Note: this post was originally intended for a small, almost exclusively Christian readership that consisted largely of folks who shared my perspective. I have opened the post up to the World Wide Web but please read it in light of its original context.
In private correspondence this week I’ve talked with a couple of people who are pursuing their Masters in Apologetics. In case the reader doesn’t know, I am doing the same. I don’t get emails like that very often, but if the programs that Christian colleges are offering is any indication, there is a demand- at least from the perspective of students- for apologetics degrees.
I wonder if any one has checked the ‘want ads’ for apologetics openings. I have. There aren’t any. There aren’t any because there aren’t apologetics positions. So the scoop is that there are many determined men and women willing to commit to the time of study required to handle the deepest objections to the Christian faith but there isn’t any place for them in the Church. Not if they want to support their families of course, or make use of the Scriptural principle “The worker is worth his wages” or “Don’t muzzle the ox…”
If a person wants to support themselves in apologetics, the options are limited. 1. Become a professor. 2. Get lucky. 3. Self-Support, like a missionary. I fear for the people entering apologetics. I certainly think the education establishment could use a fair number of informed and godly men and women, don’t get me wrong, but those positions are few and far between and let’s face it, they aren’t specifically apologetics. Even CS Lewis was a professor of literature with his apologetics on the side.
But where we really need apologists are in the churches. On the front lines. Answering questions. Evaluating curriculum. Supplementing Evangelism programs. Making resources available. Certainly there are people already doing this, and that includes youth directors and pastors and DCE’s. Just as certain, pastors already have quite enough on their plate and if the lifespan of the average youth director is any guide (just barely two years in a given position, last I heard) the strain on the youth directors is enough as it is, too. You don’t have to tell me that the financial strain of adding yet another staff position would be immense. That is a problem on its own.
Here is how this all adds up in my mind: The Church at large badly misunderstands the situation that it is. The Church at large tolerates far too many Scrooges in their midst with business minded people controlling the funds. The Church at large has too many, shall we say, less than generous individuals in its midst- and this is tolerated (we wouldn’t want to offend them or inflict too much Law on ’em). The fact is that Christianity is not the favored religion in the United States any more. Mormon missionaries know more about what they believe than any 100 young Christians. Our young Christians get hammered their first year in college and fewer and fewer come back no matter how ‘fun’ we made their experience.
But now is not a time for fun. Now is a time to get serious about the challenges facing the Church. I wouldn’t want to be the pastor who has to try to waken his sleepy congregation but it has to be done. Standing from where I’m standing, we absolutely need dedicated apologists in every congregation. We need to fund apologists and others in the ‘culture wars,’ too, including artists and authors.
You might say that that isn’t the Church’s job. I disagree, but more to the point, I don’t think the Church’s job is to fiddle while the ship sinks, either. The ship is sinking.
There is another online apologetics outfit which I visit sometimes that has two essays that I think further flesh out this issue. I resonate with most of what I find in them. I submit them to you:
That is an indictment of the church in regards to its lack of bucking up for the current challenge.
That is an article he wrote about people who want to become apologists.
I submit this man’s experiences and advice to free myself of the charge that I am inventing a viewpoint to fit my interests. I am highlighting a real need and if you are in a position where you could plausibly do something about it, I am urging you to do so.