The Apologetics PR problem
by Paul Buller
For my day job I do predictive analysis on large gas compressors for the Oil and Gas industry. My clients want to assemble a compressor package and they want to reduce the likelihood that the unit will vibrate when they start it up. I use some state-of-the-art software to model their units, tap into my expertise regarding the physics surrounding vibration, predict the likelihood of vibration problems, and decide what changes are needed in order to make the unit run as smoothly as possible.
What’s the purpose of my job? Is it to discover the perfect way to build their unit so that they do not experience vibration problems? Actually, no! My job is not done until the unit is actually built the right way. Merely discovering the perfect way to build it is pointless unless that information ends up being implemented on the unit before they fire it up. Inherent to my job, then, is the human element. If I have personal knowledge of the perfect solution but it never leaves my mind, it’s pointless. It was all a waste. They’ll build the unit the wrong way, it will shake, and the end result would have been precisely the same as if I had never done any analysis in the first place.
My work is absolutely useless unless my clients are given the information in a manner they are able to understand so that they can actually use the information. In other words my highly technical engineering career – one that centers on analysis, number-crunching and leading edge implementation of scientific principles – is utterly dependent on the human element. My job is meaningless without relationships.
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Let me change channels now to the world of Christian Apologetics. Apologists often bemoan the lack of wider interest in the discipline. There is this theme within the community (a justified theme, I would suggest) that the Church has been ignoring challenges to the Faith to its own detriment. There is often an “us versus them” mentality with respect to Apologists and the Church at large. We are the intellectual elite who take seriously the development of our mental faculties (we love God with all our mind, as commanded – Mark 12:30) and the rest of the Church has settled for a pop-culture spirituality that majors on fluff and sentimentality and minors on serious analysis and rigorous development of the Christian worldview.
Our concerns are wholly justified, and our call to correction is perfectly legitimate, but why do so many people show so little interest in Apologetics? We have been trying to raise interest for so long, and often so loudly, yet it seems the vast ship of Christian sub-culture is only barely starting to swerve a little less off-course. The problem gets worse. We share some solid reasons and evidences for the Faith and unbelievers just shrug their shoulders. Moving beyond the realm of Apologetics, many of us have noticed that our relationships are strained on non-Apologetic issues. I sometimes find it difficult to just talk to people, even family (even my wife) about random stuff in life… just talk.
To help answer this question I think we need to consider…
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