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Getting across some big picture stuff

Apologetics

An apologetic is an argument that defends something.  Among Christians, apologetics is a special field of study in arguments that show why Christianity is true.  The Bible says Christians should do apologetics now and then to defend the faith (Jude 3), to shut up slanderous men (Titus 1:9-11), and to expose liars and frauds (Rev 2:2).

Apologetics as a means of evangelism

The Bible does not say we should engage in apologetics as a means of evangelism.  People do try it, but in my experience apologetical arguments seldom convert people to the faith.  This is what we’d expect based on Scripture because people believe the Gospel when the Holy Spirit convinces them of the truth of it.  That’s not to  say you shouldn’t answer the questions of an unbeliever. (1 Pe 3:15)  Obviously you should know the basics of the Christian faith and be able to explain it to somebody else.  If you can’t do that, shame on you, and please go do your homework.  Just don’t expect this to be the golden key to evangelistic power, because it won’t.  It wasn’t meant to be.

A  good place for apologetics

The study of apologetic arguments does have its place in the wider realm of Christianity.  There’s a culture war going on in the West, and the church is not doing well at it.  We are getting poleaxed.  Lots of regular Christians don’t have a clear view of Christianity as compared with other major religions and end up representing the faith rather badly.  Defeat follows defeat until the whole enterprise looks like losers animated by a baseless body of superstition.  If you’re not offended by that, you’re either not a Christian or you have no pulse. 

Apologetics can help us regain our footing in the culture war.  The Secular Man knows government nostrums for massive social problems are a bust.  I mean, he knows this.  But if you don’t know God, what else would you be capable of imagining as a solution?  He reaches for the biggest hammer he can find, which in his mind is governmental power, and he says, “Here, I shall thwack health care with this.  And after that, I’ll thwack Big Oil, and Big Pharma, and and Big Carbon, and Big Whatever.”  Is it not painfully clear that the Secular Man is groping blindly about for a savior?  And is it not equally clear that the Secular Man is acknowledging by his actions that morals and a well-ordered society proceed from authority?

And the door cracks open

What if… what if somebody could show the Secular Man that a society ordered around a different principle of regulating human behavior might actually be possible?  The Secular Man needs to be brought to see two things: first, that his moral code is a flop that’s enervating Western civilization, and second, that every rotten plank in his footwalk can be replaced with something better.  So when you’re discussing, say, the institution of marriage, the door is wide open to show that Christian marriage as a reason for its existence that reaches far beyond the interests of the spouses.  If you’re talking about abortion, it creates an opportunity to show that sanctifying human life based on the imago dei leads us to respect not just the unborn, but also speaks to other issues the Secular Man has been fussy about lately, such as torture. 

If it’s so persuasive, why doesn’t the Secular Man just go for it?  Well, it’s because he’s got a different god, and he isn’t ready to give that up yet.  His deity allows him the illusion of escape from the strictures of a just and avenging God.  But everywhere the Secular Man operates on his own morals, things go straight to hell fast.  They wanted sexual freedom, so they invented the Pill (always with a capital ‘P’).  Welcome to a host of new sexually transmitted diseases, and despite the effectiveness of the Pill, a nation that is now nearly half bastard.  To address the problem of bastardy, they opted for legalized abortion, and now the nation slays about 1.3 million unborn infants per year.  They wanted to convert law from an instrument of divine vengeance into a tool for rehabilitation.  Welcome to the largest prison population in the world, soaring crime rates, and a national sex predator problem so severe that unless you live in the middle of the Mojave Desert, there are probably a dozen or more registered sex offenders within a mile or two of your home.  Don’t believe me?  Just do a Google search on the phrase, “sex offender” followed by your ZIP code.  My search turned up 18 offenders within a couple of miles of my house.  The Secular Man wanted free bread and circuses for his voters at the expense of the other guy’s voters.  Welcome to national bankruptcy.  The Secular Man said he’d liberate women by moving them from the home to the job site.  Welcome to the latchkey kid society, and at the risk of offending many, welcome to a generation of guilt-ridden womenfolk scarfing down anti-depressants in truly astonishing quantities, and welcome to men who have learned to shirk their God-given duty to provide for their families.  “Deadbeat dad” is one of the phrases our generation will be remembered for.  So, Mr. Secular Man, how’s that liberation thingy working out for you?

One of the more subtle yet potent apologetics for Christianity is that societies begin to fail when they jettison biblical morals.  The Secular Man’s record of moral autonomy is bad and getting worse.  It’s a perfect opportunity for the church to start saying that our God designed the world such that it functions properly only when it submits to his lordship.  The farther men go from him, the more it seems like hell.  That’s on purpose, and the Secular Man needs to know it.

He won’t drop to his knees in a sudden epiphany.  But if the door cracks open a wee bit, some light just might get inside.

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