Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Yes, Apologetics Makes A Difference

The Bible places a lot of emphasis on apologetic themes, like eyewitness testimony and fulfilled prophecy. It also commands and commends apologetic work, even to the point of saying that apologetics can "greatly help" (Acts 18:27). Yet, many people, even some professing Christians, suggest that apologetics doesn't do much good and even question whether it's ever been instrumental in anybody's conversion.

Two conversion stories that have been receiving a lot of attention lately illustrate how much of a difference apologetics can make. See here and here for a couple of places in David Wood's conversion video in which he mentions the involvement of apologetics in his becoming a Christian. Notice that, in the first clip above, Wood refers to how other Christians he'd met hadn't challenged him on intellectual issues. In other words, not only was intellectual engagement with the Christian he met in jail important, but the failure of other Christians to intellectually interact with him was significant as well, in a negative way.

Similarly, Nabeel Qureshi, writing of his time as a Muslim prior to becoming a Christian, commented:

"What I needed was something that would not let me get away with my biases. I needed something that would mercilessly loop my bad arguments before my eyes, again and again and again, until I could avoid them no longer. I needed a friend, an intelligent, uncompromising, non-Muslim friend who would be willing to challenge me." (Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2014], 117)

Like Wood, Qureshi refers to how a lot of Christians he met had made his situation worse by failing to provide the intellectual help he needed. For some examples, see here.

Apologetics does help people and does lead to conversions. And people who underestimate apologetics do significant harm.


  1. Jason,

    I agree with your post completely. The David Wood video was very moving. I would simply add--and it should be noted that this is an "addition" and not a contradiction--that apologetics helps in other ways besides leading to conversions. Apologetics helps the people of God as they see the truthfulness of Christian claims vindicated in the arena of debate. I think particularly of Apollos in Acts 18. It is said that "he greatly helped those who had believed through grace..." And how did he do this? The next verse answers: "for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ." (Acts 18.27-28). Even if none of Apollos' opponents turned in conversion the fact that he helped the church is reason enough why we need apologetics.

    Thank you for your work in standing in the tradition of Apollos and helping the church!

    1. Richard,

      I agree that apologetics helps in non-conversion contexts. And thanks for the encouragement.

  2. "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" is only $3.99 for the Kindle on Amazon right now. I may pick just pick it up. Some of the negative comments have something like this as the main theme:

    "Qureshi isn't REALLY a Muslim. REAL Muslims view him like Christians view Mormons."

    In your estimation, is that a valid critique?


    1. Jeff,

      Qureshi's book focuses on issues like the life of Muhammad, the nature of the Quran, and Jesus' deity, death, and resurrection. The differences between Qureshi's form of Islam and the more mainstream forms aren't relevant in those contexts. To use the Christianity/Mormonism analogy, it would be like somebody dismissing a book by a Mormon arguing for the historical existence of Jesus, even though Christians and Mormons agree on that issue and none of Mormonism's disagreements with Christianity come up in the book in any significant way.

  3. Excellent post, Jason. Very true.