ecently I got an e-mail that raised an excellent, but difficult, question about apologetics. My correspondent was trying to make sense of the inevitable tension we face in those moments when we are called upon "to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you . . . with gentleness and respect"and yet we know that the best biblical answer we have to someone's question or challenge is strongly counter cultural and possibly even offensive to the person we're speaking to.
My friend wrote:
I have no problem with the answer you gave. "Because they were an abomination to God" is a perfectly valid response: It's true, and it is, after all, the correct biblical answer to the question.
I think it's a serious mistake to evaluate answers to difficult questions by imagining whether a non-believer is likely to respond positively or not. Jesus never did that. He simply proclaimed the truth. That's the same approach we need to take. If unbelievers reject the answer anyway (and some always will, regardless of the cleverness of our strategies), then that's not necessarily an indication of failure on the ambassador's part.
Certainly we should do all we can legitimately do to minimize offense (and eliminate unnecessary offense) to unbelievers, but to dismiss a truthful answer as "not a good answer . . . because a non-believer wouldn't care" is in my view a gross miscarriage of our duty as Christ's ambassadors.
The professor's attitude toward biblical truth reflects in microcosm the very point where contemporary evangelicalism went astray and Protestantism lost its vigor. When people get timid about declaring what Scripture plainly saysespecially when that apprehension is driven by fear about how unbelievers might respondsomeone has lost sight of what it means to give a defense of the truth.
Being apologetic about the truth of Scripture is something quite different from being an apologist for it.