Lee Strobel: We’re on Cusp of Golden Era of Apologetics
By Alex Murashko
Christians should understand that being able to give reasons for their faith is not merely an option – it’s biblically mandated, says apologetics author and speaker Lee Strobel.
To help Christians better explain and defend their faith, Strobel and ministry associate Mark Mittelberg have launched The Institute at Cherry Hills, an apologetics and evangelism ministry at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The institute is aimed at innovating new approaches to defending and sharing the faith.
Strobel and Mittelberg will kick off a series of national simulcasts to be hosted at churches starting in March with the event “The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask,” based on Mittelberg’s book by the same title.
While an atheist, Strobel began to write a book disproving the existence of Jesus and ended up realizing he could not. Instead, he ended up writing his best-selling book, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. He has authored more than 20 books, including a series of other “Case for…” works, such as The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity.
The Christian Post asked Strobel this week to discuss the current state of Christian apologetics via an email interview.
CP: What do you attribute the surge of interest in apologetics to right now?
Strobel: Christianity in general and the Bible in particular are under widespread and vociferous attack by militant atheists, radical scholars, critical authors, skeptical professors, misguided documentaries, and a proliferation of online spiritual confusion. Books by the so-called New Atheists have received a lot of media attention, which has emboldened cynics to become even more outspoken. The Internet has helped atheists and agnostics coalesce as never before.
Skeptics are becoming more determined to proselytize. In public high schools and colleges, the Secular Student Alliance, an umbrella for atheist organizations, has doubled in size in two years, with 250 chapters in the U.S. Not long ago, the American Humanist Association launched the largest national multi-media campaign ever by an atheist organization, preaching that the Bible advocates “fear, intolerance, hate, and ignorance.”
And we’re seeing the country drift toward skepticism. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, nearly one in four now claims no religion, which has doubled since 1990. Recent books have said that young people are dropping out of church at five or six times the historic rate, many because of intellectual doubts.
All of these trends have awakened a sleeping giant – Christian apologetics, or the defense of the faith. We’re seeing apologetics books on the New York Times bestsellers list. Schools like Biola University and its Talbot School of Theology, which are leaders in apologetics, are filled to capacity. Denver Seminary is launching a new degree in Christian Apologetics and Ethics this fall. One organization, [Ratio Christi], is seeking to place apologists on 500 college campuses in the next five years.
A recent magazine featured this headline: “Apologetics Makes a Comeback Among Youth.” As David Kinnaman wrote in his book You Lost Me, which is based on interviews with thousands of young people: “This generation wants and needs truth, not spiritual soft-serve. This is a generation hungry for substantive answers to life’s biggest questions.”
I agree! We were prodded to produce Student Editions of my books The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator and The Case for the Real Jesus because so many young people were asking for them. There’s a genuine desire among young people to understand the rationality behind Christian beliefs – often because their peers are reading atheist writings and raising questions about whether Christianity really does make sense.
Fortunately, I believe we’re on the cusp of a golden era of apologetics. We’re seeing such scholars as William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, William Dembski, Stephen Meyer, and others making fresh, cutting-edge arguments for Christianity. Academia is taking notice. Terrific websites, like Apologetics 315, are making apologetic material more widely available. Younger leaders like Sean McDowell are taking apologetics to a new generation.
Apologetics conferences are springing up all around the nation. We did one for high school students in Colorado a few years ago and we maxed out our facility with 2,000 enthusiastic kids. We had a waiting list to get in! The National Apologetics Conference has drawn up to 4,300 participants.
So I’m very optimistic about the future of Christian apologetics…
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