The End of Apologetics?

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 02/04/2014

James Rochford has written a thorough review of a new book by Myron Penner titled The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context. I call your attention to it because it’s a good reminder that postmodern Christianity is still being advocated out there, and the many quotes from the book provided by Rochford in his review serve as a useful refresher course on the postmodern perspective.

These are a few of Rochford’s main objections to Penner’s book:

  • Penner ignores the biblical texts that support Christian apologetics
  • Penner denies the importance of reason and truth
  • Penner claims that apologetics are abusive
  • Penner seeks to replace a correspondent view of truth with an “edification view”
  • Penner exaggerates the inability of language to communicate truth
  • Penner mischaracterizes his opponents in their character and beliefs

Here’s an example of Penner’s characterization of apologetics, which bears no resemblance to the rich conversations I’ve had with people about Christianity:

The lesson of apologetic violence is that there is more than one way to deny Christ in modernity. There is the straightforward way of the atheist...or it may be done indirectly, perhaps even with sincerity, by a Christian who uses the objective truths of Christianity to do things that are themselves unloving and unedifying. (pp. 162–163)

“Apologetic violence”? Again, all of this sounds more to me like theoretical ideas Penner has learned in a classroom, rather than what he’s experienced in conversations with real human beings who don’t know Christ. The use of apologetics has enabled me to be much better at drawing out and understanding another person’s particular view, at explaining my own beliefs more clearly, at understanding who God is and helping others to see Him. And I can’t count the number of people I’ve met (including myself) for whom God used apologetics to draw them to Himself.

And yet, postmodernists insist the opposite is true, so it’s a good idea to understand their perspective. Read the full review.