Stepping Up to the Plate: The Call for Community Apologists
by Greg West
World renowned philosopher William Lane Craig says that,
“It’s not just Christian scholars and pastors who need to be intellectually engaged with the issues. Christian laymen, too, need to be intellectually engaged. Our churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral. As Christians, their minds are going to waste. One result of this is an immature, superficial faith. People who simply ride the roller coaster of emotional experience are cheating themselves out of a deeper and richer Christian faith by neglecting the intellectual side of that faith. They know little of the riches of deep understanding of Christian truth, of the confidence inspired by the discovery that one’s faith is logical and fits the facts of experience, of the stability brought to one’s life by the conviction that one’s faith is objectively true.”
“In high school and college Christian teenagers are intellectually assaulted with every manner of non-Christian worldview coupled with an overwhelming relativism. If parents are not intellectually engaged with their faith and do not have sound arguments for Christian theism and good answers to their children’s questions, then we are in real danger of losing our youth. It’s no longer enough to teach our children simply Bible stories; they need doctrine and apologetics. It’s hard to understand how people today can risk parenthood without having studied apologetics.
Unfortunately, our churches have also largely dropped the ball in this area. It’s insufficient for youth groups and Sunday school classes to focus on entertainment and simpering devotional thoughts. We’ve got to train our kids for war. We dare not send them out to public high school and university armed with rubber swords and plastic armor. The time for playing games is past.”
The time for playing games is past indeed. The statistics tell us that 60-70% of young people who were raised as church goers wave goodbye to Christianity before hitting their mid-twenties, as did I before returning to the faith in my mid-thirties, but unlike myself, most of these ‘leavers’ will never return to the faith.
And it’s not just young people who need to be taught critical thinking when it comes to matters of faith—most Christian adults cannot give reasons for ‘why’ they believe that Christianity is true beyond their own personal experience, something that is wholly inadequate for the parent whose child is being, “assaulted with every manner of non-Christian worldview coupled with an overwhelming relativism” not just in the university, but in our ever increasing secular culture as well.
While interest in apologetics is experiencing a resurgence as of late, the church as a whole still seems to be slow in catching on, or are even downright opposed, as ‘faith trumps facts’ seems to be the prevailing attitude. Instead of producing Christians who can say, “I believe the Bible is God’s word, and here’s why…”, we’re producing Christians who can only say, “God said it, I believe it, and that’s good enough for me!” This manner of blind faith and circular reasoning is not likely to win many converts or help the struggling student who has left the relative safety of their Christian ghetto and has entered the real world.
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What is the solution to this problem? Does every pastor need to be a trained apologist? While I believe that every pastor does need to have some basic training in apologetics, I don’t think that this is a realistic solution. Perhaps churches could hire academically trained apologists to serve on staff? This would be ideal, but again, unrealistic, as many churches can barely afford a full-time pastor, let alone a full-time apologist.
I believe the solution lies in ‘community apologists’. A community apologist is someone with an interest in apologetics stepping up to the plate and making themselves available to teach apologetics in their church and community. You don’t have to be an expert ‘Million Dollar’ apologist like William Lane Craig who has multiple PhDs, it only takes a desire to learn and to share to become a ‘One Dollar Apologist’, who can in turn produce other one dollar apologists, which, if enough people will answer the call and step up to the plate, could end up multiplying into One Million One Dollar Apologists!
Here are just a few suggestions as to what you can do as a community apologist:
- Start a Ratio Christi chapter at a local school or university.
- Start a Reasonable Faith or Reasons to Believe chapter in your area.
- Volunteer to teach an apologetics Sunday School Class or small group at your church. The Truth Project, William Lane Craig’s On Guard, and Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ, Case for Faith, and Case for a Creator, are all available as small group curriculums. Mikel Del Rosario also has an excellent apologetics curriculum, as does J Warner Wallace’s PleaseConvinceMe.com with Please Convince Me Academy. These are just a few examples of what’s available.
- You can also get a Twitter page and follow other apologist and apologetics websites and retweet their tweets. Start an apologetics fan page on Facebook and post apologetics articles and essays from existing sources or write your own. If you have an interest in apologetics, this is something you could do with very little effort, or with a little more effort you could start an apologetics blog. The Poached Egg started out as a humble little personal blog that has morphed into one of the most popular apologetics websites on the internet.
The possibilities are almost endless, but maybe your church or pastor is opposed to apologetics training, what then? For starters you could cleverly disguise your apologetics class as ‘evangelism’ training, ‘Christian growth’, or ‘Christian Worldview’ training, apologetics relates to all of these—and if that doesn’t work, do some research and show your pastor and staff why apologetics training is necessary and essential for every church and individual—be a thorn in their side if you have to, and most of all, pray for God’s help and guidance. This is actually the first thing you should do and not the last.
So, do you have an interest in apologetics or study apologetics as a personal hobby? If so, it’s time for you to go public. Step up to the plate and become a community apologist… if you don’t, who will?
Greg’s note: This post is part of a month long series in cooperation the the Christian Apologetics Alliance and its subgroup, the Apologetics Bloggers Alliance. Links to other posts in the series will be provided as they are published.