Having conversed with enough young, disaffected evangelicals – many of whom treat the Faith as a teenager treats their parents at the mall – I was refreshed to hear James K A Smith’s recent evaluation of the ‘new apologetics’. Many today act as though Christianity, if only it were known in its pristine form, could be easily adopted by those entrenched in the contemporary culture. Some beliefs are not attractive and so they must be ‘apologized’ for. Never mind that this is not the type of ‘apologia’ we are called to do.
“These are aspects of Christianity that are just not believable today. But that’s OK, because it turns out that they’re also aspects that are not really biblical and not really Christian. So don’t let those things stop you from believing.” [Then cue your favorite tale about “Hellenization” or “Constantinianism” or “fundamentalism” here.]
The basic thrust seems to be, if there is something that sticks in the craw of secularism – like creation, sex ethics, exclusivity of Christ, issues of theodicy, etc – explain it away as being some piggy backer onto some primordial, authentic Christianity.
Don’t like it that God might allow evil? That’s okay! Augustine made all that up.
Don’t like the idea of a binding conscience upon all people? Don’t worry! A dismissible Greek idea.
Don’t like a counter-cultural challenge (perhaps a passage concerning a divine plan for our private parts given that they hold to power to create life)? Rest Easy! The ghastly spectre of Fundamentalism can be summoned.
Let it be stated once and for all: Retreating from controversy in the name of relevance is not the road to fruitful disciple-making. In fact, it is a road leading in the opposite direction. Apologetics is not apologizing for orthodox Christianity. Could it be that perhaps a much needed apologetic may be a people who actually believe the Faith entrusted to them? Could it be that we are not to be embarrassed of Christ and His words? Could it be we may actually have to bear shame for such a Faith?