For a few years now, I have been dedicated to the apologetic endeavor. It began when I was in seminary and I started having doubts. I found myself doubting the very foundations of the Christian faith. Does God exist? Did Jesus rise from the dead? Can we trust the Bible? These were some pretty basic questions, but surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one asking them. Very few Christians I found could give me a sufficient answer. So, I dug and I dug, and I came across some even worse answers on the internet, but eventually landed on some good apologetic material, that provided me with some really great answers.
Now, I have been spending my time writing on this blog and interviewing leading thinkers so I can provide answers to those who are searching and keep the conversation growing.
It’s Not What You Expect
Last week, I interviewed Sy Garte, a former atheist and biologist. Sy described himself as a militant atheist when he was growing up. Now, he is a dedicated Christian. Naturally, I had to know what changed his mind. Was it the cosmological argument? Was it the moral argument? He’s a biologist, so maybe it was an argument from intelligent design, or teleology. None of the above.
Sy said that somewhere a long the way, he became friends with some Christians. Imagine that, Christians and Atheists being friendly. His friends invited him to a Catholic Mass, and he obliged. He joked, telling me, “I expected the priest to point at me saying, ‘What are you doing here, sinner?!'” But that isn’t what happened.
The priest preached a sermon on love. Sy’s militant atheist background had preconditioned him to believe that Christians were judgmental, but that is not what he found to be true, at least, in this circumstance.
This led him to open a Bible and read the Gospels, which surprised him as well. They were not ridden with religious hatred, but were filled with love for the poor and down-trodden. He especially found the historicity that they contained compelling.
By Our Love
Sy’s testimony reminds me of the words of Jesus:
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:34-35
Many of our atheist friends are ex-Christians. For this reason, they are probably familiar with the arguments for God, Jesus, and the Bible. This doesn’t mean that we don’t continue making the positive arguments for all of the above, but it does mean that our primary apologetic should be a life that represents well our Lord’s words and example.
Many Christians-turned-atheists have not had good examples of a Christian witness before them. I am not trying to insinuate that no atheists have thought through the arguments and come to their conclusions completely intellectually. Absolutely, such atheists exist. I’m merely saying that I have observed many people walk away from their faith because of bad examples. Sy is an example of someone who didn’t grow up knowing many Christians personally in the first place, so he had no examples at all. But once he did, it was the love that these examples exemplified that led him to question his atheism.
I find it most peculiar that love is by far a stronger argument than you or I could possibly conjure up intellectually. They will certainly know us by our love, or the lack thereof, if I may add.
Have you heard a similar story such as Sy’s? Please share.
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7 thoughts on “The Christian Life as an Apologetic”
As in the past you may have not been happy with my opinions nor my position, I would be interested in your input to some of my questions that you have presented and opined as well. I am not a scholar, however, I am not a total dunce do to the fact that many years of questioning and finding answers in unlikely places, may be of value to you. I am in the DFW area as I feel you may be near. We could take the time to converse and lead each other to a path of understanding and conversation. You have tweaked my interest in the post that you have offered opinion. I look forward to more.
Hi John! A interesting piece you’ve written here. For years people have tried to ‘get’ God with intellectual reasoning. The results are obvious; pure religion with its laws, hypocrisy and all manner of off-putting rhetoric. Love always wins…but only when the seeker seeks God with all his heart. That’s my take on this.
Haden, I am also a recovering atheist and apologist. I still have doubts, but I have decided that without doubt, there is no faith. I am not uneducated. I have advanced degrees, up to and including my beginning my dissertation to get my doctoral degree in instructional leadership. You followed my blog, so I came here and found what I did not expect. I found a person intelligently seeking answers about belief, which is what I became in 2009 when my wife died.
I was an atheist because I had horrible examples and was hurt by so-called Christians who did not have the courage of their conviction. My mother tried, in vain, to bring me back into the church, but she failed. My father argued with me about the danger to my soul, but I was unmoved. There are days that I feel doubt, but there are more days that I am blessed because of love. In fact, my mantra is “…and the greatest was love.” Keep blogging. I will, too. I think we have a lot in common.
Thank you for commenting and sharing your journey. We’re all in this together, I’ll be praying for you!
Apologetics is one of my favorite topics I would like to see you write more on the subject!
That’s crazy cool to hear about your story of doubt. While in seminary as well, I was hit with doubt which led into a three year battle with agnosticism. But I see how necessary that was and like you that experience is leading me to use it as fuel to reach others. Also, feeling the article. A lot of Christians need to learn you need to reach a person’s heart before you can reach their head.