I’ve just finished my latest read for the SpeakEasy Blogger review network. The book is Bob Seidensticker’s Cross Examined: an unconventional spiritual journey. It was a very enjoyable read; I recommend it. Because Christian Apologetics is one of the main topics dealt with in this novel, I want to deal with this before posting my actual review.
For the uninitiated, apologetics is not about saying one is sorry, but about defending one’s faith. The word apologia, from which apologetics is derived, means to give “words about;” to answer or explain something.
Many Christian Apologists root their apologetics in 1 Peter 3:15 which says
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect[.]
Many of the debates that Christians enter into with atheists or evolutionists or people of other religions are understood and described by the Christian invovled as being apologetic. They tend to be logical, rational, or at least rhetorical presentations of evidence and philosophical points.
Here is my question: how are rhetorical skills and debate tactics equated with giving a reason for “hope that you have”? The hope I have as a follower of Jesus cannot begin to be grasped by eloquent arguments or well framed premises and conclusions. The hope I have, the hope that is “in me” )in the King James version of the 1 Peter passage) is a living, ongoing relationship with God that I have found available through Jesus Christ.
Arguments don’t offer hope. They may (or may not) offer answers. Answers are not hope!