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Adrift
06-10-2016, 06:36 PM
As someone who wasn't raised in mainstream Christianity, I didn't "discover" apologetics till probably the turn of this century. Before that discovery (and before my full acceptance of Christ), I assumed that there might be some intellectual basis to this whole Christianity thing, but that it was outside of my reach. The concept of a systematic theology seemed shadowy to me. Something maybe a lot of highfalutin types talked about in their ivory towers. I didn't know anything about the C.S. Lewis' of the Christian faith, much less about popularizers like Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel. But once I encountered the works of folks like J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and yeah, C.S. Lewis, I came to realize that there was a deeply intellectual level and long historical basis for a reasonable understanding of Christianity. It really turned my world around, and, unfortunately, I bored the hell out of my friends and family who I wanted to talk to about these things non-stop.

I was amazed by the richness of the Christian belief system. The concept of a deeply reasoned systematic theology was fascinating to me, and helped answer so many questions I had, and so many questions that my non-believing friends had, but most Christians I know/knew had zero patience for it. Instead they emphasized a very simple faith. One that didn't ask question or seek deep answers. One that was primarily based on personal experiences. Now, I have no problem whatsoever with a faith based on personal experiences, but that seems like the tip of the iceberg to me of a reason based faith.

More than that, my friends and family who base their faith on experience are, more than not, actually anti-intellectual. A well-reasoned, systematic theological system is not fully trusted. Apologetics is a dirty word to them because it brings to mind the idea of apologizing for being a Christian. And like I once thought, they think of deeper theology as something left to out of touch eggheads debating how many angels can dance on a pin head in their ivory towers. I sort've given up on these types who simply do not want to hear about the early church, NT scholarship, and natural theology.

Lately though, I've been seeing an attack on apologetics from another sector I totally didn't expect. From actual intellectuals. I've run into a number of people I accept as Christian intellectuals (of sorts) that seem to totally distrust Christian apologetics as something ad hoc, and not worthy exploring. Like my anti-intellectual friends and family they seem to have a deep distrust of a reasoned faith, and prefer a definition of faith that's unknowable, and mysterious, and more or less blind. Apologetics is a dirty word.

Has anyone else noticed this trend? Anyone want to discuss this issue you if you have?

K, that's what this thread is about. Thanks.

thewriteranon
06-10-2016, 07:00 PM
I was in my missions class last semester and there was a student who basically said that guys out there doing apologetics are wrong and contrary to what we're supposed to do. I held my tongue.

Adrift
06-10-2016, 07:20 PM
I was in my missions class last semester and there was a student who basically said that guys out there doing apologetics are wrong and contrary to what we're supposed to do. I held my tongue.

I just don't understand it. When did being anti-intellectual become a virtue in the academic world?

Spartacus
06-10-2016, 07:24 PM
I was introduced to genuine theology through apologetics, and as I became more engaged in theology, I got more and more frustrated with the relative shallowness of apologetics. I don't mean apologetics isn't rigorous, but when your concern is defending belief from external challenges, you usually approach questions differently than when you are approaching them out of a genuine personal interest or in a personal conversation. Also, in my apologetics discussions, I often found myself feeling like I was trying to win the argument rather than provide perspectives worthy of consideration, and I didn't really like that side of myself. The latest new evidence of a historical Jesus or even of the historicity of the Shroud of Turin, or new Eucharistic miracles... I'm not really interested in them. I don't doubt any of these things, so why should further proof of their veracity affect me?

There are people with intellectual obstacles to embracing Christianity. Apologetics can help them overcome those obstacles. But there's more than just intellectual processes at play in anyone's conversion process, and trying to win the argument doesn't always help a person overcome the obstacles in their own will.

Adrift
06-10-2016, 07:55 PM
I was introduced to genuine theology through apologetics, and as I became more engaged in theology, I got more and more frustrated with the relative shallowness of apologetics. I don't mean apologetics isn't rigorous, but when your concern is defending belief from external challenges, you usually approach questions differently than when you are approaching them out of a genuine personal interest or in a personal conversation. Also, in my apologetics discussions, I often found myself feeling like I was trying to win the argument rather than provide perspectives worthy of consideration, and I didn't really like that side of myself. The latest new evidence of a historical Jesus or even of the historicity of the Shroud of Turin, or new Eucharistic miracles... I'm not really interested in them. I don't doubt any of these things, so why should further proof of their veracity affect me?

