Anyone who has been in the apologetics endeavor knows that there is always the need to properly define apologetics. Every now and then, one objection I hear from my Christian friends is that those who are overly committed to apologetics must be somewhat weak in their faith. In other words, why should a Christian need all this reason and evidence stuff? After all, faith, not reason, is what God requires (Heb. 11:6). And if we are growing in our relationship with God, our faith should be more real than before.
Allow me to respond to this:
First, for those of us that are committed to teaching and learning apologetics are not opposed to faith at all. And it does not mean we are always weak in our faith. The reality is that the first reason (at least for me) that we want to do apologetics is because we want to reach the world for Christ and make disciples (Matt. 28:19). When we set out to do this, we always run into objections to the Christian faith. So I find that one of the main reasons that many Christians are apathetic to apologetics is because they are not doing any evangelism/discipleship.
Second, I agree that it is true that evidence can become an idol. The object of my faith is not reasons or evidence. Instead, the object of my faith is God/Jesus. So while reasons and evidence support my trust in God/Jesus, it does not replace it. I know myself and many others strive for balance.
Third, I understand the appeal to the Holy Spirit as the one gives Christians an overwhelming certainty that Christianity is true. He has an entire ministry in the life of the Christian. And I am forever grateful for his work in my life. But part of his work is to help the Christian grow in their critical thinking skills. Many of us as Christians want a robust, integrated faith that integrates our entire being. In his book,The Opening of the Christian Mind: Taking Every Thought Captive to Christ, author David W. Gill makes a significant comment about this issue:
“ Mindless emotionalism or traditionalism, segmented fragmented lives and ignorance disguised as simple faith are all terrible deformations of Christian discipleship. But so is arid, dry intellectualism. Developing a Christian mind is but one crucial aspect of Christian discipleship.”
Developing the Christian mind is part of our worship to God. I want to try to imitate God. While I don’t always do it, I think it is clear that we see in Scripture that the God of Israel is a rational being, and the principles of good reason do flow from his very nature. If God is a rational being then He created us as rational beings. Therefore, learning the rules of clear and correct reasoning play an integral part in our service to our Lord.
Fourth, when a Christian says that apologists are weak in their faith, it really depends on the context. In their book Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli give a summary of faith of four aspects of faith:
1. Emotional faith: is feeling assurance or trust or confidence in a person. This includes hope (which is much stronger than a wish and peace (which is much stronger then mere calm.).
2. Intellectual faith: is belief. It is this aspect of faith that is formulated in propositions and summarized in creeds.
3. Volitional faith: is an act of the will, a commitment to obey God’s will. This faith is faithfulness, or fidelity. It manifests itself in behavior, that is, in good works.
4. Faith: begins in that obscure mysterious center of our being that Scripture calls the ‘heart.” Heart in Scripture does not mean feeling, or sentiment, or emotion, but the absolute center of the soul, as the physical heart is at the center of the body. “Keep your heart with all viligence” advised Solomon, “for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23).
If a Christian wants to be obedient to the Great Commission (Matt 28:19), they will have to exercise #3. They will have to step out and obey God. The Holy Spirit uses apologetics to create confidence as we step out and share Jesus to a lost and needy world. If you disagree, just read The Book of Acts. I have written about that here.
So in the end, for Christians that say they don’t need that apologetics stuff because they are strong in their faith just need to read the Bible again. The majority of these objections stem from a misunderstanding about what the text teaches about these issues.