“Our greatest ability is our availability.”
Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples, pg. 324
Have you ever considered how much time it takes to reach unbelieving people for Jesus Christ?
William Lane Craig recently did an interview on Fox News to promote his latest book, A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity, and the Bible. In a few minutes, he made an articulate and defensible case for believing in God and for the Christian faith. What strikes me most about the interview is how well prepared Dr. Craig is to engage thinkers—there are forty-five years of intense study behind his eight-minute interview.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for going out there and laying it on the line like Billy Graham or D.L. Moody. Let the Holy Spirit work. Preach the Word! Absolutely.
But frankly there are many times when apologetics can open doors to the Christian faith that might otherwise be closed. If I’m going to have my faith challenged—or even mocked—by a non-believer, responding with logic and reason carries more sway than quoting Scripture. I’m not counting on my intellect to get me through; I’m just saying it may be wiser to prepare the soil, sow the seeds, and water the crop before calling for the harvest. Jesus intended that we should ‘sow’ when He gave us the Great Commission. When He said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, He meant for us to work at renewing our minds.
So why don’t more people appreciate apologetics as a tool for sharing their faith? Apologetics takes a lot of time. We don’t hear much in the way of apologetics from our pulpits. It’s more of a personal discipleship sort of thing. Truth be told, most people don’t even know what apologetics is. So what is apologetics, really, and why should we care?
We’ve written about Dr. Bobby Conway several times on Veracity. He is the lead pastor of Life Fellowship in Charlotte, NC, and also the founder of the One Minute Apologist, a creative YouTube apologetics ministry. In a recent interview with Brian Auten of Apologetics315 (one of our recommended websites) he talks about his background, the need for apologetics in the church, incorporating apologetics into preaching, doing multimedia apologetics, advice for those studying apologetics, the On Guard DVD program he created with William Lane Craig, and more. (I still get a kick bending the truth that I was on the One Minute Apologist last fall.)
Click on the play button above to listen to Dr. Conway’s interview. He does a great job framing, explaining, and using apologetics for all the right reasons, namely to remove obstacles.
When you get right down to it, apologetics is about spending time to prepare yourself to reach out to people who have obstacles to faith in Christ. The thing I find most compelling about great apologists is their willingness to put in the time so they can reach out to those who often don’t wish to be reached. It would be much easier to simply walk away from most of these people, but they don’t. What about you? Wouldn’t now be a good time for apologetics?
A Small Thing That Isn’t So Small
Last Sunday, Pastor Travis Simone again mentioned in his sermon the importance of having a special place to study God’s Word. We all have our distractions, but if you don’t have a place to study and meditate (as Bobby Conway related Howard Hendricks’ 40-20 rule during the interview) it’s very important to get one. If you can’t work it out at home, go to work or school early, stay late, go to the library, listen to podcasts in your car or while exercising, but by all means find a place that works for you. I’ve got a favorite easy chair, an iPad, a smart TV, and all kinds of ways to read and study, but nothing comes close to sitting upright at a computer, using the resources of the Internet to further my personal discipleship. I mention this as a footnote not to state what should be obvious, but because I am shocked by the number of people who haven’t yet worked this out. Challenge yourself and take care of this important business.
January 3rd, 2014 at 5:05 am
I also find compelling the time apologists put into knowing people ( their audience). Ravi Zacarias also works hard at this and seems to well informed of different religions and ideas. Also agreed it is easier to walk away. However, as I have found , why? What is our purpose for living ? I believe as a Christian it is more unnatural to walk away. We were created to be His disciples. I also can be surprised at the handling of Gods word and the lack of effort to find meaningful time to study. As Dick has said Gods word is what he gave to us and speaks to us (most of the time ) is through his word. We need to be deliberate and put effor into studying His Word which he has left us. I enjoyed this article and the importance of apologetics.
January 4th, 2014 at 7:18 pm
Thanks for commenting! Dick Woodward just wrote a very nice devotional post that takes the idea of prioritizing our time into the Psalms and challenges us to think about how we will spend our time in 2014.
