Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making People See Their Need For Apologetics

Here's a podcast J. Warner Wallace did last year about neglect of apologetics in the church. He plays a recording of a meeting he had with a church youth group, in which Wallace's son posed as an atheist and interacted with the teenagers who were there. As bad as they were at responding to Wallace's son, I suspect that most church youth groups would do even worse.

I think Wallace makes some good points during the program. I suspect there's a lot of value in approaching youth ministry the way he suggests.


  1. I would also recommend William Lane Craig's lecture "In Intellectual Neutral".

    It's similar to another one of his lectures, "Christian Apologetics: Who Needs It?"

    Craig explains the dire consequences for the future if Christians in this generation don't start don't get serious about apologetics.

  2. Christianity is a far superior worldview than atheism (not to mention it being true), and Christians have good answers to the objections atheists make, but it's so much easier to object to Christianity than to answer those objections or to make a case for it.

    Non-Christians, especially atheists, have (from a human perspective) the advantage in this generation where people have 1. short attention spans and 2. are media minded (i.e. video and/or audio) rather than literature minded (i.e. books). That added to the fact that it's easier to argue against Christianity and the Bible than to defend it makes it much easier for atheists to make atheist converts out of Christians and other theists.

    So, while Christians will win a debate that delves into the intricacies of an issue to its very depths, and which often requires a lot of reading/documenting/thinking, atheists, by contrast atheists can produce superficial videos that can leads to instant converts.

    It's analogous to the manufacturing and use of weapons. A nuclear bomb is more powerful than rooms full of pistols and rifles, but the latter are easier to make and use (and can be used effectively by more people because it requires less expertise).

    As an example, I'm thinking of the videos by DarkMatter2525 on YouTube. I've seen many of his videos and (knowing what I know now) I don't think they come close to touching Christianity (especially Augustinian/Calvinist-like versions). But if I had viewed these videos when I was a young Christian in high school, I definitely would have doubted my faith to the point of possibly renouncing it [speaking psychologically; setting aside for the meantime issues of the theology of grace, perseverance et cetera]. The generation of Christians now "hatching" are at such a disadvantage compared to previous generations. In times past, in order to encounter atheistic literature one would have to go the library or bookstore. Now, people can encounter them accidentally from the suggestions offered by Youtube when they are viewing totally unrelated videos. Mature Christians and Churches absolutely need to rise up and take apologetics seriously.

    At the beginning, I said "from a human perspective" because as a Calvinist, I believe that Christians have the advantaged by the power of the Holy Spirit. Also, allegedly, DarkMatter2525 has a Christian brother who makes videos as lightmatter5252.

    1. We need to have the attitude Oskar Schindler had regarding the Jews during the Holocaust.

      Or have a similar (though not necessarily exact) spirit that Robert Arthington had when he said, "Gladly would I make the floor my bed, a box my chair, and another box my table, rather than that men should perish for want [i.e. lack] of the knowledge of Christ."

  3. ON THE OTHER HAND there's the danger of Apologetics Overload. C. Michael Patton has pointed out numerous times that in his experience, it's not uncommon for people who are heavily engaged in apologetics to become so overloaded and overwhelmed with the numerous objections to Christianity that they begin to doubt their own faith. I would think that would be especially true if it seems that they are constantly having to deal with objections to Christianity by somehow always having to get around some apparent problem by the constant use of the fallacy of Special Pleading.

    Apologetics Overload may have been a contributing factor in Patton's own "3 days as an atheist".

    It would seem to me that Arminian-like Christians would be especially susceptible to Apologetics Overload. They may start asking questions like, "If God's highest desire and purpose is to get people saved, then why did He inspire the Bible in such a way that there would be so many objections that would be raised against it in the future ? Since he's omniscient, couldn't He have prevented that? Why does God make His existence so unclear?" [and similar objections]

    That's why some the quotations of Pascal that I collected HERE are so useful. They can be appealed to by EITHER Arminian-like Christians OR Calvinistic-like Christians.

    It's also important to recognize that apologetics is a form of spiritual warfare/battle and that therefore those engaged in it will be especially targeted by demons. Therefore it's important to be constantly "prayed up" and to feed one's soul by constantly meditating on God's truth distinct and separate from the reading and studying done for the purpose of apologetics.

    As C.S. Lewis has written, "A man can't be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it" [Reflections on the Psalms, page 7]

    It's been said that 20% of the Church does 80% of the Church's work. That's true generally, but it's also true with respect to apologetics. That's why apologetics overload is possible. Apologists can get "burnt out" like pastors. If every Christian did some apologetics, then that would relieve some of the burden on the shoulders of professional Apologists. That's why I try to contribute my two cents worth whenever I can.

    Patton gives some good advice in avoiding "apologetics overload." I've link to some of his material at my blog here Dealing with Christian Doubts

    1. ANNOYED PINOY wrote:

      "It's been said that 20% of the Church does 80% of the Church's work. That's true generally, but it's also true with respect to apologetics."

      Yes, but you'd probably agree with me that the number is even lower than 20% in the context of apologetics.

    2. I totally agree that the discrepancy is worse in the case apologetics. I also suspect that the 20% I mentioned is itself overly optimistic (sadly).