Anyone who has been in the apologetics endeavor knows that there is always the need to properly define apologetics to both the Believer and the non-believer. 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.
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 aren’t doing any evangelism/discipleship.
Second, I agree that it’s true that evidence can become an idol. The object of my faith is not reasons nor evidence. Instead, the object of my faith is God/Jesus. So while reasons and evidence support my trust in God/Jesus, it doesn’t 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 religious experience won’t go very far once we get out into the culture. But part of his work is to help the Christian grow in their critical thinking skills. Many of us as Christians want a robust 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.
This past week, I had three people make the same comment about the need for apologetics in the Church. All three of them have come of our apologetics meetings on a major college campus. They have asked me the same questions: “How come the Church doesn’t teach apologetics?” “Where was this in my youth?” One of them has allowed me to share her comments here. I will keep her identity anonymous. This individual attended our James Warner Wallace event and some of our meetings this year. This is what she said:
“I watched my ex boyfriend fall for this internet atheist stuff, and then wanted to become one of these “enlightened” jerks and spread the word to others. You know, so those Christians could be “free.” He showed it to me unexpectedly (I had no idea what these documentaries were) and it caused me massive sadness and pain. I was raised Christian but I knew nothing about these types of questions. I fell apart. And I would gladly have done the work to find the answers if only I knew there were even answers out there. But God pulled me back in and I went back to church and the Lord brought me to apologetics. I know for a fact that this is essential to the vitality of the church right now. The church has become nothing more than emotional highs, feelings, and an upsetting amount of “dumbing down” for the average Christian. We need to intercept these deceivers and show other Christians that there are answers out there. People make fun of Christians and call them stupid, and we get used to that. But this is not okay. My intention when I talk to someone is not to degrade them, it is to make them embarrass *themselves* and be exposed as the con artists that they are. Stopping them is defending our faith. We have to set an example for Christians to educate themselves so this stuff stops. There is no other solution for a generation that gets all of its answers on a Google search or wiki page.”
Interestingly enough, well known Christian apologist Josh McDowell said the following about the internet:
“The Internet is weakening Christian witness and “we better wake up to it because it’s just beginning.” McDowell added that his greatest asset, value-wise, used to be his time until a year and a half ago. “My greatest asset now is my focus. There is so much out there just one click away, what am I going to focus on?” See full article here:
So after reading this, I want you to notice something: the individual who said they saw the need for apologetics said they went back to a local church. Thus, It was the local church along with apologetics (I would probably assume prayer and some other things as well), that made a profound difference. So the lesson here is that apologetics is not the only brick in a Christian’s foundation. However, it is an essential brick and it is needed more than ever. Also, see my article called Why Does Opposition to Apologetics Come From Mostly Within the Church?