I recently wrote a piece for Seedbed (www.seedbed.com) on a solid Christian approach to apologetics, critiquing a certain brand of it and offering what I have found to be the most Christ-like. I’ve provided a generous excerpt and a link to the full article below. I cannot stress, for those of you doing apologetics, to take the time and ask yourself the question of method: are you exemplifying Jesus or yourself in your arguments?
I recently stumbled upon the YouTube channel of a popular Christian apologist. Before watching any of his videos I scrolled down to see what the traffic numbers were and the general reception of the content to his viewers. I was slightly taken back when most of the comments from viewers were slurs, insults, and derogatory remarks. For a moment I felt sympathetic for the producer. I operate a YouTube channel and am quite familiar enough with the occasional insult, usually by someone who never even took the time to watch your video but just wants an excuse to put down a Christian.
This sympathy didn’t last for long since the next thing I noticed was that his replies were equally disingenuous, insulting, and personally degrading. I proceeded to watch several of his videos which described non-Christians as “stupid”, “brainless”, and “dumb.” The sole focus of his videos, where he caricatured people like Bart Ehrman or Richard Dawkins in ways reminiscent of the villains in Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, was to show how apologetics succeeds in making non-believers look stupid. If you didn’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead, you were “retarded.”
I wrote a personal e-mail to him noting that I was unimpressed with the approach he took towards non-believers. Yes, apologetics is commanded of us (1 Pet 3.15), but the model by which it represents true Christianity is if it’s done through gentleness and respect. Telling atheists to “get a brain and stop being so stupid” seemed to go against this. I was not really surprised when he responded back the following: “Spare me the foolishness; living by example as a form of evangelism is a modern contrivance, not found in the NT,”. He then advised me to get out of his way since “Those of us doing the job your kind missed have work to do.”
I am aware that apologetics has gotten a bad wrap in the minds of many. People have unfortunately seen approaches like the one presented above. I know this because I’ve talked to a lot of Christians about apologetics; many, who are quite learned themselves, see it as almost un-Christian: “Apologetics only pushes people further away from Christianity,” I have been told repeatedly. For many non-Christians apologetics has left kamikaze like memories. Boom! All of a sudden you’re found in an argument by a “trained” apologist.
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