Softer Approach to Apologetics in a Not-So-Postmodern Culture

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  • Living with Questions
By Nathan Black, Christian Post Reporter
September 20, 2007|11:59 am

Sometimes, giving pat answers to some of the most common apologetic questions students ask isn't satisfying.

"What is truth?" and "How can we know Christianity is the true religion?" are two questions that Dale Fincher, author of the newly released Living with Questions, frequently comes across in his ministry career.

Fincher is offering students a softer approach to apologetics, a reading that doesn't sound academic and that's more accessible to younger Christians and those seeking answers about Christianity.

"I really sensed there was this world out there that needed to wrestle with these questions and get honest with themselves [about] them," he said, according to Youth Specialties, which supports Christian youth workers across various denominations.

With an educational background in performing arts and philosophy of religion, Fincher travels with his wife Jonalyn Grace, speaking to thousands of students and youth workers using narrative apologetics, or what they call "giving sturdy answers for better souls."

Over 15 years into story telling and addressing common arguments in the church, Fincher doesn't believe Christians are living in as much of a postmodern culture as many say they do, at least not among their students.

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"I find that students really want to know what the truth is," he said, arguing against many baby boomer authors who say the truth is dead and that it's all relative in this culture. "They're just confused about what truth is and I think if we clarify some of that confusion, they're a little more ready to accept it and go into it.

"What I think our kids are allergic to right now is some sort of dogmatism by just saying something is true because we said it's true, or that's the way we've always done it," Fincher noted.

Christian apologist Anthony Horvath and his brother Brian have started a new movement to fill in the gap that churches often leave when educating students on even basic Christian teachings and reasons for believing Christianity to be true. The brothers began a T-shirt line called Apologia315 to help students preserve and defend their own faith while also witnessing to others. T-shirts read "Did Jesus rise from the dead?" and "Why does God allow suffering?"

"While we hope that these T-shirts are a good first step, they'll work best when integrated into a church's whole educational program where Christian apologetics already is a critical component in the curriculum," said Brian Horvath in a statement. "Unfortunately, not enough churches have such a program."

But there aren't really any five-minute answers to the questions seekers and Christians have, Fincher indicated.

"It's just hard work," he said, describing the research an individual needs to do to get find answers.

Although Fincher’s new book gives students some answers to the difficult questions and youth workers tips on how to address the student who's asking, they're all just "breadcrumbs of truth" along the way of an individual trying to piece together an answer satisfying to their own soul.

"Don't put on the attitude that we know all the answers because we don't," said Fincher, addressing youth workers. "At the same time, [encourage] students that this is part of the journey of life and we're trying to get to the point where we're satisfied with an answer" and not to the answer that nobody can disprove.

Fincher reminds youth workers that all the burden isn't on them when it comes to answering the difficult questions. "Of course, kids are responsible too and I believe they can handle it."

 

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