There are people with intellectual obstacles to embracing Christianity. Apologetics can help them overcome those obstacles. But there's more than just intellectual processes at play in anyone's conversion process, and trying to win the argument doesn't always help a person overcome the obstacles in their own will.

Outside of "winning arguments" what are you thoughts on natural theology which are mostly philosophical and do not necessarily derive from divine revelation? And by the way, I think arguments about Eucharist miracles and the shroud of Turin are weak as well, but I think the study of the historical Jesus definitely has merit.

Spartacus
06-10-2016, 08:06 PM
Outside of "winning arguments" what are you thoughts on natural theology which are mostly philosophical and do not necessarily derive from divine revelation?

I think we need to distinguish between things that we think should be self-evident to our audience, things which people at another time and place thought were self-evident, and what the average person in our society thinks is self-evident. Natural theology needs to be tied more closely to this last category than it generally is. Which is to say, you meet them where they are.


And by the way, I think arguments about Eucharist miracles and the shroud of Turin are weak as well, but I think the study of the historical Jesus definitely has merit.

I never said I think they're weak. I just don't care about them.

Adrift
06-10-2016, 08:38 PM
I think we need to distinguish between things that we think should be self-evident to our audience, things which people at another time and place thought were self-evident, and what the average person in our society thinks is self-evident. Natural theology needs to be tied more closely to this last category than it generally is. Which is to say, you meet them where they are.

Maybe it's just me, but I've found that what we find self evident isn't so different from what other peoples in other times and places have found self evident. People are still using the apologies of Augustine, Aquinas, Leibniz, and Lewis in their modern day apologetics, and they often seem to me as relevant today as they did when they were formulated.


I never said I think they're weak. I just don't care about them.

So you would say that your lack of interest in these sorts of things is more subjective than not, but not without merit, correct?

Jedidiah
06-10-2016, 09:32 PM
The thread of anti-intellectualism among Christians is not new. I suspect apologetics is under fire because the average joe is just learning that it is a "thing."

Chrawnus
06-10-2016, 09:44 PM
As someone who wasn't raised in mainstream Christianity, I didn't "discover" apologetics till probably the turn of this century. Before that discovery (and before my full acceptance of Christ), I assumed that there might be some intellectual basis to this whole Christianity thing, but that it was outside of my reach. The concept of a systematic theology seemed shadowy to me. Something maybe a lot of highfalutin types talked about in their ivory towers. I didn't know anything about the C.S. Lewis' of the Christian faith, much less about popularizers like Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel. But once I encountered the works of folks like J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and yeah, C.S. Lewis, I came to realize that there was a deeply intellectual level and long historical basis for a reasonable understanding of Christianity. It really turned my world around, and, unfortunately, I bored the hell out of my friends and family who I wanted to talk to about these things non-stop.

I was amazed by the richness of the Christian belief system. The concept of a deeply reasoned systematic theology was fascinating to me, and helped answer so many questions I had, and so many questions that my non-believing friends had, but most Christians I know/knew had zero patience for it. Instead they emphasized a very simple faith. One that didn't ask question or seek deep answers. One that was primarily based on personal experiences. Now, I have no problem whatsoever with a faith based on personal experiences, but that seems like the tip of the iceberg to me of a reason based faith.

More than that, my friends and family who base their faith on experience are, more than not, actually anti-intellectual. A well-reasoned, systematic theological system is not fully trusted. Apologetics is a dirty word to them because it brings to mind the idea of apologizing for being a Christian. And like I once thought, they think of deeper theology as something left to out of touch eggheads debating how many angels can dance on a pin head in their ivory towers. I sort've given up on these types who simply do not want to hear about the early church, NT scholarship, and natural theology.

Lately though, I've been seeing an attack on apologetics from another sector I totally didn't expect. From actual intellectuals. I've run into a number of people I accept as Christian intellectuals (of sorts) that seem to totally distrust Christian apologetics as something ad hoc, and not worthy exploring. Like my anti-intellectual friends and family they seem to have a deep distrust of a reasoned faith, and prefer a definition of faith that's unknowable, and mysterious, and more or less blind. Apologetics is a dirty word.

Has anyone else noticed this trend? Anyone want to discuss this issue you if you have?

