Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Why Do Churches Ignore ‘The Christian Apologetics’ Ministry?

            Is there a Christian apologetics ministry in your church? If the answer is a resounding NO, then your church is not an exception. It’s merely a part of a gazillion churches (or maybe more!) that ignores the ministry of Christian apologetics.

            There is a definite need for churches to prepare the young minds to not only resist the assault but to know enough to not allow their faith in Christ to be shaken or destroyed, says Christian Apologist William Lane Craig:1

In high school and college Christian teenagers are intellectually assaulted with every manner of non-Christian worldview coupled with an overwhelming relativism. If parents are not intellectually engaged with their faith and do not have sound arguments for Christian theism and good answers to their children’s questions, then we are in real danger of losing our youth. It’s no longer enough to teach our children simply Bible stories; they need doctrine and apologetics. It’s hard to understand how people today can risk parenthood without having studied apologetics.
Unfortunately, our churches have also largely dropped the ball in this area. It’s insufficient for youth groups and Sunday school classes to focus on entertainment and simpering devotional thoughts. We’ve got to train our kids for war. We dare not send them out to public high school and university armed with rubber swords and plastic armor. The time for playing games is past.

            Interestingly, WLC2 spoke those words of wisdom in the year 2012, according to The Poached Egg website. However, by now, the situation would not have changed to a great extent. The harsh reality remains intact; Churches continue to ignore the apologetics ministry.

            Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary, Douglas Groothuis, thus expresses his thoughts on this subject:3

Many Christians are not aware of the tremendous intellectual resources available to defend "the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints"; (Jude 3). This is largely because many major churches and parachurch organizations virtually ignore apologetics. One major campus ministry with a fine history and an otherwise splendid program offers no materials to help students deal with the unbelief emanating from their secular professors. Few evangelical sermons ever address the evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the justice of hell, the supremacy of Christ, or the logical problems with non-Christian worldviews. Christian bestsellers, with rare exceptions, indulge in groundless apocalyptic speculations, exalt Christian celebrities (whose characters often do not fit their notoriety), and revel in how-to methods. You can tell much about a movement by what it reads, and by what it does not read.

            Why do churches ignore the apologetics ministry?

            Christian apologetics website provides an answer to this question:4 (Emphasis Mine)

This is a more complex question than it may seem at the outset…Apologetics is not taught in churches because ministers and other church leaders are either untrained in it, or they are philosophically opposed to it.  The question, then, is why apologetics as an intellectual pursuit has been long ignored by Christian higher education and by church leaders.  This requires that we deal with generalities about attitudes within the church and how they have developed through the history of American Christianity.
The church, of course, has been influenced by the overall academic and social environment.  J.P. Moreland has provided an excellent analysis of how intellectual pursuits such as apologetics have been forsaken by the church as a whole.1 I also recommend Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth.  I will attempt to summarize Moreland’s evaluation here.
The great revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries brought with them an emphasis on quick conversion of individuals to Christianity without sufficient attention to instruction in biblical doctrine.  The Christian life became more about the experience than the intellectual assent to the teachings of Christ and the apostles.  Without intellectual grounding, many Christians fell prey to the rising philosophical views alleging that only empirical evidence can support truth claims.  Higher criticism began to cast doubt on the inerrancy of the Scriptures.  Darwinism challenged Christian teachings on the origins of man.  The evangelical church largely responded to these challenges by abandoning rational inquiry altogether.  Philosophy, as a whole, became rejected by the fundamentalists, who stood by the truth of the Scripture.  Mainstream denominations, on the other hand, accepted modern philosophy and rejected the inerrancy of Scripture, viewing it as a spiritual guidebook only, not propositional truth.  Instead of engaging the secularists, the fundamentalists retreated to the margins of society.  As a result, the church has largely adopted a blind-faith position regarding the knowledge of spiritual truth.  Rather than faith being seen as a response to reasoned evidence of the truth of Christianity’s claims, it has become contrary to reason altogether.  It amounts to believing despite all the evidence.
Ultimately, the absence of apologetics in the church has to do with intellectual laziness, which is sometimes made a virtue in the name of “faith.”  The effects of anti-intellectualism in the church have been disastrous.  However, further discussion of these effects would go beyond the scope of the current question.  Again, I advise that you read Moreland’s work.  The good news is that in recent years, apologetics is on the rise.  Seminaries and other institutions of Christian higher education are beginning to teach apologetics and Christian worldview studies.  Authors like Charles Colson, Josh McDowell, and Lee Strobel have popularized apologetics.  Nevertheless, great work is yet to be done if the church is to become more of the salt and light it was designed to be (Matthew 5:13), after decades of retreating to the walls of the church buildings in the midst of the intellectual challenges of the secular world.    

            If churches do not have an apologetics ministry in their church because they do not have members who are into or interested in apologetics ministry, then the churches need not take all the blame upon themselves. Even so, there are quite a few parachurch apologetics ministries that these churches can request help from.

            Finally, this is not a tirade against churches. This is an appeal to the church leadership. May they prayerfully think about starting apologetics ministry in their churches, which is also the need of the hour.



2William Lane Craig



Websites last accessed on 31st July 2019.

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