The What and Why Behind Apologetics

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 bastard child 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’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.

Blessings,

Modus Pownens

10 thoughts on “The What and Why Behind Apologetics

  1. Hey there Mr. Pownens. I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading through your blog. I have to say as well that while I’m an atheist, you and I are pretty much on the same page about how the church’s very disposition to apologetics and reasoned thinking is playing a significant role in turning away its own membership. I always appreciate when theists take the time to engage and consider their own position, which you seem to be doing with some verve, so thanks for the time you have put into this blog. I look forward to future posts.

    1. Really? Apologetics, as a defense of Christian belief, has interest in indoctrination, as if it has psychological needs of a person? This is a fallacy of hypostatization and again a meaningless yet pernicious claim out of nowhere. What do you hope to accomplish here with this? To provoke me? To what end or purpose?

      If I may do some of my own psychological speculation, I get the impression you fancy yourself a model atheist. But please answer why I should take you seriously when you don’t have a modicum of respect for the Christians who differ from you? You’re doing your fellow atheists a disservice.

      1. Respect for Christians? Hilarious! Truly. Why on earth would you think for one moment you deserve any respect?

        Oh, and if you believe your religion could survive without any sort of apologetics, then make a public pledge on your own blog that you will never proselytize, especially to children,and will actively discourage others from doing so and allow people to come to your religion of their own accord.

        State this and I shall reach through my laptop and metaphorically shake your hand. Such a gestur would be worthy of respect.

        1. “Respect for Christians? Hilarious! Truly. Why on earth would you think for one moment you deserve any respect?”

          Maybe for the classically liberal reason that we’re human, as most people in the Western world recognizes. We’re “all created equal” and have inherent worth and dignity to believe and live how we want. I’m getting the impression you think we’re inherently inferior for just being what we are. You know who also seemingly would agree with you? ISIS. The justification is the same. So is the tribalism. Sure, you might think their Islamic barbarism, e.g., beheadings, crucifixions, go too far, but what’s that pithy phrase you guys like to bandy about? Both you and the Islamists think we should be not be respected; they just take it “further,” i.e., butcher instead of deride, disenfranchise and drive Christianity and Christians from public life for just being Christian. Judging by your attitude and comments, you really just desire to be on ISIS’s “JV team” but just don’t know it. Indeed, hilariously unfunny.

          I believe apologetics are a necessary part of personal faith and for Christianity. I never claimed otherwise. With that said, I don’t believe I have ever proselytized on this medium. That is certainly not my purpose on this blog. I will only cater to your absurd demand that essentially makes me denounce my own religion and fellow Christians for being Christians (Matthew 28: 16-20; Matthew 22: 36-37) if you only make a public pledge on your own respective blog to never argue for atheism and against religion and actively discourage other atheists from doing so, allowing for people, especially your children, to apostatize or choose to be atheists of their own accord. Shall I reach through my laptop and metaphorically shake your hand, as in, do we have a deal?

          As a quibble, you appear to think apologetics and proselytization are one and the same thing. I grant that apologetics can be involved in and complement an act of evangelism, but not always. Many mission trips are just to get the Good News out there. Apologetics, by definition, is “in defense of.” Proselytization is an active attempt to convert. The latter asserts the Gospel; the former defends it. Apologetics is not invasive nor the nefarious indoctrination you seemingly imply.

          1. There is no ”Good News.”
            That is a nonsensical piece of propaganda based on a fiction, which rather makes a mockery of the rest of your attempt to justify your belief and rope me into with ISIS. A somewhat ironic and ridiculous notion considering your own religion is awash with more blood than you could possible imagine or dare to acknowledge.

            As to your little ”challenge”

            I will only cater to your absurd demand that essentially makes me denounce my own religion and fellow Christians for being Christians (Matthew 28: 16-20; Matthew 22: 36-37) if you only make a public pledge on your own respective blog to never argue for atheism and against religion and actively discourage other atheists from doing so, allowing for people, especially your children, to apostatize or choose to be atheists of their own accord. Shall I reach through my laptop and metaphorically shake your hand, as in, do we have a deal?

            I have never said you must denounce your own religion. However if you feel that it does, so be it. In which case you have a deal.

            Would you like to draw up your pledge then I will do likewise?

            If you agree I shall make a preliminary draft in the morning (Sunday) and post it on my blog. Providing you do likewise I shall make a more complete draft ( you can specify more detail if you like) and ensure it remains permanently on my About page with a link to your statement.

            Any time you are ready…

            1. “Good news,” is a euphemism for the central message of Christianity. My use of it was not to establish it as true, so your objection to it just serves as another attempt to distract and obscure what we’re talking about.

              As does your claim that Christianity has a violent history. I don’t deny that, but it does not lessen the fact ISIS is a horrific evil empire not seen since the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, all which slaughter for ideology, atheistic, religious or otherwise.

              The point is that you think and declare Christians aren’t worthy of respect because they’re Christians. So does ISIS. The means of expressing that shared belief differs between the two of you, of course, but it’s still fueled by the same prejudice. You’re certainly not a monster like ISIS — I’m banking on it — but you seemingly think your disrespect is morally justified — as does ISIS. That, Christians should be treated differently and afforded less respect than how you would treat non-Christians because simply they’re Christians. Seems like bigoted reasoning antithetical to what we hold dear in the West. What am I missing here?

