Christians have always defended their beliefs in the marketplace of ideas. One well-known instance in the life of the apostle Paul—particularly appreciated by apologists—is his speech at the Areopagus in Athens in Acts 17. At this location, where important civil and religious matters were discussed, Paul addressed a diverse and educated audience, including “Epicurean and Stoic philosophers” (v. 18).
Paul was eager to engage the Athenians here because “his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols” (v. 16). In his speech, from which we can glean important lessons concerning apologetics, Paul sought to establish common ground with his audience by commending the Athenians’ religious devotion, quoting two of their poets, and connecting their intuitions about “the unknown god” to the God of Scripture and the person and work of Jesus Christ. (MP3 Audio here – podcast it here or in iTunes)
Two thousand years later, those of us who endeavor to commend the Christian gospel and worldview to a skeptical audience are following in Paul’s footsteps. One of the most significant provinces of the marketplace of ideas today is the Internet—a modern day Mars Hill. Like Paul, we are struck by the multitude of “gods” that command the devotion of so many today. And we see the destructive effects of false ideas play out in the lives of people around us. But like Paul, we choose to take a stand and winsomely present the Christian faith in the midst of skeptics, critics, seekers, and the curious. In Paul’s case, “some mocked” and some went about their business, but some “joined him and believed” (vss. 32-34).
Because the need to articulate and defend the gospel is always present, I’m encouraged by this collection of short essays defending the Christian faith. Many of us who keep blogs and websites devoted to apologetics are on the frontlines of reaching out to the youngest, brightest, and most articulate skeptics of religion and Christianity. While I admire and respect professional apologists and academics who write and speak on these topics, it takes an army of committed evangelists like you and me to engage one-on-one with the millions of non-believers online who want to ask questions, debate, and sometimes search for answers to honest questions.
So I encourage you to keep up the good work. I see our blogs and websites as islands of truth and light in a vast ocean of confusion and despair. Stay close to Christ and commit your life and work to Him. Devote time to studying theology, apologetics, and philosophy. Engage those who visit your site with wisdom, respect, and love. Remember that you’re interacting with flesh and blood people who often have had bad experiences with religion or church. Speak the truth in love. Get to know some fellow apologetics bloggers and stay in touch on a regular basis. Help each other and promote each other’s work. I believe we are making a difference out there on a daily basis and that God will bless our efforts if we devote them to Him and to providing reasons for the hope that is in us.
Chris Reese (Cloud of Witnesses blog)
International Outreach Coordinator,
Evangelical Philosophical Society