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What comes to mind when you think of Christian apologetics? How is it done, and whose responsibility is it? Some prominent Christian leaders recently shared what comes to their minds—the steady publication of apologetic-themed books, ongoing public debates, and the proliferation of blogs and social media. Citing these trends, two leaders declared that we’re experiencing the “golden age” of apologetics. I’m not convinced. Though I don’t wish to minimize the intrinsic value of much of the apologetic work, I do suspect it’s contributed to an impoverished view of apologetics as a purely intellectual discipline conducted primarily by professionals. Far from being in its golden age, apologetics is now rarely found in the one place where it must be found—local churches. I fear that in many churches, apologetics is seen as a daunting task to be outsourced rather than a joyful calling to be embodied as a way of life. Churches are thus left with a secondhand “drive-by apologetics” that doesn’t witness to a particular people and place. We need a better way. In Apologetics at the Cross: An Introduction for Christian Witness, authors Joshua Chatraw and Mark Allen show us a strikingly better way. As faculty members at Liberty University, Chatraw and Allen “sensed a disconnect between apologetics and the local church” and between apologetics and other disciplines (13). As a corrective, the church must recover what they call “apologetics at the cross.” Comparing the layout of the book to the construction of a house, they construct their proposal in three parts: the foundation, the walls/exterior structure, and the interior practice of apologetics at the cross. Gospel Foundation In part one, Chatraw and Allen begin by laying a distinctly biblical foundation for apologetics (chs. 1–2). After surveying how apologetics is practiced in the New Testament, they conclude: “An apologetic should be measured by the degree of clarity with which it points to and functions in light of the most important event in human history [i.e., the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ]” (61). This point carries two important considerations. First, the goal of apologetics must be to “clear the debris of doubt out of people’s paths and propel them forward toward the gospel” (137). While this point should seem obvious, it’s lost on some for whom apologetics seems to “simply be [about] intellectual respectability or a defense of theism, as if belief in any deity will do” (29). However, second, we mustn’t merely tack on the gospel to the end like some sort of appendage. The gospel must shape the entire way we do apologetics, guiding us to humbly focus on the needs of others and graciously show them how their needs are met in Christ. As Chatraw and Allen show, the Bible places ultimate importance on the goal and character of apologetics and “does not outline any single, definitive apologetic method,” but instead “makes many different kinds of appeals and persuades at various levels using contextualized arguments” (105). They then draw insights from a variety of sources in the Christian tradition (chs. 3–4). Apologetics as Map-Making Building on the biblical and historical foundation that’s been laid, in part two (chs. 5–9) Chatraw and Allen turn to construct the “walls” that provide the framework for apologetics at the cross. In chapter five, they encourage the reader to view apologetics as a map-making enterprise in which Christians “lead people on a journey to our ‘hometown’—the Christian faith” (105). The authors then survey four prominent apologetic methodologies that offer competing ways to draw such maps: (1) classical apologetics, (2) evidential apologetics, (3) presuppositional apologetics, and (4) experiential/narratival apologetics. Though Chatraw and Allen helpfully summarize key strengths and weaknesses of these methodologies, they don’t champion any one as “the map” to use. Rather than relying on a single map, “apologetics at the cross stresses that different people find different arguments and collections of arguments more persuasive than others” (130). For this reason, Chatraw and Allen strive to equip readers with the resources necessary to begin drawing contextualized maps of their own. These maps should lead people to a common destination—the gospel. In light of this, Chatraw and Allen identify four gospel implications (chs. 6–9) that ought to frame the map-making process: We are called to take people to the cross (i.e., the gospel) through word and deed (ch. 6). We are called to demonstrate cruciform humility before God and others (ch. 7). We must appeal to the whole person for the sake of the gospel (ch. 8). We must contextualize through the lens of the cross (ch. 9). ‘Inside Out’ Approach Having explained the framework for apologetic map-making, Chatraw and Allen devote part 3 (chs. 10–13) to guiding us through the actual process of drawing maps to the Christian faith. Because you can’t draw a useful map without knowing the place a person is starting, the first step (ch. 10) is to “step inside an unbeliever’s cultural framework and work from the inside out” (197). The authors provide a series of diagnostic questions that help the apologist go inside the unbeliever’s framework to “challenge it on its own terms by helping them see that it is inconsistent and unlivable,” and then working their way out by “lay[ing] the groundwork for them to take Christianity . . . more seriously” by demonstrating how the gospel alone addresses their need (217). While drawing maps to the Christian faith, apologists must be prepared to clear debris along the road. To this end, Chatraw and Allen address some prominent cultural attitudes (ch. 11) and rational “defeaters” (ch. 12) that affect an unbeliever’s ability to accept the plausibility of Christianity. Rather than offering a “universal map for answering each defeater so you can memorize and then mechanistically recite it,” they provide “trajectories for responses that you can