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by Dan Story
I believe there are three areas in popular culture where apologetics can be used most effectively. We’ll consider each one separately in this and the following two blog articles. In this article I’ll begin with evangelism.
The world we live in: why apologetics is needed
In today’s largely secular world, apologetics is often a key ingredient in evangelism because many people are totally ignorant of what Christians believe and practice, and what they think they know is often erroneous. Prior to the 1960s, most Americans had direct contact with the Christian worldview and were familiar with fundamental Christian beliefs. Their parents probably took them to church, at least occasionally. Perhaps they attended Sunday school or vacation Bible school. Certainly, they watched the Ten Commandments (1956), Ben-Hur (1959), The Greatest Story Even Told (1965), or other movies popular during that era that narrated biblical stories. Most Americans knew that Jesus Christ was the Son of God—even if they didn’t know exactly what that meant. They had heard of Jesus’ resurrection, Adam and Eve, Moses crossing the Red Sea, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the lion’s den. They were familiar with the Ten Commandments and could name a few. They knew that Christmas and Easter celebrated Christian events.
In contrast, today’s generation of people has been reared in a thoroughly secular environment, and many in America’s younger generation don’t even have a rudimentary understanding of Christianity. They have been indoctrinated by secular culture to assume that the Bible is religious myth; to assume that Jesus is no more unique than Mohammad or Buddha; to assume that naturalistic evolution explains the origin of life; and to assume that if God exists He is going to judge people according on how good they are, not according to their relationship with Jesus Christ.
As a result, our culture has largely rejected the Christian worldview. Countless people today no longer view religious truth or judge moral behavior from a traditional Christian perspective. Even people who claim to be Christians, think and behave more according to secular beliefs and values than according to biblical ones. Christianity has all but lost its voice and influence in popular culture. America today is largely “post-Christian” (Christianity is no longer the dominate worldview), relativistic (absolute truths are rejected), and pluralistic (every culture and religion are equally legitimate). Ideological clashes between Christians and non-Christians are no longer carried out in the philosopher’s ivory tower. Secular sentiments and values are widely promulgated through popular culture. In today’s public square—high school and college classrooms, media and entertainment industries, the halls of government—anti-Christian values and ideas are formed and disseminated to “the man on the street.” Today’s non-Christians are frequently hostile to virtually everything Christians stand for, including God’s moral absolutes, and view Christians as intolerant, narrow-minded people who have nothing relevant to say to modern culture…
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