Os Guinness on the Essence of Apologetics

BeThinking.org have posted some talks by Os Guinness given to the L’Abri fellowship in the UK. Although the lectures were delivered some time ago, they are a great introduction to the issues involved in the task of defending Christianity. Guinness is an important contemporary evangelical thinker and commentator, and has written books such as Time for Truth, The Journey, The Dust of Death and Fit Bodies, Fat Minds.

There are four lectures in the series:

Part 1: What is the essence of apologetics?
Part 2: A Biblical basis for the essence of apologetics.

Part 3: How to communicate in apologetics.
Part 4: Persuading the hard-hearted [to be posted]

Some of the lecture notes:

Part 1: What is the essence of apologetics?

In Part 1, Dr Guinness considers reasons that some people are wary of apologetics and highlights some of the limitations that can apply to apologetics.

Some limitations of apologetics:

* Much apologetics is limited in appealing only to the open and the interested. What about the other 95%?
* Much apologetics is limited in appealing only to the needy.
* Much apologetics is limited in appealing only to those with a similar worldview to us.
* Much apologetics is limited in appealing only to the rational, literate, abstract thinker.
* Much apologetics remain within Christian circles and never makes it’s way into the world.

“… to transcend these limitations, we’re going to have to develop an apologetics which is flexible enough to communicate to anyone at any level of consciousness, any religion or worldview, of any nationality or language or whatever. In other words, the tough thing in modern apologetics will be to develop a persuasive cross-contextual communication. That’s what the best apologetics always was in the past – and is in the Scriptures. It’s what the modern situation calls for and what some of the best modern theory points towards.”

Part 2: A Biblical basis for the essence of apologetics

In Part 2 of this series, Dr Guinness considers whether there is a Biblical basis for apologetics, from both Old and New Testaments.

Some conclusions from the New Testament evidence:

1. Apologetics is Biblical, not post-Biblical
2. It has nothing to do with ‘being apologetic’
3. The New Testament metaphors are mainly legal, not military
4. Covers the formal and informal defence
5. It is for all Christians, not just for some
6. It is used with ‘insiders’, as well as ‘outsiders’
7. It is profoundly intellectual, but it is equally powerful morally and spiritually

“Apologetics is pre-evangelism, which is communication that clarifies what is obscuring and obstructing the good news. And in this sense, it is the necessary foreword or preface wherever there is indifference or complacency or resistance or hostility. It is the intellectual, moral, spiritual bush-clearing operation that is the preparation for the gospel to come in.”

Part 3: How to communicate in apologetics.

Four parts of cross-cultural communication:


Finding out where a person is:

1. Listen to people as individuals
2. Learn the language of their worldview and lifeworld
3. Know how unbelieving minds work

Aspects of unbelief:


(I’ll update the post, when the following two lectures have been added)

1 reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Part 3 of Os Guinness’ lecture series on the essence of apologetics has been uploaded. […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *