A few months back, I was in a conversation which was started by someone quoting Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces (Matthew 7:6). The question was asked what bearing this verse might have concerning the “apologist mill” or the professional apologist and his choice of how he does his work.
My first response is a working through of the imagery: At the risk of overactive typology, dogs were animals which were unclean. Gentiles were called dogs, even by Jesus (Matthew 15:26). Pigs were animals which were clean on the outside (cloven hoofs) but unclean on the inside (do not chew cud) so more represent the outwardly religious. Their actions were not just ignorance of the value of pearls, but after trampling them they turn and attack the one who offered the pearls to them. In either instance, we have the example of Jesus who still gave bread – bread which the children rejected – to the dog (Matthew 15:27). Plus, we have his constant interaction with the Pharisees who trampled his offer and attacked him.
As for the “Apologetics mills”, it really makes you think about what it is you are trying to accomplish. As one participant said, part of the reason to argue is for the benefit of the observers who may be open to the message. Neither dogs nor pigs appreciate what is holy. Jesus’ image is that they despise what is holy. We are to be ready to “give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15), but that is in the context of every Christian living their life in hope. I’m not sure it justifies a special class of apologetic-mongers.
Interactions went on over the (I think exaggerated) thought that so few Christians are “ready to give an answer” and that the wish is that all Christians be apologists. I added: Rethinking the “professional Apologist” issue. We know that the Spirit gives differing gifts for the building up of the Body (Ephesians 4:12) and I think there may be in that context a “gift” and ability – one which not everybody has – to gather and to present apologia for the faith. So those who do not have this should not look down on those who do and neither should those who do look down on those who don’t (1 Corinthians 12). We are all one Body.
The concern I have is really that those who do not think they have “The Gift” decide what they have is irrelevant and they must rely, and/or defer, and/or find one who does have “The Gift”. An example I have used before is a church I went to which on Sunday morning the pastor was preaching through a then popular Christian Living book, the Sunday school was going through a video series, the Sunday evening was another video series and Wednesday was another Christian Living book. They are good and all, but was there no one in that church with a teaching gift? Was there no one with a Word? The reliance on the “professionals” – no matter how profound their teaching gift may be – cripples the local church. When Jesus builds his church, he does so even on the local level distributing gifts as he sees fit (1 Corinthians 12:11).
Everybody be ready. God in wisdom has placed you where you are and makes you sufficient as a minister of the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:5,6)