William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men

I saw that Triablogue quoted this passage from William Lane Craig’s April newsletter, which made me very excited and happy.

Here it is:

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ. By presenting rational arguments and historical evidences for the truth of the Gospel, by appealing to the mind as well as the heart, we can bring a great influx of men into the Kingdom. I’m so pleased that the church in Canada seems to be awakening to this challenge! I’m convinced that we have the opportunity to revolutionize Western Christianity by reclaiming our intellectual heritage.

I could tell you many, many stories of what it was like for me being shut down by churches who were overly sensitive to the desires of women. In college, I and the other male students had every attempt to bring in scholars to lecture or debate shut down by female leadership. Every single week it was prayer walks, testimonies, hymn sings… over and over. Eventually, the more manly Christians just quit going. Later on, I witnessed apologetics being shut down in the church from the top down and from the bottom up, as well.

I remember one week an excited male friend invited me to his church because his male pastor was giving sermons using Hugh Ross and Gerald Shroeder books. He was trying to tie in the existence of God to cosmology. Well, I showed up the next Sunday to hear, and was disappointed. I could tell that the pastor wanted to go back to that subject, but he never really did. Later on, we found out that a female parishioner had complained that too much science and evidence had ruined her experience of feeling good and being comforted.

I could go on and on and on telling stories like this. To this day, I cannot stand being in a church unless that church has organized things like apologetic training classes, public lectures, public debates or public conferences. But that’s the minority of churches. The fact is that churches are attended far more by women than by men, and pastors are catering to women more than men. Not only will apologetics not be mentioned, but elements of feminism will creep into doctrine (egalitarianism) and all political issues will be avoided. Church has become a place to have good feelings, and it is far divorced from anything like evidence or politics which might be viewed as judgmental and divisive.

On Saturday night, ECM (a male deist) and I were talking about the Gosnell scandal, and he was asking me why churches don’t mention things like this. And I told him that the feminization of the church means that Christianity can only be cashed out in subjective terms. I told him about the church-attending women I know who are 100% Democrat because it’s more “tolerant”. And I told him about my difficulties getting the church and campus groups to take up apologetics. Is it any wonder that non-Christian men view Christianity as weak, because we can’t even talk about politics and current events in church?

Commenters on Triablogue think that Dr. Craig will draw flak for his comment, but he’s not going to draw flak from mature Christians. What he said is correct. Mature Christians are right behind him on this point. Christian men who have tried to act to defend God’s reputation in public know that there is something wrong in the churches. And eventually, men just tune out of church because we know that there is nothing there for us. If women want men to come back to church, then they have to change the church away from what it is now.

UPDATE: Lydia read this post and reminded me that pre-suppositionalism is very popular with men and is a kind of fideist approach to Christianity that’s nowhere found in the Bible. I totally forgot to mention that. Presuppositionalism, in my experience, is very popular with men. I take a strong view on it, that it’s basically fideism, but I have been disagreed with on that by many people. In my mind, the only right way to do apologetics is by addressing presuppositions like naturalism, universalism, pluralism, etc. and using scientific and historical evidence as well. So there is an area where men are working against effective apologetics by embracing an unBiblical approach to apologetics that tries to minimize the use of evidence.

16 thoughts on “William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men”

  1. This is a “bombuster” of a suggestion and goes against the current trend as women are being promoted as pastors/elders/bishops in the NT nor found in the OT scripture (not seen in the Zadok/Levitical priesthood or the Sanhedrian elders elected by Moses).
    What is even more surprising is the stories of Jezebel / Ahab in OT/NT as examples.
    This cannot be denied.
    Forgive me for digressing.
    The more I have been reading your blog over the last two years, they have been convinced me (thank you WK) that there needs to be apologetic training classes, public lectures, public debates/ conferences on righteousness, temperance, and the consequences (Acts 24:25).
    The social and scientific data is available to present a solid argument / reasoning.
    The ability to demonstrate clear rational thinking and sound arguments based on TRUTH / FACTS need to be seen by the upcoming younger generations who are being bombarded with evolution, immorality, and relativism in schools / society.
    I am going to suggest this to the church I am attending and offer my services.
    Shalom

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    1. If you have a Kindle, or Kindle for PC, I really recommend picking up J. Warner Wallace’s “Cold-Case Christianity” and McDowell/Morrow “Is God Just a Human Invention?”. Those are your first two books right there.

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  2. I don’t know why Craig has the experience he has (maybe that’s how it works in America, I don’t know), but this woman likes apologetics more than most men do–just for the record. And I have no trouble inviting female friends to go with me to talks by Craig and Lennox and such. They come along and they love it. I have a female friend who came with me to a Lennox lecture and has *asked me* to watch and discuss the Lennox vs Dawkins debates with her.

