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Thread: Why is apologetics almost unknown?

  1. #11
    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    Oh, to be young again...

    I stumbled into apologetics as a teenager. I've also come across a number of other people who discovered apologetics at around the same age and were similarly drawn into it. I don't know if I would have been intellectually ready for it prior to then, so even if I'd heard the word used prior to that, I wouldn't have grasped its significance, and the thing itself would still have struck me as surprising and compelling and asked "why in the world don't we talk about this more???"

    ... but almost ten years later, I don't see it as quite as wonderful as I thought at first. For many people, apologetics is just preaching to the choir. I'm glad I learned about it, and I wouldn't have gotten into the study of theology, or, if I would have, not as readily or profitably, without apologetics. However, the arguments are of limited utility in the end.

    I think one of the key realizations for me was the different roles of the will and the intellect in a person's faith or lack thereof. Apologetics can clear away intellectual obstacles to faith, but I usually think of faith as a matter of the will, not the intellect. And apologetics doesn't do much for people who are in emotional crises of faith, which are, by my impressions at least, more common. Apologetics is fine to keep in your back pocket, and it's good for you to learn about and participate in these arguments while they hold your interest, but the arguments themselves aren't really all that useful.
    To me, it seems to ignore, in part, the involvement of the Holy Spirit, both in somebody accepting Christ as Savior, and growing in the faith. So, while largely agreeing with Spart on much of what he wrote here, I'd add that the power of the Holy Spirit needs to be recognized whether "apologetics" is at work or not. In many cases when I have been witnessing to a lost person, there was no need to "apologete" because the Holy Spirit had already 'done the background work', and the person was ready to be saved.

    Then, I think too many times, we don't focus on "fruit that remains", where sound teaching - including apologetics - helps give them that assurance.

    Currently, we're going through (with our leadership class) John's Gospel which was written "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God", and just finished that, and are now in 1 John, where John is writing to those "who believe that Jesus is the Son of God" with the purpose "so that they may know....".

    To me, 'apologetics' without the Holy Spirit is just "arguing".

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

  2. Amen TheWall, Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
  3. #12
    tWebber TheWall's Avatar
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    I think I agree cowpoke. In many ways the arguements helped me reevaluate my situation. The helped me come to believe and strengthen the intellectual side of my faith. Of course as faith is multi faceted it takes more than intellect to grow. Of course all of it would be meaningless if he never rose from the dead.

  4. #13
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    The problem is certainly not with Apologetics. Apologetics are fantastic in Evangelism, and they're also fantastic for bolstering the foundation of one's own faith. The problem is with the over-reliance on just dry Apologetics when, as CP points out, the Holy Spirit plays as much, if not larger role in these things.

    The issue I think is that a lot of people familiar with Apologetics, especially on this forum, are just burnt out. On this forum you can have the exact same arguments with the exact same people for years, and it never goes anywhere. The skeptic will remain entrenched in their position no matter what. But that isn't how it has to be in the real world. I've used Apologetics successfully a number of times in the real world with wonderful results that led to people finding Christianity far deeper and far more intriguing than they ever thought it was.

    I suppose what I love so much about Apologetics is that I've seen what happens to people when they're left with the answer "well some things are just a mystery". That used to be the default answer of Christians to people with questions. "God's ways are more mysterious than ours". For decades, centuries even, that left people confused and hopeless. My parent's generation moved towards esoteric Eastern beliefs or became agnostics/atheists because they were so frustrated with that sort of answer. My own parents joined a cult because they were sick and tired of Christians not having any answers. No one was teaching the answers to hard questions then, and as you point out in your OP, they still rarely teach that sort of thing now. It's a great failure of the Christian church. Hiding behind "His ways are mysterious" is not the solution.

    The big problem with us humans is that we can't find moderation. We are great at building churches that are intellectually fulfilling, but are dry and stoic, and often spiritually dead. We're great at building churches that are filled with emotionalism, but lack any understanding of exegetics, or knowledge of orthodox doctrine and theology, and we're great at building churches that are super-spiritual, but aren't at all practical or relatable. We have a really hard time with building churches that are intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally fulfilling all in equal measure. There is moderation between all these things, and we need to learn to appreciate all of them without overlying on one over the other.

  5. #14
    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    The problem is certainly not with Apologetics. Apologetics are fantastic in Evangelism, and they're also fantastic for bolstering the foundation of one's own faith. The problem is with the over-reliance on just dry Apologetics when, as CP points out, the Holy Spirit plays as much, if not larger role in these things.

    The issue I think is that a lot of people familiar with Apologetics, especially on this forum, are just burnt out. On this forum you can have the exact same arguments with the exact same people for years, and it never goes anywhere. The skeptic will remain entrenched in their position no matter what. But that isn't how it has to be in the real world. I've used Apologetics successfully a number of times in the real world with wonderful results that led to people finding Christianity far deeper and far more intriguing than they ever thought it was.

