Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Potential For Apologetics Is Enormous

I've cited polling showing that a majority of Americans can't name the four gospels. That's how ignorant they are of the Bible and related subjects. I've also cited polling showing how ignorant Americans are about homosexual issues, even as they're in the midst of changing their moral standards, altering marriage, and rearranging the legal landscape of the nation on those issues they're so ignorant about. Most Americans think homosexuals make up at least twenty percent of the population.

Those are just a couple of examples among many others that could be cited. (See the first link above for more examples.) One thing we should take away from such statistics is that most Americans ought to be highly persuadable on topics like these. Their beliefs aren't based on much. They haven't done much research. Their views can change rapidly and without much intellectual effort on the part of the people seeking to persuade them. On a lot of controversial issues, most Americans aren't prepared to put up much of a counterargument to the Christian position. Even among the minority of Americans who are more informed, there's a lot of ignorance. On many issues, being more informed than the average American isn't much of an accomplishment.

Changing people's views isn't just an intellectual matter. But it does involve the intellect, to different degrees with different individuals. And intellectual substance isn't all that moves people. So does intellectual reputation. If you don't put up much of an intellectual fight, people will doubt your position even if the evidence is on your side and even if they don't have much of an understanding of the issues involved. That's part of the reason why Christians and their allies have been losing the battle over homosexual issues. A small minority (e.g., Robert Gagnon, Michael Brown, James White) have addressed homosexual issues with a lot of depth and persistence, but the large majority of parents, churches, radio programs, television programs, etc. have been silent or have addressed the issues in an astonishingly shallow way.

The church in the book of Acts is often held up as a Christian ideal. But we're rarely encouraged to emulate that church's apologetic work, even though it's such a major theme in Acts. If we want revival, and we want to be more like the church of Acts, one of the things we ought to do is repent of our intellectual neglect.

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