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 2013 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.

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.

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

  1. Bringing more apologetics into churches would certainly help in many ways, I agree with you there. The only thing I should mention is that which I’ve read countless times in the ‘sphere from frustrated christian men ~ that not only are women able to get their way in church, but that men are treated like they’re evil but women are treated like they’re holy. Church leaders are too cowardly to call out women for their sins because women will then pitch a fit, saying it is offensive. But men are treated like they don’t matter and have no right to express their opinions (for example, you being shot down when trying to get more apologetics-type things going on). If church leaders will put women in our place (that’s right ladies, I said it) then more men will stick around. But yes, apologetics will certainly attract more men in the beginning, but in order to get most of them to stay then what I just mentioned about women being put in their place has to happen as well.

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  2. Strict evidentialism would also be unbiblical. God gives enough evidence for who he is and what His purposes are (Romans 1), it is when our presuppositions twist and misuse that evidence that problems arise. One of the problems in the modern church is that the whole council of God has been neglected, and in doing so risk losing the modern American church to sentimentalism.

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    1. Considering some of the most vocal critics of Christianity are males who started out Christian but never had their church explain why Christianity is true in a way they understand (and despite what many say as general groups men and women do have cognitive differences, and pointing out exceptions does not invalidate the rule when one is considering overlapping Gaussian curves) makes me want to ask the church how an exclusive focus on women is working out for them.

      I never really noticed it, other than the view that as someone with a science tech background who felt that the church was merely “preaching to the choir”, until I read ‘Why Men hate going to Church’.

      As Frank Turek has said “They are talked out of it because they were never talked into it.”

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      1. Talking someone into it takes away from feelings of comfort and wishing and hoping and subjectivism. That’s why it never happens in female-dominated churches.

        I have a tech background as well, and as a matter of fact I just got hauled in to trace through logs for a critical production incident! It’s fine now.

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  3. People can quote the scriptures against
    women being in male positions in the church, but remember God cares about his putpose and many thousands and millions of males are either lost in sin, in prison, or dead. God has to use a vessel that will preach to his flock and cause his purpose to go forward. With anything in life, all humans should make sure it is God’s purpose they walk in and live out. Preaching in history was prodominately a man was in this role. Preaching and pastoring is God’s call to his people. Wonen are gaining in meeting God’s continuous need to fulfill his purpose. I amagine one day men and those people who appose to women being in male pastoring roles will not be a fight any more when souls are at risk for enteral hell, out iof God’s will.

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