Is Apologetics a Waste of Time?
by Gil Dueck
One of the most enjoyable courses I taught over my time at Bethany was an introduction to Christian apologetics. This involved a basic overview of some persistent objections to the Christian faith and discussion around what could be offered in response. It was always a privilege to get into these conversations – partially because many students were considering the issues for the first time and partially because there is something invigorating about opening up big questions with big implications.
I think I’ve always been wired to think along “apologetic” kinds of pathways. It’s not because I consider myself to be overly combative (I actually have a fairly pronounced discomfort with conflict – except when it comes to trivial things like sports 🙂 ). But I’ve always been fairly curious and had an interest in how some of the things churchy people talk about sound to others. Who knows, maybe this is enough to make me an apologist.
Given all of that, I was interested in a few things that have popped up over the past week or so that raised the question of whether apologetics has a future. Three pieces in particular caught my attention:
- Os Guinness suggesting that we are entering the “grand age of apologetics” because our post-Christian context has opened a “magnificent moment of clarification.”
- David Fitch arguing that apologetics hurts our witness because it trains us to formulate answers without actually listening to people (though he does say that it may have value for building up one’s own faith).
- Peter Enns arguing that apologetics wrongly teaches us that the intellect is our primary means by which we formulate our convictions. (for further reading along similar lines, see Myron Penner’s The End of Apologetics).
So what to make of all this? Is apologetics entering a golden age or a pursuit best discarded? A few quick thoughts…
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