The Secret to Integrating Apologetics in the Church
Imagine that a terrible disease has begun to infect large portions of the population. A group of scientists develops a cure for the disease. They are enthusiastically embraced by doctors, sick people, and their families. Other doctors and scientists are eager to learn how to create a vaccine to inoculate those who are not already sick, in order to potentially stop the spread of the disease.
There is a disease just like this infecting our society, and even the Church. It comes in different strains but all of them lead to doubt, watered down quasi-Christianity, or even outright rejection of Christianity, by those inside the Church and outside of it (including the estimated 60-80% of youth who leave the faith while in college). Yet there is a cure that has been shown to be fairly effective at treating the disease and inoculating those who have not yet been infected. This cure largely involves strategically employing apologetics from an early age. This is why the Church so openly embraces apologetics and those who have studied it.
We live in a golden age of apologetics. There are books, online training, debates, and seminary classes that address every challenge out there. Just as the doctors in our scenario above embrace the cure, pastors today are enthusiastic about welcoming in those who have studied apologetics. Just as the families of sick people embrace the cure for those who are sick and vaccinate all who are not already sick as a preventative, lay people in the Church enthusiastically attend apologetics lectures to the point there is never enough room for everyone. The apologist is revered in the Church, a special gifting to serve the Body of Christ.
Does much in the paragraph above sound more like a fiction story than anything you have ever seen in reality? Most likely you would say, “I can hardly get anyone in my church to care about apologetics.” Why is this the case? This is especially confusing since we do in fact live in what could be considered, in at least one sense, a golden age of apologetics. If we stop to think about it, the variety of apologetics training and resources available at different levels and in different formats is quite staggering. These should be tools and weapons with which the Church is equipping itself to deal with the problems and battles that come from our ever more secular, post-truth, and post-Christian society. However, the Church is not doing so, at least not at the rate it is needed. Given the quality of people and materials available, the impact they actually make on the Church is drastically disproportional—and not in the good direction. So again, why is this the case?
Finding a Path Forward
We could cry about anti-intellectualism, shortened attention spans, or an ever more experience and emotion-based Christianity. But instead, we should start by looking in the mirror. Let’s face it, you and I have a large part to play in the Church’s rejection of apologetics. We know it is almost impossible to be an effective Christian today without apologetics, yet many in the Church think apologetics is a fruitless exercise for a bunch of eggheads who don’t have anything better to do with their time than to argue over irrelevant details. This might sound a bit harsh, and there certainly are some places where individual apologists or groups have made headway, but the victories are few relative to the need. More often, we apologists get our shot in our church (4 weeks for an optional Sunday School class) and proceed to unload our last 5 years of learning on people in hour long lectures where we sometimes forget to breathe. Not to mention that the people we are trying to teach were lost after the first 5 minutes.
This is not likely to be a successful path forward. We need to ask ourselves, “What should a utopian vision of the Church embracing apologetics look like?” Hint—if our answer bases success primarily on attendance to apologetics lectures, then we are probably on the wrong track and will never be successful at integrating apologetics in the real Church that actually exists.
So, what do we do instead? How can we inspire the Church to care, and how can we meet them where they are? Is there a secret to integrating apologetics into the Church?
Join us on Monday, November 5th at 8pm EST for a live webinar, as the Engage 360 team (which is the ministry that The Poached Egg has integrated within) presents a renewed vision and a way forward. We will give you simple steps you can take to be part of the solution—not a part of the problem. A special introduction by apologist and philosopher, Tim McGrew will make this an event you don’t want to miss. Sign up to recieve the registration link by entering your email in the form located here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WTNBB5FURbe50ea6XMKkjA
We look forward to seeing you next week!
-Matt Schmidt and the Engage 360 Team