I was talking with a friend this week about the dangers and benefits of apologetics (defense of Christianity). If you were raised in an Evangelical church or household, chances are you were given the answers to many questions that you might encounter when it came to talking about Christianity. While the answers might be helpful, I believe that there could be a negative side associated with the robust defense of the faith.
The positive aspect about “Defending your faith” is being able to answer legitimate questions that people might have for you. Removing that obstacle is important, but it is not the only thing! Christians must resist being pulled into a state of Mutually Assured Destruction where we try to win the conversation at the expense of losing the relationship. Regrettably, I have done that and used apologetics as a weapon instead of a scalpel, smashing the opponent instead of carefully removing objections to the faith. Instead of graciously discussing the matter, I have been quick to interject my own opinions into the matter. Instead of listening and being present in a conversation, I have listened for an entry point where I could hit back at the person. Indeed we should reply to charges or questions, even if it is a “I don’t have the answer, but I can go look for one.” Nevertheless, whatever we do, it should be done in a gentle manner.
Being gracious towards the other person should be something that we embody as Christians. Active, gracious listening should be a mark of a follower of Christ in our culture. At all times, giving a reason for the hope that lives within you and me should be done with humility, not a hammer.
(Side note: It is OK if you question Christianity. Historically, Christians have faced the questions posed in our world for centuries now. Our faith is a deeply rooted one, so I would encourage you to think through the problem. Let me know if I can help in any way!)
Do you see any other “Good, the Bad, and The Ugly” in Apologetics?