Bible Church

Is Apologetics Worth the Time?

Should we "defend" the faith?

In every church, you’ll find the ardent defenders of the faith. They’re the people who post articles about how Christianity can be “proven” and always want to discuss the logical reasons for believing in Christ.

Here’s the thing: there really aren’t any.

I don’t mean that you have to shut off your brain to believe in Jesus. There are lots of reasons to think hard about faith, but we Christians really shouldn’t pretend that our faith is logical.

One of the things that makes me really angry is when Christians point to other faiths and say that they’re illogical or stupid. The go-to is usually Scientology or Mormonism, which I’ll hear mainstream Christians lampoon fairly regularly, wondering how anyone could believe such a thing.

I always respond with my favorite definition of Christianity:

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

My favorite part of that quote is that it’s all true. It uses some intentionally sarcastic language, but there’s no part of it that we don’t believe as Christians.

The reason I respond with this is because what we believe truly is irrational. Virgin birth? Ex nihilo creation? Resurrection from the dead? God in human flesh? A part of God living inside each human who wants it? Come on, those things are crazy.

Even the Bible thinks so:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV).

You heard Paul right: folly.

And therein lies the problem with apologetics: it has very little to do with evangelism. Yet that’s how it’s usually presented, that if you can just convince people with enough evidence for faith, then they’ll suddenly sprout faith. But read the verse again: to those who are outside the faith (“perishing”), the whole thing is folly, no matter how much evidence you think you have. (And hint: you have astoundingly little.)

There’s nothing wrong with apologetics, so long as we understand its place. It’s not, for example, a very useful evangelistic tool, as it usually ends up with us sounding like everyone’s crazy uncle who posts conspiracy theories on his Facebook. In that regard, apologetics often does more harm than good, especially when it winds up being an argument all the time.

But when it helps the believer weather a storm of doubt, apologetics can be very useful. In that respect, I recommend at least understanding why you believe what you believe. What’s the basis of it? Why did you start believing? Why do you keep believing? Being able to answer those questions when your faith is strong will help you when your faith is weak.

However, please don’t go around defending the logic of our faith to outsiders. It helps no one. I know of no person who has ever been “convinced” into a saving faith in Jesus Christ. That’s because it’s not a matter of the mind, but of the soul, which can’t be swayed by logic but only by the power of God.

At the very least, if you’re one of those people who thinks other religions are silly and illogical, you probably need a stiff reminder that what we believe is absolutely insane and that you just sound pompous when you talk or act like that. Mormonism isn’t stupid. It’s just what some people believe. You’d hate to be talked about that way as Christians, and the first thing you’d do is feel defensive, so don’t do that to other people, even when they’re not around. It’s not very nice.

7 comments on “Is Apologetics Worth the Time?

  1. There are a few people for whom it works. The Case for Christ was a good example of how the Spirit might draw someone through intellectual defense of the faith. But for most people, I agree – a heart change is needed.

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    • That’s an interesting choice. I read Strobel when I was having some faith struggles, and his parade of logical fallacies passed off as evidence almost put the nail in the coffin. On the other hand, I know his work has reached many people, so it’s not my place to figure out the “right” method for coming to Christ.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Great post. My heart breaks for folks (I used to be one of them) who get sucked into the whole apologetics industry and suffer spiritually when it fails them. One pulled thread unravels the whole blanket. I think it’s a product of modern religion unnecessarily pitting faith against science.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joe Butler

    For my own personal view, I was not convinced of a God and his saving grace for us through apologetics but rather through the examples of Christian living around me. It seems those in that circle tend to focus so much on the educational reasons for faith and as you mentioned, almost completely throw faith out of the equation. But as an educator, I can appreciate the different learning styles that may exist amongst nonbelievers, and apologetics seems to help at least with the ones who are stringently against anything religious. If apologetics gets them to open the door to their heart even a little, then it may be of some use.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I read somewhere, “You can’t disciple goats into sheep.”
    There’s that pesky “will” that, no matter how many facts one is given, it all comes down to, “I will, or I won’t.”
    I do think that for those who see the Bible and thus Christianity as completely not only unscientific but goes against science, ICR does a great service and there are many who write to them attesting to the fact that their materials helped them see that the rest of the Bible is credible, making the Gospel credible.
    I guess one word that bothers me in the above quote is “Zombie”… for a Man Who foretold His own death and resurrection (with details and timing), claimed He was going to do it in His own power, and the pulled it off, zombie does not fit, sarcastic or not, unless there is an agenda behind it. It just shows ignorance (or not wanting to give a fair play) of Biblical history. Pearls before swine comes to mind.
    I saw this quote on a website where the guy hated Christianity and anything he could do to make fun of Christians and the Bible was fair game for him. I don’t think most of those who don’t believe fall into his category. Jesus was a historical figure.
    I guess there is a broad brush used here that isn’t helpful. Do we not claim that Jesus actually lived and use secular data to back it up? Do we ignore the OT prophecies that foretold His birth? What part of apologetic do we abandon as not helpful? There must be some fact behind the Gospel. It’s not a fairy tale made up to amuse us.
    Do we just say, “you are a sinner, you need Jesus” and leave it at that? They say, “who is Jesus?” then what? The Bible comes up. “what is the Bible?” What part of apologetic gets left out in the answer to these questions? Can the Bible be trusted? Why?
    So what gets left on the cutting room floor and what gets used?

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  5. it turns out the definition of Christian faith isn’t believing the argument of the guy who yells the loudest and uses talking points the best – who knew 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So many good lines in this article. Thank you. I always thought it was crazy to try to prove faith or try to prove the existence of God for that matter. I think most of it ends up being someone who has control issues. If they can prove something, then they must have control over it. Yet that’s not how it works at all. Thanks again. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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