    I’ve also had both positive and negative responses to apologetics from males I know. Some get excited. But one guy I invited to a Craig debate said he wasn’t sure that apologetics did much good. I had counterexamples to refute his claim of course. And I know plenty of male fideists. They somehow feel they’re being bolder and really showing faith if they “don’t need any of that apolowhatever business”. I’m not kidding.

    Oh and I’ve seen one episode of Downton Abbey. It’s ok (I far prefer Austen, et al.), but it doesn’t appeal to me half as much as a good hour of apologetics.

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  3. I’ve never understood why apologetics is of more interest to men than to women! I didn’t believe it at first because I’m a woman and I love apologetics.

    But as I went on, I did notice that apologists are overwhelmingly men. I also kept hearing/reading of examples like the ones given here.

    I just don’t get it. Why is it this way? We are all – men and women – commanded to be able to explain and defend our faith. And why would anyone – man or woman – choose to follow a religion if they haven’t thought out why it’s actually, factually TRUE?

    I can’t stand feel-good, sugary church sermons. I want to read and study the word of God. I want to learn why Christianity is true. I want to be equipped to defend my faith in the world. I want to read other types of books so I can be knowledgeable in a variety of areas. I want to talk issues and politics and science and worldviews. And if we can’t do this in church or with other Christians, where are we going to do it?

    This is not my own subjective preference The Word of God commands us to know what we believe, why we believe it and how to make an argument for it among unbelievers. The Word of God wants us to learn what other people believe so that we can engage them in thoughtful conversation. The Word of God commands us to love God with all our MINDS as well as hearts, which means we should be the most well-read, thoughtful people on earth. Unbelievers should look at us and marvel at how much we know about a variety of topics.

    Rant over.

    I guess I’m just a weird female.

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    1. I’m with you on this one. This female likes apologetics and can’t stand sermons that are all fluff and emotion. We can be weird together. LOL

      I think part of the reason that females in our culture tend to like emotion and shun intellectual things (esp. apologetics) is that it’s their tendency anyway (women are more emotional than men), but our culture encourages that. We live in a very feminized culture that encourages everyone – men and women – to be emotional rather than logical. Our culture holds up tolerance and feeling good as the best while hating anyone who dares to make a bold statement on the topic of religion. How dare anyone claim to know absolute truth or insist that someone else is wrong? That’s just the worst thing you could do in a feminized society. It makes people feel bad. Much of postmodernism is simply an outgrowth of a feminized society that wants to validate everything so that no one will feel bad and ends up shunning logic (which would point out that not everyone can be right).

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      1. That’s exactly right. To be fair, I think that society also rewards men too much for focusing on things that have nothing to do with protecting, providing and leading. For example, do you not find that sports occupies far too much of men’s time? They can tell you all kinds of statistics and rosters and such, but in the end, do those things really matter to male roles? I don’t think so. No man should no more about sports than he knows about defending and explaining God’s existence and character, for example.

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  4. The church needs apologetics, we need to know more – and we need to love God, and love the lost and the marginalised, and each other. All our heart soul mind and strength. Apologetics may generally appeal to more men than women, but we all need all of it, and Jesus equipped the church with all of it.

    In our church, a young apologetics enthusiast (who probably cringes at all the heart/identity sermons I preach) came to me with a plan to run an apologetics experience over 4 weeks – and now people just want more. We can do this together, under one king.

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  5. Although I disagree with you on presuppositionalism (and I don’t think we are working against each other), I believe your post is spot on. I would wager the vast majority of men need to be intellectually engaged and emotional drivel just isn’t the way to do it. I could do a series of posts on just my own experiences with this.

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  6. Critical thought, reason, logic, and research has left all but a handful of evangelical assemblies in reference to the study of the holy scriptures.
    Many of the supposed “Christian evangelical assemblies” have in place traditions that are clearly not found in the scripture and have profoundly left Christian Discipleship unrecognizable.
    Yahshua hammered the Pharisees for placing insignificant /made up traditions (Mark 7) above the Torah/Levitical Law.
    Christians have done the same as the Pharisees if not worse in spite of the vast body of knowledge, history, superior covenant through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
    There are three accounts of witness of the birth of Yahshua- the prophets, the shepherds, and the magi (wise men). The Christian evangelical assemblies has symbolically had its fill of prophets & shepherds and has yet to see “wise men”.
    I sincerely believe it will be restored through the imparting of divine and secular wisdom and knowledge as directed by the Holy Spirit.

    Shalom

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