Can You Argue Someone Into The Kingdom?

ApologeticsA while back I was listening to Greg Koukl’s radio show “Stand to Reason,” and a caller challenged the need for apologetics. His main concerns were that nobody could be “argued” into the Kingdom and that apologists were wasting their time with “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Colossians 2:8).

I have to agree that his first concern is valid, but I don’t agree with the second concern. I don’t think that anyone can be “argued” into the Kingdom. For example, knowing that someone exists is different from wanting a loving relationship with them. Someone can believe that the Christian God exists, yet not want to have a personal relationship with Him. That person can recognize that the evidence points toward the Resurrection being a historical event but not want to dedicate their life to that fact. A belief that is different from a belief in.

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Book Review: The End of Apologetics

end-of-apologeticsMyron Bradley Penner, The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013) (Follow this link to get the book in electronic format from Logos.)

Full disclosure: I do not publicly label myself an “apologist.” However, in some ways that’s what I am just by virtue of many of the things that I do and say, and there are others who refer to me that way. At times I defend the truth claims of Christianity against criticisms, and at times I offer reasons for thinking that those claims are true. That is what “apologetics” means here. I have my share of problems with the “apologetics culture,” if I can speak of any such thing. But I appreciate the fact that I can separate apologetics per se from the various cultural forms in which it is expressed.

Myron Penner quite openly does not have this appreciation, or indeed much regard at all for the practice of Christian apologetics. What follows is my review of his book where he explains himself. The review is not exhaustive, so there may well be times where somebody reading this review might note “but you didn’t note that Penner says….” I probably did not. But I have read it, and if I didn’t mention it here it’s because I think that what I do say here takes it into account.

Further disclosure: Given some of my reservations about certain aspects of the apologetics culture, I expected that I might find at least a considerable amount of agreement with this book. But I may as well honestly say that I did not. I disagreed with nearly all of it, and also found it disagreeable (those two reactions are quite different from each other).

Here goes… [Read more...]

The Apologist and the Pastor

There seems to be a growing frustration on behalf of those trying to work apologetics into the fabric of local church life.Handshake  Sometimes the frustration reflects a clash with leadership (“I told my pastor we needed more apologetics in church, and he got really hostile!”) Other times, it reflects a general mindset in the church (“I told my small group we should study apologetics, and they all said that we can’t argue people into the Kingdom.”)

As a pastor who believes in the importance of apologetics, perhaps I can offer some helpful insight about how to introduce apologetics into a church. My comments will address how to interact effectively with pastors, though the principles may be helpful in other situations as well. [Read more...]

How to Defend a Defense of the Faith (with Scripture)

Defending a Defense of the Faith

Isn’t apologetics just for seminary students, pastors and stuffy professor-types? Somehow, many Christians have gotten the idea that apologetics is just a hobby for Christian intellectuals or people who are into debate.

Maybe you know students at your church who’ve sat though an apologetics presentation going, “This might be great for a bunch of science-types, but this stuff isn’t going to work with my friends in soccer.” Why bother studying apologetics at all? Why even defend the faith?

In this post, I’ll share an easy way to defend a defense of the faith when Christian brothers and sisters wonder why we take this stuff so seriously.

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What Is The Biggest Obstacle To The Apologetics Movement?

Right now is a great time to be an apologist. We are living in a period of time where apologetics is booming, both in academic and everyday life. It’s never been easier to get your hands on material that can strengthen your faith and empower your evangelism, and the time to utilize these resources has never been more urgent. With the rise of the current missions movement abroad, religious persecution in the Middle East, and increasing secularization in America and Europe, being equipped to give a defense of the Gospel wherever it is challenged is no longer optional; it is required if you are to be a witness in today’s world.
Every movement has it’s obstacles to overcome, and the apologetics movement is no different. Right now we are living in what one apologist has described as “the anti-intellectual age of the church”, and we are seeing the fruit of this anti-intellectualism wreck havoc on churches and Christians, many whom end up leaving the church when they arrive at college. Another consequence of this anti-intellectualism is the rise of apathy – Christians just do not seem to care about defending their faith or developing a solid worldview.