Four Apologetics Mistakes to Avoid
by Forest Antemesaris
Every Christian is at some point involved in the task of defending the faith. We should always be prepared to “make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15). Unfortunately, sometimes we can do more harm than good while trying to defend the faith or reach out to a skeptic.
I in no way consider myself an expert apologist, but I was an atheist before converting to Christianity and I have some insight into what works and what doesn’t. The list below is filled with things that would make me roll my eyes when I was an atheist and make me cringe when I hear them employed today as a former skeptic.
1. “Just Have Faith”
That’s kind of the problem. As an atheist, I didn’t feel I had the rational explanation to warrant putting my faith in God. While faith is ultimately a choice, those who hold skeptical positions through their own rational thought processes aren’t willing to just drop their philosophy to become a Christian. It takes more than simply deciding one day to have faith. We of all people should know this. Unfortunately, “just believe!” is often a last-ditch effort when we don’t know what else to say.
We shouldn’t present a Christianity that is haphazardly entered by a blind leap. We convince no one and defend nothing when our only response to a skeptic is “you just got to believe.” Now, I am not saying that all skepticism is rational or that everyone can be convinced. But, we should at least be able to present skeptics with substantive, rational reasons to believe in the God of the Bible. If they choose to reject those reasons, that is fine, at least we did more than asking them to “just have faith.”
When Peter preached the first recorded gospel sermon at that Pentecost after Jesus’ death, his go-to line wasn’t, “Household of Israel, just have faith that Jesus was who he said he was.” Instead, the conclusion of Peter’s message was, “Let all the house of Israel, therefore, know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Further, this conclusion only came after reasoning from the scriptures, firsthand testimony, and even empirical evidence…