Apologetics and Evangelism in a Post truth Culture


627105fbd623859bd10e4355c4ea23aeby Rob Lundberg

Why is it that whenever the discussion of apologetics and evangelism comes up, those of us engaging in those tasks come under “friendly fire” from well-meaning believers in the church? Here’s what “sparks” this question.

Some time ago, I posted a comment on Facebook, which said that the reason why the church in America was behind the eight ball in the culture was because much of the secular city defines truth from the parameter of science, and in many cases psuedo-science.  The result has shown (at least since Darwin’s writings) the religious community has been withdrawing into a fideism where faith, experiences, and feelings, are the rule for one’s comfort level on biblical truth.

The key areas where I received some friendly fire from folks in the church on this was that last part, “the religious community has been withdrawing into a fideism where faith, experiences, and feelings, are the rule for one’s comfort level on biblical truth.” This was because we were on the tail end of a postmodern culture. But now, we are in a culture that is post-truth in its mind-set.

But postmodernism[1] is a byword, though many do not realize this. We are in the wake of postmodernism, being washed ashore onto the beach of a post-truth[2] mindset. It has never more been a clarion call for churches to gird their minds to embracing not just a “belief that” Christianity is true, but also a forensic mindset which takes faith and moves it to a “trust or belief  in” the truth claims of the Christian faith.

Those embracing an experiential faith sometimes will say that those into apologetics with a forensic faith, are too cerebral, and their understanding of faith and evangelism undermines biblical authority.  And this is what I would like to speak to in this post.

What is the problem?

Since we are answering the objection of apologetics undermining biblical authority that on the surface this objection to apologetics is misguided.  Let me just say at the outset that I believe the Bible is the Word of God, without error or contradiction.  Let me also add that I believe that the text of Scripture has been preserved and protected by the Holy Spirit.

Also, if we look in Scriptures, we can see that there are passages where “giving a response,” “making a defense,” “responding with gentleness and respect” are present from the Old Testament, and through the earthly life and ministry of Jesus, and all the way through the Scriptures to the post resurrection and ascension letters of the New Testament.  So what is all the criticism about?

The most common thread that I see may have to with what methodology of evangelism one is comfortable with.  Another may involve how one is seen in “doing apologetics” where they may be violating the “with gentleness and respect” part of 1 Peter 3:15.

Let me dive in a little deeper here. 

Does apologetics diminish or deny biblical authority?

Where does this objection have its legitimacy?  The answer to that is quite simple.  If in my answering the objection points to my reasoning and not pointing the person back to; or trying to bring the person to the God of the Bible, then my response would be man centered and thus I would be guilty of diminishing biblical authority.  But biblically speaking, this objection is misguided in its misunderstanding apologetics as the handmaiden to evangelism.

What about the one who is not willing to listen to Scripture?

This is a legitimate question with where we are in a lot of pockets in our culture. What do you do in the case where the one posing an objection to Christianity is not willing to listen to Scripture?

You and I can try and bring that person to the God of the Bible all day long, and they will not come. But the job of an evangelist is impart the truth in a post truth-minded culture;  and if possible, trusting the Holy Spirit and share the gospel with the “happy cultured pagan.” A lot of times there is an objection behind the objection. You have to find that before you can give “the right answer.”  In that situation the Spirit works in the initial part of the conversation.

The goal with the person you are sharing with is to be able to be their friend, show you care; and keep the communication open so that the person can come to you and ask about the previous question or ask a question prompted by the Holy Spirit working on them.

For you and I, it is seeking the Lord to save that person.  This does not undermine biblical authority. It keeps us in front of the person we are sharing with and opens up a possible avenue for discipleship once that person comes to faith.[3]  This was the approach of Jesus, and the brothers and sisters in the faith who have gone before us.

Apologetics is the handmaiden to evangelism.  The sooner we see this the faster the church is going to get out from behind the eight ball in the culture.
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[1] Postmodernism was a late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories. This the distrust of theories on absolutes.

[2] Used as an adjective to relate to or denote circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
E.g., ‘in this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire

[3] Please bear in mind that a person does not have the be “evangelized” to begin discipleship. Perhaps pick a book (a book of the Bible that the person has an issue with, or by a Christian thinker), go through it together and discuss it, debate it and hash  through it. The Holy Spirit is not unable to use what He will to draw that person to Christ.

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robgoodgravatarRob is a blogger, writer and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and to communicate the message of the gospel to a confused culture in a confused, chaotic, “brave new world.”  He is available to come and speak to your church, college club, or group. Find out what people are saying.

If you would like to book Rob for a speaking event, you can do so by emailing him at roblundberg@ratiochristi.org    If you have other questions about apologetics or doing apologetics, or if you are looking for apologetics resources, contact our ministry by email.

 

Author: roblundberg

I am a blogger, writer, equipper, and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and then take it and communicate it to a confused culture in a "brave new world." My mission involves evangelism undergirded by apologetics, and training; and equipping you to walk in the spiritual disciplines. I currently serve as the local Chapter Director and Community Apologist for Ratio Christi in Fredericksburg, VA.

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