It’s time for a holistic apologetic

Apr 7, 2019 by

By Elliot Clark, The Gospel Coalition.

[…] a new crop of Christian apologists are seeking to equip the church within the discipline[apologetics], providing an approach that extends beyond the issue of reasonableness. One of those voices is Paul Gould, teacher of philosophy and apologetics at Oklahoma Baptist University. He has written a helpful resource titled Cultural Apologetics: Renewing the Christian Voice, Conscience, and Imagination in a Disenchanted World.Gould’s endeavor could be called “holistic.” He seeks to re-establish the Christian voice, conscience, and imagination. He’s clearly concerned with how the world perceives our message, but he’s also concerned with how the world perceives us. This, then, sets the tone for his book. While the approach he envisions is one of graciously answering objections and presenting sound arguments, it’s also an embodied apologetic. In this way Gould expands our categories of apologetics beyond the propositional and incorporates the necessity of a lived-out and enculturated faith. We must herald and embody the gospel.

Further, Gould’s method isn’t simply concerned with truth and evidence. He also addresses desirability. In other words, cultural apologetics as a system seeks to demonstrate the truthfulness of Christianity in how the world is as well as how it ought to be. Our mission, as he understands it, is to present our faith as reasonable and desirable.

One of the recurring themes of Gould’s proposal is that such an apologetic strategy should focus on culture both upstream and downstream. Christians, he believes, are called to engage downstream, where culture is largely consumed and lived out, but also at the fountainhead of culture, in the centers of thinking and creativity. In other words, the church should encourage and support Christian investment in the academy, the arts, and politics. Gould designates this comprehensive approach as both global and local.

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