K, that's what this thread is about. Thanks.

I'll be completely honest here. I don't actually think that one's faith needs to, or even should be based on intellectual reasoning. But I also do not think that you should base your faith on 'personal experience'. To me, faith is simply trusting the words of the Gospel when it says that the Son of God came down from Heaven and became human so he could die for our sins and be raised for our justification. Now, I'm not saying that people can't become convinced of the historical underpinnings of the Christian faith, because there are people who have been convinced in that way, nor do I mean to say that we shouldn't use our intellect in order to form a rigorous systematic theology, but to me a person doesn't become a Christian simply by assenting intellectually to the historical events described in the gospels, but by recognizing his need for the sacrificial work of Christ, apart from any self-righteous works of his own.

So, while I think apologetics has a legitimate place in defending the faith, and appreciate the depth of Christianity's intellectual history, I do not think faith needs to be based on reason. If that were the case then it seems to me that God has closed the door to salvation to anyone but the wise. :shrug:

And just to clarify, I'm not saying that you hold to the view I'm criticizing in my above rant, I'm simply laying out a rough outline of my own view.

Adrift
06-10-2016, 09:55 PM
The thread of anti-intellectualism among Christians is not new. I suspect apologetics is under fire because the average joe is just learning that it is a "thing."

My concern isn't with the anti-intellectual (though that is a concern), rather it is with the intellectual who find apologetics seemingly useless and unprofitable.

Adrift
06-10-2016, 10:15 PM
I'll be completely honest here. I don't actually think that one's faith needs to, or even should be based on intellectual reasoning. But I also do not think that you should base your faith on 'personal experience'. To me, faith is simply trusting the words of the Gospel when it says that the Son of God came down from Heaven and became human so he could die for our sins and be raised for our justification. Now, I'm not saying that people can't become convinced of the historical underpinnings of the Christian faith, because there are people who have been convinced in that way, nor do I mean to say that we shouldn't use our intellect in order to form a rigorous systematic theology, but to me a person doesn't become a Christian simply by assenting intellectually to the historical events described in the gospels, but by recognizing his need for the sacrificial work of Christ, apart from any self-righteous works of his own.

So, while I think apologetics has a legitimate place in defending the faith, and appreciate the depth of Christianity's intellectual history, I do not think faith needs to be based on reason. If that were the case then it seems to me that God has closed the door to salvation to anyone but the wise. :shrug:

And just to clarify, I'm not saying that you hold to the view I'm criticizing in my above rant, I'm simply laying out a rough outline of my own view.

I see the whole subject of a grounded faith as a handshake of sorts between the intellect and an innate experiential/Holy Spirit call. When you say that "I do not think faith needs to be based on reason" I think we may be talking past one another to some extant, because even the experiential requires some sort of reasoning ability in my opinion. Otherwise how do we distinguish the call from God, and one that is not?

Also, I am wholly untrustworthy of the phrase "you just gotta accept it on faith", and to a degree, I'm untrustworthy of the phrase "God works in mysterious ways". Both phrases seem like cop-outs to me. I've seen more people fall away from the faith because of those sorts of answers than anything, and I can't blame them. Its hard to build a foundation on such soft ground. More than this though, I feel that apologetics are a requirement (especially in this day and age) in successful witnessing. The pat answers Christians might have been able to get away with in a pre-internet, mostly Christo-theistic world do not work at all in our present age where even the concept of God is called into question.

Chrawnus
06-10-2016, 11:34 PM
I see the whole subject of a grounded faith as a handshake of sorts between the intellect and an innate experiential/Holy Spirit call. When you say that "I do not think faith needs to be based on reason" I think we may be talking past one another to some extant, because even the experiential requires some sort of reasoning ability in my opinion. Otherwise how do we distinguish the call from God, and one that is not?

Well, the intellect has it's place in grounding the faith in the sense that without any sort of reasoning ability you won't be able to even understand the message of the gospel in the first place (though I'm not saying that reason is limited to this aspect alone=. I actually have a bigger problem with the innate experiental/Holy Spirit call aspect, because if not expounded on in a careful way it tends to lead people to question their own faith if and when Christians around them start making some sort of "inner experience" a requirement for salvation. ISTM that the only "inner experience" that is required is the realization that you're a sinner whose own works are useless before God when it comes to your salvation, and that you need to trust in the atoning work of Jesus in order to be saved. Any sort of "experience" or "feeling" apart from that should be received thankfully as a gift from God, provided it is actually from God of course, but should not be regarded as essential to having a genuine faith.



