Why We Need Apologetic Pastors, Part 1
By Dr. Andrew Corbett
Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, cautions, “If pastors fail to do their homework in these areas [science, biblical criticism, philosophy], then there will remain a substantial portion of the population—unfortunately, the most intelligent and therefore most influential people in society, such as doctors, educators, journalists, lawyers, business executives, and so forth—who will remain untouched by their ministry.”1
I didn’t always heed Keller’s warning, but I am now an unapologetically apologetic pastor. Before my conversion I struggled to get the desired traction in the community outside my church. Eventually I became convinced that the only way pastors are going to be effective is through apologetics. My embrace of apologetics is motivated primarily by my desire to honor God, but through it I’ve seen more people come to Christ, our church grow, and our community engagement open amazing doors. My desire is that more pastors and church leaders will discover the need for and the benefits of apologetics in reaching an unbelieving world.
The Need for Apologetics
Yes, there was a time when Christianity was so embedded in Western civilization that people rarely challenged it publicly—today, the Christian faith is not only challenged but also ridiculed. Much of the ridicule is fed by the stereotype of Christians as intellectual Lilliputians. Admonitions to “just believe” in Christ or to trust Scripture with blind faith are beyond unhelpful in correcting this misconception—they are even damaging and undermine biblical Christianity’s credibility.
Keller also notes that Western society has, in general, become more scientifically literate and articulate.2 Nonbelievers are more likely to view pastors who ignore this cultural shift as irrelevant because they are not speaking the language of the times. Failure in this area is one of the core reasons for the schism between the church and mainstream culture—we desperately need more apologetic pastors! Apologetic pastors live and teach by a different view of faith. We believe that biblical Christianity satisfies both the heart and the mind because it involves discovering and living the truth…