Sunday, January 09, 2005

Are Apologetics Still Necessary?

It is becoming more and more fashionable in the Emergent Church movement to ask this question. May feel, give their penchant for seeing the world through postmodern eyes, that the answer is some from of “no.” Those who say so typically point to the notion that apologetics have traditionally been an exercise in argumentation and at its worst, some from of intellectual bullyism. They will argue that apologetics are unnecessary for one of two, or both of the following reasons. First, the culture has strayed so far from Modernism that people no longer respond to arguments, premises and conclusions. If you tried to “reason” with a pomo, you would not get anywhere. The second reason is that, again given postmodern assumptions, the process of arguing toward a notion of objective, absolute truth is a waste of time. There either is no transcultural truth, or we simply can’t know whether there is.

My basic thesis is that the first reason is an important cultural observation which should help us understand what kind of role apologetics will play in our world today, but that the second reason is, well, basically hogwash. In a short series of posts I want to argue that apologetics are still necessary, and will always be a necessary part of the life of the Christian disciple but that the cultural observation made above will guide us in our understanding about what is important about apologetics today. In short, apologetics are still a necessary and important part of the Church, but it may take on a slightly different face that it has in the past century.

For now, a brief definition of apologetics is in order. “Apologetics” is a slightly unfortunate moniker for the contemporary American because the way we use the word on a regular basis has almost nothing to do with what it traditionally means in relation defending a belief system. It is originally derived from a Greek word which means “to defend.” So when we speak of “Christian apologetics” we are speaking of the exercise of developing good reasons to believe in Christianity, good reasons to not believe in other faith-systems and answers to the attacks on Christian faith.

So, are apologetic arguments still a useful tool for the believer, or have they gone the way of the Dodo bird? In my next post on this issue, I will discuss the typical postmodern alternative to traditional apologetics-the turn to the community.


Anonymous said...

I love apologetics and think it is important not only for evangelism, but especially for discipleship, because it helps us to develop a Christian worldview that is consistent in the face of all the other muck there is out there.

That being said, however, I think it is often misapplied. Sure unbelievers need to know that Christian beliefs are reasonable and consistent, but what they really need to know is what Christ has done so they can escape the wrath of a just God.

I must say, though, that I find almost nothing more frustrating than watching so-called Christian experts on television (Where DO they get these people?) or Christians in chat rooms unable to defend their faith against even the basic objections to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry, I forgot to sign that last comment.

RazorsKiss said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RazorsKiss said...

I'll be looking forward to it.

I enjoy apologetics, and my blog is focused on it, - look for a trackback.