For all its self-absorption, the modern Church is wholly incapable of actual introspection. This is because it has rejected its purpose for existence and must fill the void with a proxy purpose. The most obvious way this manifests itself is in the category of apologetics: Why should I follow Christ? A simple question… one that even professional apologists cannot begin to answer.
Which brings me to an article from Christianity Today: “Today’s Evangelists Face a Crisis of Confidence: Why “post-Christian America” hasn’t surpassed the need for straightforward apologetics” by Nathan Betts of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
“Even within the church, even among evangelicals, we have begun to diminish the work of evangelism. We emphasize good things like relationships and charity outreach but question the work of traditional apologetics, of speaking the gospel in hopes of convincing another that it is true. (Think of the commonly quoted line: “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”)
But when we diminish the work of evangelism and apologetics—as ineffective or as a secondary concern—we cheapen the gospel itself. If we believe the gospel is good news, true for all people, we cannot give up on making the case for our beliefs.
With the rise of secularism, sure, the church faces new challenges. But I’m convinced that what we need is not innovative methods or answers. We need fresh confidence in the gospel.”
He isn’t wrong about the need for fresh confidence. What he isn’t seeing, however, is that the reason the Church lacks that confidence is because the Church no longer believes in Christ and therefore cannot convince unbelievers of why they ought to. Thus, they revert to either preaching Christianity as a collection of facts to be communicated (with appropriate caveats like “male headship is outdated”) or offer the wellness benefits of membership in the church. (Scriptural citations needed for said wellness benefits.)
Nathan Betts demonstrates this total lack of belief in Christ as the article continues:
“After speaking to a group of students on their university campus, one told me she disagreed with most of what I presented that afternoon but had come with a Christian friend. She was baffled at why Christians make such a big deal about truth, specifically around moral issues. She recently experienced her own sort of freedom, without God or religion.
“Last year, I took control of my life,” she told me. “I cut my hair, which used to be really long. I got a tattoo, I got piercings, and I got my heart broken for the first time.” Then she brought up her struggle with anxiety. When she’s out, she’s worried that she’s annoying at parties, and when she is at home by herself, she has this gnawing feeling that her friends hate her.
Even here, she was keen to express how she has taken control of her dilemma. Still, no felt need for God. She told me, “When I wake up in the morning, I write in my journal, Anxiety is not telling the truth.” I listened along with her friend as this student told me her story, and afterward, I assured her that even if she believes her friends don’t value her, the Christian faith tells her that she is loved.”
For God’s sake, man. Why would she need God if the Almighty Chump is already sniveling at her unrepentant feet?
It’s good that he’s actually talking to unbelievers, bad that he couldn’t field “She was baffled at why Christians make such a big deal about truth, specifically around moral issues” and ugly that he’s a credentialed, professional evangelist who apparently couldn’t recognize female rebellion when its tatted, bald carcass announced the fact to his face. I see from the link to RZIM.org that he can at least give popular speeches so he won’t starve from unwillingness to confront evil.
But I don’t think he’ll make much progress in apologetics without confronting evil.
For the record, this is what good apologetics looks like:
Life on Earth did not evolve. We have a Creator. He designed us to behave in certain ways. We instinctively rebel against His ways even though they are beneficial for us. We cannot overcome this fatal flaw on our own efforts. Therefore, we need a Savior who can defeat our flaws… and the surest proof that He can do that is He faced the same flaws and overcame them. Death included.
We need a Savior because we’re evil, twisted and prone to such error as would disgust us if we saw it in anybody else. If we turn against the evil inside us and learn to hate it, then Christ will redeem us from our well-deserved punishment. Otherwise, we will stand or fall on our own merit, and please note that a generally well-lived life is insufficient merit to dismiss so much as a parking ticket. The price must be paid, the punishment must be served, and that is why Christ’s undeserved death is our redemption.