Welcome to Holistic Apologetics!
Updated: Mar 6, 2020
Hello all! This blog is dedicated to presenting an approach to defending the Christian faith that appeals both to the head and to the heart. It is also dedicated to the somewhat random ramblings of a Christian who takes his own philosophical and theological ideas a tad too seriously.
Truthfully, I’m practically a nobody, a Christian with an active interest in philosophy and theology and minimal official qualifications, outside of an undergraduate education (so far). So why does this blog exist? It exists, primarily, for four reasons:
Using our gifts for the benefit of the Kingdom of God
Using our gifts to advance the Kingdom of God
The importance of presenting an apologetic that is holistic
A creative outlet
Using Our Gifts for the Benefit of the Kingdom of God
As you might have guessed from above, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe in the message of the gospel that Jesus preached and that His apostles taught. I believe that His physical resurrection really occurred in history about 2,000 years ago. And I strive to serve Him in everything that I do. To this end, I believe that this blog is an expression of 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NASB):
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”
In this passage from the New Testament, the apostle Peter tells his readers, who are Christians, to use their "special gift" in serving brothers and sisters in Christ. This command is vital to the growth and health of the body of Christ, or the Church. As each of us is given such gifts, we are to use them to serve one another.
In my journey, both to faith and in faith, God has given me a great passion for intellectually engaging in my faith through philosophy, theology, and apologetics and engaging the culture with the gospel in this way. Insofar as Christians need this information, both for their own benefit and for the benefit of those who do not believe in Christ, then it is my responsibility to use these gifts for the benefit of the Kingdom of God.
Briefly, I will outline the benefits of apologetics. In his book, Reasonable Faith, Dr. William Lane Craig, a Christian philosopher and theologian, lists three roles that apologetics plays today (16-23):
Shaping culture: apologetics makes progress in presenting the Christian faith as the type of worldview that a thinking individual could actually rationally adopt
Strengthening believers: apologetics plays a vital role in bolstering the faith of Christians, especially those who struggle with doubt
Evangelizing unbelievers: apologetics is a tool for overcoming stumbling blocks in one's coming to faith in Christ
Dr. Craig also points out the fact that Christians in the United States are "idling in intellectual neutral"; that is, Christian evangelicals have failed to love God with their minds as well as their hearts. This is a shame, since we are so clearly commanded to love God with our minds in Matthew 22:37 (NASB; emphasis is my own):
"And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'"
Our failure to do this in the American church is leading people away from the Lord. If it were not for content like William Lane Craig's, I would have likely lost my faith to doubt in the midst of an intellectually shallow and even hostile evangelicalism. Insofar as I can add my voice to address this need in the Church, I'll do that with joy.
Since I have found this material so profoundly transformative in my journey and walk with Christ, then perhaps other Christians would benefit greatly from this content as well, for these and other reasons.
Using Our Gifts to Advance the Kingdom of God
In much the same way that Christians should use their gifts to benefit those within the Kingdom, God uses our gifts to bring people into the Kingdom. In apologetics, we use our intellectual gifts to remove those stumbling blocks keeping people from placing our faith in Christ.
As we'll discuss in upcoming posts, those stumbling blocks are not merely intellectual, but a major portion of them is intellectual. Others are much more complex, involving a person's background, emotional response to Christianity, perspective of the world, etc. In fact, each person is complex, and no one disbelieves for one simple reason. As winsome and holistic apologists, we must strive to faithfully expound and embody the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in everything we do.
Thus, practicing apologetics involves both the mind and heart. We must be faithful Bereans, searching the Scriptures in order to learn them and teach them correctly (Acts 17:11). We must know and understand Christian doctrine and theology. We must have at least a working general knowledge in philosophy, particularly in logic. But we must also be kind, loving, gentle, faithful followers of Christ, in accordance with the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We must inhabit the life and worldview of Jesus, taking every thought captive to His feet, and committed to destroying "every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God" (2 Corinthians 10:5; NASB). This is my central claim with respect to apologetics in its appeal to the unbeliever: that apologetics is its most effective in appealing to the unbeliever when understood holistically.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The point is that, insofar as I'm able to practice apologetics in the form of writing as a way to present this information, I hope that it will be effective in attracting people to the love and fulfillment and meaning found in the gospel of Christ.
