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A different type of apologist

I have just started reading Apologetics for a New Generation; it is a collection of articles and interviews edited by Sean McDowell which explores what apologetics should look like today.

I think the following, taken from the introduction by Sean McDowell, summarizes the main question the book aims to answer:

Some compare postmodernism to an earthquake that has overturned all the foundations of Western culture. Thus, to be relevant in ministry today, we must shed our modern tendencies and embrace the postmodern shift. According to many postmoderns, this shift includes replacing a propositional approach to the gospel with a primarily relational methodology … But what does this really mean for ministry today? Certainly, as postmoderns like to emphasize, story, image, and community are critical components. But does it follow that we downplay reason, evidence, and apologetics? (p. 15)

To this he answers emphatically, “Absolutely not!”

The theme developing already (from men like Dan Kimball, Brett Kunkle, Lee Strobel & Josh McDowell) is that apologetics is still important, but the way we do apologetics may need some work. As Dan Kimball put it, we may need “a different type of apologist” (p.29).

I found the third chapter, by Josh McDowell, to be particularly powerful (it’s also as far as I’ve read in the book!). In it, made a powerful case for the vital role that relationships play. He asks:

[W]hat will cause your children, grandchildren, students, neighbors, friends and family members to want to hear the truth, know Jesus, follow the Scriptures, and live out the values you yourself treasure? (p. 59)

To this he answers, simply: relationships. The other contributors (so far) have also touched on one aspect or another of this.

We need to emphasize the importance of building real relationships with those around us if we are to have a meaningful voice in their lives. People are willing to explore what faith is and even what Christianity teaches, but they are often most open to those who have first listened to them and have developed a personal connection.

Josh McDowell characterized it this way:

It’s not modernism. It’s not postmodernism. It’s not relationships and it’s not truth, not one or the other. It is a thoroughly biblical apologetic: truth in the context of relationships, an apologetic that acknowledges and capitalizes on the fact that truth bears the sweetest fruit when it is planted in the soil of a loving relationship. (p.67)

Even in cases where people have become intellectually convinced of the truthfulness of the facts of Christianity, it seems to be relationship and love that God predominantly uses to draw them into a saving faith. As Josh McDowell recounts: “The evidences did not bring me to Christ … It was the love I saw between a group of genuine believers who loved not only Jesus Christ but also each other – and even me!”

I am finding this book to be very good so far, and have high hopes as I continue through it. I think it has a lot of good lessons to teach.