Why I Hate Christian Apologetics

Posted: April 10, 2010 by Todd in Theology
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Apologetics is a a unique field that has the distinction of being the only “discipline” (that I can think of) that actually starts with the conclusion. Put more positively, Christian apologetics is a “reasoned” defense of the Christian faith. In actuality, I believe, most apologies are defenses only of particular strains of the Christian faith.

I think there are basically two approaches to coming to the “truth” or as close to the truth as humans can come. The approach taken by Christian apologists is a doctrinal approach to truth. They start with the truth that Christianity is true. Then it is defended with whatever facts and logic that can justify the particularities of  the Christian faith as they see it. A better approach, I believe, is to start without any basic assumptions and take the facts and see where they lead you. It may be based on reason, or faith, or pragmatism, or experience, etc. This is a discovery based approach to truth. The risk, as many doctrinal Christians see it, is that a discovery based approach to truth might not lead to the historic, traditional affirmations of the church. If you don’t at least have an open mind that you could be convinced that the fundamental doctrines of your faith could be false should evidence, experience, etc. emerge to show you otherwise, then how can one be certain of its truth? It is a closed system, invulnerable to criticism. It fails the falsification principle (all truth claims must be able to state under what conditions they could be judged not to be true).

I think Christian apologetics, or any form of apologetics for that matter, really is about as silly as approaching math in this way: The answer is 43. I will defend that by showing a situation where we are adding 39 plus 4. This is exactly why we’ve got people running around trying to prove that the earth is 6,000 years old.

Rather, why not look not only at your spiritual life as a journey, but also your own personal theology? Take life’s facts, experiences, and so forth in as they come and put together a faith that makes sense to you and then you’ll have something authentic rather than doctrinal. My own experience continues to show me that the example of Jesus Christ’s willing sacrifice of himself in his daily life, his witness to grace, teachings (things like loving your enemies and forgiving those who do you wrong), and ultimately acting faithful to God in the face of a pending state execution inspires me and gives meaning to my life. I could never prove it to you, but it does make sense to me and is the primary paradigm through which I live out my life.


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