What is the Point of Apologetics?

by Randy Everest

What is the point of apologetics, especially philosophical apologetics? I think for too long, many Christians, when first exposed to apologetics, have too lofty of goals. First, they think that the goal ought to be to convert everyone, even the most hardened skeptic. The fact of the matter is, if someone doesn’t want to believe, then no matter what you do, they can always resist. Second, they think the “defensive goal” of apologetics ought to be to answer every objection beyond any shadow of a doubt. Since doubt is at least in part psychological (in large part, really), this too is much too unrealistic.

So what should it be? “Offensively,” the goal should be to remove intellectual stumbling blocks from the paths of those who really want to know. There are such people, and for them, apologetics serves to pave the way to respectably believe in Christianity and the Gospel. Defensively, the goal should be to show that the objections are not so forceful that they render belief in Christianity unjustified or irrational; in short, that Christianity is still intellectually respectable.

Why bring this up? I do so because the consequences of ignoring this are dire (and, by the way, your atheist friend on the Internet is not holding himself to nearly the same standard). First, you will become frustrated, jaded, and eventually prideful if your main goal is to convert the masses. “What are you saying?” you might be thinking. “Shouldn’t we want all to convert?!” Of course I do, and of course we should. However, what I mean is a kind of intellectual rational compulsion. First, even if we achieved this, mere intellectual assent is not the saving truth of the Gospel…

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