What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Complacency in the Church is Why We Need Apologetics

… you say to yourself, “OK, why did it happen? Why did we make those bad engineering decisions we made in 1967 and 1986 with Challenger?” I'll tell you. It's the human element. And I suggest that there's a complacency there that comes from success. —Alan Shepard, Yankee, October 1991

This is a hard post for me to write. With all the posts by myself and my colleagues out there on why we need apologetics, there seems to be missing element in our crying out. Over the years, I have heard of the casualty[1] accounts about Christian young people leaving the faith. Even as far back as our time in Upstate NY we started hearing about the fall out.

Sure there, we can give you the statistics on the 60-80% walking away after leaving home. But there is another missing ingredient in all of this. That ingredient is complacency of the church under the shadow of secularism in America. Complacency is a dangerous disease when it comes to the fall out happening.

While NASA has made some great strides in space explorations, the church in America has grown in number over the last few decades.

Let me tell you that there are a lot of good churches doing things. The preaching ministry, Sunday school ministry, home groups, children's ministries are all running fine.  The Youth ministry and college ministries over the years have done some great things. All of these great things have caused us to become complacent, not realizing that the fall out is happening before our eyes, and we don't really see or we're not willing to admit that it exists.

Though there are many that I can share let me give you a couple of illustrations. . .

Illustration #1: Imagine you have raised your son and/or daughter with real strong Christian values. They are leaders in their youth groups, class officers in the local Christian schools, and chosen to be Valedictorian for their graduating class. The following August  you find yourself sending them off for their freshman year at universities like Yale, Harvard, UVA Charlottesville, Virginia Tech, James Madison University, George Mason, University of Mary Washington, or even a local Community College.[2] 

It's now Thanksgiving or Christmas break, and your son or daughter comes home from college or university. You notice some changes in their thinking, behavior (possibly) and you know that they want to tell you something. They want to tell you something that they have been replaying their mind in preparation for when they got home.  The moment comes, and they have finally mustered the courage to tell you that they no longer believe the faith that you have raised them in. How would you as a parent respond?[3]

Illustration #2:  Imagine that you're sitting at the dinner table with the whole family. Your son and/or daughter go to the local high school or college. At the dinner table there has been the tradition of family discussion over the news of the day and happenings in school. Now, Dad or Mom, you ask your student, what they learned in school that day, and they tell you that they were discussing family structures in society and the subject of same sex families came into the discussion; to which you respond to your student son or daughter  "why didn't you tell them what Romans 1 says or Leviticus 18 has to say about this?" 


Can you imagine what is going on in your students' minds after your coaching them with the most important words ever written?  Do you know what they are probably thinking?  "Mom, Dad?  Romans 1 and Leviticus 18 work well around this table, but they do not work in the public school or college classroom." 

Why?  Simply stated, they will get laughed and ridicule at by their skeptical classmates, and possibly ridiculed at best, and possibly docked a grade or two by their professor who does not embrace your and my worldview.  

What in the world is going on?  How can we understand this battle.  A lot of it has to do with thinking about what our kids are going through.  Let me give you three (3) results that begin with the letter "Q" that will assist us in our understanding.

Christian students more specifically, though believers in the workforce do find themselves in one the following three outcomes.

1. Their faith quits (they walk away from the Lord, some will return but leave permanently). This is due to peers and professors railing at their Christian convictions, along with wrestling with their sinful nature with all the offerings of the parties, the sex, the drugs and a whole bunch of other temptations eating away at them. The reason they succumb to those temptations in the absence of anyone who would provide them with a moral accountability.  This is due to a lack of training (not teaching) in how to respond the world's offerings intelligently.

2. Their faith quiets (they still profess to be Christians, but they keep that information private to avoid confrontation as a pseudo-safety net). Your student may feel like they are the only Christian hoping that they may find others that feel like themselves. Their activity on campus is go to class, get lunch, go to class and beat feet home or to the dorm. Loneliness can get loud in 2-4 years and insecurities about the truthfulness of their Christian convictions start to fade.

3. Their faith quickens (the challenges of college causes their roots to go deeper and stronger because of pre-equipping they engaged in before they left for their first semester)." This kind of student is able to find friends who are bold in their faith. They find and join groups or clubs (like Ratio Christi, Young Life, Inter-varsity and others) that will provide them with a resource for encouragement.  When they come home they encourage their pastors and student leaders to have something for them at their church that will help them "reboot" their faith to encourage, equip, recharge, and prepare them to go off to engage their campus in the following Fall.

Conclusion.

Complacency in the church is a catalyst for the fall out we are seeing in our kids.  Mind you all of us have someone we know that falls into one of the two illustrations.  Students will be joining you and I in the workforce after college and the scenarios begin again. People are sitting in our pews wondering if the Christian faith is still relevant in the "secular city."

Where are you are in your walk with Christ?  Where is your particular concentric circle in the  culture, and do you find yourself well equipped to be an ambassador for the gospel with those you work with and among?

We need to remember that our faith is not a blind faith, and our hope is not a blind hope. Contact the Real Issue Apologetics Ministry and let us assist you, your church or your ministry so that we work together to quell the fall out of our kids walking away.    It all boils down to what we can do to help with equipping the believer to think about their Christian faith by equipping them to engage their world with the Gospel truth of the Christian message.

Notes

[1] By casualty I am referring to those Christian families that are hit with their son or daughter  coming home and giving the heart breaking news that they no longer believe the Christian faith and have become atheists, agnostics or Nones. I know a local family that goes to a very large local Baptist Church that had this happen to them. Enough said here.

[2] While these are some of our local universities here in Virginia, this posting applies to any university all over the country and even overseas.

[3] At least it is not a phone call where your student is a couple hundred miles away. I heard my first story like this where the local Christian high school in Upstate NY had their Valedictorian and Salutatorian go off to separate schools and when they got home, they broke the news to their parents that they had become atheists.  That Christian school now has an apologetics curriculum starting at the Middle School grade levels.

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