Becoming a Community Apologist: The Significance and Cost of Being an Apologist
by Ken Mann
It would be fair to say that I have been interested in becoming an apologist since 1992. Yet it was not until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get serious about it. What I have to offer here is less than advice but hopefully more than merely telling my own story.
In order to put my remarks in context let me offer a brief sketch of my background and where I am today. I have been a Christian for over 25 years. In 2009 I had what might be called a “mid-life crisis” that drove me to enroll in graduate school (specifically the Science and Religion program at Biola University). In 2011 I started blogging as a contributor for a fellow Biola student. In 2012 I became involved with Ratio Christi as the (future) chapter director at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
You might discern from the above is that I am serious about becoming involved in apologetics ministry. I am. What I am not doing is acting on some grand vision or strategy. I cannot say I have “been called to ministry.” I am simply doing something I love as much as my savior, something I believe to be of profound importance.
This post is part of a series intended to encourage readers interested in apologetics to get involved in their “community.” Your community could be your church, workplace or neighborhood. The authors of this series want you to turn your interest in apologetics into action where you live and work. Reasonable Faith, Stand To Reason, Ratio Christi are three organizations that can equip you and give you opportunities to get involved. Drawing some inspiration Luke 14:28-32 I want describe becoming a community apologist from two perspectives: Significance and Cost.
Consider the Significance
It is a fact of 20th century, bordering on a cliché, that the protestant church has abandoned the intellectual heritage of the Christian faith. I first became aware of this at a series of lectures J.P. Moreland gave at my church in 1992. There are many consequences of this
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that we have all observed. In one sense, the Church has lost its ability to be taken seriously in the marketplace of ideas. Aside from the fundamental goal of preaching the gospel, the Church must influence society in such a way as to make preaching the gospel possible. This may take the form of protecting religious freedom or simply preventing the Christian worldview from becoming ridiculous.
Being or becoming an apologist is simultaneously strange and normal. It is strange because it is discipline, a field of study that is largely ignored by the Church today. While there is a vast community of para-church ministries, blogs, and (more recently) colleges involved in apologetics many people you meet at church don’t know what it is. I have spoken at groups this past year where I was caught off guard because I needed to define “apologetics.” Apologetics is also normal expression of being a disciple of Jesus. The types of things one learns today under the guise of “apologetics” used to be routinely taught in the Church.
“What the church of Jesus Christ believes, teaches, and confesses on the basis of the word of God: this is Christian doctrine. Doctrine is not the only, not even the primary, activity of the church. The church worships God and serves mankind, it works for the transformation of this world and awaits the consummation of its hope in the next. The church is more than a school…but the church cannot be less than a school.” – Jaroslav Pelikan, Church historian
I believe becoming a community apologist, especially for your church is a significant task. You are trying to restore something that may be missing from your local church that is sorely needed.
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OTHER POSTS IN THE COMMUNITY APOLOGETICS SERIES: