I have been reading Faith Has Its Reasons by Bowman. I have been trying to understand the relationship between reason and faith. Since I am getting my doctorate in apologetics, I thought it would beneficial to know how apologetics really functions in the world. I have read a lot of apologists from the classical, evidentialist, reformed, and yes even the fideistic approaches. I have seen that each of these has positive opinions to contribute to the field of apologetics. But I have not determined that one way is the only or even best way to approach apologetics.
I have decided that apologetics is helpful in providing reasons for rejecting some of the claims against Christianity. It has a strong defensive quality to it. But as far as leading someone to Christ, I see it as only able to assist people in overcoming objections to the faith and in clarifying Christian tenets. There is always that leap of faith that is also required in the process. The Holy Spirit draws one to God. Knowing God transcends the capacities of human reasoning. Apologetics is a tool for evangelism but does not replace the power of God’s transformative Word and the convicting power of His Spirit. But I do believe apologetics assists in the process but with limitations.
Kierkegaard explains it this way:
“The rule for the relationship between man and humanness is: the more I think about it, the better I understand it. In the relationship between man and God, the rule is: the more I think about the divine, the less I understand it,..As a child I think I am very close to God; the older I become, the more I discover that we are infinitely different, the more deeply I feel the distance, …the less I understand God, that is, the more obvious it becomes to me how infinitely exalted he is.”
Now I may not agree with all of Kierkegaard’s thoughts, but in this quote he does address the fact that God transcends man and man’s capacity for knowing God by reason alone. I believe that the Holy Spirit can enlighten our understanding of God. Therefore what we know of God is what God has revealed to man. But God has given us minds to use. The issue then to me becomes will we submit our rational minds to God even when the truth seems irrational. Pascal says that “the reason it is so difficult to believe is that it is so difficult to obey.” Man’s problem is in submitting to the truths that God has revealed.
So I see a place for apologetics as a tool to assist others to believe in the sometimes seemingly irrational when the seemingly irrational is revealed to be the truth. This is where apologetics can be very helpful in evaluating false religions and worldviews and in answering objections to the Christian faith. Apologetics helps tear down barriers and false assumptions. But then man must listen to the Holy Spirit and obey in faith.