Servant Apologetics: Inner Circle Dwellers and Selfish Body Builders
by Jason Wisdom
In That Hideous Strength, the third installment of C. S. Lewis’ grossly underappreciated space trilogy, Lewis addresses a subtle, yet pervasive human problem. He offers a version of the “grass is always greener” dilemma. Lewis says that human beings perpetually long to enter the “inner circle.” Discontent with his current station, man inevitably longs to become part of some elite group. However, as soon as enters the inner circle that he has idolized, he realizes that there is yet another, more elite circle. Even powerful leaders of countries long to be in the inner circle constituted by those who have left great legacies. Until they can get into that elite group, they will feel unfulfilled. If they reach that level, they will long for something yet more exclusive. The cycle is never ending.
When I first began studying apologetics, the “inner circle” temptation was extremely strong. I saw an opportunity to reach a level of knowledge that very few Christians possess. That would put me in an elite group. I would be somebody special. I have a suspicion that my experience is not unusual, especially for young people getting into apologetics. There is a bent towards elitism, even amongst many who have been involved in the field for a long time. It is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Today, there is a great gulf that exists between the average church and the apologetics community. That is due in part to the rise of anti-intellectualism in Western Christianity since the second great awakening. It is also largely due to an elitist/separatist mentality propagated by many apologists. It is not unlike the marriage where the husband is convinced that his arguments are logially sound and that his wife just needs to get with the program. Of course, she is equally convinced that he is heartless, cold, and unloving. The result is a strained relationship.
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With the background painted, I would like to suggest that it is time for a trip to the motivational chiropractor. Those of us who love apologetics need to have our posture adjusted. It is time to for us to adopt the posture of a servant. For far too long we have carried ourselves in the corporate church world as superiors. Pontificating about the shallow and anti-intellectual shortcomings of the masses, we became separatists, (at least in our hearts) seeking to impress one another–creating smaller, yet more elite inner circles. We have been like the body builder who only works out to attract flaberghasted looks and win awards from body building organizations, but goes through life ignoring the needs of others that he could meet with his superhuman strength.
Instead of seeing the lack of zeal for apologetics in our churches, youth groups, and colleges as an obstacle, we need to start viewing it as an opportunity. We cannot approach our pastors/youth leaders/missionaries/campus ministers and say “You need less emotional back-patting and more apologetics!” or “this church is all fluff and no stuff!” While these statements may be true, that is exactly what they expect from us, and a lot of the reason we are stuck in a viscous cycle…