“We don’t need to ‘apologize’ for anything!”
“I just believe, and that’s all.”
“There doesn’t have to be a reason to believe in Jesus, you just have to feel it.”
Perhaps you’ve heard some variation of these mantras from leaders or members in your church. I have something to say:
They are wrong.
Consider Jesse Kilgore, a young man who read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, lost his faith, and killed himself.
Yeah, this is an extreme example. But think about it for a second: if you’re a member of a church community, have you heard of youths losing their faith? Have you heard or experienced the day a child comes home and says “I’m an atheist?”
“Okay,” you say, “but what does any of this have to do with apologetics?”
Well, perhaps its best to define the term first. Apologetics can most basically be defined as the defense of the faith. Apologists are people who study philosophy, theology, and other fields in order to become equipped to argue for the central teachings of Christianity. Such argumentation can involve both scientific and philosophical evidence.
Why do we need it? Think once more of the youths who leave the church: how often do they have a rationalization for this lack of faith? It is, in my experience, every time. “There isn’t enough evidence to believe in God,” they may say, or “There is so much evil in the world, I can’t believe there is a good God watching it all.” Such objections are indeed challenges to the faith. But without apologetics we would be left treading water. To the first objection, the response could only be “There may not be, but why not just believe?”; to the second, we could only say “God has his reasons.”
What about to someone like Jesse Kilgore? Could apologetics have helped him? I’m not trying to make light of his suicide–but I think that yes, apologetics would have helped. Had he been exposed to arguments for the existence of God, he would have known Dawkins merely caricatures them and ignores their premises. Had he read books on perspectives on the Creation account (theistic evolutionism, intelligent design, or creationism), he would have been unphased by Dawkins’ arguments for evolution. The bottom line is there are rational arguments out there which easily rebut Dawkins’ claims. It is a failure in the church that Jesse hadn’t been exposed to them.
Christians, I challenge you to learn apologetics. Learn a “case for Christianity” which you can utilize whenever you are witnessing to someone who thinks there are no reasons to believe. My own example of such a case is here. Learn about some more of the basic arguments. Read Lee Strobel, read William Lane Craig. But don’t reject apologetics. Our youths need more. Those without faith deserve more. Apologetics is part of the core of our Christian heritage, let’s make it part of our lives.
Let us not forget the commands to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and to always have a defense/reason (apologia) (1 Peter 3:15).