Step #3: Master Public Apologetics
As you engage your community, you will encounter common questions about the Christian faith. You should be prepared to confidently and persuasively answer them.
Here’s what I mean by the term “public apologetics”: a knowledge of and skill around communicating Christian truth that creates confidence and sparks winsome engagement with our neighbors and communities. Our focus is on giving church leaders and committed Christians talking points that they can use when they interact with non-believers in their communities. Stated differently, I am not attempting to persuade you about these topics . Rather, I am trying to help you persuade others. Here are five common questions that church leaders and Christians encounter in their communities:
Five Common Questions
- The Church and the Crusades, Slavery and Discrimination. I often hear that the church should just shut up about anything moral because of the church’s complicity in the Crusades, slavery and systemic discrimination in the American South. I sometime refer to this problem as the “60s problem” because these events occurred, at least in part, in the 1260s, the 1860s and the 1960s.
- The Christian Sexual Ethic. This one needs little explanation. Christ’s teachings concerning marriage, sexuality and gender are under deep scrutiny in broader culture. However, I have found that many people are unfamiliar with or have significant misconceptions about the Christian sexual ethic.
- The Problem of Pain, Suffering and Evil. In a recent national survey, Americans were asked this question: “If you could ask God only one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was this: “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?” We must be prepared to answer this question.
- The Pseudo-Clash of Science and Religion. Science is the state religion these days, and scientists are the new priests. For example, whenever someone in the post-modern world needs to say something with authority, they cite science and scientists. Unfortunately, one of the chief dogmas of this new state “religion” is that the Christian faith conflicts with it. We should be prepared to rebut this misconception.
- Christ’s Exclusive Claim. Nothing sets off a firestorm faster these days than making an exclusive claim. We have all been trained to accept the relativistic argument over the exclusive claim. Something can be true for you, but you better not claim it is true for everyone. That, my friend, will merit you a spoonful of censure from the cultural nannies. We should be prepared to explain the essential benefits of Christ’s exclusive claim.
For a full discussion of these topics and talking points, consider picking up a copy of The Bold Church Strategy: Serving Our Way Back to the Center of the City, which is available in print and Kindle versions.
On to Step #4
If you have reimagined your in Step #1, identified and overcome your obstacles in Step #2 and mastered an active apologetic in Step #3 you are prepared to begin solving your community’s biggest problems (Step #4). On to Step #4.
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Church leaders and other committed Christians now face a series of complex and culturally sensitive questions that would have been inconceivable to Christians a hundred years ago. So, how should we navigate these questions without losing our confidence or jeopardizing...read more