Why “The Final Apologetic” Still Matters
By Mary Jo Sharp
The last few decades have brought about a revival of the ancient art of apologetics—the skill of case-making for the truth of Christianity. It’s partly a response to the growing presence of popular atheistic arguments across the media spectrum, especially the Internet. While the Internet is a remarkable tool for learning, it also provides greater access to more poorly formed arguments against God than ever before. As apologist C.S. Lewis wrote in his book The Weight of Glory, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” Though apologetics has never really ceased to exist in the church (Paul made his case before the Aeropagus in Acts 17 and King Agrippa in Acts 26, Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century gave his five proofs of God’s existence, and G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis penned their arguments in the 20th century), the current revival includes a surge of interest in directly combating the new atheist arguments.
I rejoice and thank God that Christians are becoming increasingly interested in understanding why they believe. Yet I’ve also been saddened at witnessing some Christians use apologetics as a weapon against others, especially against fellow believers. For some, apologetics is a method by which they tear down other people, instead of a means of analyzing and making arguments for the benefit of people. It’s a good time for a sobering reminder of Christian ethics. A solid Christian witness includes well-reasoned, thoughtful arguments and a lifestyle of love. The late apologist Francis Schaeffer entreated us to such a lifestyle in what he called “the final apologetic.”
Schaeffer’s “final apologetic” was based on John 17:20-23. In this passage, Jesus prayed for his disciples and for the believers yet to come. He prayed for unity among believers and that they would demonstrate love for one another as part of the reality of God’s love at work. Through this observable love, the world would recognize that Jesus truly is the Son of God. In his 1970 work The Mark of the Christian, Schaeffer wrote…
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