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TBTMSI’m not a big fan of Christian apologetics. Nothing personal, and I know some smart people who engage in it.

It’s just not for me.

I’ve never seen an argument for why Christianity is true that can’t be met by some alternative argument.

And I am not interested in whether Christianity is “reasonable”–a lot of things are reasonable and I don’t center my life around them.

Nor am I interested in whether Christianity is probable or possible–a lot of things are probable and/or possible but I don’t dwell on them.

The very notion of “Christian apologetics” presumes that the intellect is the primary place of engaging the truth of Christianity.

And that hasn’t worked very well.

A burden of (at least western) Christian apologetic isn’t so much in failing to show the wider world that Christianity works intellectually, but in presuming that the intellect is how Christianity works.

I’m not against the engagement of intellect and faith. Not at all.

But our arguments are constructed after the fact, after we believe, not in order to believe.

Belief is first. Intellect follows.

The problem I have with apologetics is that that order is reversed.

The best apologetic isn’t having a better intellectual system.

Nor do we persuade others with fear of divine retribution if we don’t agree and the promise of an afterlife if we do.

The best apologetic is where there is payoff now. 

How Christians live positively toward others.

What difference this “belief system” makes in our global community.

Living out the notion that, “The church must recapture its identity as the only organization in the world that exists for the sake of its non-members.”

That is the apologetic that can work, and that is much harder than a string of arguments.

We are the apologetic.

Proverbs describes a life before God as a way, and path, a road–not a classroom or think tank.

The best apologetic is one where words give a narrative for our path, not where words are left alone to construct that narrative.

. . . sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. . .  (1 Peter 3:15)

Not, “Be ready to out-debate those who disagree with you.”

But, “Give an gentle account for what drives you, for why you do what you do.”

A faith that acts fearlessly well toward the other–regardless of who that other is–is the best apologetic.

Following daily the Christian path for all to see.

Showing that this Jesus stuff works. That there’s payoff. Now.

All the rest we can talk about later . . . after we’ve earned the right to.


Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.