Some people enjoy controversy. I don’t. I know that might sound strange given the topics I publicly address: Islam, homosexuality, abortion, evolution, and many others. People ask me, “Why do you spend so much time talking about these side issues and not the Gospel?” It’s a fair question.
The reality is that I address those controversial topics because I care about the Gospel. I train Christians how to understand and address these subjects for a simple reason: They are obstacles to the Gospel. Many non-believers hold views about Islam, evolution, homosexuality, and other hot topics that they believe disqualify Christianity from consideration. I’m not saying every non-believer thinks that, but I’m often confronted with many who do. That’s why I want to train Christians to know how to move these obstacles to the Gospel out of the way so non-believers can more easily accept the claims of Christ.
The great Presbyterian scholar J. Gresham Machen was concerned about this very thing. Nearly 100 years ago, he warned, “False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the Gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which…prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.” If we allow our culture to believe false ideas that are contrary to the Gospel, then it will make our missional efforts more difficult.
Holding to false ideas about Islam, homosexuality, evolution, etc. causes people to think Christianity is a delusion and Christians are out to lunch. The false ideas become barriers to the Gospel. Apologetics helps believers to know how to remove them from the non-believer’s path to Christ, but it’s not an end in itself. It’s a means to an end. The end is the Gospel, but apologetics can help clear the path that holds people back from accepting it.