Apologetics in the Church
by Patrick Collins
As an apologetics-advocating ministry, we strive to show the importance and usefulness of apologetics. A common question that comes up about apologetics is why most churches don’t focus on it.
Well, this is a misperception of the problem.
All churches teach apologetics. The question is “how much?” and “how good?”
Most churches teach apologetics through an appeal to authority (the Bible; ie, “The Bible says…”). This is known as a form of “presuppositionalism.” They presuppose God exists and the Bible is true.
While this type of approach has its weaknesses, like speaking with those who reject the Bible, it does have its strengths.
Since apologetics is giving “a reasoned out response” or “a defense,” appealing to the Bible is sufficient for Bible related issues such as doctrine, morality, prophecy, and counter-cult evangelism. Each of these disciplines requires you to appeal to the Bible to defend a position.
When we look apologetics and the church, we answer the question of “how much?” with the variety of apologetics. Is it just appeals to the Bible (the rightful ultimate authority), or does it include looking at philosophy, history, archeology, and other disciplines? If it is just the Bible, is there room for disagreement? A discerning church will recognize that many teachings have a range of valid interpretations and applications.
If a church is extremely black and white with only certain persons of high position who are right, then there’s a huge problem. Otherwise, there is some room to work and grow in the body of believers. Unfortunately, many churches don’t focus much on doctrine because they are more concerned with unity than truth (just my opinion). Though, to be fair and balanced, according to some ministers the congregation just isn’t interested in going deeper. While this may be a sad truth, I have to wonder how many pastors want to avoid the disputes, controversies, and disagreements that come with going deeper.
For the question of “how good?” there are any numbers of ways to qualify it. Instead of going into many particulars, I think it’s best at this time to look at the principal of the purpose of apologetics. Apologetics isn’t about showing how much you know or just having intellectual pursuits and debates (which is another common misperception). In the end, good apologetics is useful in conversations about issues that matter. In other words, you could hear only appeals to the authority of the Bible or study all the various disciplines at an abstract level and understand them completely, but both be equally effective.
How so? If you can’t meet people where they are, ask them questions to clarify what they’ve said, and otherwise talk at or past them, then you’re ineffective. The quality of your apologetics training comes when the rubber hits the road…
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