Author: Chris Hubbard

I'm a man on a journey, mapping my past, learning in the present, and walking toward the future. My world's being rocked, and I'm kneeling over the pieces--waiting to see how they fit together. But I am so thankful for the process. Life may be rough, but it is hidden in the hands of my Jesus. There is no other place I'd rather it be.

Arguing with the Heart

There’s a common misconception regarding Apologetics. In a sense, this blog is a continuation of my earlier “Who Is Apologetics (Good) For?” article and related to Emily’s, “Why Apologetics?” Largely, apologetics is the battleground of beliefs—one truth claim is pitted against another with the victor being the last one standing (i.e., the one with the most logic/rational support behind it). However…those ideas, beliefs, and truth claims are rooted within the heart as well as within the mind of the individual person. To win an intellectual argument at the cost of wounding the heart of a person is to suffer a needless tragedy. Thus an apologetic conversation has a two-fold focus, addressing both the intellectual facts of the topic and the personal heart of the person(s) involved. In other words, apologists should, “remember who the real enemy is.” (Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 10:5).

At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering, “All this is good and dandy, but what exactly does it mean that certain ideas are rooted in the heart of a person?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll share with you how I have worked through this question. Somehow through all of my foolish days and wondering journey, I’ve sat under and learned from some incredibly wise people whose words still resonate within me. On many occasions, Chad Hampsch of the Kanakuk Institute has shared with me that people’s personal struggles and/or spiritual battles are rooted in lie(s) they believed about who God is and, as I would expand it, the resulting lies they then believe about their own personal identities—in other words, who am I in light of who God is? Further if these accepted lies take the form of expectations, which become unmet expectations, then the person can harbor bitterness, frustration, resentment, or anger toward the person that is perceived to have been the betrayer.

Secondly, John Coe of Biola University’s Institute for Spiritual Formation explained once that there are two main pathways by which we learn to believe or disbelieve what we do. Firstly, Coe said that people have intellectual reasons to believe as they do. In other words, there are no other factors influencing this belief other than reason alone. For example, I have absolutely zero personal investment into what constitutes the best cricket bat; so, if you present me with an argument for why one bat is logically superior to another, I would readily accept your argument is valid and true. However the other pathway to belief is that individuals have personal causes to believe the way they do. Meaning this: people believe things due to prior experiences. In other words, while I have zero personal investment into what makes the best cricket bat, I have significant personal experiences with painful dental work to believe that dentists’ chair is where nightmares become reality…..and those experiences will trump your logical argument to the contrary every time.

Now what does all this have to do with apologetics? Again, I’m glad you asked. As we have apologetic conversations with people, our statements and questions need to be formed in such a way as to help determine whether the individual believes the way that he or she does because of intellectual reasons or because of personal causes. If the latter, were those personal causes born out of painful interactions with other Christians or out of an inaccurate understanding of who God is and the resulting anger from that unmet expectation? Maybe we should toss around an analogy for each to better explain:

Intellectual Reason: For John’s 40 years of life, he neither interacted with religion or with other religious people. Sure, he knows general ideas about religion but nothing specific. He is neither personally for nor against Christianity because he has no reason for accepting or rejecting it. For John, an honest and practical apologetic conversation is perfectly suited to get him thinking about Christianity or spiritual things in a realistic way.

Personal Causes: Katie was once an active member of her church, faithfully serving in various capacities on a weekly basis. However, after a painful divorce from her “Christian” husband and after her church “family” gossiped that the divorce was the result of her own adultery, Katie wants absolutely zero connectivity to the church or to the God the church claims to follow. An honest and practical and winsome apologetic conversation with Katie is still needed. However, a barrage of truth claims would have the same effect as beating her heart-wounds like a proverbial speedbag. Rather, an apologetic conversation with Katie should be focused on those heart-wounds, addressing the unmet expectations she held about the Church and about God Himself and helping her see the lies she believed due to those unmet expectations. Only through addressing those wounds and the roots of those wounds will Katie again even allow the thought of God as relevant in her life enter her mind, let alone her heart.

 

Through all of this, here’s the bottom line……apologetics is largely ineffective unless we address the person directly and meet her where she is. This is the heartbeat behind Colossians 4:5-6, “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Apologetics should be an avenue by which broken hearts are mended and wounds are healed (Psalm 147:3).

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Types of Apologetics

For the next few weeks, we will introduce you to some of the various types and focuses within apologetics. Think of it as a round of hors d’oeuvres, giving you bite sized samplings to whet your appetite for what’s to come.

Today, my goal is to give you a big picture understanding of the various types of apologetics. Though I must give a slight caveat: there is no set structure distinguishing the various types of apologetics. Each person has a unique take on how the various approaches to apologetics be understood and/or categorized, and those categorizations are neither necessarily mutually exclusive nor exhaustive. That said, I’m going to share three tiers of organization to help set the stage for our future posts.

