The First Days of Jesus by Andreas Köstenberger and Alexander Stewart, Free for CAPC Members
Readers are able to experience the supposedly familiar early chapters of Matthew, Luke, and John with new eyes.
What does it mean to engage in apologetics? Strictly speaking it is a defense of our Christian faith, but occasionally in giving such a defense we might challenge other belief systems. We might question their internal logic, external support, or beauty. We might even venture to examine the kind of cultural practices and politics that other belief systems produce. Answering Muslims, a fairly popular Christian apologetics website, uses this latter method. On their “Islamoblog” they post articles which offer evidence of the violent nature of Islam and its threat to the American Constitution. While it certainly can be appropriate to use examples of abuses done in the name of a belief system to challenge that system, if a Christian apologetic is primarily devoted to defending the American Constitution, it is worth asking: what country or ruler does the apologetic defend, Christ or the United States?
The recent blog posts on Answering Muslims offers a good overview of their priorities:
“Tampa police covering up honor killing?”
“Dearborn Arrests: Unedited Video Footage”
“Netanyahu, Peace, and Middle Eastern Reality”
“Sharia in American Courts? Say it ain’t so!”
What unites all of these posts is an inductive argument that Islam is fundamentally violent and a political threat to our country (for example: this video on “Shariamerica,” which offers a good example of the site’s rhetoric). The posts commonly criticize the way our government and the media treats Islam with political correctness. They also passionately take the position that Sharia law has already begun to usurp the Constitution.
Although I find their inductive argument that Islam is inherently violent and their claim that Sharia law has been implemented in US courts unconvincing, my concern is really that these arguments are more focused on defending the sanctity and security of our nation than in offering an account of the beauty of the Gospel. Whether the authors of the site intend it or not, by offering an apologetic that primarily entails the narrative of a people invading our country, infringing upon our constitutional rights, and instigating acts of violence, they give the impression that what is really at stake is the safety of our nation and our individual rights, rather than the relationship between these Muslims and God and all that that entails.
This misplaced emphasis in Christian apologetics upon the way other worldviews negatively affect our nation has many other manifestations: the evolution debates, fear of communism, concern for the moral purity of our country, etc. I’m not saying that it’s never worth while to debate evolution, criticize communism, stand for righteousness, or defend the Constitution from Islamic abuses in the name of political correctness, but I do think that we must be careful in how we describe our discourse when we do participate in such discussions. Are we really doing the work of apologetics? What is truly at stake? Our country, our American way of life, or the standing of others before God?
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