It would be an understatement to say that I love Christian apologetics. I was in college back in the early 2000’s and the assault on my faith from school, media, and even friends who wandered away. Even after some time spent at a Bible college, I couldn’t tell you why I believed what I believed. So many Christians offered pious but empty words, reducing faith to gritting your teeth and just believing something you don’t believe. I rejected that, but I didn’t have a better answer.
Thanks to the work of Dr. William Lane Craig, the writing of GK Chesterton, the ministry of Stand to Reason, and J Warner Wallace’s podcast, among others, I discovered an entirely new thing I had never seen before: Christians who loved God with all their mind. It was like a revolution. It was certainly a revelation. Within a few years I was leading a small group in apologetics and couldn’t get enough.
That was fifteen years ago, and my appreciation has not dissipated. This is the part of the post where I’d normally move from presenting something positive to something negative, and if you were expecting it, you were right. I do have a couple of critiques coming, but I wanted to preface all of it. These critiques are important, but I want to be clear they aren’t critiques of Christian apologetics itself. They are critiques of a kind of Christian apologist.
The Temptation of Bad Philosophy
There were a lot of upstart Christian apologists back in 2010. I remember following dozens of them on social media. Every day someone would write a critique of some miserably ignorant comment an atheist made. Every day I’d seen new arguments and evidence for God. It was great. Over time, many of these people stopped writing so much online or they drifted into other subjects, and I lost contact with them.
In the past couple of years, I realized what might have been behind the drift. I’ve watched more than a few of these former apologists move into radical feminism, egalitarianism, liberalism, progressivism, statism, and the rainbow mafia. Their primary opponents now are godly Christians who hate evil. They have adopted “vain philosophies” after having spent time trying to argue against them.
There are likely many reasons for this. Lack of accountability, which is a common problem for those of us who write online, probably explains quite a bit of it. It takes work and can be done, but it won’t happen on its own. Immersing yourself in bad philosophy is difficult even for men very strong in the faith; but for normal people, it can make us vulnerable. We know most people pick up their worldview from osmosis; I suspect no one is immune from that completely.
Soft and Weak
Apologetics is an effective way to break through someone’s silly defenses and get to the heart of the reason they reject Christ. Usually, but not always, it’s a desire to commit sexual sin with impunity. Apologetics also helps Christians be more confident in what they believe. For some, apologetics really does answer genuine objections, and it’s the means God uses to bring them to faith. These are very good things.
However, apologetics is not the total sum of the Christian faith. We all know that, so what’s the point in talking about it?
These past two years of The Great Hysteria, and the decline in masculine virtue leading up to them, has made it painfully obvious that the church is anemic in its sanctification. We have sophisticated theology, good arguments, and lots of evidence, but the practical outworking in our lives is weak, effeminate, stupid, and useful to evil men with evil plans.
In 2020, how many Christian apologists used their strong intellects to fight the hysteria and the rapid onset of government oppression? How many fought the state’s manipulation of the news? How many rejected the claims regarding January 6 being an “attempted coup”?
Not many. Very few. This is a profound indictment.
There were some who stood up against tyranny and evil. Some took longer than others, but there were few that had the wisdom to reject the obvious lies back in March of 2020. There was little discernment to be found.
For the average young Christian man or woman, apologetics is a necessary part of their spiritual education. An unfortunate number of apologists have nothing to offer them beyond that, and actually seem hostile to the development of godly manhood and womanhood.
What kind of husband/wife should I look for? What kind of work should I do? How do I build a productive household? What is good about being a man? What is good about being a woman? How do we build a Christian culture and civilization? How should I influence my culture beyond talking on the internet? What role should I have in my community?
It’s sad to say, but many popular apologists on YouTube and elsewhere have no answers to these questions, even though every Christian should have an answer to them. The perpetual adolescence common in the culture is common here, too. There’s little heed paid to raising families, to local concerns, to building permanent community.
Just as I started with a disclaimer, I must end with one. I’m not discounting the many good apologetics ministries, or the many good Christian writers that are out there. Part of what makes them good is that they have a more robust Christian worldview that deals with real life. When they speak about politics or family or morality, it’s built on something solid. They know the basics of economics, political power, etc, and they understand how fallen our culture is.
The sorts of men and women I’m critiquing here are more like a drunkard trying to restock a pottery shop when they try to speak on these things. When they talk about politics, economics, families, or children, you can’t distinguish their thoughts from a random college student.
Apologetics is very important. As the last two years have revealed, there are other important things. The Christian worldview encompasses every aspect of life.
Speaking of the last two years, if you want an easy way to rule out people who might not have sufficient discernment, see how seriously they took the Great Hysteria back in the summer of 2020 when the state said churches couldn’t meet safely but violent rioters could.
EDIT: Here’s an example from today of the phenomenon I’m talking about. This is how a leading popular Christian apologist mocks those who oppose federal student loan “forgiveness”.
Good post. It is a serious issue, the inability to move beyond apologetics to practical theology and actual Christian praxis. I think a major part of the issue with the broader culture is that the larger society has descended into a(n almost) hopeless mess, in which the ability to speak counter to the prevailing antimorality is actively suppressed, the voices allowed to speak are carefully curated, and genuine gospel Christianity is way outside the Overton window. That isn’t to say that there haven’t been major failures on the part of Christian leadership to stand in the breach, but ground shifted far beneath collective evangelicalism over years, and they didn’t recognize it until it all came to a head in 2020. Now it’s too late to gain back the cultural ground lost, at least from the top down with the Big Christian Voices™.
I think the places we will find success is rebuilding in the ashes of local communities scorched by the fires of consumerism, flippant shallow culture, and toxic social media and entertainment obsession. Getting people to actually live amongst and love their neighbors instead of a carefully curated list of social media friends and internet randos. Waking people up to how living online and in their TV subscriptions is carrying them comfortably to hell. Perhaps there is ground to gain in the larger national scene, but I think the Left has that pretty well cornered, and there will be better success at the ground level.
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The fight is certainly local. There’s a lot of good stuff happening where I live, and there’s some real community building going on. Depending on how my business situation develops in the next couple of years, I might drop the anonymity a little bit and write on some of that.
Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay .
The Christian-Thinktank guy is particularly notorious. He may be Orthodox in many ways. But when it came to women. He is a total feminist:
Its a shame because he was such a good apologist.
Can I get a link to that share by Cameron Bertuzzi?
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