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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Apologetics according to James W. Sire

I recently read A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics, by James W. Sire. It is little, being small in format, and only 111 pages long. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002)

So what is apologetics? Sire tells us that "Christian apologetics is simply the presentation of a case for biblical truth, most notably the central truth of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior." He elaborates on that, of course, and emphasizes the truth that, especially for persons of an intellectual disposition, it is often true that that central truth must be presented in a way that touches their mind. He also writes that appeals to the intellect don't always work, even if they are valid, and even with intellectuals, but says that people are just not going to believe in something that they are deeply convinced is not true. He believes that all Christians are at least partly apologists for the faith, and that we need to present reasons to believe even to believers -- many of them are ill-equipped to answer questions about the validity of Christianity, or about problems, such as the existence of evil. Sire believes that some Christians, including himself, are specially called to this work.

Sire writes of his own experiences. He tells us that he believes that he has been called to be an apologist, and led to the work he now is doing, and that his past experiences, in graduate school, in teaching, in publishing, and as an author, have helped him to do this.

The book does not have "humble" in the title for nothing. For one thing, Sire tells us that, to reach people, we have to listen to them. Really listen to them, even learn from them. We don't know everything. He also believes that, even with an unassailable argument, we won't get assent from listeners if we present our side proudly and triumphantly.

The author gives lists of books that would be good background for work in apologetics.

I was surprised that Sire didn't mention Ravi Zacharias, a notable contemporary apologist.

Thanks for reading. Read Sire.

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