Also, I am wholly untrustworthy of the phrase "you just gotta accept it on faith", and to a degree, I'm untrustworthy of the phrase "God works in mysterious ways". Both phrases seem like cop-outs to me. I've seen more people fall away from the faith because of those sorts of answers than anything, and I can't blame them. Its hard to build a foundation on such soft ground. More than this though, I feel that apologetics are a requirement (especially in this day and age) in successful witnessing. The pat answers Christians might have been able to get away with in a pre-internet, mostly Christo-theistic world do not work at all in our present age where even the concept of God is called into question.

There are times (probably more often than not) when those phrases are inappropriate, especially when it's used to dismiss legitimate concerns from believers with doubts and honest seekers, but at the same time there are some aspects of the faith, such as the Trinity and (in the case of people such as myself) the Real Presence, which I think simply cannot be understood by the intellect, and you simply have to accept the bible's teaching on that aspect on faith. :shrug:

I have no disagreements on your point about apologetics, but I do take issue with the term "witnessing" as it's used by many evangelicals today, because "witnessing" for far too many evangelicals tend to devolve into explaining to people how God is aware of all of your life's problems and issues, and He wants to help you with them, and will do it, if you only accept Jesus into your heart and ask God to forgive you for your sins. And on top of that the whole concept of witnessing seem to gravitate towards some sort of notion of being as efficient as possible, where you're expected to use all sorts of "witnessing strategies" to maximize turnout (i.e getting people to pray a "prayer of salvation") instead of sitting down with each person you're witnessing to and taking your time to explain to them what the Bible says about our situation as sinners, and what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Preferably by actually reading the Bible with them and explaining the text to them as the need arises.

Of course, I have a pretty strong suspicion that your view of witnessing is a bit more nuanced and complex than the one I lambasted above. :yes:

37818
06-11-2016, 06:32 AM
Faith - a belief - is essential to knowing anything. Truth is the basis of - a belief - faith.

Now the term "faith" as more meanings than merely a belief in what is true. Belief systems with gods or God - described as a religious faith. A faith. So some will reject the use of the term outright saying they have no "faith." Which of course is not true. But their use of the term disallows the meaning of "a belief" that something is true or not true.

fm93
06-11-2016, 01:23 PM
As someone who wasn't raised in mainstream Christianity, I didn't "discover" apologetics till probably the turn of this century. Before that discovery (and before my full acceptance of Christ), I assumed that there might be some intellectual basis to this whole Christianity thing, but that it was outside of my reach. The concept of a systematic theology seemed shadowy to me. Something maybe a lot of highfalutin types talked about in their ivory towers. I didn't know anything about the C.S. Lewis' of the Christian faith, much less about popularizers like Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel. But once I encountered the works of folks like J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and yeah, C.S. Lewis, I came to realize that there was a deeply intellectual level and long historical basis for a reasonable understanding of Christianity. It really turned my world around, and, unfortunately, I bored the hell out of my friends and family who I wanted to talk to about these things non-stop.

I was amazed by the richness of the Christian belief system. The concept of a deeply reasoned systematic theology was fascinating to me, and helped answer so many questions I had, and so many questions that my non-believing friends had, but most Christians I know/knew had zero patience for it. Instead they emphasized a very simple faith. One that didn't ask question or seek deep answers. One that was primarily based on personal experiences. Now, I have no problem whatsoever with a faith based on personal experiences, but that seems like the tip of the iceberg to me of a reason based faith.

More than that, my friends and family who base their faith on experience are, more than not, actually anti-intellectual. A well-reasoned, systematic theological system is not fully trusted. Apologetics is a dirty word to them because it brings to mind the idea of apologizing for being a Christian. And like I once thought, they think of deeper theology as something left to out of touch eggheads debating how many angels can dance on a pin head in their ivory towers. I sort've given up on these types who simply do not want to hear about the early church, NT scholarship, and natural theology.

