What Apologists Can’t Do and What We Won’t Do: Eight Quick Thoughts

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1) We believe that Christians are obligated to reason with unbelievers when we preach the Gospel. Those with pastoral responsibility should provide answers which reassure those who have doubts.  Apologetics is an essential part of evangelism and discipling; it is heart-rending to see it neglected in so many churches. However, while we can provide reasons for trusting Christ, we cannot rationally compel people into the Kingdom (any more than others can preach, witness or evangelise someone into the Kingdom!)

2) You cannot defend the Gospel if you do not know what it teaches! A sound knowledge of the Scriptures is usually sufficient to answer queries about strange or shocking passages in the Bible; and biblical wisdom is needed to know what to say to whom and when. So we cannot and will not separate theology, preaching and apologetics. 

3) We must not forget that becoming a Christian involves personal repentance and an act of personal trust in Christ. It is not enough to hold the correct beliefs. We cannot and will not turn apologetics into an academic enterprise: it is much too important for that!

4) Entering the Kingdom of Heaven is a transforming relationship between God and the person. After all our witnessing, preaching and reasoning is done it is down to God and the person he is calling.  In the end, we are totally dependent on God when reaching out to others; so we cannot and will not neglect the place of prayer in evangelism. 

6) While we believe that many Churches have abandoned reason in their search for user-friendly services and Church growth, and while we believe that this jeopardises the Churches mission in a secular culture, we must remember the work that evangelicals do well.  Young people do not only need answers for sceptics: they need advice on exams, relationships and careers; people need practical help, pastoral support in times of grief and trouble, and above all sound, biblical teaching. We cannot and will do anything which leads the Church to neglect any of these vital works. 

7) We believe that faithful Christian witness will attempt to answer the doubts of sceptics and that biblical evangelism involves criticising the foolishness of unbelief. However, while we have a duty to be rational, we do not have a duty to be respectable. Fashions come and fashions go in the academy; we will not seek the praise of intellectuals. Our calling is to be faithful to Christ and not to worry about the sneers of prominent academics.

8 ) We believe that faith and politics should not always be separated; Christians should be allowed to speak as Christians in a democratic society. And we believe that Christians must take a stand in public on religious liberty, the sanctity of life and the nature of marriage. We have an obligation to explain why we make that stand, and to explain why we believe our position is reasonable. But we will not try to promote or defend any political party; we are called to witness, and not to win culture wars or elections.

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