New book challenges misperceptions of apologetics

When most people hear the term apologetics they conjure up images of red-faced scholars squaring off in heated debate or intellectuals studying in the ivory tower of academia, preparing to vigorously defend their faith to doubters and skeptics. However according to Travis Dickinson, assistant professor of philosophy and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, these caricatures fall short of capturing the heart of apologetics.

“Apologetics should be a very normal part of Christian discipleship,” Dickinson says. “On my approach, apologetics is a matter of loving God with our minds, as we are commanded to do in Matthew 22:37.”

This summer marks the release of Dickinson’s newest book, Everyday Apologetics. In the book, Dickinson paints a picture of apologetics not as an academic exercise void of emotion but rather as a holistic enterprise that encapsulates the entirety of the human person. Some have an aversion to apologetics because of the misconception that it focuses too much on reason and too little on faith. According to Dickinson, however, it is intellectualism and reasonable defense that tend to be lacking in modern churches.

“The idea is that we are all called love and pursue God intellectually, and part of this pursuit will be asking deep and difficult questions about the faith,” he says. “This resource casts the vision for what this looks like.”

Everyday Evangelism: A book by Travis DickinsonEveryday Apologetics serves as a broad overview of Christian apologetics. Dickinson deals in one chapter with common objections to Christianity, including supposed contradictions in Scripture, the problem of evil and the hiddenness of God. The book introduces the reader not just to common arguments made against the Christian faith but also to an entirely new way to think about apologetics. 

“One of the primary misconceptions about apologetics in today’s church is that it is principally about debating atheists,” Dickinson says. “However, most atheists don’t change their minds as a result of arguments, especially in the context of a debate. So if this were all that apologetics is about, then it is probably not worth our time and effort.”

If apologetics is more than debate, then what is it? One of Dickinson’s primary contentions is that apologetics should be approached devotionally as a component of viewing apologetics holistically.

“What it looks like to practice apologetics as devotional is to ask those deep and difficult questions about the faith for ourselves as a way to simply to know and love God more fully,” Dickinson says. “We, as Christians, should be curious about the problem of evil, or the reliability of Scripture, or reasons for belief in God, and other typical apologetics topics. Gaining insights on these matters has made my own faith and love for God grow tremendously through the years.”

In addition to discussions on these topics the book includes specific resources for pastors seeking to make apologetics a more central part of their church culture. Dickinson makes a compelling case for apologetics as a necessary component of pastoral ministry, as the role of the pastor should not be relegated merely to preaching on Sunday mornings but also to shepherding believers through the inevitable valleys of doubt that accompany the journey of faith.

Everyday Apologetics provides its reader with just that—a practical guide to making apologetics accessible to believers in their day-to-day lives. 

TEXAN Correspondent
Rob Collingsworth
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