Lately though, I've been seeing an attack on apologetics from another sector I totally didn't expect. From actual intellectuals. I've run into a number of people I accept as Christian intellectuals (of sorts) that seem to totally distrust Christian apologetics as something ad hoc, and not worthy exploring. Like my anti-intellectual friends and family they seem to have a deep distrust of a reasoned faith, and prefer a definition of faith that's unknowable, and mysterious, and more or less blind. Apologetics is a dirty word.

Has anyone else noticed this trend? Anyone want to discuss this issue you if you have?

K, that's what this thread is about. Thanks.
I figure these aren't the droids answers you're looking for, but I have two speculations:

1. I think the changing contexts of the word in general might have something to do with it. Back in, oh, 2008-2012, the only times I ever saw the words "apologetics" and "apologist" were in posts or books about religious arguments. But in the last few years, I've seen them appear more and more in secular contexts, such as calling someone a "rape apologist" or "slavery apologist." Those people have a rightfully deserved negative reputation because they strain to defend what's clearly indefensible, resorting to all sorts of contortions or outright falsehoods. Perhaps the word for whatever reason has legitimately entered mainstream usage, and people understandably hear the phrase "Christian apologist" and assume that it's someone who acts the same way in regard to Christianity. Their perception has been colored by the other instances in which they've heard the word used.

2. Perhaps some people have simply concluded that many of the arguments advanced in Christian apologetics just aren't valid. :shrug:

robrecht
06-11-2016, 02:23 PM
As someone who wasn't raised in mainstream Christianity, I didn't "discover" apologetics till probably the turn of this century. Before that discovery (and before my full acceptance of Christ), I assumed that there might be some intellectual basis to this whole Christianity thing, but that it was outside of my reach. The concept of a systematic theology seemed shadowy to me. Something maybe a lot of highfalutin types talked about in their ivory towers. I didn't know anything about the C.S. Lewis' of the Christian faith, much less about popularizers like Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel. But once I encountered the works of folks like J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and yeah, C.S. Lewis, I came to realize that there was a deeply intellectual level and long historical basis for a reasonable understanding of Christianity. It really turned my world around, and, unfortunately, I bored the hell out of my friends and family who I wanted to talk to about these things non-stop.

I was amazed by the richness of the Christian belief system. The concept of a deeply reasoned systematic theology was fascinating to me, and helped answer so many questions I had, and so many questions that my non-believing friends had, but most Christians I know/knew had zero patience for it. Instead they emphasized a very simple faith. One that didn't ask question or seek deep answers. One that was primarily based on personal experiences. Now, I have no problem whatsoever with a faith based on personal experiences, but that seems like the tip of the iceberg to me of a reason based faith.

More than that, my friends and family who base their faith on experience are, more than not, actually anti-intellectual. A well-reasoned, systematic theological system is not fully trusted. Apologetics is a dirty word to them because it brings to mind the idea of apologizing for being a Christian. And like I once thought, they think of deeper theology as something left to out of touch eggheads debating how many angels can dance on a pin head in their ivory towers. I sort've given up on these types who simply do not want to hear about the early church, NT scholarship, and natural theology.

Lately though, I've been seeing an attack on apologetics from another sector I totally didn't expect. From actual intellectuals. I've run into a number of people I accept as Christian intellectuals (of sorts) that seem to totally distrust Christian apologetics as something ad hoc, and not worthy exploring. Like my anti-intellectual friends and family they seem to have a deep distrust of a reasoned faith, and prefer a definition of faith that's unknowable, and mysterious, and more or less blind. Apologetics is a dirty word.

Has anyone else noticed this trend? Anyone want to discuss this issue you if you have?

K, that's what this thread is about. Thanks.
I think maybe the connotation and reputation of apologetics and some apologists has deteriorated since the advent of the Internet, where egotistical, insecure, argumentative and petty posturing seem to prevail. At least I think that might be part of what's going on.

NorrinRadd
06-12-2016, 10:54 AM
As someone who wasn't raised in mainstream Christianity, I didn't "discover" apologetics till probably the turn of this century. Before that discovery (and before my full acceptance of Christ), I assumed that there might be some intellectual basis to this whole Christianity thing, but that it was outside of my reach. The concept of a systematic theology seemed shadowy to me. Something maybe a lot of highfalutin types talked about in their ivory towers. I didn't know anything about the C.S. Lewis' of the Christian faith, much less about popularizers like Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel. But once I encountered the works of folks like J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and yeah, C.S. Lewis, I came to realize that there was a deeply intellectual level and long historical basis for a reasonable understanding of Christianity. It really turned my world around, and, unfortunately, I bored the hell out of my friends and family who I wanted to talk to about these things non-stop.

