25 October 2007

Believe What You Want...

But you better be able to back it up.

Someone asked me recently to define "apologetics."

The dictionary states: the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.

But I think it's better summed up this way:

Know WHAT you believe and WHY you believe it.

Nothing frustrates me more than talking to a Christian who doesn't really know what they believe.
This is not the same thing as not knowing theological facts or memorizing Biblical history.
This is a thoughtful, inward examination of what you REALLY believe to be true and right.

I first became interested in apologetics my senior year in college. I was only a few hours from graduating when my advisor discovered that I was missing my Philosophy credit. So, I enrolled in a Freshman-level philosophy class on "Argument & Debate."
The professor was a brilliant man -- witty and animated -- and also a die-hard atheist.
Fully 95% of the class were wide-eyed, innocent, just-out-of-high-school and first-time-away-from-home freshmen. Being smack-dab in the center of the "Bible Belt," (Conway, Ark), most of these students had been raised in church. But when that seasoned, atheist professor got hold of them, he (philosophically speaking) ripped them to shreds.

In their innocence and naivete, they could only defend their faith with emotional rants and tear-streaked pleas. Nothing made this professor happier than to reduce his audience to a quivering mass of dejected, raw DOUBT.

There were two of us in the class who were not the norm and with whom he found greater resistance. We were both considerably older (wiser?) than the rest of our class and didn't feel the need to thrust ourselves on our daggers to defend our religious beliefs.
In the end, I told the professor that he was privy to the same information I was and that if he was dead-set against considering the fallibility and falsifiability of his OWN stance, then I would no longer "cast my pearls before swine."

I got an A in that class.

For a time, I even considered getting a PhD in Philosophy because I loved the spirit of argument and debate, but then I realized that I would definitely be the minority in a field of god-hating agnostics. And that's what they really are; there's no such thing as a true atheist.
But that's a whole 'nother blog entry...

I came away from that class adamant that my children would not grow up blindly believing what I believe simply because "that's the way we believe." I want them to question and study and really THINK about what it is they believe and WHY they believe it.
My children will not be reduced to tears by some faith-bashing, so-called atheist who thinks it's "fun" to prey upon the fragile beliefs of young Christians. At least, I hope not.

You see, it's not just our job (as parents) to take our kids to church and read the Bible with them and listen to their evening prayers... It's our job to empower them with the education and the tools with which they will need to forge through this world that is so unkind to anyone of faith.
It's all fine and good to have the love and emotions, but you better have some theology to back that up.

1 comment:

FeatherIron said...

You will love that book I was telling you about, "The Civl War a Theological Crisis". He says that a lot of why providence and Gods favor was used by both North and South was because they both belived in a very Enlightenment based Christianity, that the human mind could, if it really wanted to figure out all it needed to about God and humanity, so there was not a lot of depth in theology, no real study of the word or listening to teachings and interpretations of scripture. They just took what they wanted it to say and applied it at will.

I am learning a lot from that book.