An Apologetic for Apologetics

As I post this I’m nestled comfortably in the warmth of my MIL’s home in Maryland while my little man is pretending he’s a construction crane and his dad a site worker. The scene was not this cozy last week when I had to be up at 3am to catch my flight to San Francisco to attend the Evangelical Theological Society’s Annual Meeting. Though this was not my first attendance at this annual meeting, this time was different as I was also to speak at the Evangelical Philosophical Society’s Apologetics Conference (http://www.epsapologetics.com/) was held in conjunction with the meeting.

It was truly an honor and a humbling experience to have been asked to speak alongside theologians and philosophers like Dallas Willard, Paul Copan, Craig Hazen, William Lane Craig, JP Moreland and the likes. My session was scheduled for the first evening after Willard’s plenary. It’s hard to estimate how many participants there were but I’m guesstimating  500…

As my session was held in parallel to Craig’s, I was not expecting too many people at mine but to my surprise, the room was packed – with some having to sit on the floor. Needless to say this only added to my nervousness! The title of my talk was Apologetics in a Cross-Cultural Setting and I had less than 45 minutes to deliver it (of course I ran out of time!). We managed to squeeze in some Q&A time before we called it a night. I was extremely heartened by the enthusiasm of all who were there – many were young, vibrant and eager to share their faith with their friends. Their questions reflected their passion for God and truth.

I was also greatly encouraged by what Willard shared in his plenary session on Knowledge in the Context of Spiritual Formation: “Apologetics is a helping ministry, pastoral, not just for the unbeliever.” This truly affirms and underlines what we are about as often we get the comment that they’re not “interested” in Apologetics as they’re not about debating/arguing with non-Christians. And my personal experience in Apologetics has never been about arguing with my non-Christian friends but about understanding what I claim to believe.

Willard says this perfectly in his reflection of 1 Peter 3:14-15:

“On the basis of your knowledge of Christ and your life with him, you bring knowledge to others about how the spiritual life works and what that knowledge could mean for them. You explain the interior or spiritual factors of your hope.”

Preach it, brother!

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~ by iccthomas on November 24, 2011.

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