Monday, May 11, 2015

Why are some people angry when I do apologetics?

Why are people threatened by apologetics? Well, in order to answer the question, one must know what I mean. I have noticed that, in several cases, people often seem upset, even angry, when discussing apologetics. These are not atheists, but often other Christians! Why would they get upset when conversing with me about defending Christianity? I have asked myself that question more than once.

I actually suspect many people are not sure. In any case, I want people to know Christian apologetics is non-threatening to Christianity. In fact, it helps strengthen believers and removes intellectual obstacles to belief! Here, I try to account for a few reasons that might be an influence.

First, some people might be afraid that Christian belief itself is being challenged. Sometimes, apologists try to illustrate the importance of their work by discussing atheistic or skeptical challenges to belief in God or Christianity. Such challenges strike people as obstinate, or refusal to listen to the plain and obvious, and otherwise rebellious. Thus, to discuss these is to indulge someone’s sinful obstinacy against God.

What’s the answer? Well, we need to do our best to explain our purpose in addressing unbelievers, and our purpose in discussing this with other Christians. In answering the “why?” question first, we can answer the “what?” later.

Second, and related, people might be afraid that thinking about such issues puts their entire worldview in jeopardy. Those who have done worldview or psychological studies know that people tend to be fiercely protective of their worldview, and it takes a lot for someone to change theirs. People like to think they are not subject to human psychology, but the reality is that we all are. People tend to get angry when their very identity is being threatened.

So what’s the answer? Frankly, we should be willing to listen to challenges to our worldview. Why? Two reasons: first, it may be that by hearing these challenges and searching them out, we eventually emerge stronger than we did before. Second, while we want to retain the core of Christianity, we may find that some beliefs that are non-essential to Christianity we have incorporated into our worldview. None of these non-essential beliefs should be off-limits from discussion. In fact, in eliminating some beliefs, we may find our Christianity to be much stronger than it was before!

Apologetics does not threaten Christianity. The only times I have ever heard of people getting involved with apologetics and then leaving the faith have involved moral failure (and are relatively rare). Even in times where moral failure is not obvious, usually people put themselves in “know-it-all” positions, and hinge their faith on it. And when, inevitably, they are introduced to something they don’t immediately know, it starts a chain reaction to apostasy—all psychological and based on a moral failure of pride. Apologetics serves to strengthen Christianity—both within the church and without!

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