There are those who really push back against Christian apologetics, and I’m not talking about skeptics. I think that some Christians have a problem with apologetics because of a misunderstanding about apologetics.
The truth is that there are different forms of apologetics, some better than others. I would like to show what apologetics can be, should be and should not be.
What Apologetics Can Be
When I read books and listen to podcasts about apologetics, I hear a very particular ideal for what apologetics is supposed to look like.
For some, the best apologist is a philosopher with a PhD, who regularly debates atheists in scholarly settings. There is definitely a place for this.
While I disagree that apologetics has to be equated with philosophy, and that history and biblical studies are just important, we do need scholars working in the academic world. There will always be a need for good quality resources by people who know how to do research. Scholar-apologists will always have a place, but it is not for everyone.
What Apologetics Should Be
I chuckle when I hear Christians say that they think apologetics is completely bad and they want nothing to do with it. The reason I think it is funny is that even the most anti-apologetics Christian will give some response to a person who asks why they are a follower of Jesus. That’s apologetics!
There is a place for apologetics in the life of every Christian. It does not mean that they need to be experts in textual criticism, world religions, or philosophy or religion.
The kind of apologetics that we need are people who have thought through why and what they believe and can communicate it in a respectful manner. People do not need PhDs or articles published in peer-reviewed journals.
I would always recommend Christians to read widely. But I would also say that the books do not have to be limited to the topic of apologetics. Christians should read diverse topics, including from perspectives different from our own.
What Apologetics Should Not Be
Some Christians will embrace an academic-style apologetic and others will embrace a more relational apologetic. That is fine, one is not objectively better than the other.
But there is a kind of apologetics that we do not need.
There are Christians who embrace apologetics because they have a love for arguments. And by arguments, I do not mean in the context of logic, I mean going on the attack against opponents.
Some Christians just want to be shown to be right, not just by the person they are talking to, but by those around them. They want to be seen as the smartest person in the room.
For them, the ultimate goal is not to show that following Jesus is the best way but to destroy their opponent. They will use any method available to win, even if it goes completely against the style of Jesus. This method should be avoided at all costs.
Is apologetics good or bad? It depends on what you mean by apologetics and how you do it. If you are a Christian, consider what kind of apologetics is most compatible with being a follower of Jesus.
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