I was amazed by the richness of the Christian belief system. The concept of a deeply reasoned systematic theology was fascinating to me, and helped answer so many questions I had, and so many questions that my non-believing friends had, but most Christians I know/knew had zero patience for it. Instead they emphasized a very simple faith. One that didn't ask question or seek deep answers. One that was primarily based on personal experiences. Now, I have no problem whatsoever with a faith based on personal experiences, but that seems like the tip of the iceberg to me of a reason based faith.

More than that, my friends and family who base their faith on experience are, more than not, actually anti-intellectual. A well-reasoned, systematic theological system is not fully trusted. Apologetics is a dirty word to them because it brings to mind the idea of apologizing for being a Christian. And like I once thought, they think of deeper theology as something left to out of touch eggheads debating how many angels can dance on a pin head in their ivory towers. I sort've given up on these types who simply do not want to hear about the early church, NT scholarship, and natural theology.

Lately though, I've been seeing an attack on apologetics from another sector I totally didn't expect. From actual intellectuals. I've run into a number of people I accept as Christian intellectuals (of sorts) that seem to totally distrust Christian apologetics as something ad hoc, and not worthy exploring. Like my anti-intellectual friends and family they seem to have a deep distrust of a reasoned faith, and prefer a definition of faith that's unknowable, and mysterious, and more or less blind. Apologetics is a dirty word.

Has anyone else noticed this trend? Anyone want to discuss this issue you if you have?

K, that's what this thread is about. Thanks.

My allergies kept me from sleeping well, and I'm having a bit of trouble organizing my thoughts. But that rarely stops me from sharing them. :-D

In the '60s and '70s, I was not "raised in" Christianity. That is, my family and I considered ourselves Lutherans, but we were almost entirely non-practicing. I was familiar with "Bible characters" and "Bible stories," but had no understanding of "salvation" or being a "believer." I got "born again" in early 1980 at college, and a few months later started attending C&MA churches and fellowships. My first encounter with "apologetics" was at that time, via Josh McDowell books. Back then I naively wished I could memorize all that material, because what unbeliever could possibly overcome all those facts? Now, I still find that material interesting, and not totally without value, but not nearly so powerful. And it seems much of it focused on defense of Biblical inerrancy, which as I've said elsewhere is largely a red herring in practical terms.

For a time, the notion of "Systematic Theology" was very appealing to me. My college background is in engineering, and the possibility of fitting things together logically into a neat, coherent whole is appealing to my basic nature. But in the past 20 years or so, I've moved to a preference for "Biblical Theology." I believe there is a general theological framework, but I am highly dubious that all Biblical passages can fit neatly into any particular tidy "System."

I have very little interest in philosophical or "deeply intellectual" approaches, and I don't think I ever did have much.

I also think apologetics has been harmed by the arrogant, harshly narrow-minded dogmatism, not just of various "online" bloviators, but of well known theologians like John MacArthur.

hedrick
06-12-2016, 01:36 PM
I find at least some kinds of theology helpful. The problem I have with apologetics is that almost everything I've seen has huge holes in the reasoning. And I as a Christian want to believe. I can only imagine the reaction from the people it is actually targeted at.

37818
06-12-2016, 01:52 PM
. . . The problem I have with apologetics is that almost everything I've seen has huge holes in the reasoning. And I as a Christian want to believe. . . .What do you mean? Please give an example.

Adrift
06-12-2016, 03:55 PM
My allergies kept me from sleeping well, and I'm having a bit of trouble organizing my thoughts. But that rarely stops me from sharing them. :-D

In the '60s and '70s, I was not "raised in" Christianity. That is, my family and I considered ourselves Lutherans, but we were almost entirely non-practicing. I was familiar with "Bible characters" and "Bible stories," but had no understanding of "salvation" or being a "believer." I got "born again" in early 1980 at college, and a few months later started attending C&MA churches and fellowships. My first encounter with "apologetics" was at that time, via Josh McDowell books. Back then I naively wished I could memorize all that material, because what unbeliever could possibly overcome all those facts? Now, I still find that material interesting, and not totally without value, but not nearly so powerful. And it seems much of it focused on defense of Biblical inerrancy, which as I've said elsewhere is largely a red herring in practical terms.

