Friday, February 3, 2012

Apologetics and the Priority Pyramid

Because of USDA training, I didn't have a lot of time this week to write posts, but a thought keeps recurring to me of late that I want to share.

It's great when churches have ministries like, say, a soup kitchen, or a crisis pregnancy center. A church should have whatever ministries it can like that according to its available resources.

But how can such a church have something like that, while not also in some way encouraging apologetics?

Here's the problem. All those extra ministries are performed because, at the heart of it all, we believe Christianity is true. That is our basis for compassionate acts: The fact that God acted in history to raise Jesus from the dead. So why is it that ministries that make it their purpose to prove things like that are virtually ignored by comparison?

As it is, if you ask (say) a crisis counselor why they serve in their ministry, they are apt to say something like, it is what Jesus would do. That's a correct answer to an extent but it isn't a complete one: It doesn't tell us WHY anyone should care what Jesus wants us to do. If Jesus was just some guy in Palestine, then our epistemic basis for any ministry is inadequate, subjective, or rooted in something we try to ignore by keeping so busy we don't think about it. (That's the emergent church's solution.)

At best, that person might say that Jesus is Lord, and that is why they serve. But again, the answer's not done: WHY think Jesus is Lord?

Maybe there's one other answer, usually taken to be final: "Because he lives in my heart and tells me so." Yes indeed -- rooted in subjectivity, as noted.

Apologetics isn't an expensive ministry, and it is getting less expensive to do as more and more of its tools plummet in price and/or become more freely available. Yet most churches don't spend a dime on it.

Our priority pyramid is badly inverted -- which makes it no surprise that it's on the verge of toppling over on us every moment.


  1. JPH, do you see any glimmer of hope on the horizon that the church in the west can/is changing for the better?

  2. Just a glimmer, yes. We need to clean out the Geislers first.