January 14, 2012

Apologetics aren't for Unbelievers

They're like BMW commercials, which are primarily on the air so that people who've already bought one can feel good about their expensive purchase after the fact.  (Think about it. Who buys a $70,000 car just because it came on during the Super Bowl? No, it comes on during the Super Bowl so the BMW owners can puff out their chest a bit while the other guys reach for more nachos.  Anyway.)

I say this to piggyback on Tim Hendrson's blog post the other day, which points out that one doesn't hear of tons and tons converting to Christendom just because someone defended the resurrection of Jesus. True. Apologetics programs are generally much better at protecting confused sheep than at transforming goats. As I said once, regarding Apologetics vs. History:
Christian scholars, believe that the scripture is trustworthy and affirm that its historical content is accurate.  But, don't make proving that your objective.  Begin there.  Assume historicity, and then go on further to reconstruct actual history. 
I think that what most people want is not extra reasons to believe that it happened.  More than that, we want a scenario to suggest how it happened. 
By the way, Henderson was discussing Mike Licona's book on The Resurrection of Jesus, about which I also blogged my thoughts a while back:
As long as resurrection isn't ruled out a priori, it's the best explanation for everything the apostles did (and also for what Paul did) after Jesus' death. Of course it is. Seriously, this really is very old news. 
...it's clear that his goal must have been, from the outset, "to defend the faith once delivered".  And again, that's fine... [but] the book as a whole remains yet another example of a conservative Jesus history which *concludes* with a positive judgment about *historicity* - See, brethren, we can still believe that it's all really true!  
I'll keep on repeating these points till I'm blue in the face. Or until the tide someday turns.
...the ironic tragedy here is that skeptical reconstructions display plenty of confidence in what they assert - and unbelievers lap that stuff up, despite their indefensible presuppositions, because of their confidence - but our christian scholars are the ones who won't go so far as to build one fluid chain of events based on the Gospels. 
In other words, it's WE who don't seem to have faith!
But we do. Or we say that we do. We believe in the Story.

Lord, increase our Faith in the Story.



Rick Wadholm Jr. said...

For whatever its worth...the late British theologian T. F. Torrance once remarked in a lecture series at Fuller Seminary that he was not an apologist, but an evangelist. I quite like that, but still find place for the need of apologetics. I do think too often we are speaking to "the choir" who apparently doesn't need much convincing, but only self-affirmation. At least that is how it often seems to me.

Bill Heroman said...

I've admitted this elsewhere, but More than a Carpenter was really affirming for me as a college freshman. I think guys like Licona do their best work in that regard, and I assume they're not being purposely duplicitous, but I do find it ironic.

As you say, the apologist and evangelist role are not strictly one and the same!

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