Jason Ladd just posted a 2-part review of Ravi Zacharias’ book, Why Jesus?, and here is the link. If you like Ravi Zacharias, I think you’ll find Jason’s review succinct, on target, and helpful.
It’s always wise to read the “other side’s” material. As you note, the really effective apologists spend lots of time familiarizing themselves with objections to Christianity. Here’s a post on an atheist blog that really highlights the value of preparation (the first few comments are worth the read).
Thanks and Happy New Year!
January 3rd, 2014 at 4:54 pm
John, great post. You are right apologetics takes a great deal of time to learn and the learning never stops. The times I have taught a class dealing with apologetics I would spend the first session defining it and giving reasons for its importance. I wish churches would do more to teach what a reasonable faith we have. David
January 4th, 2014 at 7:25 pm
I couldn’t agree more. Bobby Conway speaks to the need for purposeful apologetics from our pulpits in the podcast linked in this post–it’s a little long, but packed with insight. I’m totally with you on the ‘reasonableness’ of the Christian faith–the more I have studied apologetics, including the fine work on your blog, the more I appreciate just how real it is. Thanks for sharing!
January 5th, 2014 at 3:13 pm
I believe there is also a side that is not so reasonable. As how I was personally saved was a miracle. Reasonably speaking there were some reasonable steps a long the way the process and journey. But The Lord does work in mysterious ways.
January 5th, 2014 at 3:09 pm
Thank you John for all of the links. I read devotionals by Dick regularly. I had read his that day when I commented, I had been thinking on those time issues for a while. Thank you also for the atheist link. I have a few atheist friends and I usually just explore and think on those lines, as what I hear from them. I hear more and more ” I believe in God but not in Jesus “. Also a block of the attitude and reverence of the Bible. I really see they want things to be glimmer , mystical ( as Ravi points out) and plain truth is not exciting enough. What they seem to want is the world , but that isn’t admitted either. It’s like no reference point. Just a my thoughts, and a little rambling. Thanks again for links, it’s also good to have more resources to relate and see where they are coming from. Thank you
January 7th, 2014 at 7:22 pm
You’re not ‘rambling’. I wish more people would open up to real conversations like this! I find a lot of atheists need companionship and support for their lack of belief, some carrying it to the point that skepticism becomes a religion. The big picture remains that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
And you are right about miracles. If everyhing has a rational, metaphysical explanation there is no need for God. I believe what C.S. Lewis wrote about miracles being the logical, natural, and necessary expressions of an omnipotent Creator. Faith is both reasonable and so very miraculous. Thanks!
January 8th, 2014 at 10:22 pm
Thank you for the encouragement. I do like real conversations like the ones on here. I like the saying about caring. It’s true that it’s not about us being “right” or proving a point.
I like Dicks way of saying it on page 23 in his new book ” people are not interested in our religious talk unless they are impressed by what they see us do and are favorably impacted by what we are “.
He also says on page 21 “Being a witness really is a matter of being who you are in Christ with secular people.”
I have been thinking a lot about that in Areas of where the church community also. I believe it would be good to open up this dialogue more. I remember thinking I was Christian or that I had a relationship with Christ. Except there was a very good reason I could not use the word Christian. I thought I was – well as much as possible for someone like me could anyway. Speaking about it helped in the process. I was seeking and so grateful.
“Seek Yee first”…
There are so many little steps I’m so thankful.
I hope others can see the true importance of discipline and maybe not seeing a whole lot of light at first
I try it not forget ” so great a salvation “. ( Hebrews)
I’m glad for these conversations too and I hope we can have them with everyone on their spiritual journey. It’s not good trudging along thinking we are something ” that’s at least better than what it used to be “. Without a true relationship with the one who designed us.
Tozer in the knowledge of the holy also writes well on the omniscience of God.
January 9th, 2014 at 11:10 pm
William Lane Craig did great at putting it together in such a short period.
I really like the Bobby Conway interview. I appreciated his handling of Rob Bell, being generous where he can be generous, but still addressing the shortcomings of Bell’s approach to discussing hell. Hell is a very difficult subject apologetically, something that typically generates more emotion than the necessarily thoughtful reflection.
I think Veracity can handle it, but it will take some effort to get there.