Christian philosopher and apologist Douglas Groothuis once published an Apologetics Manifesto (PDF here). It includes 16 theses, all of which are worth considering. Today’s post is an unpacking of point 12, which reads:
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.
Dr. Groothuis then goes on to list 8 areas of engagement. The first he mentions is “letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines.” Dr. Groothuis was gracious enough to elaborate on these points for today’s blog post…
What impact can letters to the editor have?
It is difficult to track in precise terms the influence of ideas through various media. Over many years, though, I have had people comment on my letters, either in person or in subsequent letters to the editor. I also use some of these letters as object lessons for my students on how to give apologetic arguments in a short compass. One hopes that a thoughtful and well-crafted letter to the editor will raise important issues, clarify important ideas, and briefly advance pro-Christian arguments.
What subjects are good topics for letters to the editor?
I stick to issues of considerable import, and try to avoid pet peeves. Any topic related to philosophy or religion, broadly conceived, is on my radar.
Can you suggest the tone and approach that the letter should take?
Most letters should be respectful and try to make only one main point. There is no room for much more than that in most cases. However, satire and parody also have a place, if one is skilled enough to make this work.
What should a letter to the editor not attempt to do?
They should not attempt to make more than one good point. They should also be written good taste.
What would be your exhortation to apologists to be involved in the public square?
Take the truth out into the streets by out-thinking the world for Christ. Give good apologetic arguments in as many forms as you can: lectures, discussions, debates, books, articles, book reviews, blogs, Facebook, letters to the editor, and more. In each venue, exegete the strengths and weaknesses of the particular medium and act prayerfully act accordingly. Realize that your words count for eternity. This is why the Bible says so much about the power of our words, written and spoken.