by Nick Norelli
Apologetics gets a bad rap from various sectors. Scholars indebted to historical criticism often see apologetics as the antithesis of scholarship. One cannot be a scholar and an apologist at the same time according to many. Atheists very often view apologetics as little more than fideism; blind faith; indoctrination. And then there are those Christians who say that they wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and in doing so are willing to live with all the messy bits and tensions. They view apologetics as a misguided attempt to smooth out what’s meant to be rough.
I’d disagree on all fronts. Some of the finest scholars I’ve had the pleasure of reading are apologists and use their scholarship in the service of the church and the Christian faith. I think of folks like Darrell Bock; William Lane Craig; and John Frame to name a few from varying backgrounds. And good apologetics is the opposite of fideism. It’s a presentation of all the many reasons for the Christian faith. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a bunch of bad apologetics floating around—there is—but the scholarly kind of apologetics usually has plenty to back it up.
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But it’s the critique of the last group that irks me the most. I get that historical critics and atheists are working with completely different presuppositions but Christians who claim to believe that the Scriptures were given by inspiration of God shouldn’t be quite so hostile to apologetics, assuming that they’re good apologetics, not bunk. It seems to be a position born out of arrogance. The idea that nobody can make sense of certain things or resolve things that seems at odds because you can’t is the height of hubris, or at least appears to be. Yet that seems to be the attitude I see reflected in much writing on the subject…
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