Often met with disdain by both atheist and believer alike, the practice of giving reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something or apologetics, is like the downtrodden, stepped on step-child of theology. Many atheists view it as incompatible with religion due to its attempts to use rational arguments, which is believed to be antithetical to the concept of faith. Christians who dislike it feel it devalues the power of faith. I think both claims are false. The blind-stubborn-dogmatism-in-the-face-of-evidence connotation of the word is incorrect and non-biblical. This erroneous definition is actually the illegitimate one that doesn’t belong in theology, and apologetics is the rightful member of the family. I’m more than aware that I just asserted this, and I will provide more buttressing but alas, in a later post.
I will now proceed to continue to bash the church. Yes, I’m going to rip on religion fairly vigorously in this post. It has come to my attention how Christians are viewed in the secular world. It’s not good. It’s really frightening. We are dubbed as primitive, delusional, dumb, inarticulate morons who are looking more and more unfit for a modern society. I definitely don’t mean all secularists think this, but there is a rapidly growing number of highly belligerent atheists fueled by the words of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are calling for our heads…well, not just quite yet. LET ME BE CLEAR HERE, I’m not saying that this grotesque future alluded to is a certainty or even a strong possibility. But the description the New Atheist movement spearheaded by men like Dawkins and Hitchens have graciously bestowed upon us is just one step above being called sub-human. And what happens when a group of people believes another to be inferior? I’ll let history do the talking. Again, this is most likely the remotest of futures, but it is something to be wary of. A part of me actually hopes atheists read this and get slightly miffed at me for even offering such an idea because in getting incited, it shows they are opposed to such a thing occurring.
They are probably becoming a little peeved at the fact I haven’t I criticized the church like I promised just a paragraph earlier. Well, here it is…the church is largely culpable for this current portrayal of Christians. Sure, Dawkins and Hitchens ignited the fire, but the church has provided enough tinder to coax their flames. The church has severely failed in educating its practitioners on what it means to be a Christian and what actually our theology is, and in doing so, has opened the door for apostasy. When a Christian child comes to her mother or father and asks why does God allow evil, and the parent either rebukes him or her, dismisses the question, or just says “you got to just have faith,” it sows the seeds for anger against the church/organized religion and subsequent abandonment of belief. Christians must be able to respond to these questions because, and not to get overly dramatic here, but we are in the fight for our lives as a demographic of people who are forfeiting their voice in a democracy. We are becoming less and less recognized as a contributing and meaningful part of society. What’s worse is that the Bible actually prescribes us to be able to defend out faith. “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” ~ 1 Peter 3:15. Not to mention Paul, who is sort of big deal in our faith, also debated people about the truth of Christianity after his conversion on the road to Damascus. So epic fail indeed, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Indeed.
I’d like to emphasize the last part of 1 Peter 3:15. It’s just as important as the rest of the verse to engage in apologetics with “gentleness and respect.” Apologetics is only as effective as the manner it is practiced in. If you arrogantly and malevolently argue with people, even if your arguments are sound, they will never be persuaded to even consider your worldview, and your infuriating bedside manner will just leave them more stubbornly opposed to you and Christianity.
Apologetics isn’t a form of evangelism either and shouldn’t be used thusly. It may pave the way for it by removing the barriers erected against the Gospel from taking hold, but nothing else. Remember, apologetics is just the wrecking ball and not the actual constructors of the planned building. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.
Therefore, hopefully, I think I’ve laid a compelling case as to why apologetics must become a more integral part to our faith. As a body of believers, we must meet the secularist on his or her own terms, and apologetics is the best and only way to accomplish such a goal.