personalize when you are drawing a map to answer a particular set of challenges to Christianity” (251). Urgent Corrective What comes to mind when you think of Christian apologetics? If it’s anything less than the gospel of Jesus Christ, then it isn’t Christian apologetics, Chatraw and Allen say. With its call to recognize “the gospel [as] both the goal and the lens through which the apologetic task is approached,” Apologetics at the Cross stands as an urgent corrective to those “apologists of glory” who seem more interested in winning a respectability contest than in leading unbelievers to the cross (318). This book also offers a timely corrective to churches and individual Christians who outsource the work of apologetics to academic and parachurch professionals (318). In their closing paragraph, Chatraw and Allen beautifully emphasize the need for local churches to function as a corporate apologetic for Jesus Christ: A healthy church remains central to a healthy apologetic. Cruciform lives, functioning as apologetic portraits to the world around us, are not ultimately or primarily cultivated by attending weekend conferences, watching your favorite apologist on the internet, or even reading books like this. The wisdom of the cross, so central in drawing the right apologetic map for the right situation, grows within the rich soil of God’s people singing, reading, feasting, praying, and confessing around God’s Word. (318) Christians who are ready to take up the call to draw life-saving, contextualized maps for their unbelieving neighbors will find Apologetics at the Cross an excellent place to begin. It’s one of those rare books that capably surveys historical and contemporary issues while constructively offering practical insights and tools. When ready to move on, the reader will be pointed in fruitful directions by an array of resources the authors recommend for additional study. Simply put, Apologetics at the Cross is the best single-volume introduction to apologetics available today and is sure to become a standard textbook. Editors’ note: Joshua Chatraw and Mark Allen will be leading a workshop on “Augustinian Apologetics for Everyday Conversations” at our 2019 National Conference, April 1 to 3 in Indianapolis. You can browse the complete list of 74 speakers and 58 talks. The conference is fast-approaching, so register soon! View the full article
33 year old female here. Happily married, attend an LCMS church and am confirmed, but my husband is non-theistic. I met him at a time when I wasn't in the faith (2004). I came back to the faith in 2005.
Of all the many issues I've studied since then, the topic of human sexuality, and its expressions and morality, have probably caught the most of my attention.
I view sex VERY differently from most women. I've always been this way, and it regularly astonishes people, both secular and religious. It doesn't fit the narrative people have about women and sex. I've now been on countless web sites, and have dealt with media through the years, and at age 33, it's clear to me that most women don't like sex. But I'm not this way.
I've never quite understood most women's hang-ups over sex, unless there's been a prior abuse experience.
Since I'm actually female myself and I have a very high sex drive and am easily stimulated by physically attractive males, I got married in part because I couldn't remain single anymore and needed to deal with the urges (marriage has been great in this regard, and thankfully the bed is undefiled per Scripture--I'm conservative Christian).
I surfed web sites like Playgirl a lot when I was a teenager (although I think it was paid then and I had to get around the age restriction, so I could only view the free galleries). I avoid magazines like ESPN Body now because the men stimulate me, and as a married female, it's not appropriate for me to be looking at other men in that way. When I joined a web site like Dirty Girls in part to deal with past porn addiction, none of the women there understood my problem. Their porn addictions all stemmed from prior abuse. Well, I have no history of abuse. I just like handsome and toned men. I left that site when I realized no one else shared my problem.
I have no close female friendships largely because I refuse to indulge and empathize with most women's view of sex. It's hard for me to imagine why they cannot get excited by attractive men.
I like the physical, visual, and intimacy aspects of sex. All of it.
I posted these thoughts on another Christian forum recently, and it was surprisingly well-received. (Although so far all the likes are from males.) I posted it on another autism forum recently, and it was again well-received, but only by the males.
But I cannot be the only female like this. Who else is afraid to simply admit it? I know I've come across a few online who admit that certain males are super-hot and sexy. But they seem reluctant to admit that outside of more limited contexts.
Wondering when we will get beyond MeToo and Victorian ideas about sex and get to the point where more women admit that it's amazing and that there are hot men out there who excite them in such a way.
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My name is David Taylor and I am in South Carolina. I am a theologian by training, health insurance agent by vocation. I have a degree in theology from Liberty University. I am a reformed Baptist. I preach as well as teach Systematic Theology at my church. I also work with Christian Service Brigade as a volunteer.
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LOS ANGELES, CA—Green Hills Community Church confirmed to local news teams Thursday that it had recently added a heavy metal service to its traditional and contemporary selections, causing its attendance to skyrocket. Metalheads from around the region and across the country pack the church’s sanctuary each week, ready to worship God and “mosh for Jesus.” […] . . . finish reading Church Sees Explosive Growth After Introduction Of Heavy Metal Service. More...