Beware The Apologetics Sledgehammer
The Chief End
I love apologetics. Real apologetics. I’ve known Christians who say they like apologetics, want to learn apologetics, or enjoy doing apologetics. That’s a really great thing! The desire to learn how to do apologetics can lead not just to a deeper understanding of Christian theology but also many other disciplines as well (philosophy, physics, biology, astronomy, literature, psychology, etc.). But sometimes I fear that an overzealous pursuit of apologetics can lead not just to sloppy arguments but to arguments and behaviors that are downright harmful to fellow Christians and to the witness of Christians in the world.
So let’s start out with a good definition of apologetics. Our word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word ἀπολογία which means “a verbal defense” especially in the context of a courtroom. It implies intelligence and competence. It implies well reasoned and thought out arguments that are given in the hopes of swaying people to see your side. Christian apologetics done right should have all these things in mind plus the ultimate goal of bringing glory to God by pointing people to the infallible truth of the Scriptures.
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The tool of apologetics is something that should typically be wielded like a scalpel. The best apologists are those who are able to systematically dismantle the arguments of their debate opponents in a systematic, clear, and winsome manner. They use apologetics like a surgeon’s scalpel and carefully address every argument against the faith while offering their own powerful counterarguments. The apologetics scalpel is incredibly effective. Even those who disagree with Christianity can at least respect and admire the strength of a well made argument that is delivered with charisma and intelligence.
Unfortunately there are those who wield apologetics more like a sledgehammer…