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.