Christian Living

Apologetics Isn’t Argumentative

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Author Alan Shlemon Published on 04/07/2020

Some people discount apologetics because being argumentative is wrong. I agree…being argumentative is wrong. But apologetics isn’t argumentative. At least, it shouldn’t be.

When a drunk driver crashes into a crowd of people, we don’t fault the car. The problem is the manner in which the car was driven. He drove while inebriated and was negligent. In other words, we distinguish between the thing itself (the car) and the manner in which it’s driven (drunk).

In the same way, we can distinguish between apologetics and the manner in which it is practiced. A person can have an argumentative personality. He can be belligerent, crass, and hostile. That manner is expressed when he participates in an apologetics conversation. In fact, it could be expressed in any interaction. The problem is not with apologetics, but with the character of the person.

This is a good reminder that everyone who calls himself a follower of Jesus must ask himself: What kind of ambassador am I? Am I good one or a bad one? Our character—how we come across to other people—says something about the person we represent. In this case, Christians represent Christ, and we need to be mindful of what we communicate about our King.

In fact, some of the highest profile apologists in the world—John LennoxJ.P. MorelandRavi ZachariasWilliam Lane CraigLee Strobel—are incredibly winsome people. Their apologetic engagements are patient, kind, and friendly.

Having good character is what prevents a person from making apologetics argumentative. When apologetics is in the hands of a winsome ambassador, it can drive the conversation in a healthy, kind, and productive way.