The Importance of Presenting an Apologetic That is Holistic
Now, we get to why apologetics should be approached holistically. In an upcoming post, which will be titled, "What is Apologetics, and Why Should it Be Holistic?," I will define and discuss a view of apologetics that is appealing both to the head and to the heart. This post will go into much more detail than I'll go into here.
Suffice it to say that holistic apologetics, as a kind of approach or methodology, merely begins from the claim that defending the Christian faith involves more than arguments, which appeal to the intellect. It also involves more than appeals to God's love, redemption, fulfillment, beauty, and other things, which appeal to the heart and emotions of a person. In my practice of apologetics, and in my journey with Christ, I've found that adopting one particular way of doing apologetics, as opposed to others, is less effective than taking and applying points of wisdom from every approach. Some Christian philosophers, theologians, and apologists appeal to a particular model or method of apologetics, examples of which include classical apologetics, evidentialism, presuppositionalism, cultural apologetics, and others. I am not interested in expounding on yet another model or method in this way. Men and women much more intelligent than me are already doing that. By calling this apologetic "holistic," I simply mean to say that we should adopt an approach that is willing to work with each of these and understand that what appeals to one person might not appeal to another.
What's the importance of this? I'll illustrate this by talking about my own experience. As I've discussed the Christian faith, both with Christians struggling with their faith and with unbelievers who deny the faith, I've found that no one size fits all in apologetics. My understanding of apologetics in high school was evidentialist; I believed that one practiced apologetics by presenting arguments and evidence for Christian theism. When I had discussions with real people, however, I found that this approach wasn't always necessary. For example, one friend in high school asked me how God could allow all of the suffering in the world to exist. Instead of understanding this to be an objection that needed to be answered, I discerned that this friend knew some Scripture and was encouraged by it, so I simply shared with her Scripture related to the hope of the resurrection, encouraging her that God's answer to suffering and evil is the cross and resurrection. Because of this and other discussions like these, and some reading that I did on apologetics outside evidentialism, I began to think that a broader perspective on apologetics should be adopted in order to be more effective.
I am not the only person to think this, and I will share the perspective of others in this in my next post. For now, the importance of a holistic apologetic is twofold and is represented in the example from my personal experience above. First, if we adopt this holistic approach, we will be better equipped to defend our faith while at the same time being sensitive to the person to whom we're speaking. Because I knew this friend, I was able to appeal to what I knew she would respond to. Second, adopting this holistic approach will be convicting for Christians, encouraging us to embody all of what being a follower of Christ is in order to effectively communicate His good news to the world. My hope, then, is that this blog will make Christians better apologists.
A Creative Outlet
Finally, on a light note, I'll share my passion for writing. I love writing. It is a form of creative expression that has been with me since I was about 7 years old. I wrote creatively through middle and high school and maintained a reasonably popular blog on Game Informer for about 4 years. This idea, to begin a blog on philosophy, theology, and apologetics, had been on my mind for some time. I enjoy reading about and discussing these issues with others, and, as I've already said above, I believe that this content could bolster the Church and advance the Kingdom.
I am very thankful to God that what I enjoy doing so much could be used to serve Him. I hope that you, the faithful reader, are interested in sticking with me as we discuss these issues, and I hope and pray that this content will benefit you wherever you are in your journey.
If you're interested, please consider subscribing in order to be notified of new posts. Also, feel free to leave any comments here and start a discussion. If you're interested in any of the sources that I mention in the post, I'll always leave a section titled "Sources" at the bottom of the page. Thanks for reading!
Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd edition. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.
William Lane Craig. “In Intellectual Neutral.” ReasonableFaithOrg. April 25, 2012. Video, 39:24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u-Eqwfmns8.