Apologetics: Because the unexamined life is not worth living

1373747115_2026_350px-Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_ThomasIf you have nagging or fascinating questions about the meaning of life (or what our purpose is), if there can be one true religion, if faith and reason conflict (is faith blind?), if creation and evolution conflict, if there is evidence of God (if there is only one, and why), if God is good, how a good God could allow suffering and evil (and hell), if there is moral truth and how to figure out what it is, if good and evil are opposites, what counts as evil, or sin, and how that is determined, if we even have free will to resist sin, if free will and predestination (or sovereignty) conflict, why Christians think salvation is important, if the Bible can be trusted, why the Christian church is responsible for so much evil, et cetera, then you have an interest in apologetics. The word apologetics comes from the Greek legal term, apologia, meaning defense. Whenever you are defending a position, including ridding it of errors and exposing the errors of opposing positions, you are engaging in apologetics. As Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  Apologetics is such an examination; an apologist is an examiner.

Apologetics can get scary when wrestling with heavy-weight doubts and can lead to a loss of faith. This causes some people to feel that doubting is wrong, that blind faith is right.  Blind faith is nowhere found in the Bible. The most common passage used by those who disagree that blind faith is not found in the Bible (fideists), is Jesus’ dialogue with Thomas. Jesus is not speaking of blind faith when he tells Thomas about those who believe without seeing—He is speaking of those who trust God to fulfill His promises, before they see the fulfillment. It is about trust, not about blind faith. It is the same sort of trust we display when we say “I do”. A relationship without any trust cannot be considered “blessed“.

However, imagine a relationship in which neither feels comfortable to ask questions of the other, get to know them, see what they are all about. Talk about an unexamined life not worth living! Notice how Jesus lets Thomas examine His wounds, strengthening his faith. And so we can and should feel comfortable asking any and all questions like the ones above, whether or not we are Christians, and we should share our progress and struggles with each other.  If we were to train ourselves and teach our children to examine everything together in this manner, we would all benefit from positions strengthened because errors were exposed and corrected, rather than letting doubts build up to be tackled all at once later in life.

Every doubt, whether in the mind of a believer or non-believer, implies an alternate, implicitly (if not overtly) religious faith assumption which deserves equal examination, and so even atheists can benefit from participating in this process of examination. Apologetics is not wrong for anybody…rather, it is good for everyone.

“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good,” 1 Thess. 5:21 (NASB).

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About Maryann

Maryann Spikes is the past President of the Christian Apologetics Alliance. She blogs at Ichthus77, and loves apologetics and philosophy. In particular she loves to study all things Euthyphro Dilemma and Golden Rule. A para-educator (autism) for five years, she holds a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, an AA in Humanities via Modesto Junior College, and moonlights as a freelancer. You can follow her on Twitter @Ichthus77, connect with the Ichthus77 community on Facebook, or look her up on Google+.
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