Friday, November 04, 2005

The Neglect of Apologetics in the Public Square

Bill Myers has an opinion piece in the Austin American-Statesman about homosexual marriage. He's on the wrong side of the issue, but a lot of his criticism of his opponents is accurate. I'm thinking especially of this line:

"They cite the authority of books that contain numerous accounts of incredible events — people turning to salt and rising from the dead — but fail to take any responsibility for establishing its infallibility beyond repeated, strenuous assertion."

Notice that an appeal to the Bible isn't being rejected on the basis of separation of church and state. Rather, the logic of an appeal to God is acknowledged, but he's saying that the appeal hasn't been proven.

The same criticism can be applied to citations of the Bible on other issues, not just homosexuality. Even in the constrained format of television talk shows or radio call-in programs, for example, it wouldn't be difficult to begin the first appeal to scripture by giving some examples of the evidence we have for its reliability. A general reference to that evidence, with an offer to discuss it in more detail if anybody wants to, would be sufficient. But it would be even better to cite some examples. An article like Bill Myers' couldn't be written so easily in a context in which Christians were taking apologetic issues more seriously.

I'm not suggesting that people like Myers are entirely sincere. Given the time and place in which Myers lives, how difficult would it be for him to find out about something like the evidence for Jesus' resurrection or the significance of Biblical prophecy? It seems likely that he does have at least some knowledge of such evidence. I doubt that Myers is unaware of Jesus' reputation as a miracle worker, for example, and the possible implications that follow for the nature of the Bible. He may not know much about the evidence, but he probably is aware of its general outlines at least, and he could look into it more if he wanted to.

Instead of having to address the weak arguments Myers criticizes in his article, he should have to address the evidence we have for the reliability of the Bible. He ought to be expected to explain why he rejects what scripture teaches about homosexuality in light of the evidence for Biblical prophecy and Jesus' resurrection, for example. But if the large majority of Christians and others arguing against homosexuality don't mention such evidence in even the vaguest manner, much less do they go into more detail, we can expect more articles like Myers', and we can expect to lose the debate.

This problem largely results from the failure of Christian parents, pastors, and others in positions of influence to do more than give out baby food. If you give the people you're influencing toothpicks and paper shields to fight with, they'll lose the battle.