Friday, March 5, 2010

Apologetics & Ex-Christians

This weekend I begin my four week class on Apologetics--a defense of the Christian faith. This one is challenging for me because I'm no apologist. But it needs to be done, and I'm the one who thought of the class anyway, so I guess I'm stuck.

In preparing for the class, I visited some websites for skeptics and ex-Christians. I wanted to get an understanding of what others think about our faith, particularly those who might be on the more hostile end of the spectrum. What I found was interesting.

There are a lot of very bright people who have very good reasons for not believing. For many, the Christian faith is unreasonable and illogical. It simply doesn't add up. They understand Christianity to be at odds with Reason (Faith v. Reason, Faith v. Science) and have chosen the latter. The have well-formed and well-thought arguments to express their position.

I also found a lot of stories of pain and disillusionment. They tried Christianity and it didn't add up. The promises that church leaders made were broken. Christianity didn't deliver the goods, nor did Christians live up to the ideals and mandates of their faith.

Though probably none of these people will be in my class, I want to engage in apologetics in such a way that honors them. As we move into these spaces, we must do so as people who listen first, and when we open our mouths, we speak intelligently, with humility and honesty. No games. No intellectual short cuts. No preacher's tricks. No shouting. No name calling. No condemning. The point is not to win their souls through well-reasoned arguments, but to honor them as human beings who are still very greatly loved by God. As Paul wrote to the Colossians: "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

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