The Necessity of Apologetics

In 5 Minute Apologist: Maximum Truth In Minimum Time by Rick Cornish, William Dembski in the introduction provides a fascinating call for the importance of apologetics for all Christians.

Rational argument used to be an ally of the Christian faith. In particular, it was thought that sound reason and powerful evidence supported the key claims of Christianity. If people rejected these teachings, it was assumed they weren’t thinking clearly, and not, as we now suppose, that their heads were telling them one thing and their hearts another. It’s worth remembering that until two centuries ago most people in the West saw the Resurrection of Jesus in historically the same light as other events of antiquity, such as the murder of Julius Caesar. The Resurrection and Caesar’s murder were both regarded as equally factual and historical. Unfortunately, in the two hundred years since the Enlightenment, Christians have steadily retreated from seeing their faith as rationally compelling. Instead of being apologia for the faith, we have become apologetic about it. We tend to think that the reasons or rejecting Christianity are at least as strong as those for accepting it. After all, so many smart people now reject the faith. Moreover, these skeptics have developed a veritable arsenal for dismantling the Christian faith, everything from biblical criticism, which purports to show that the Bible cannot be trusted, to advances in modern science, which some use to claim that God’s role in nature is dispensable.

As a consequence, many Christians now take a dim view of apologetics, dismissing it as merely “arguing people into faith.” But this misses the point. Arguments, in the sense of sustained reasoned reflection, can be vehicles for either helping bring about faith or destroying it. Many young people, as they go off to school, lose their faith because they are presented with arguments declaring that Christianity is false. Sound arguments that show the reasonableness of Christianity can be of immense help to struggling students trying to determine whether their faith is true. Yes, our salvation is ultimately due to the grace of God. But every act of divine grace presupposes the means of grace by which God makes His grace real to us. Christian apologetics is one such means of grace.

As a means of divine grace, apologetics cannot be blithely dismissed as something Christians can safely ignore. Indeed, throughout Scripture, Christians are enjoined to defend the faith through rational argument. Thus, Peter urged, “Always be ready to make your defense [apologia] to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, NRSV). Likewise, Paul understood his own ministry as constituting a defense [apologia] and confirmation [bebaiosis] of the Gospel” (Philippians 1:7, NRSV). The Greek apologia denotes a legal defense, and the Greek bebaiosis means verification or proof.

The Roman statesman Seneca observed, “If you want a man to keep his head when crisis comes, you must give him some training before it comes.” Our secular culture breeds many a crisis of faith. It is common for young people who are enthusiastic about serving God to leave home, get exposed to faulty teaching, and turn away from the truth of Christianity. People need to be equipped to handle the assaults on heart and mind that they encounter at school, in the workplace, on television, and just about everywhere they look.



About adoption through propitiation

I like theology. And I love my wife Katie. Enjoy my blog. View all posts by adoption through propitiation

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