apologetics - Argumentative defence. That part of theology which tries to show the reasonableness of Christian faith and to refute objections to it.
apologetics - The branch of theology that is concerned with the defense of Christian doctrines.
I find the first definition of "apologetics" above particularly unbiblical. "Argumentative defense" doesn't sound very loving to me. And the "reasonableness of Christian faith" is an oxymoron. Jesus as God incarnate is not "reasonable" by any stretch of the imagination! Jesus making a scene in the Temple, upsetting traditions and social order is not a "reasonable" act. Jesus teaching us that we should go against our most innate nature is not "reasonable"! God gave his only begotten Son to die for us! That's "reasonable"? Jesus was not a reasonable man. Our God is not a reasonable God. Paul didn't seem to think so, either:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:I think it is time to stop trying to prove God exists, that Jesus was real, that the Bible is factual. It is time to stop using logic to argue with the world and to realize that doing so is to play a game with the world by the world's rules. It sacrifices faith to the mind, to logic, when in fact logic can sacrifice itself just fine. Every time some expedition goes off to try and find Noah's ark or some other archaelogical "proof" of events in the Bible, they are sacrificing faith to proof."I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (New International Version)
This does not mean that I gave up all logic upon becoming a Christian, or destroyed my mind to become the village idiot, checking my critical faculties at the church door. It does mean, however, that by almost all accounts in the Bible faith is what is important, not the mind. I need logic to figure out how to make work wherever faith leads me, to use my gifts in the most Christ-following manner, to ensure I am tending to what God has allowed me to steward in the best manner possible. I do not, however, need logic to prove to myself God exists, and I therefore should not use it as a tool to try and convert others. As if we could just browbeat them into submission! (Raise your hand if you can think of anyone converted that way that stayed converted...Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?). During my wandering/agnostic phase, the arguments I picked with my Christian friends never had much impact. What did affect me was watching how they, and my mother's parents, went about living out Christ in their lives.
So instead of apologetics, I believe we should be fools for Christ and offer "anti-apologetics". If you will forgive me the word play, we should be "unapologetic". We don't have to prove anything to anyone! But we do have a lot we need to show the world. We need:
To relate, not retort - we need to love all we meet as Christ loves us. Our love for them should be real and without condition. Our duty is to love, not judge. Arguing doesn't make anyone a lover, especially not a Christ-lover.
To show, not say - a picture's worth a thousand words, and a helping action, a loving participation in our community, just listening, is worth more than all the dogma we could spew if we never stopped talking. And that's the key - if we stop talking about Christ and instead just follow Him, perhaps there will be some room where He can talk to those that need Him instead of us filling all the available silence with chattering from our blow holes.
Mystery, not mandate - as someone who at one time dabbled in Buddhism, I find it funny that many raised in Western Christianity will reject their own faith as "illogical" (based on a Sunday school understanding of that religion that then gets mugged in an alley somewhere around their freshman year in college) and then they will go off and try some other religion and rejoice in its mysteries. And even though there is a large cultural "impedance mismatch" between their upbringing and their new religion, they will accept the new religion's mysteries wholeheartedly, while rejecting Christianity as "illogical" (which it is - see above). Why do they reject that? Because modern Western Christianity has tried to play on the world's field using the world's rules - logic, and therefore can't whine when the world's rules seem to turn against it.
What a mistake. Instead, we need to see that mystery as a strength, as a resource, as a key to unlocking a deeper understanding that takes a lot of practice and pursuit. The Trinity, the ever-recurring miracle of the Eucharist, the absolute, incomprehensible mystery of God stuffed into a zygote, are as good meditational koans as "the sound of one hand clapping". Contemplative prayer, a.k.a. meditation, is an ancient Christian tradition, and one we need to get back to:
Abbot Pastor said: Get away from any man who always argues every time he talks.Anyway, the next time someone wants to argue with you about God, just smile, shake your head, and instead of giving them apologetics, give them your apologies.
- "The Wisdom of the Desert", Thomas Merton, ed.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 4:7 (New International Version)