Tuesday, 18 December 2007

What's the role of apologetics?

There are lots of different views of apologetics and their role in evangelism - from very sceptical to quite scholastic. Some people see them as the necessary first step to presenting the gospel, others view them as semi-heretical irrelevancies. Of course, a lot of this is tied up with your views of revelation, sin and new birth. For my money, I wonder whether the problem stems from the categorization of something that seems, in many ways, just a natural part of conversation about God.

Your present a statement about God and your friend says "I don't believe that - why on earth should I believe that?" You respond by saying "It says it here in the Bible". They say "But that's tautological - you're just trying to assume what you're trying to demonstrate." And you say, "Ah, yes but you have to appreciate the subtlety of my epistemology, which is rooted in reformed presuppositional methods.".......

Well, I guess it could go like that, and perhaps that is good sometimes. But the reality is that we all try instinctively to persuade people that what we believe is Truth. We don't just state it in a take-it-or-leave-it fashion. We seek to influence them and show them the attractiveness or rightness of what we're saying.... In other words, we argue, persuade, reason. Now, of course, one can debate which arguments are good ones or not, but the point is that all preaching is in some form apologetic because we seek to convince people and not simply state truth. Thus, it seems to me that apologetics is really unavoidable as part of ministry if we understand it to mean an integrated persuasion of people to change what they're doing and rather do this.