Pop Quiz.

Can you identify any disciple of Christ or any highly regarded church father who taught that apologetics is unbiblical?

When one considers the evidence we have on hand, history tells us that Christianity, from Jesus to the early church fathers, thought that apologetics is not only an option, it is a requirement. Consider Matthew 22. When Jesus was asked whether he should pay taxes to Caesar or not, he didn’t brush it off as “a good question, let’s talk about that later.” He was asked about marriage after the resurrection in the same chapter, and even when he asked later on, “Who’s Son is the Messiah?” Jesus’ answers were all from the viewpoint of apologetics (22:18-21 ; 22:29-32 ; 22:43-45). He engaged. He demolished their arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5)… and did so on many other occasions (Mark 2:23-28 ; 3:22-27 ; John 10:22-39)

Consider Stephen, who argued with the Jews (Acts 6:9-10). Apollos debated the Jews (Acts 18:27-28). Paul on multiple occasions thought it’s his duty to argue with the Jews and Greeks (Acts 9:28-30 ; Acts 15:1-2 ; Acts 17:2-4 ; Acts 17:16-19 ; Acts 18:4Acts 18:19 ;  Acts 19:8-9 ; Acts 28:23-24).

Peter, in his letter to the Christian church has this to say, ”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) Paul, writing to the Colossians added, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2:8)

When God was speaking to the Jews, even He thought reasoning is helpful. He said, “Come now, let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Looking into the early church fathers, we see the same pattern. Justin Martyr had various writings relating to apologetics. In fact, his first two writings were entitled First Apology and Second Apology. Irenaeus wrote his famous text, Against Heresies, arguing against misrepresentations of the Christian faith at that time including the Gospel of Judas. Tertullian wrote Against Praxeas. Hippolytus of Rome wrote against Noetus. Athanasius argued vigorously against Arius and thank God he did. For without Athanasius, the Christian chuch would’ve descended into having a heretical view of the Trinity. Thomas Aquinas wrote his five arguments for God’s existence in Summa Theologica. Augustine argued against the Mannicheans in his Confessions. Anselm argued for God’s existence using the Ontological Argument.

Again and again and again and again we see church fathers after church fathers using apologetics to push forth the veracity of the Christian faith. The myth that apologetics is unbiblical and unchristian is, in the words of William Lane Craig, a deception of Satan. He further states that if we do not take apologetics seriously, Christianity will one day be reduced to one voice in a cacophony of voices, each one sharing his own narrative but never really arriving at an objective conclusion. Christianity will one day eventually be regarded as a harmless delusion.

James White has often lectured on this. He would cite instances where he would reduce a Christian into a heretic in mere seconds because the Christian is just not prepared to engage the culture. Consider Josh McDowell. He would hand his Bible to a random audience asking them why they believe it. The response often culminates into an embarassed giggle.

To regard apologetics as a malpractice is to regard the actions of God, the apostles, and the early church fathers as mistaken. A course which is unacceptable to any Bible believing Christian.

What then shall we make of it? The issue really is not whether apologetics is Biblical or not. The issue really is that if you are to do apologetics, how do you do it properly? In an age of reason, it is often not enough to engage the culture with a narrative. Sure, a testimony can help build the bridge. But what if the person you’re evangelizing has a counter testimony?

If we reduce ourselves to Bible thumping and saying, “the Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.” What right do we have to regard the Muslim being wrong for saying the same thing with the Qur’an? Unless we get out of our shell and engage the culture, we will miss out the grander picture.

This is interesting. Notice where the biggest resistance against apologetics is coming from. One would initially think that it’s from the atheists. Not so. The church is the greatest hurdle Christian Apologists have to cross. It is the church who so often treat the defense of the Christian faith as unnecessary. “God needs no defense.” One would say, failing to understand that it is not God that needs defense, but truth itself.

To relegate sound reasoning in favor of mere narratives is not only unbiblical, it is even suicidal. Truth is the only weapon one has to distinguish between reality and delusion… and we are being forced to lay down Christianity’s best weapon—truth, in favor of subjective narratives.

Steve Jobs and Charles Templeton, both among the most popular icons in their time, descended from Christianity to agnosticism simply because instead of engaging their doubts, Christian ministers ignored them. This is the price we pay for anti-intellectualism. May such grave misstep cease in this generation.

 

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