Thinking Out Loud

September 26, 2011

Do “Apologetics” and “Protest” Belong in the same Breath?

I am a person captivated by the study of Christian apologetics.  I’m not saying I’m very good at it, but my personal library, and the collection at the bookstore I manage are somewhat saturated with apologetics titles.  Of course, when you hear that, some think Norman Geisler, some will assume Ravi Zacharias, some think I mean Hank Hanegraaff, others will be reminded of Josh McDowell, while some will automatically think Ray Comfort.  I don’t care.  I think they all have something to offer, though I prefer some approaches over others.

The reason I like apologetics is that I believe there are a number of questions seekers have that we should have answers to, rather than looking clueless like the proverbial deer caught in the proverbial headlights.  I’ve always thought that, “Because our pastor said so;” was a bit weak when dealing with people who are needing to overcome serious barriers to faith.

But I think that part of the “Always be ready to give an account,” concept has to been seen in the context of someone  who is asking us a question.  It doesn’t mean that we get out in the streets and start picketing people we disagree with.  Especially picketing other members of the body, which, if the “body” analogy is taken correctly, means we’re picketing ourselves.   It’s a defense of the faith, which is implied; a defensive posture not an offensive posture; and shouldn’t be confused with evangelism.  So I was particular distressed to read this report at Chad Estes’ blog:

President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, Matt Slick, spent the evening protesting W. Paul Young’s (the author of The Shack) speech at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.

He missed an incredible night of stories of God’s intimate and loving involvement in our lives while standing on the street corner letting people [know] they shouldn’t be attending what he thought would be a heretical discussion.

He tried to get into a discussion with me about universalism when I went out to take his picture. He asked me if I thought everybody was forgiven. I told him I thought that was Jesus’ point on the cross – “Forgive them, Papa, they are clueless what they are doing.” I thought it was a slick answer but Slick didn’t seem to think so.

Now again, remember, I have a link to CARM on this blog.  I support people doing apologetics. Real apologetics.  I’m not so strong on in your face discernment ministry. Especially in a public forum.  Most especially in a public forum. I may question the doctrine at my local Roman Catholic Church, but I’m not going to stand outside and picket the place; especially if it may represent a small first step on a journey to faith for someone who is truly seeking after God. 

And I’m not writing this out of a loyalty to The Shack.  The book is flawed. But the book is good. And it’s done a lot of good.

Sorry; I gotta repeat Chad’s second paragraph here with some added emphasis:

He missed an incredible night of stories of God’s intimate and loving involvement in our lives while standing [outside] on the street corner letting people [know] they shouldn’t be attending what he thought would be a heretical discussion.

There is so much of this that goes on within Kingdom borders, and it is so very sad.


  1. My husband and I have been watching a series of 16 lectures on apologetics in the middle ages. Truth be told , it often makes my brain hurt. I am fascinated by the degree to which some people are compelled to go in order to defend and prove tenets of their faith and I admire it greatly, but it is not how my own faith works itself out. I am, by nature, intuitive and intimate so my place often in the body is to give the people devoted to apologetics and deep discourse an opportunity to feel what it is like to settle onseself at His feet and just be with Him. Their place in the body is to show me how deeply some people need to think even the “simple” things through. Neither of us are purely right or purely wrong. I saw the problems within the shack, but I also saw the way the world opened up their heart to a God who just might not hate them.

    Comment by Cynthia — September 26, 2011 @ 8:21 am

  2. In my role of ministering to students, I listened to a high school sophomore share with others on Apologetics just last week. He had a couple of books on hand, one of them by Josh McDowell. It felt a lot like listening to a book report on The Case for Christ, but still encouraging to see a person of his generation passionate about learning AND TEACHING Apologetics. I played a little bit of devil’s advocate during the Q&A just to see him squirm, but he did well even then.

    Matt Slick/ W. Paul Young: This illustrates a problem among Christians when it comes to how we present ourselves to the culture at large. People outside the church looking in are going to point out that we can’t even agree on what we believe, so how can they be expected to figure out what is true? We also have a tendency to cannablize our wounded; when a Christian leader mis-steps we rip him to shreds without any of the “Jesus on the cross” mentality mentioned in this post. It’s often not us against them, it’s us against us.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — September 26, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  3. To some, Christianity is mostly about having “right” doctrine more than enjoying and serving Jesus. Orthodoxy has become the savior to many. Zeal for truth has overshadowed fervent love, and a law of conformity has trumped grace. Therefore, we see the debates and the heretic hunters have their field day.

    Comment by Rick — September 27, 2011 @ 4:56 am

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