What Is Polemics

by Richard Haas

images (1)Followers of Jesus Christ have been ridiculed, harassed, persecuted, and scorned since the days of the original apostles of Jesus. While today, true Bible-believing Christians are still attacked by secular sources such as atheists and various religious groups like the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons. Christians and Christianity face even a greater attack from an unexpected source.  This attack comes from within the body of the Christian church at large. Due to the rise of false teachings and teachers, extra-biblical concepts and the lack of proper discernment being taught Bible-believing Christians are under attack more and more today from within “Christianity” than from without.

Hence, the need for polemics.  Until recently the art of polemics has been taught, cherished and used effectively throughout the church for centuries dating back to the original Apostles.  With the rise of “Modern American Christianity,” it is only in the last 75 to 100 years that the theology of polemics has been slowly eliminated those who use it are scorned at.

So what is polemics?  In the simplest and most straightforward terms polemics the proper word for discernment. A polemicist is a person who practices discernment by implementing the Word of God as their authority on all matters.  Properly done polemics always derive from a Biblical Worldview and the Word of God. In polemics unlike apologetics (read What is Apologetics?) we are making an inward defense of our faith, rooting out false teachings and false teachers within the body of the church.  A polemicist duty is to point out false teaching and teachers while warning others in the body of Christ about said teaching or teacher.

Sadly, in today’s church culture the polemicists and polemics are looked upon as causing unneeded controversy and even harm to the body of Christ.  However, it is every Christians job just as we are all apologists for Christ we are also all polemicists for Christ.  Scripture makes this clear in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”