Spiritual Vertigo

Sooner or later, most Christians wrestle with doubt, which is why churches need to invest in apologetics

by Lee Strobel

As a new Christian, I volunteered to respond to questions submitted by people attending our church services. One Sunday I got a card from a 12-year-old girl who said she simply wanted to know more about Jesus. When I called her, she asked if my wife and I could come over for dinner with her and her dad.

“Aw, isn’t that cute?” I said to Leslie. “This is gonna be fun!”

When her father opened the door, I walked in and glanced at the coffee table in the living room. Sitting there were stacks of heavyweight books. It turns out her dad was a scientist who had spent years studying articles and books attacking the traditional portrait of Jesus.

For hours over pizza and soft drinks, he peppered me with tough objections to Christianity. Soon my head was spinning! I felt what I call “spiritual vertigo” – that queasy sense of dizziness and disorientation that courses through your body when someone challenges the core of your faith in a way that you cannot answer.

Have you ever felt spiritual vertigo? If you haven’t, you might feel it in the future, because Christianity is under a relentless attack in best-selling books, the Internet, college classrooms, and elsewhere. And the chances are that many people in your community, and even in your church, are being deterred from seeking the real Jesus because of what they’re hearing and reading.

One reason so many young Christians have been spiritually crippled by these attacks is that their student ministries have utterly failed to teach them what Christians believe and why it’s reasonable to believe it. In their book Soul Searching, sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton said 32 percent of former believers said they left the church because of intellectual doubts.

With the mistaken notion that postmodern people don’t care about matters like evidence for God, some teachers and leaders have abdicated their responsibility to help their congregations always to become prepared to give an answer for the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15).

Fortunately, we’re now witnessing a resurgence of interest in Christian apologetics, or defending the faith. Apologetics books, ministries, schools, and web sites are flourishing. Christians and their seeking friends are looking for answers to the challenges being raised by critics.

More than ever, in a culture confused by relativism and with the rise of so many competing belief systems, apologetics has a critically important role. At the same time, I believe the apologetics of the future will be practiced differently than it was in the past, when it could be too harsh, too judgmental, too simplistic and too arrogant.

Here are a few defining characteristics of future apologetics…

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:  Apologetics for the Twenty-first Century / Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader / Apologetics for a New Generation: A Biblical and Culturally Relevant Approach to Talking About God / More suggestions…