees, to Jewish leaders, to the Pharisees. (Matt 22:29, Mark 7:8-13, Luke 16:31)  He was very informational in his approach.  Yet he was also the ultimate model of incarnational apologetics as well.  In the end, he died to prove the love of God and rose again to prove the power!  His life on Earth was a continuous practical example of the love of God:  feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, comforting his disciples. (Matt 14:13-21, Luke 4:43-54, John 14:1-4)  He spoke the word, and then lived it, “a perfect blend of both types of apologetics.”  (Wheeler Article, p6) 

The theological argument for the equal blending of the two is well presented by Wheeler.  His example of biblical inerrancy is easy to understand and fully illustrates the point.  If we say that the Bible is the perfect word and live “a life that exemplifies the person of Christ as found in the Bible,” we present to the world a blended picture of the love of God.  From the opposite perspective, if we speak of the truth of the Bible, yet live a life that is inconsistent with those truths, our incarnational message will overshadow our informational message.  Each approach has little value without the other.

Some would argue that just the presentation of the word of God is enough, as”it will never return to me empty.”  (Isa 55:11)  The word definitely plants the seed that the Holy Spirit can water and encourage to grow.  But the life of Christ shows that just preaching or sharing the word is not enough.  He did not just spend his life on Earth speaking. He spent it showing the “balance” of the two approaches.  (Wheeler Article, p4)  As our ultimate example and authority we must follow the path he modeled for us to achieve the full potential of the gospel message.

In summary, to this student both approaches are connected, necessary and required to share the gospel.  Evangelism should be taught from both perspectives.  The informational approach is more obvious, Bible study and basic apologetics approaches.  Evangelism should also be taught as it is presented in this class, as servant evangelism.  As the illustration of Quan shows, this is a powerful approach.  (Wheeler Article, p4)  Teaching one without the other is only half-equipping the next generation of evangelicals. 

A balance is necessary.  Too much preaching or teaching with not enough acting out of the Christian life may seem less genuine.  Servant leadership without the sharing of the word is just cutting grass or cleaning up trash.  Both are necessary.  The balance depends on the situation and needs of the listening non-believer.  This balance should be the guide for our daily lives.  Following the balanced example of Christ should be our earthly goal.


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