Anthony Horvath, a pro-life advocate and Executive Director of Athanatos Christian Ministries, has written a provocative post about the importance of apologetics for the witness of the church in the post-Christian world:
“Some Christians will begin seeing red just from reading the title of this entry. They will be angry and annoyed and may even jump up out of their seats. Therefore, let me say it again: apologetics is the answer to everything.
Whether it be the rapid decline of the Christian Church in America, the brisk acceptance of homosexual ‘marriage,’ the prevailing and deepening culture of death, the shallow spirituality of many of the Christians who actually remain in the Church- and certainly much of the lack of action- and many other issues can track back to nothing less than disobedience, for the Scriptures themselves command: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15“
Horvath argues that our proclamation of the Gospel has been harmed by an abandonment of an assumption that was central to the witness of the early Christians:
“What is this assumption that the apostles carried with them wherever they went and the unbelieving world they interacted with shared, and generally still tends to share, yet many Christians today have jettisoned?
It is simply this: that what is objectively true and real in the world requires our assent in mind, body, and soul.
In short, apologetics rejects the relativistic and post-modern notions that we all get to make up our own ‘truth’ as we go. Apologetics carries with it the assumption that what is described in the Bible really happened. Jesus, to his very own disciples, appealed to the fact that they themselves had witnessed miracles- that really happened. The Bereans strove to show that what Paul was saying really happened was really consistent with their Scriptures. Paul directed Agrippa to investigate what had really happened. If Jesus did not really rise from the dead, we are to be pitied more than all men.“
Horvath suggests that, in contrast to the early church, we have succumbed to the postmodern denial of both the existence of objective truth and human access to it. This has consequences:
“If you walked around thinking that your articles of faith were in fact nothing more than articles of faith without any grounding in reality, how willing would you be to share your views? If this is what you thought, how excited would you be to evangelize? Easily answered: not very.”
What is his solution?
“Apologetics is the answer to everything- in the sense that knowing what you believe and why you believe it is that which gives you the confidence to act in a society that does not share your values and beliefs. The notion that the Church should confine itself to ‘spiritual’ issues has more than passing resemblance to the gnostic heresy. God created ‘earthly’ things, too, and said they were good! Ah, but is that just an article of faith, or is it an actual truth?
The apologetically minded individual tends to be someone who believes that what he is presenting and defending is an actual truth about the real state of affairs. Not presenting and defending the Christian faith implies to Christian and nonChristian alike that Christianity is a collection of arbitrary dogmas. Merely asserting those dogmas accomplishes the same thing. Defending the Christian faith poorly cements the notion in people’s minds (Christians as well!) that ‘faith is believing what we know isn’t true.’”
You may not agree with everything he says, but it is worth taking the time to read the whole thing.