Apologetics Is Alive: People are hungry for answers

By Matt Flannagan  (of M and M)

Here in New Zealand, I am often told by evangelical leaders that we now live in a post-modern society, which has moved beyond “arguments” and apologetics is an outdated “modernist concept.”  They say we need instead to “tell the story” so that people will see the “meta-narrative of scripture”—whatever exactly that means.

Last night, Madeleine and I were invited to a Christmas function for new lawyers, organized by the Law Society, the professional association for lawyers in NZ. The function was on the seventh floor of a major law firm in central Auckland’s business district; the firm in fact is the one the government hires to be crown prosecutor. So I was right in the thick of the up-and-coming legal professionals in NZ.

Anyway, Madeleine struck up a conversation with some young lawyers who were working for the government on immigration law. They discussed aspects of the legal profession. Then one of them turned to me and asked me, “What do you do?” I answered that I was a theologian. Immediately, this caused them to pause (it often has this effect) and one told me he had been reading a book called The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Without thinking, I said, “Oh, that book, it’s crap.” He replied, “Yeah, but you have to say that, don’t you?” I responded, “No I don’t actually.” I then mentioned to him the works of some other atheists to whom I would not respond in that fashion, despite the fact I disagreed with the conclusion.

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Then for the next thirty minutes these lawyers began asking me genuine questions about the Christian faith. One asked me immediately, “Why don’t you refrain from eating shellfish given the Old Testament prohibits it?” He was not being hostile; he was interested. I explained how the food laws functioned to set Israel apart from other nations and how, in the New Testament era, Gentiles were incorporated as part of God’s people, meaning the barrier between Jew and Gentile lacked relevance. Then one asked me, “I have heard the evidence for Jesus is as good, if not better, than that for other historical figures—is that true?” I discussed with him the sources we have for Alexander the Great and how they compared with the Gospels in terms of time, discussed how people date the gospels to confirm it, and mentioned the age of the epistles. We then discussed the supernatural aspects of the narrative and Hume’s arguments about miracles. They were fascinated. Next came a question about pagan mythology and parallels with Jesus…


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