Thursday, October 31, 2019

Protestant apologetics

There are roughly two kinds of Protestant apologists: On the one hand are the apologists who defend Protestant theology, who use Protestant theology as their frame of reference and standard of comparison when assessing rival positions. 

On the other hand, are the apologists who happen to be Protestant, but most of the time you'd be unable to detect their specific theological orientation. They defend the historical Jesus, they defend the Resurrection, they critique atheism. We know what they're against, but we don't know what they're for–beyond a tiny sample of issues. 

In that regard their Protestantism doesn't seem to be central to their religious identity or individual identity. There's a theological indifferentism or latitudinarianism where they don't think it matters too much what you believe apart from a handful of key issues. 

From my perspective, the job of a Christian apologist is to defend…Christianity. And since that involves a specific, individual interpretation of Christianity (e.g. Calvinism, Arminianism, Lutheranism, Pentecostalism, generic evangelicalism), you defend what you believe is true. 

What's the point of critiquing atheism if you don't provide a full-orbed alternative to point them to? As a Calvinist, I defend Calvinism, although I confess that I've gotten bored with defending Calvinism. That doesn't mean I'm bored with Calvinism. Just bored with defending it so often, because the exercise becomes so repetitious.

But even when I'm not defending Calvinism, that's the worldview which stands behind everything I write about. That's what guides and structures the analysis. And it frequently surfaces even if I'm writing about something else. Put another way, the theology I live by consistently informs my apologetics, even when that's in the background. 

What's the explanation for apologists who happen to be Protestant? In some cases it's due to specialization. But beyond that, many of them don't seem to take much interest in theology. They focus on a few issues because that's what interests them. Christian theology in general isn't central to their outlook. It's like they view Christianity as a supplement. Christianity isn't necessary to justify or underwrite most important truths and values, just a few explicitly Christian things. I'd add that that makes apostasy much more viable. 

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