There is something that happens to many Christians at some point in their spiritual journey. From their point of view, its seems to me, the believe they have reached the age of maturity in Christ where many of the subjects that held their attention and passion no longer matter so much (if at all). I especially hear this about apologetics. What once was (or so they thought) a great catalyst that propelled them to deepen their faith by increasing their conviction in the truthfulness of Christianity now represents an unnecessary detour that actually held them back. At some point these Christians believe that they have entered into an existential transcendence that far eclipses their unnecessary groping for that to which reason could never contribute.
“My faith no longer requires evidence.”
“Apologetics seeks to bring absolute assurance when, in reality, it just brings a false hope. There is no absolute assurance.”
“Our fascination with having to prove our faith is a deterrent to true faith.”
“Apologetics never saved anyone.”
I have a hard time understanding where this mentality comes from, even though I have been there myself.
Sometimes, I think, we get exhausted by reason. We find that rational can only do so much. Though it may have played an exciting part in our story, apologetics does not represent the “meat” of our faith anymore.
Why do people become disenchanted with apologetics? Is there a point in our Christian life that causes us to move beyond the intellect? Is an existential engagement with God better than a rational one?
I don’t really know how to respond to any of these. Well, I can’t respond with much confidence. However, I do believe that many people get saturated with the rational side of Christianity to such a degree that it fails to produce in them a living faith. It is not the fault of the rational. It is probably our fault for immersing ourselves so much in this area that we lose site of the relaxing hope that apologetics should produce.
I agree that apologetics never saved anyone. God does. It is aways through the power of the Spirit that one turns to Christ and submits to his authority. But God uses a variety of means to bring this about. Saying “Apologetics never saved anyone” is about like saying “Homiletics never saved anyone.” Or even, “Correct grammar never saved anyone.”
We all know that Apologetics can consume someone until all the spiritual life is sucked out of them. Too much knowledge can drive us mad. But that is not the fault of apologetics. We are called to defend the faith. There will never be a time when when quit defending the faith. There will never be a time that faith is indefensible. Apologetics really does contribute to a more full faith.
Jesus presented himself to the world with “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:2). For forty days Christ provided a significant ration groundwork for our faith. We dare not put this aside and say we don’t need the “convincing proofs” anymore. We will aways need convincing proofs. Therefore, we will always need apologetics.
You cannot transcend your need for apologetics anymore than I can transcend my need for calcium. Calcium is an ingratiate needed in our diet if we are to be balanced. Like this, apologetics provides just one (albeit important) component to our faith.
- Take breaks from apologetics.
- Balance your spiritual diet with some good homiletics (preaching).
- Don’t substitute your apologetic vigor for righteousness.
- Never fail to do your best to apply the truths that you are convinced of.
Maybe you are in a season of life where apologetics is not as appealing as it once was. These seasons come and go. But never put a “road closed” sign on the journey to defend your faith. We all need apologetics greatly. If we give up on it, we are giving up on one of the most unique gifts God has given to us. Unlike all other claims to faith, ours is an incarnational faith that will forever demand we deal with it historically.
Apologetics still matters.