(I include a lot of links in this post to previous posts that I wrote...reading them will give you even more of my story)My church just wrapped up a 5 day Apologetics Conference. It featured the speakers Dr. Norman Geisler, Ray Ciervo, and Simon & Nel Brace. I had been looking forward to it ever since they announced we'd be having the conference again this year. Our church held it's first ever apologetics conference last year...which I also attended. Apologetics is a topic which fascinates me and I am always hungry for more teaching on it. I've been on a journey of sorts for the last three years in coming to understand what it means to be able to defend my faith.
The first time I heard the term 'apologetics' was when I was in my 20s. It was also a time that I was not following God. I had fallen away from the church and most of the standards and values I had held to be true in my early years. Interestingly enough I still attended a Christian music festival every year during this dark decade. It was there that I encountered books with the topic of apologetics. Like many people I misunderstood what that term meant. I thought it insinuated 'making apologies' for faith.
The term 'apologetics' actually comes from the Greek work, 'apologia'. And, rather than meaning 'an apology', it is the word for 'making a defense or argument' for a case. As a matter of fact, the word 'apologia' was used in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. In I Peter 3:15 Peter writes, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason (apologia) for the hope that you have." Christian apologetics is making the case for/ giving the reason for our faith.
Three years ago marks the point at which I started down the road that would lead me to apologetics. And I recorded some of that journey here in this blog.
That experience left me so rattled & raised so many questions that I didn't have a response to that I began a serious battle with doubt and sank into a place of despair and desperation. I was in a spiritual crisis. I started to write about that in "Dealing with Doubt, Part 1" and "Part 2" I started searching for answers but had no idea where to begin. I started doing some reading and some of the books I found that I'd hoped would help me answer my questions either a. left my questions unanswered or 2. raised even more doubts.
I continued to write about this issue in That Thing About Doubt, That Thing About Doubt, continued, and finally in That Thing About Faith...Seeking Revelation where I was finally starting to climb out of the depression and pit of doubt that I had been wallowing in. Looking back at those last three posts written about 2 1/2 years ago I realized that now I've come even further in this journey. For instance, in the one post I used quotes from the book No Argument for God...Going Beyond Reason in Conversations about Faith by John Wilkinson. I no longer embrace everything that was written in that book. Certainly it touched on the mystery of faith...which is absolutely a component of faith. But, I no longer agree with the premise that Reason is not a vital component of faith and the conversations we have about it. In fact, I now believe that Reason is essential.
We live in an age of atheism, agnosticism, & skepticism. Christianity is looked upon with contempt. We need Christians who are willing and able to have conversations with those around us who are asking very difficult questions. I learned this the hard way. But, looking back on that encounter I had on Facebook three years ago I am actually grateful now. It has started me on a journey of study and spiritual growth unlike what I have experienced before. My faith has grown stronger exponentially. While I feared that the dark time of doubt was going to destroy my faith, it was a necessary refining process. I think a lot of Christians are afraid of that process. But, that's why I want to write about it here...to encourage other Christians to consider challenging themselves to think more deeply about why they believe what they believe so that we may be better equipped to reach others in this world.
Check back again soon & I'll tell you more about this journey.