Formational Apologetics

Back in December I was asked by Children’s Ministry Magazine to write an article about what apologetics might look like for kids today. This was a topic I was excited to tackle. For a while, I’ve been bothered by premise behind traditional apologetics that takes the standpoint that our faith needs some sort of defense so we guard ourselves and our children by arming them with “the truth.” We adopt a view that if we simply have enough information and can convince people that our information is truer than any other information out there then they will see the errors of their ways and enter into relationship with God. We live in a era where that no longer happens. In fact, the opposite is more true. People want a relationship first. They want to belong. Then if that relationship seems real and consistent and beneficial, they are open to belief. We handicap our children when we simply try to arm them with knowledge.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

When we unintentionally give children the message that their faith in God needs to be defended, we imply a faith that’s wimpy at best and devoid of truth or power at worst. Yes, we’re called to equip and empower children to stand firm in their faith, but the strength and confidence they need comes from a source more powerful than information and knowledge. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

You can check out the full article here.

If you don’t already do so, be sure to check out Children’s Ministry Magazine. It’s an amazing resource for those in ministry to children! And I’m not saying that because I have an article in there. It wouldn’t hurt, though, to buy multiple copies of the March/April issue and distribute it freely to friends, neighbors, and strangers you pass on the street 🙂


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5 thoughts on “Formational Apologetics

  1. Sherri Edman says:

    Good for you! I am currently putting together an apologetics class (for grownups) at my church, and one of the key points I'm hoping to get across is that Enlightenment rationalism is not Christianity, and we need to be sure which one we are actually defending.

    Also, knowledge has just as much to do with willingness to receive as with persuasive arguments. You can give someone the whole gamut of the most compelling arguments for the Christian faith, but at the end of the day if they don't *want* to believe, they won't. That willingness to receive is, as you pointed out, the result of loving and life-giving relationships– not argument.

  2. Peter says:

    Oh yes you've articulated very well something I've only had ponderings about. I think the implications of this type of apologetics are huge in postmodern America (and I mean America, not just the U.S.!). And I'm with you – I like the upshot of modernist, rational apologetics coupled with a more experiential approach to faith, perhaps more a la postmodern apologetics. Actually, I'm probably overstepping; I'm not well-read at all when it comes to postmodern apologetics, and would be very interested in such reading if you all have any recommendations!!

    • henryjz says:

      I don't really know of much in the way of postmodern apologetics per se, but there are many books out there to help look at issues from a different perspective. One great book to get you started is Peppermint-Filled Pinatas by Eric Bryant. Great book!

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