Apologetics as Conversation

by Tim Muehlhoff

“What’s stopping you?” During a training session for those interested in apologetics, I asked if anyone knew of family members, classmates, or coworkers who did not have a relationship with Jesus. Hands went up throughout the audience.

“What’s stopping you from sharing the Christian perspective with them?” I asked. When I present this question to audiences, several responses surface.

Some answer, “I tried to bring up God with a family member, but he quickly became defensive, so I changed the subject. I have yet to bring up the issue again.” Others, “I imagine having a conversation with a coworker, but always envision it going poorly. I continually psych myself out.” Last, and most common, “I have no idea how to organize such a potentially explosive conversation.”

Can you relate?

Is there someone you want to share the Christian perspective with but have yet to do it? If so, what’s stopping you? Have you psyched yourself out or just lack a clear strategy for how to engage?

Most of us – through participating in social media or watching cable news shows – are aware of the argument culture, which Georgetown University linguist Deborah Tannen defines as a pervasive war-like atmosphere that makes us approach anything as if it were a verbal fight. “The argument culture urges us to regard the world – and the people in it – in an adversarial frame of mind.”[1] Regularly witnessing such incivility makes us want no part of contentious conversations, so we get into the habit of ignoring certain topics.

For the past couple of years, as I have watched our culture simultaneously lose the ability to have respectful conversations and become more hostile to Christian beliefs,[2] I have found myself wrestling with perplexing questions…

Apologetics as Conversation