              And even if we did agree on my challenge, you and I both fully know it would be long before your would go to some other Christian’s blog and antagonize them. We obviously have no deal, especially one that you would feel obligated to respect, given the copious amounts of disdain you have unabashedly provided here.

              1. “Good news,” is a euphemism for …

                I know what the term Good News, means, stop being so damn pedantic – It’s stamped all over a couple of bibles on my book shelf, for your gods’ sake!

                …. not lessen the fact ISIS is a horrific evil empire

                Who ever said that ISIS was not horrific? I agree entirely. And lest you forget, Hotshot, Islam is the bastard lovechild of Judaism and Christianity and without them, there would be no Islam. Always worth considering your religious history, not so?

                … you seemingly think your disrespect is morally justified

                My disrespect of Christianity and especially Christian Fundamentalism is morally justified.
                Would you like a litany of all the shitty things Christianity is responsible for over the past 2000 years?
                Pick a century …. any century.

                We obviously have no deal, especially one that you would feel obligated to respect, given the copious amounts of disdain you have unabashedly provided here.

                As I suspected. It’s okay to bluff with bad cards but don’t try it with no cards.

                I keep my word.
                Christians have been lying through their teeth since the beginning and you are a perfect example.

                You are simply a chicken-shit hypocrite.

  2. Given that I have sufficient time to think over what has been said on this thread between you and me and it’s on my mission statement page, I feel obligated to clarify things for both this conversation and whomever happens to read our tiff after reading the parent post’s content. This again will be pedantic, much to your ire, undoubtedly, but it will relate and bring things full circle perfectly, including your indictments of pedantry and dishonesty against me.

    I’m what’s known as classically liberal. I’m a big proponent of something known as a “marketplace of ideas,” where good ideas are pitted against bad ideas, true beliefs versus false beliefs, etc., where the good ideas and true beliefs defeat the bad and untrue ones. My hope for this blog is for it to serve as the arena or venue, however big or small, for these contests.

    Now, atheism is an umbrella term that is related and covers a lot of beliefs. So is Christian theism. You are an agent of the former; I’m an agent for the latter. Both are subject to competition within this marketplace. Therefore, I feel like it is my own interest to be fastidious and make the best case for my beliefs as I can. So, I will point out every fallacy and error in reasoning I perceive as appurtenant, which in our case is plenty. If you don’t want me to be pedantic, then I suggest you stay on topic and exercise that superior reasoning and position your rhetoric seems to imply.

    Those tactics where you just sort of throw the whole kitchen sink and overwhelm Christians, as I’ve witnessed before on other blogs, will have no effect on me, as I’m sure you’ve discovered, hence your agitation. For instance, you again fail to address what I’ve argued and instead try to deflect it away by making some unrelated tenuous connection that Christianity and Judaism bare responsibility for what ISIS is doing. You just don’t like it that I have the nerve to point it out and push back more than the average Christian you choose to interact with. That is your problem, not mine.

    I also notice you seemingly like to wage personal attacks on those who dare to argue against you. They’re not even arguments but merely insults. You did that with StalwartSam by intimating he must not know what he’s talking about with historical scholarship because he asked you to clarify what was meant by “contemporary evidence” without addressing the main thrust of his reply. He self-identified as a having background in history; you admitted you did not. Was it not entirely possible that he was well aware of what “contemporary evidence” means in a historian’s framework and he was just making sure that you did too? That, you know, you weren’t speaking past each other.

    You’ve also done the same type of things on a number of my posts: implying that I’m misogynistic, I’m not intelligent enough to draw the right conclusions and here with the claim that I’m hypocritical and a liar. With the understanding that sometimes meanings get lost in text as opposed to face-to-face communication, I’ll elucidate what I meant. I provided reasons as to why I felt catering to your demand as unreasonable because it would violate my religious beliefs from the get-go. I was being sardonic when I talked about you doing the equivalent for the purpose of demonstrating the ridiculousness of what you’re asking in personal terms that perhaps you would understand. I never intended to kow-tow to you or broker some agreement as the words “absurd” and “obviously” were supposed to convey. You then misconstrued it as proof that I was dishonest by backing out of deal that I proposed. Whether or not this was a true misunderstanding or a deliberate and desperate act to smear me, I’ll let the readers decide in this case and choose overall who is the better representative of their respective worldview, given all of the evidence we both have provided butting heads with each other.

    I get it, you have no desire to be any sort of reasonable interlocutor, but that’s not what this blog is for. It’s supposed to be a forum for the exchange of ideas. I’ll concede at times some of the things I wrote were testy, but I think I did an adequate job of explaining exactly what I meant and gave you ample opportunity to inform me if I was misinterpreting your comments. I don’t know if the same can be said that you extended the same courtesy. You’re free to comment here as long as it is conducive to honest debate and it isn’t the spamming or blatant antagonism that you’ve engaged in here already. If that rains on your parade, then the world wide web remains a big place to play.

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