First, apologetics can be divided according to the approach of the apologist (i.e., what argument is considered primary, what evidence is viewed as more impactful,  etc). Here are three examples:

  1. Classical Apologetics places a higher focus on logic and philosophy and prioritized arguments for God’s existence over other apologetic discussions—after all, if God didn’t exist, would anything else matter?
  2. Evidential Apologetics focuses more on providing evidence for the validity of Christianity. The type of evidence depends on the need of the question at hand, meaning that Evidential Apologists might equally use philosophy, historical, archaeological, and prophecy they argue the case for Christianity.
  3. Presuppositional Apologetics presupposes the validity of the Christian faith and focuses more on arguing for Christianity as more consistent than any competing worldview.

Second, apologetics can also be understood according to the functionality of the apologist’s arguments—whether the apologetic is intended to correct, to teach, to improve, etc. This category includes:

  1. Polemical Apologetics is the confrontational side of apologetics. This is more intended for tasks such as the correction of heresy or the challenging of another person in the form of debate.
  2. Therapeutic Apologetics is more personal than Polemical. It holds that most people reject Christ and the Christian faith moreso out of personal hurts or bad experiences from Christians or from unmet expectations on whom God should be than from logical arguments. Therapeutic Apologists want to utilize apologetics to address a person’s questions and fears about the existence and nature of God.
  3. Educational Apologetics is my term for when apologetics’ function is to teach or equip Christians or those seeking answers to faith questions to better understand their belief system.

The final designation (Categorical Apologetics, if you will) is based upon the focal content—such as an apologetic on bio-ethics or science or culture or you name it! The list here is almost endless.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting various introductions to major categorical apologetic discussions. Each thread will then branch out and develop further on its own. Our goal is to not overwhelm you with any single post so that you can follow each thread simultaneously.

Hope you are ready because things are about to get good!

Who is Apologetics (Good) For?

Alright, I’m once again in the driver’s seat here at The Apologers. Actually, I think I may have this and the following post—a bit much, I know, but the good news is you have an entire weekend before I’m back.

Last time, Emily quite beautifully expounded on exactly what apologetics is and introduced us to its importance. If you missed her article, take a few minutes and read it here. I’m back to springboard off a few of Emily’s comments and talk about whom apologetics is for and whom it is good for.

Firstly, let’s debunk some not-so-healthy ideas. A common thought is that apologetics is mainly intended for high intellectuals—those with more letters following their names than are actually found in their names, the proverbial “Doubting Thomas’”—those who simply don’t have enough faith to believe without demanding evidence, and the argumentative types—those who must have the final word even if it means arguing a point they themselves don’t believe. As Emily said, “Apologetics is very vast,” and while these three types of people indeed have seats at the table, so do those who needed a dictionary beside them as they read Emily’s last article, those skeptical of the role of reason in personal faith, and those who get nauseated at the mere thought of confrontation.

Remember, apologetics is where theology meets the road of daily life—it’s about uniting belief and behavior with truth. So if you want to better understand the depth of your faith or if you are questioning your own faith or faith in general, apologetics is for you.

However, that being said, I must warn you that there are both wise and unwise ways to approach apologetics. While its rationality speaks to the mind, apologetic’s main work is within the heart of a person. If you approach apologetics with ideas that you can learn enough facts about God and thus force Him to applaud you or be in a closer relationship with you or if you approach apologetics out of a desire to beat others into intellectual submission, then your road may prove more personally challenging than you think. Rather as you dive further into apologetics with us, examine your own heart first, foremost, and continuously. Seek truth more than your own opinions. Then apply that truth to yourself before you do others. The result may change more than simply the way you think.

This is a fun journey! Let’s travel together.

Until next time…

What We’re About

So…our first post didn’t scare you away? Good! Welcome back. We’re glad that we haven’t bored you out of you mind yet—there’s plenty of time for that later.

Now that we’ve gotten the basic introduction and virtual “blog-handshake” out of the way, let’s talk about some expectations regarding The Apologers. The term “apologetics” is both the new, hip trend in many Christian circles today and yet still largely misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians alike. (As an aside, apologetics basically means the rational defense of something. For The Apologers, that something is Christian theology.) However, The Apologers did not form in order to be the cool kids on the block. While we think we are some of the coolest people around, that’s not why we started The Apologers.

Our interest in apologetics stems from a heart-level desire within each of us to think clearly and accurately about all that we believe and about all that we are. Each of The Apologers have wrestled with his or her faith in unique ways. And because of these faith-battles, we know the importance of having both confidence in the validity of our faith and a holistic melding of our faith and our lives.

What, then, can you expect from us? Our desire is that The Apologers is a safe place to discuss all aspects of life in light of rational thinking and of solid Christian theology. We are not here to put you in an intellectual arm bar until you tap-out and convert to Christianity (though an intellectual arm bar would be a pretty neat trick). The Apologers are here for you. To discuss apologetics, yes, but also everything else from basic doctrine, to contemporary worldviews, to logic, to film and book reviews, to cultural trends, to applied ethics, to loving those who disagree with us/you. And as a bonus, we are throwing in healthy doses of lighthearted wit, randomness, ridiculousness, and nerdery just for your benefit. Mighty kind of us, don’t you think?

We’re going to sign off for now, but please come back and join in the discussion with us.

Until next time….