For a time, the notion of "Systematic Theology" was very appealing to me. My college background is in engineering, and the possibility of fitting things together logically into a neat, coherent whole is appealing to my basic nature. But in the past 20 years or so, I've moved to a preference for "Biblical Theology." I believe there is a general theological framework, but I am highly dubious that all Biblical passages can fit neatly into any particular tidy "System."

I have very little interest in philosophical or "deeply intellectual" approaches, and I don't think I ever did have much.

I also think apologetics has been harmed by the arrogant, harshly narrow-minded dogmatism, not just of various "online" bloviators, but of well known theologians like John MacArthur.

I'm curious then, what drew you to a forum called "Theology web"?

seanD
06-12-2016, 04:11 PM
I"m not sure why there are attacks against it. Just general attacks doesn't make sense, but if their objection is due to it used to try and win souls, they might have a point... sort of. Personally, I'm beginning to think that apologetics is useless in trying to win converts or convince skeptics. I think it's a VERY useful tool in strengthening the faith of those already converted. It pretty much saved my faith. However, on the other hand, since we're commanded to win souls, I'm not sure what other way we could achieve this in this day and age without apologetics. Sort of a catch-22 I guess.

NorrinRadd
06-12-2016, 04:27 PM
I'm curious then, what drew you to a forum called "Theology web"?

I'm argumentative. :-)

Ok, more seriously, I do enjoy discussions of theology and Biblical interpretation and application. And I do prefer to discuss from a standpoint that Scripture is inspired and authoritative. But I also recognize limitations.

I tend to gravitate mostly to discussions of Pentecostal/Charismatic issues, mutualism vs. patriarchalism issues, and Calvinism vs. Arminianism issues. Recognizing the limitations inherent in lacking inerrant copies, translations, hermeneutical principles, and application principles, and the immutability of deeply-held beliefs, I am usually thrilled if I can get my discussion opponents to concede so much as "Ok, I see why you believe that, even though I still don't agree."

Darfius
06-12-2016, 04:50 PM
The Israelites knew that God existed and still had an orgy in front of the golden calf. People know that God exists, but suppress this truth with their wickedness. Apologetics is a very powerful method of reminding them of that which they wish to suppress. This includes lip service Christians whose idea of "faith" is a vague notion of God's existence but with no corresponding demands on their behavior.

psstein
06-12-2016, 06:01 PM
I think there are two reasons, one due to how society views things and the other a result of anti-intellectualism:

1. People don't want to hear that religious beliefs are based on factually-based claims. I brought this up in a class once and seemingly outraged half the students. If Jesus was raised from the dead, then Christianity is true. If that didn't happen, then Christianity is false, no matter how much I "feel" that it's true. The same is true of other belief systems as well. If Muhammad's "revelation" in the form of the Qu'ran was delusory, then it follows that Islam is false.

2. It's tough work actually figuring out what you believe and why you believe it. Most Christians don't really know very much about what they believe- even those who were supposedly instructed in the faith (whether through catechism classes or something else). Most Christians can't be bothered to go examine the Bible and the early church's reasoning for why Christians believe what they believe. It requires way more intellectual work than blind acceptance.

seanD
06-12-2016, 06:45 PM
I think maybe the connotation and reputation of apologetics and some apologists has deteriorated since the advent of the Internet, where egotistical, insecure, argumentative and petty posturing seem to prevail. At least I think that might be part of what's going on.

I think that's a result of the rise of "militant atheism" as the chief antagonist. I'm not saying that we're excused to resorting to their level, but it's pretty much become a tit for tat type of situation.

KingsGambit
06-12-2016, 06:46 PM
One of the occupational hazards of the apologist is essentially one of pride - to become more interested in winning the argument than the person. In his book Humble Apologetics, John Stackhouse wrote about one apologist giving a speech at a college and answering The questions. The apologist basically defused the question by logically tearing it down without actually answering it, all while giving a know-it-all vibe. On the way out of the speech, one student was overheard saying, "He may be right, but I hate the son of a..."

