Why Apologetics Won’t Work

by Dan Grossenbach

If apologetics is so great and its arguments compelling, why isn’t everyone convinced of Christianity? This is where the doctrine of election debate between Calvinists and Arminians normally comes in, but I think both sides are overlooking a simpler and self-evident truth of human nature – one they can both agree on. People aren’t robots. Each of us view new truth claims through a unique lens formed by our conditioning, cares, and community.

I’ve been writing, debating, and teaching apologetics for 15 years and I’m often asked by my students why their friends aren’t compelled by the same arguments they are. Those in my Reason Why class love apologetics for how it’s played a role in their spiritual development so they naturally want the same thing for their friends. Discovering the gospel is true based on independent evidence changes everything. Faith of wishful thinking becomes faith based on reality and the focal point of our life. Despite this, apologetics doesn’t play the same role for everyone.

It took me a while to realize this. At first, I thought everyone would openly consider the evidence and either confirm or change their beliefs accordingly. Not so. I’ve learned how we respond to our beliefs aren’t a matter of evidence and reason alone but just a part. Failure to appreciate this really frustrated me at first. I got discouraged when a powerful case for Christianity and logical fallacies were shrugged off so quickly by my friends. Once I understood other factors at play in worldview development, I became a better apologist. I now shake my head wondering why I didn’t see this earlier. The very same factors for those I’m trying to reach were there for me too. My life conditioning, my cares, and my community were far more important than the evidence ever was…

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