Frustrations with Christian Apologetics – We Need to Do Better

When I had questions about my faith as a college student, reading Christian apologetic books was incredibly helpful.  Working with college students now, answering questions about Christian faith is a central part of the ministry.  Apologetics serves a good purpose: tearing down barriers to faith and providing positive reasons for Christian faith.

That said, I have become quite frustrated with some of what I have seen in various apologetic publications recently.

I am on an email list that each day gives me a list of five or so apologetic blog posts and articles.   The other day one of the articles was “Why I’m Not a Theistic Evolutionist.”  The author begins by saying, “there is one view of creation that I find difficult to accept. From my perspective, theistic evolution appears to be a contradiction in terms.”

My suggestion: try a new perspective.  Why not read and engage with other Christians who accept theistic evolution, who do not see it as a contradiction in terms?    Unfortunately, the author shows no indication of having done this.  He does not site, nor really show any indication, of having interacted with any of the many Christians who do hold the view of finds difficult: Francis Collins, John Polkinghorne, Karl Giberson, Peter Enns and the list goes on and on.

What argument does he provide for why he has trouble with theistic evolution?  Textbook definitions!  He gives textbook definitions (not with any links to which textbooks, by the way) of the two terms.  Since at a quick glance the definitions do not appear to fit together the conclusion is made almost as fast, they cannot fit together therefore theistic evolution is out.  This is incredibly simplistic.   It makes Christian apologetics seem anti-intellectual.  

Imagine someone turned such tactics on this apologist to argue against the Trinity, the doctrine that states one God exists as three persons.  

Its a contradiction in terms.  Just look at the textbook definitions.  One = 1.  Three = three ones.  One cannot equal three.  

I am sure he would not accept such an argument.

I am also sure that when it comes to using our brains, as Christians we need to do better.

(The aforementioned Peter Enns recently wrote a fantastic article which goes along with what I am saying here: the scandal of the evangelical mind is that we are not allowed to us it.  Instead all our conclusions had better fit into what is allowed to be believed.)

I don’t know anything else about this author.  From reading his website, he seems like a brilliant guy.  Maybe he just wrote a poor blog post (I am sure most of mine are!).  Yet what does this say to people who are truly interested in Jesus and truly believe in evolution?  What does this say to scientists who have spent their lives studying the world and are as certain of evolution as they are of anything else?  Do we really want to force them to choose?

After he is done familiarizing himself with his Christian brothers and sisters who are theistic evolutionists, he could read Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God where he will find this wise quote:

What can we conclude? Since Christian believers occupy different positions on boththe meaning of Genesis 1 and on the nature of evolution, those who are considering Christianity as a whole should not allow themselves to be distracted by this intramural debate. The skeptical inquirer does not need to accept any one of these positions in order to embrace the Christian faith. Rather, he or she should concentrate on and weigh the central claims of Christianity. Only after drawing conclusions about the person of Christ, the resurrection and the central tenets of the Christian message should one think through the various options with regard to creation and evolution” (Keller, 94)

One thought on “Frustrations with Christian Apologetics – We Need to Do Better

  1. I loved the quotation by Keller here (I’m a fan of his).
    And I agree that this is a bit disheartening.

    It seems that the New Atheists have convinced Christians that we need to study apologetics. Now, I think, we need to start working on the quality of that study.

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