Historical apologetics is a term referring to the defense of Christianity in history.
The main attack on Christianity is in the area of its historical record. If you’ve entered an atheist chat room or read books by atheists, you know their main attack is in the area of Christian history. Consider this statement by Christopher Hitchens:
If I cannot definitively prove that the usefulness of religion is in the past, and that its foundational books are transparent fables, and that it is a man-made imposition, and that it has been an enemy of science and inquiry, and that it has subsisted largely on lies and fears, and been the accomplice of ignorance and guilt as well as of slavery, genocide, racism, and tyranny, I can most certainly claim that religion is now fully aware of these criticisms.
Christopher Hitchens–god is Not Great (p.229)
Atheists claim that Christian history is an indictment against the church. After all, if they claim to be followers of Jesus and yet burn people at the stake, what kind of god do they serve? If they say they love Jesus and yet hold slaves that they whip until they bleed, what kind of god do they serve?
Christians who debate atheists are always confounded when they have to confront the so-called failures of the church. They have to resort to making excuses such as, “Yes we killed some people, but you guys [the atheists] killed more!” Christopher Hitchens had a great response to this defense. He said, “One would think religion had more sense of dignity than that!”
I believe the church can give a great defense against the accusation that her history is evil. The purpose of this blog is to encourage the church and equip her to defend the faith. I try to show how the history of the church is actually beautiful and heroic.
Because the attack against the church is on her history, I believe the greatest need of the hour is historical apologetics. We need men and women who are strong, confident and prepared to counter the flood of attacks that are being poured out upon the church. WIe need people who can raise up a standard against it.
Statistics are also claiming that by the time Christian kids get to college, they’ve already left the faith. Why? Because they aren’t taught anything in church that’s relevant to their faith. They’re bombarded in schools and in the culture with all kinds of issues leading them to question the Word of God. Yet the church merely entertains them, rather than training and equipping them to give a defense of the faith.
Not only that, many in the evangelical church are falling prey to the same arguments that the atheists lob at us. Emergent church leaders such as Brian McLaren and Rob Bell try to convince the church that the Word is not dependable because of the failures of church history. Consider this comment by emergent leader, Brian McLaren:
For us to be naïve about the “eye of the beholder” regarding the Bible renders us vulnerable to repeating yesterday’s atrocities in the future. Slavery, anti-Semitism, colonialism, genocide, chauvinism, homophobia, environmental plunder, the Inquisition, witch burning, apartheid—aren’t those worth taking care to avoid, for God’s sake?
Brian McLaren–A New Kind of Christianity (p. 85)
The emergents claim we need a new faith, not based on the Bible, but based on sensual, mystical experience, philosophy, and science. They claim this is the only way to make Christianity “relevant” to the postmodern generation.
I say this is a comp out.
If McLaren thinks the biblical church has been responsible for atrocities such as genocide and slavery then I would ask him why he would even want to be a part of it. If his solution is to cast aside the Bible and create a new, more reasonable religion, then why even call it Christian?
I think McLaren has been lazy. Instead of trying to defend the Bible, he believes all the attacks against it. This is easy because it makes him much more acceptable to the world. He’s looked upon as compassionate, intellectual, and scientific.
I’ve chosen a different route. I refuse to believe that God’s Word is evil. Instead, I believe it’s amazing, beautiful, and true. It can be trusted beyond measure. I pray that I will always be willing to do the hard work of seeking the truth and that others will be encouraged to do the same–for the glory of God.