Doug’s article is call-to-arms for Christians who do not view the defense of the faith as an integral part of their Christian life. In this post on why men are fleeing the feminized church I argued that apologetics is a necessary part of a healthy two-way relationship with God and that it also engages the men to express their masculinity in a Christian way.
Groothuis starts by recommending 3 books on the lack intellectual rigor in the evangelical church, and he then goes on to lay out 6 “enemies” to the task of apologetics.
First, the 3 books:
Mark Noll’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” (Eerdmans, 1994) explores the historical roots of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Os Guinness’ “Fit Bodies, Fat Minds” (Baker Books, 1994), discusses some of the historical problems and also outlines what a Christian mind should look like. J.P. Moreland’s “Love Your God with all of Your Mind” (Navpress, 1997) explains why Christians don’t think, develops a biblical theology of the mind, and offers helpful apologetic arguments and strategies to empower the church intellectually.
Enemy #1: We don’t really love God or our neighbors
If we really cared about God like we say we do, then we would care enough to defend his reputation in public. If we really loved our neighbor and believed that they need to follow Jesus in order to be reconciled with God, we would tell them that. But we don’t really care enough about God when his reputation is slammed in public. We don’t care that our neighbor has false beliefs, such as a belief in the eternal universe.
Too many Christians don’t seem to care that Christianity is routinely ridiculed as outdated, irrational, and narrow-minded in our culture. They may complain that this “offends” them (just as everyone else is complaining that one thing or another “offends” them), but they do little to counteract the charges by offering a defense of the Christian world view in a variety of settings. Yet Scripture commands all Christians to have a reason for the hope that is within them and to present this with gentleness and respect to unbelievers (1 Peter 3:15).
Our attitude should be that of the Apostle Paul who was “greatly distressed” when he beheld the idolatry of sophisticated Athens. This zeal for the truth of God led him into a fruitful apologetic encounter with the thinkers gathered to debate new ideas (see Acts 17). It should for us as well. Just as God “so loved the world” that he sent Jesus to set us right with God (John 3:16), Jesus’ disciples should so love the world that they endeavor to reach the lost by presenting the Gospel and answering objections to the Christian faith (John 17:18).
Enemy #2: We distort Christian teachings in order to avoid disputes with other religions
As a result of the feminization of the church, we have altered our theology in order to “get along” with other religions that conflict with ours. Instead of wrestling with the competing truth claims of other religions, we just change the nature of our religion from objective knowledge to personal preference. If the Bible claims that Jesus rose from the dead, we reinterpret that historically testable claim as a preference claim. If the Bible says that the universe began to exist, we reinterpret that scientifically testable claim as a preference claim.
And it goes double for moral judgments and soteriological claims. The easiest way to make peace with people in these other religions is by dropping everything that offends our neighbors in other religions, like moral judgments and exclusive salvation. We simply decided that if Christianity claimed X and some other religion claimed not-X, that both could somehow be right. But this irrationality divorced Christianity from reason and made it into a personal preference instead of objective knowledge. It’s now just another option in the self-help buffet.
For some Christians, faith means belief in the absence of evidence and argument. Worse yet, for some faith means belief in spite of evidence to the contrary. The more irrational our beliefs, the better–the more “spiritual” they are… When Christians opt for irrationalism, they become just another “religious option,” and are classified along with Heaven’s Gate, the Flat Earth Society, and other intellectually impaired groups.
Enemy #3: We refuse to learn the evidences that support Christianity
We spend almost no time reading the kinds of non-fiction books that would inform us so that we are prepared to defend our beliefs. Instead, we put our best effort, our money and our thinking into school, work and other secular pursuits. We give Christianity a piece of our lives, and only allow it to serve us. We never serve it. We read fiction, watch TV and movies, pursue romantic relationships and play video games. But we have no time for preparing a defense based on actual facts and arguments.
Many Christians are not aware of the tremendous intellectual resources available to defend “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). This is largely because many major churches and parachurch organizations virtually ignore apologetics… Few evangelical sermons ever address the evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the justice of hell, the supremacy of Christ, or the logical problems with nonChristian worldviews. Christian bestsellers, with rare exceptions, indulge in groundless apocalyptic speculations, exalt Christian celebrities (whose characters often do not fit their notoriety), and revel in how-to methods.
Enemy #4: We refuse to defend God if it means being unpopular
Somehow, we have gotten the idea that the purpose of Christianity is for us to be happy. Being popular and accepted by non-Christians makes us happy. Therefore, we want to be popular. To be popular, we avoid being divisive with non-Christians. Moral judgments are divisive. Exclusive salvation is divisive. Christianity teaches moral rules and exclusive salvation. Therefore, we don’t talk about Christianity in order to avoid being divisive so that we can be popular and have the happy feelings that God wants us to have. But this is nowhere in the Bible.
In our pluralistic culture, a “live and let live” attitude is the norm, and a capitulation to social pressure haunts evangelicalism and drains its convictions. Too many evangelicals are more concerned about being “nice” and “tolerant” than being biblical or faithful to the exclusive Gospel found in their Bibles. Not enough evangelicals are willing to present and defend their faith in challenging situations, whether at school, at work, or in other public settings. The temptation is to privatize faith, to insulate and isolate it from public life entirely. Yes, we are Christians (in our hearts), but we have difficulty engaging anyone with what we believe and why we believe it. This is nothing less than cowardice and a betrayal of what we say we believe.
He goes on to exegete Colossians 4:2-6, Matthew 5:11-12, 1 Peter 4:14, Romans 1:16 and Matthew 28:18-20. The Bible just doesn’t support this anti-apologetics stance that seems to be so popular in the feminized church.
I’m out of space: …I’d like to say something about the other 2 enemies, but I am out of space. But that will just encourage you to click on the link and read the rest of the article, right?