“Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
We focus on love, we focus on faith. We have our seeker-friendly churches and we have our self-help books.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of that — but what seems to be missing is the art of reasoning. It can be messy, but it’s a crucial part of following Jesus.
In his latest book, Os Guinness answers the question: how do we recover the art of Christian persuasion? He says he saw a need in the Western church:
“I don’t think the average believer understands first of all that persuasion is quite Biblical…”
He says the need Christian reason and persuasion started at the fall of humanity…
“Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the serpent. If God had asked the serpent, he probably would’ve pointed a finger back at God and said: ‘well, who created me?’
You see, the essence of sin is always to pass the buck. At the end of the day, it’s the Lord who always gets blamed.”
The need for apologetics will only end when Christ returns.
“The defense never rests until the last buck has stopped passing.
If you look at Romans 3, Paul talks about the great day of judgment, when every last mouth will be stopped. And what he actually says there is everyone will be without an apologist. They’ll be apology-less — they won’t have a leg to stand on before the Lord, because they will know where they’ve rebelled, sinned, disobeyed, whatever it is.”
Guinness says being able to give a reasoned defense for the faith isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity:
“If you look at Paul in the book of Acts, if you take out all the words like ‘reason’, ‘persuade’, and so on — you’d have a book full of holes!
Paul had to do that because people, at first, were not open to what he was saying.”
Guinnes says, however, that sometimes people can get too zealous about apologetics:
“We can get too passionate about it, and try and think we’ve got to win every argument.
I always remind people that the patron saint of apologists is Balaam’s ass. When the prophet was so against the Lord, the Lord used a donkey. A humble, serviceable, big-eared donkey. Somewhat ridiculous — it took a donkey to get through to the prophet.”
He says we all have to remain humble, and understand who’s really in charge:
“Many of us have to do the best we can, and we remember the Lord is His own best apologist. He’s the real prosecutor — He gave us the Holy Spirit to do that! So we’re on the ‘junior counsels’, we’re following under Him. We have to rely on the Holy Spirit to do the real work that has to be done.”