Why Apologetics Has a Bad Name
by Sean McDowell
In the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict, my father and I lay out some of the most recent and compelling historical evidence for the Christian faith. And yet before we present the evidence, we offer some reasons why many Christians dismiss apologetics entirely. The goal of this post is to show that while some people have certainly misused apologetics, there is still a vital need for its proper use today.
There are a number of reasons why people dismiss apologetics. Some comes from a lack of understanding the nature, role, and importance of apologetics. Others lie at the hands of apologists themselves.
Apologists often overstate their case. There is a huge temptation to overstate the evidence for the Bible, intelligent design, the resurrection of Jesus or any other apologetic issue. I have succumbed to this myself. In our eagerness to convince non-believers, or our desire to strengthen fellow Christians, we can all fall prey to the temptation to state things more certainly than they may be. In our information age, people have access to counterarguments and perspectives at the tip of their fingers. We also live in a skeptical age where people who say things with dogmatism are often considered suspect. This does not mean the evidence for Christianity is not compelling. It is. But there are smart, thoughtful people that disagree. And we must acknowledge this, or we’ll set up people—especially young people—for failure.
Apologists often do not speak with gentleness, love and respect. A few years ago, I had a public debate with a skeptic on the question of God and morality. As part of my preparation, I listened to many debates from Christians. Although I won’t mention any names, there were a handful of Christian debaters that honestly made me cringe at how they treated their opponents…
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