Objections to Apologetics: Just Evangelize
By Nate Sonner
Some see a sharp divide between apologetics and evangelism. Here, I’m using evangelism to mean people “gossiping the Gospel,” sharing the good news. Abraham Kuyper referred to it as “witnessing.” Why do apologetics? It’s the Gospel that saves, isn’t it? Just share the simple good news. That’s all we need to do. Why get caught up in all these other questions about Christianity? Just stick to telling them about Jesus. That’s what the unbeliever needs, not all these other issues.
The Christian, perhaps thinking that his argument with the non-Christian is simply over a fact such as Christ’s resurrection from the dead, may set out to prove from history that this even occurred, but he soon realizes (if he is at all thoughtful) that the two of them also disagree over the proper character of historical research, reasoning, and evaluation.
-Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic pg. 101
First, there’s the likely misunderstanding of apologetics, as if it is categorically different from evangelism. Both evangelism and apologetics are applications of the Word of God. Both are done under the authority of Christ, and proceed from the same revelational epistemology. Both flow from the standpoint of belief, being “in Christ.” Bahnsen offers helpful advice here: “The Key will be to recognize differences of degree between these activities and not escalate them into categorical differences of kind” (Ibid., pg. 43). In apologetics and evangelism, we are applying the Word of God to people’s hearts.
This objection also fails to understand what’s going on in an evangelistic encounter, the total situation. No one hears the Gospel (or anything else) in isolation. Human beings are interpreters. Everything is interpreted, correctly or not, according to a person’s most fundamental beliefs. The Gospel may be “simple” (in a certain sense) but that does not mean the unbeliever hears the Gospel while ignoring everything else he believes about himself and the world around him…
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