    I suppose what I love so much about Apologetics is that I've seen what happens to people when they're left with the answer "well some things are just a mystery". That used to be the default answer of Christians to people with questions. "God's ways are more mysterious than ours". For decades, centuries even, that left people confused and hopeless. My parent's generation moved towards esoteric Eastern beliefs or became agnostics/atheists because they were so frustrated with that sort of answer. My own parents joined a cult because they were sick and tired of Christians not having any answers. No one was teaching the answers to hard questions then, and as you point out in your OP, they still rarely teach that sort of thing now. It's a great failure of the Christian church. Hiding behind "His ways are mysterious" is not the solution.

    The big problem with us humans is that we can't find moderation. We are great at building churches that are intellectually fulfilling, but are dry and stoic, and often spiritually dead. We're great at building churches that are filled with emotionalism, but lack any understanding of exegetics, or knowledge of orthodox doctrine and theology, and we're great at building churches that are super-spiritual, but aren't at all practical or relatable. We have a really hard time with building churches that are intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally fulfilling all in equal measure. There is moderation between all these things, and we need to learn to appreciate all of them without overlying on one over the other.
    See, I would love to have a couple guys like this in my Church... I can focus on evangelism, and they can focus on discipleship.

    (I know that's a WAY oversimplification of what you said, but it's kind of on my mind a whole lot right now. Our Church has a very good "love everybody" spirit, and new people who come visit often comment on that. But I know there needs to be a lot more depth. We have a good percentage of our Sunday Morning people coming to Wednesday night Bible Study where we get more into the 'apologetics' aspect, but I fully realize I'm not as good at that as a lot of people I know.)

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

  6. Amen TheWall amen'd this post.
  7. #15
    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    The big problem with us humans is that we can't find moderation. We are great at building churches that are intellectually fulfilling, but are dry and stoic, and often spiritually dead. We're great at building churches that are filled with emotionalism, but lack any understanding of exegetics, or knowledge of orthodox doctrine and theology, and we're great at building churches that are super-spiritual, but aren't at all practical or relatable. We have a really hard time with building churches that are intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally fulfilling all in equal measure. There is moderation between all these things, and we need to learn to appreciate all of them without overlying on one over the other.
    I find this mostly to be a Protestant problem; there's a tendency to focus on one area to the relative exclusion of others (although I did spot on my trip through North Carolina the other day a "Pentacostal Free-Will Baptist Church", which sounded interesting). Of course, there are also plenty of Orthodox believers who lack knowledge, but that would be corrected by actually attending more than just the Divine Liturgy (and there are many who don't even do that regularly). The best way to learn Orthdodox doctrine is to simply attend the full cycle of services and pay attention.
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    tWebber TheWall's Avatar
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    See I have never been to church but I would organize it like this.
    Sunday worship proceeded by a nice lunch and a lecture on some apologetic subject followed by a bible study on the dats sermon.

  9. #17
    Theologyweb's Official Grandfather Jedidiah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    To me, 'apologetics' without the Holy Spirit is just "arguing".
    True if you think of apologetics only as outreach.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

  10. #18
    tWebber
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    Long answer or short answer?

    Long:
    Many (if not most) people view religion as a matter of opinion, "you can believe whatever you want, it's to be taken on faith anyway." They don't believe that Christianity has rational defenses and a very strong intellectual tradition. Introducing apologetics implies that 1. Religious claims are truth claims and 2. That means somebody is wrong. One of the bigger issues with American Protestantism (and I say this as a biased Catholic, so beat up on me if you want) is that it has often devolved into "I'm okay, you're okay," or what I've seen described as "moralistic, therapeutic deism." The latter is well illustrated by people like Joel Osteen, who promise all sorts of great things if you follow Jesus.

    Moreover, the idea that religious beliefs are not simply a matter of personal preference implies that there could be compelling intellectual (rather than emotional) reasons to reject certain beliefs. For many Christians, that's a scary thought, as they think that most doubts are emotional. The Catholic ministry at my university is especially bad about this: whenever one expresses doubts, he's prayed for or told to read the Bible. That doesn't solve the issue, in many cases, it makes it worse! American Christianity in general has a certain anti-intellectual strain that I imagine is part of the American psyche more generally...

    Short: People are lazy and can't be bothered to figure out what they believe nor why they believe it.

  11. Amen Jedidiah amen'd this post.
  12. #19
    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWall View Post
    Intruiging answers.
    I find it interesting because generally I like learning. I want to learn as much about my faith as I can.
    I do not believe apologetics is fading nor not common, but the problem with apologetics in recent history, and much of the past, is the lack of meaningful objective knowledge of the opposition, and a balanced argument. Only wanting to learn as much about your your own faith as much as you can puts your arguments at a disadvantage.
    Last edited by shunyadragon; 09-15-2016 at 03:12 PM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  13. Amen Charles amen'd this post.
  14. #20
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWall View Post
    I don't get it. Thousands of years worth of evidence and arguements and I didnt know about any of even the most basic stuff untill relatively recently.
    Why is that? Why is this information not thrusted into the public eye?
    My question is less about the public eye and more about why it isn't more taught in churches. There's so many people who deconvert because they hear some popular atheistic arguments and then just accept them without knowing any counterarguments exist. I can understand not wanting to overwhelm people with the really complicated stuff but many churches largely seem lacking in providing even the basics to people who attend.

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