Dear Brother or Sister in Christ:
This letter is directed toward those in the Christian community that are among the current crop of Christian apologists.
Do not lose sight of the fact that your work is desperately needed. Hundreds of years of separating faith and reason has decimated the church, disconnecting the church from society and marginalizing its relevancy in the eyes of our culture. The problem is so bad that many of those in and out of the clergy are not merely avoiding difficult questions, but feel that it is wrong to deal with them. Your work is desperately needed so that we can return the church to sound reason and become more effective evangelists.
You may not realize this, but we are in the golden age of apologetics. In 1960 there was a man named Walter Martin who started a counter-cult ministry in the US, and through the 1960s there was only five or six people in North America doing counter cult ministry. Further, many, if not most, of the seminaries had abandoned any apologetic or philosophy classes entirely. By the late 1970s, pioneer apologists such as Norman Geisler had to teach systematic theology at Dallas Theological Seminary because no school would offer the ability to teach how to defend the faith. I know of no seminary that was offering graduate degrees in apologetics in the 1980’s. Books were very few and far between, and very few ministries existed that specialized in the areas that we apologists are interested.
Today, however, there are many schools that offer degrees in our field. The apologetics books published today can fill a decent sized library. Many ministries exist, and there are apologetic clubs and organizations in many cities. We have apologetic champions that go around debating the most intelligent of our adversaries, and we can attend conferences that are held all over the country. We are indeed in the golden age of apologetics.
I have noticed a trend, however, that is bothering me. I have noticed a trend of lifting up some men as superstars. Youtube videos are made by disciples of cetain men, doing nothing but promoting the reputation of the superstar, as if they were some all-star basketball player trying to sell shoes. Online videos can be helpful, but is it wise to merely promote a man as some sort of Christian hero?
We also have apologetic organizations that have arisen for the purpose of promoting the teachings of certain men. I know of two nationwide apologetic organizations that are heavily centered around the teachings of individual apologetic heroes, often with chapters in the same town, never communicating with each other.
Please do not get me wrong……we desperately need men like William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross, Norman Geisler, Greg Koukle, Frank Turek, and the others who are the “up front” people. The church needs academics such as these men who can be the face of the apologetics movement to answer the atheists and skeptics.
However, I do not think it wise to separate ourselves into camps or teams, while promoting these men as superstars. All these apologetic superstars are men who are fallible. They all make mistakes. Their work is not inspired scripture, and we should not treat it as such. I know most of you realize this, and would never claim that their work is equal with scripture. But I have seen a trend in the apologetic community of not being discerning toward our own leaders. I think it unwise to hold up these apologetic leaders as if they are people to rally behind, to treat them like the leaders of a movement. Some of the online videos are nothing but promo pieces for the person, and have nothing to do with the apologetics per se.
By dividing our activities into camps that follow these men, we separate ourselves and diffuse our efforts. Further, by holding these men as heroes, we in the apologetic community ironically blind ourselves to their faults. We sit under them in class and revere them as heroes, and in doing so we willingly submit ourselves to the worst kind of blindness, the voluntary kind.
My advice to you, the new generation of apologists and philosophers, is this: turn your discernment skills on our own leaders, and evaluate them for the fallible humans that they are. Support them, but not blindly. Follow Romans 14 and do not divide over questionable things, but follow 1 Corinthians 15 and always divide over essential things. Be willing to be a nameless, faceless follower of Christ, doing the work that you are called to do without trying to become a famous person. There is so much work to do, that we all need to work together and not diffuse our efforts during the golden age of Christian apologetics.