A Look at Some Obstacles in Getting Apologetics Into the Local Congregation
by Eric Chabot
For those of us that are involved in the apologetic endeavor, we are always trying to come up with new strategies for how to get apologetics into the local congregation. We all know it can be a challenge to get our local pastors and ministry leaders to see the urgency for apologetic training. I am convinced that the leadership of the local congregation sets the tone for the people. So I would like to list some of the hindrances and obstacles that we face in attempting to implement apologetics into the local congregations:
It is important to remember that asking questions about what you believe is not necessarily the same thing as doubt. For example, when I was a new Christian, I had all kinds of questions. And I still have questions to this day. Asking questions is a part of spiritual growth.
Let’s look at a more technical definition of doubt. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary says the following about doubt:
“It is possible to have questions (or doubts) about persons, propositions, or objects. Doubt has been deemed a valuable element in honest, rational inquiry. It prevents us from reaching hasty conclusions or making commitments to unreliable and untrustworthy sources. A suspension of judgment until sufficient inquiry is made and adequate evidence is presented is judged to be admirable. In this light, doubt is not an enemy of faith. This seems to be the attitude of the Bereans in Acts 17:11. Questioning or doubting motivates us to search further and deeper in an understanding of faith. However, doubt in Scripture can be seen to be characteristic of both believers and unbelievers. In believers it is usually a weakness of faith, a wavering in the face of God’s promises. In the unbeliever doubt is virtually synonymous with unbelief. Scripture, as would be expected, does not look at doubt philosophically or epistemologically. Doubt is viewed practically and spiritually as it relates to our trust in the Lord. For this reason, doubt is not deemed as valuable or commendable.”
In many cases, our congregations don’t welcome questions. Doubt an be viewed as a sin which leads me to my next point.
Many confuse apologetics as something that will take the place of faith. In other words, if we offer reasons and evidence, God won’t be happy with us because what He can only be pleased by faith (Heb. 11:6). In response, in the Bible, the object of faith is sometimes described as resting in God Himself (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:24). Even in the New Testament, Jesus confirms this issue (Mark 11:22). And even as God is the object of faith, the author of the Gospel of John directs his audience to Jesus as being the object of faith as well (John 20:31). But let’s look at Acts 17:1-4: “Paul went into the synagogue reasoning and giving evidence that the Messiah had to suffer and rise again from the dead.”
Just stop and ask yourself this question: What if someone had stopped Paul and said, “Paul, you can’t go into the synagogue and reason with them. After all, they need faith.” I think Paul was more than aware that they needed to have faith. However, he knew that they were going to have objections to Jesus being the Jewish Messiah. He needed to be able to respond to their objections…