A New Day for Apologetics
by Troy Anderson
Despite all the recent attacks on faith—or, perhaps, because of them—these are definitely the best of times for Christian apologists such as Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, Ben Witherington III, Darrell Bock, and J. P. Moreland. They are making documentaries, writing books, giving media interviews, attending debates and conferences, and presenting the public with what they say is a growing mountain of scientific and archaeological evidence documenting the truth of Christianity.
“There has been a resurgence in Christian apologetics as a direct result of the challenges Christianity has faced in the form of militant atheism in college classrooms, on the Internet, and in TV documentaries and best-selling books,” says Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and most recently the author of, The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ.
“The apologetics of the 1970s and ’80s are useful if you are teaching in a church camp, but it’s not that relevant to the claims the New Atheists are making, which are very different,” D’Souza says. “The New Atheists are really surfing the waves of 9/11, equating Islamic radicalism with Christianity. These are not questions addressed by C. S. Lewis or Josh McDowell.”
This spate of attacks has also kindled an unexpected surge of interest in apologetics among youth.
“It wasn’t too many years ago that scholars were writing off apologetics because we live in a postmodern world where young people are not supposed to be interested in things like the historical Jesus,” Strobel says. “The biggest shock is that among people who communicated to me that they had found faith in Christ through apologetics, the single biggest group was 16- to 24-year-olds.”
Last summer, hundreds had to be turned away from a Focus on the Family- sponsored apologetics conference for teenagers that drew an overflow crowd of 1,500. Meanwhile, the hotbeds of apologetics education—Biola University and its Talbot School of Theology (CT, June 2003), Southern Evangelical Seminary, and Liberty University—are crammed with students pursuing graduate degrees in philosophy and apologetics.
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