What type of Christian is apologetics for? Is it for just conservative evangelicals or is it something that all Christians can benefit from?
It is interesting that I ask this question because I asked something similar about disability theology. In this post, I recognized that liberal churches are more active in disability theology/ministry, but that it was appropriate for us all.
I would like to argue something similar for Christian apologetics.
It is true that much of the “apologetics industry” is closely connected to conservative evangelicalism. The most influential authors, speakers, ministries and seminary programs are firmly evangelical in nature.
The danger of this that Christian apologetics can easily turn from just defending the gospel to defending conservative evangelicalism (no they are not synonyms).
We should acknowledge that there is fairly vibrant Roman Catholic apologetics movement. In some cases there is overlap and Roman Catholic apologists such as Peter Kreeft and Holly Ordway are highly respected within the wider apologetics community.
But within Protestantism, what about those who don’t identify with conservative evangelicalism?
One of the problems is defining our labels. There is no clear line for when one moves from conservative to moderate evangelicalism or to the evangelical left. Yes there is an Evangelical Left.
What about non-evangelical Anglicans or other Protestants who don’t identify as evangelical? Having talked about this, some apologists expressed confusion why any non-conservative would be interested in apologetics. Haven’t they already forsaken the gospel?
The truth is that there are faithful Christians within all traditions of Christianity. One doesn’t have to be an evangelical or a conservative to love Jesus and to express reasons why Jesus is the only source of true hope.
They might not use apologetics to speak against women in ministry, LGBTQ+ issues, CRT, climate change, and so on. But they have a strong faith in Jesus and they are willing to show reasons why.
An example of this is Tokens of Trust by Rowan Williams. Many conservative evangelicals would hate this book. He uses Buddhist and Muslim sources in a positive ways. He argues for a faith that is not conservative evangelicalism. But he also explains why God can be trust, why Jesus is unique as God incarnate, and why Christianity is worth considering.
The truth is that the most respected apologist of the twentieth century, C.S. Lewis, was no evangelical. He smoked and drank. He also had numerous beliefs that would not sit well with many evangelicals (see this post). And yet Lewis was one of the most influential and effective apologists of all time.
I am thankful for the work conservative evangelicals do for Christian apologetics. I am much more in the moderate camp, and would even be considered liberal by some, but conservatives have done much to create apologetics resources.
I would love to see more apologetics by those outside of conservatism. We do not serve a conservative or a liberal Jesus, just Jesus. Christianity is a wide tent and there are gifted minds in all of our traditions. Thank God for this diversity.
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