Christian Apologetics Manifesto 2003
By Douglas Groothius
Copyright 2003 by Douglas Groothius
It is time to stop apologizing for apologetics, says Christian philosopher and author Douglas Groothius, in this concise, powerful call to Christians everywhere to follow God's Word and use apologetics for supporting the faith of believers, defending the truth of Christianity, and evangelizing the lost. Christians, churches, and Christian schools (including universities and seminaries) cannot successfully compete with the claims of the world without using apologetics. The need for ministries like Answers In Action and authors like Groothius has never been greater. Keep coming to Answers In Action during 2004 for the finest apologetics material you can find anywhere. Together we can make a difference for Christ in the world.
Gretchen Passantino, Director
This is a manifesto to
ignite the holy fire of apologetic passion and action. It is not a
sustained argument or a development of themes. (I have written and
lectured about these matters elsewhere). It is, rather, a short
series of interrelated propositions crying out for both immediate and
protracted action. These challenges issue from convictions formed
through twenty-five years of apologetic teaching, preaching,
debating, writing, and Christian witness.
Because of (a) the
waning influence of the Christian worldview in public and private
life in America today, (b) the pandemic of anti-intellectualism in
the contemporary church, and (c) the very command of God himself to
further divine truth, I strongly advise that the following statements
be wrestled with and responded to by all followers of Jesus Christ.
Christian apologetics involves the public
presentation and defense of Christianity as true, reasonable,
knowable, and existentially pertinent to both individuals and entire
cultures. Apologetics involves rebutting unbelieving accusations
against Christianity as well as giving a constructive case for
The fundamental issue for apologetics is not how
many apologists one has read, or what apologetic method one embraces
(although that must be worked out). Rather, the fundamental issue is
whether or not one has a passion for God’s truth—reasonably
pursued and courageously communicated—and a passion for the
lost because of the love of God resident in one’s life.
One must be convinced of the truth, rationality,
pertinence, and knowability of the Christian worldview—derived
from Holy Scripture, logically systematized, and rightly harmonized
with general revelation (truth knowable outside of Scripture).
In light of (1), (2), and (3), fideism—the
claim that Christian faith has no positive connection to reason or
evidence—should be rejected as unbiblical and harmful to the
great cause of Christ’s truth (Matthew 22:37-39; Romans
Any theology, apologetics, ethics, evangelism or
church practice that minimizes or denigrates the concept of
objective, absolute, universal and knowable truth is both irrational
and unbiblical. As such it must be rejected and repented of.
Any intellectual discipline or church practice
that minimizes or denigrates the importance of apologetics is
unbiblical and must be repented of (Acts 17:16-34; 2 Corinthians
10:3-5; 1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3).
The artificial separation of evangelism from
apologetics must end. Many evangelistic methods die when those
evangelized ask questions related to apologetics. Therefore, all
evangelistic training should include basic apologetic training as
Apologetics is meant just as much for believers
with doubts and questions as it is directed toward unbelievers.
Therefore, Christians with doubts should not be shunned or shamed,
but given good apologetic arguments (as well as pastoral care) in
dealing with their intellectual struggles (Matthew 11:1-11; Jude 22).
Since all Christians are called and commanded to
have a reason for the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15), Christian
teachers, pastors, mentors and educators of all kinds are remiss if
they avoid, denigrate, or minimize the importance of apologetics to
biblical living and Christian witness.
Those outside of the leadership positions
mentioned in (9) should request that apologetics be made a
constitutive part of these institutions if this is not already the
In light of (9) and (10), Christian colleges,
seminaries, and churches should incorporate apologetics into their
institutional/educational life, mission, and vision. Specifically,
every Christian college, university, and seminary should require at
least one class in apologetics for every degree in their curriculum.
Moreover, every discipline should be taught from a Christian
worldview, since all truth is God’s truth. This has significant
apologetic value in and of itself.
Because apologetics is meant to be the public
presentation and defense of Christianity as true, reasonable,
pertinent, and knowable, apologists should attempt to offer their
arguments in as many public venues as possible. Therefore, qualified
Christian apologists should learn to become public intellectuals:
thinkers who have mastered their material and are willing and able to
enter public discourse and debate in a way that challenges and
engages the non-Christian mind as well as galvanizes other Christians
to hone their apologetic skills. Areas of engagement include the
Letters to the editors of newspapers and
Op-ed pieces for newspapers.
Calls to talk radio programs.
Public debates and dialogues on religious and
Apologetic contributions to interactive web
Lectures on college campuses on apologetic
Books oriented to those outside the typical
evangelical market, published by secular publishers if possible.
Any other creative outreach—drama,
poetry, cinema, and more.
Young Christians with an aptitude in philosophy
and academic pursuits in general should be encouraged that these
disciplines are just as spiritual as anything directly
church-related. For example, being a Christian philosopher at a
secular college or university is just as godly and spiritual than
being a pastor, missionary, or professor at a Christian institution
(1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). One may prudently apply one’s
apologetic skills in these settings and extend the Christian witness.
All apologetic endeavors should manifest the
virtues of both humility and courage through the empowering of the
Holy Spirit. If we have been bestowed by Almighty God with truth to
defend rationally, this is because of God’s grace, not our own
goodness. There is no room for pride. If we have been bestowed by
Almighty God with truth to defend rationally, we should take it to
the streets and not shrink back from appropriate encounters with
unbelief. There is no room for cowardice.
Apologetics must be carried out with the utmost
intellectual integrity. All propaganda, cheap answers, caricatures of
non-Christian views, and fallacious reasoning should be avoided. One
should develop competent answers to searching questions about the
truth and rationality of Christian faith. This demands excellence in
scholarship at all intellectual levels, even the most popular. This
cognitive orientation takes time, money, and sustained effort. It
will not happen by watching television or by otherwise wasting our
All apologetics ventures—whether in writing,
speaking, or dialogue—should be backed by personal prayer by
the apologist and supporting prayer of the church (Ephesians 6:18).
For many resources related to Christian
apologetics, see Douglas Groothuis and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis web
page: http://www.ivpress.com/groothuis/doug/ .
The gospelcom.net bio identifies Dr. Groothuis as an associate professor at Denver Seminary. He is now a full professor.