I think this incident showcases where a noble endeavor (apologetics) can cross into a self-centered endeavor (sophism) if one is not careful.

robrecht
06-12-2016, 07:04 PM
I think that's a result of the rise of "militant atheism" as the chief antagonist. I'm not saying that we're excused to resorting to their level, but it's pretty much become a tit for tat type of situation.
And, if so, as I've mentioned to you before, I fail to see the value of a tit-for-tat response. Even worse, it may be taken to imply that Christian faith has nothing better to offer than this new atheism.

seanD
06-12-2016, 08:11 PM
And, if so, as I've mentioned to you before, I fail to see the value of a tit-for-tat response. Even worse, it may be taken to imply that Christian faith has nothing better to offer than this new atheism.

It is what it is :shrug:

Cerebrum123
06-13-2016, 05:48 AM
One of the occupational hazards of the apologist is essentially one of pride - to become more interested in winning the argument than the person. In his book Humble Apologetics, John Stackhouse wrote about one apologist giving a speech at a college and answering The questions. The apologist basically defused the question by logically tearing it down without actually answering it, all while giving a know-it-all vibe. On the way out of the speech, one student was overheard saying, "He may be right, but I hate the son of a..."

I think this incident showcases where a noble endeavor (apologetics) can cross into a self-centered endeavor (sophism) if one is not careful.

Sounds exactly like what Jesus did to the Pharisees. Same basic response too. I see this more an indictment of the person rejecting the apologist than the apologist himself.

KingsGambit
06-13-2016, 05:43 PM
Sounds exactly like what Jesus did to the Pharisees. Same basic response too. I see this more an indictment of the person rejecting the apologist than the apologist himself.

I don't think the two are equivalent. Jesus didn't go around trying to show everybody how smart he was.

I also think an apologist has a responsibility to actually answer a question in front of a large audience. Even if he may seem clever for ducking out of it, it doesn't change that he gave the impression that Christianity couldn't handle the question straight up.

Adrift
06-13-2016, 06:30 PM
I don't think the two are equivalent. Jesus didn't go around trying to show everybody how smart he was.

I also think an apologist has a responsibility to actually answer a question in front of a large audience. Even if he may seem clever for ducking out of it, it doesn't change that he gave the impression that Christianity couldn't handle the question straight up.

I don't think that's always the best approach. Ravi Zacharias often attempts to get to the heart of a questioner's question rather than answering the question directly (which he could easily do/has done). More often than not, the question is a symptom of something more deeply seated.

KingsGambit
06-13-2016, 06:34 PM
I don't think that's always the best approach. Ravi Zacharias often attempts to get to the heart of a questioner's question rather than answering the question directly (which he could easily do/has done). More often than not, the question is a symptom of something more deeply seated.

Wouldn't that generally be more effective in one on one dialogue, though?

Adrift
06-13-2016, 06:53 PM
Wouldn't that generally be more effective in one on one dialogue, though?

I imagine all apologetics are generally more effective in a one on one dialogue. That's not always feasible though, and it's just as likely that another listener could be touched by the answer recognizing that they too share the symptoms of something more deeply seated.

Cerebrum123
06-14-2016, 08:14 AM
I don't think the two are equivalent. Jesus didn't go around trying to show everybody how smart he was.

Unless you can show that the intent was/is to "show everybody how smart" they are, then I still can't see much of a difference.


I also think an apologist has a responsibility to actually answer a question in front of a large audience. Even if he may seem clever for ducking out of it, it doesn't change that he gave the impression that Christianity couldn't handle the question straight up.

I think that's the wrong attitude to have about teaching, and answering questions. It's not always best to answer the question directly. Jesus for the most part only did that for His disciples, and in private. People were expected to put two and two together for themselves. I think more people need to be taught to reason through things, rather than just being given all the answers directly. I think that's a huge problem with our school system today, too many people are just taught to memorize answers rather than think things through, and learn to use their reasoning capabilities.

Sometimes it's simply better to just tear down the foundations of an argument. I mean, getting rid of the roots of an objection should in and of itself answer the objection.

The Remonstrant
07-04-2016, 02:10 AM
[. . .] I think more people need to be taught to reason through things, rather than just being given all the answers directly. I think that's a huge problem with our school system today, too many people are just taught to memorize answers rather than think things through, and learn to use their reasoning capabilities.

Sometimes it's simply better to just tear down the foundations of an argument. I mean, getting rid of the roots of an objection should in and of itself answer the objection.

Rote learning may make mindless minions.