by Nathan Harmony
Finally one day, by the grace and providence of God, I stumbled upon some apologetics websites, which led me to more and more apologetics material. I was never much of a reader, so I bought all the videos that I could find. The material presented in these videos completely destroyed my strongholds and demolished every argument that exalted itself against my knowledge of God. It was extremely helpful, and I can’t begin to explain how valuable it was for me. It helped to lay a solid foundation for a deep intellectually satisfying trust in the glorious Gospel of Christ.
Once I had access to solid resources, I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about apologetics, and I began to develop quite an arsenal of apologetics videos on just about every topic you could think of. It got to the point where I knew way more about why I believed that the Bible was true than I did about the Bible itself. So to fix that problem, I decided to go to Bible College. At Bible College, my church history teacher took me under his wing and discipled me. He was very good at encouraging and empowering people to get involved in what they were gifted in and passionate about. He recognized my love for apologetics and knew about all of the videos that I had accumulated over the years. He came up with the idea of starting an apologetics video ministry and asked me to lead the group at his church. It was a great experience for me. I realized that it wasn’t very hard to do, and I didn’t need to be an expert in order to pull it off. I ended up moving to a different campus of my school, and I put together another apologetics video ministry with the students at that campus.
After Bible College I moved to Santa Barbara, CA, and a few years later I had made a number of friends who were fairly new believers. They would often come to me with their questions, and every time I would tell them about a great video that I had on their particular issue, and that they needed to see it. Eventually we set a day and time for them to come over every week and watch a video. Since I have enough apologetics videos to watch one every week for several years, we decided to keep doing it. We named it “Apologetics Movie Night.”
I eventually joined the world of Facebook and made a group page for it. I started inviting people via Facebook, and what was once a little thing with my buddies has grown organically into a semi-formal ministry. We have been meeting every week for over a year and a half now (since January 2009), and there’s a core group of about 15 people that attend. The format is simple. We pray, I introduce the main points of the video and why they are important to understand, we watch the video, then I reinforce the main points, and answer any questions that people have. The cool thing about using videos is that I don’t have to be an expert on a subject in order to be able to cover it. I can bring the world’s greatest experts right into my living room. Apologetics is such a vast field. There is so much good material out there, and since people are constantly making more lectures and documentaries, I doubt that I will ever run out of new videos to watch.
One of my favorite Bible expositors recently moved to Santa Barbara, so my wife and I just started going to his church. The church that I used to attend doesn’t facilitate smaller specific-focus sub-ministries, but they did give the congregation their blessing to get together on our own if we wanted. So, as of right now, Apologetics Movie Night is not officially part of any church, but the pastor who runs the evangelism ministry at my new church has mentioned that he would like to somehow incorporate it into their evangelism ministry (which is something I could use prayer for). I recognize that it is important to be under the authority of and to be accountable to the leadership of the church, and that this ministry would greatly benefit from the wisdom, resources, momentum, and prayer support that comes from being under their authority. The hard part is getting people to recognize the importance of an apologetics ministry.
If you want to make an impact with apologetics, the most important apologetic argument you will need to know how to make is the argument that apologetics is important for the church. Apologetics is a vital task for the body of Christ. God is glorified by it, the church is edified by it, and the kingdom of God is advanced by the means of it. Unfortunately, however, many Christians just don’t see it that way. If you endeavor to get an apologetics ministry started in your church, don’t be surprised if you encounter opposition to that idea. This can be frustrating, especially if apologetics is something you are gifted in and are passionate about. I think it’s important to understand why people tend to have an aversion toward it.
Here are seven reasons that I have come up with:
1. It is common for Christians to mistakenly view faith as being something that substitutes for a lack of knowledge. This view of faith makes apologetics hostile to faith, because apologetics seeks to fill the very void that they think should be filled by faith. (2 Peter 1:5)
2. Apologetics is primarily a project of the mind, and it is common for Christians to see it as something that distracts us from our primary objective, loving God with all of our heart. They fail to recognize that the greatest commandment also involves loving God with all of our mind. (Matthew 22:37, John 4:23)
3. Personality also plays a big role. Apologists are often the kind of people who love to hash things out in debate. It’s fun for them. While other people have a real hard time with confrontation. So when worldviews collide, and truth confronts error, it can be extremely uncomfortable for the non-confrontational personality, who just wants resolution. Discussions about ultimate truth or religion have a tendency to be intense, technical, drawn out conversations, which often don’t end in resolution. This is something they want nothing to do with. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
4. Apologetics involves argumentation, and it is common for Christians to equivocate a rational dispute as being quarrelsome. They fail to recognize that contending for the faith is both prescribed and described frequently in scripture. (Jude 3, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Acts 18:27-28, Acts 9:29, Titus 1:9-11)
5. Unfortunately, Christian apologists can often be quarrelsome, and this makes people think that that is what apologetics is all about. (2 Timothy 2:24-27)
6. Apologetics inspires confidence and it increases knowledge, this can easily translate into pride, which turns people off to apologetics. (1 Corinthians 8:1)
7. Apologetics has been very much neglected, due to the fact that it has been grossly misunderstood. When you demonstrate that apologetics is a practical necessity for the church and show that it is prescribed in scripture, this will at the same time expose an area of deficiency in the lives of many seasoned believers. Some may feel threatened and oppose apologetics, because they don’t understand it, nor do they want to. (Proverbs 9:8-9).
Despite any opposition you may encounter, make no mistake, there remains a great number of people who are interested in this kind of ministry! It is vital that people have access to good answers, especially the younger generation, whose faith is constantly being assaulted. The fact of the matter is that apologetics is simply about being loving enough to take other people’s questions seriously, and it is a basic fundamental feature of discipleship. This kind of ministry is simply something that needs to exist. If you have a few friends who are interested in apologetics, it’s not hard get your hands on some good material and get a group started. I have been very blessed by hosting Apologetics Movie Night, and I know that the people who come every week have been too.