How Knowing Apologetics Can Reduce Argumentativeness

Apologetics is about being argumentative, right? That’s the reputation. The reality can and should be very different. Jonathan McLatchie demonstrates the real effect of knowing apologetics in this 10 minute video exchange with atheistDouglas Letkeman.

Watch and observe:

Watch how easily he answers. He doesn’t say more than necessary, because this is an artificial “intervention” Douglas is performing with him, called “Street Epistemology.” (He calls it SE in the first moments of the clip.)

Watch also how little confrontation there is here. Practitioners of SE are taught to avoid confrontation; it’s part of the technique. Jonathan gives short answers and offers longer ones (“I can give you examples,” he says), calmly, relationally.

Note that Douglas doesn’t take him up on that offer. He’s not interested in finding out what Jonathan is talking about, on undesigned coincidences, for example. Rather, he’s practicing SE, a technique first introduced by Peter Boghossian in his Manual for Creating Atheists, which has no other purpose but to talk believers down in their confidence in their faith.

Jonathan doesn’t get flustered by this intervention. He stays calm, and remains relationally involved, never argumentative. He can do this because he knows what he’s talking about.

I’ve said the same thing about discussions on sexuality. Confident knowledge supports calm conversation. It’s when you’re unsure of yourself that nervousness kicks in, and the temperature of the discussion starts to rise.

Can apologetics be argumentative? Sure. Then it’s a character issue. Solid knowledge actually helps, however, leading to calm, caring connections over crucial questions.

Comments

  1. Robt Ball

    there are many scholars who do not hold to the doctrine of eternal torment and would argue that we are saved to something (a life and an afterlife with God), not just saved from something.

  2. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Adam Hamilton totally skipped any discussion of Jesus as judge — which is part of the Creed. So even if he holds to your view, and even if his view is right, then he’s still done something strange.

    And I think the scholars you mention are wrong, by the way.

  3. Timothy Crockett

    Hmm his closing discussion on hell was interesting. The Old Testament did address hell in Luke 16 there was the narrative of Rich man and Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom.The question is though, is HELL the ONLY reason for Christianity? I was thinking more along the lines of God’s holiness demands justice in order to go to heaven. Also there are some eschatological considerations. Great video enjoyed it.

  4. Phil Weingart

    That interview was driving me nuts. I had to turn it off.

    I’ll speak for myself: the veracity of the witnesses is only the secondary reason that I believe the gospel accounts. The basis for my credence in those things is that God is real. I speak to Him all the time; He answers me in clearly recognizable form somewhat less often but often enough that I am certain that He’s there. He helps me interpret the scriptures and He clearly approves of the scriptures. He seems to like the name “Jesus” very much. He does things like the New Testament God does. He cares about the things that the New Testament God cares about. He’s the same God. So I have confidence that the events in the New Testament are real events.

    No, people from other religions do not report similar sorts of experiences. That’s nonsense that some atheist made up for a tu quoque fallacy.

    I could no more doubt the existence of God than I could doubt the existence of my mother (who is even less available to me, since she died way back in 1988).

    The evidence for the veracity of the gospels is sound when compared to the evidence for other matters in history. It becomes immensely more believable when the God that they experienced then appears now, in the 21st century, in more or less the same fashion that He did then in the gospel accounts and the 1st century Church.

    I know modern apologists often claim that “I met Him” is not a good reason to follow God. In my opinion they’re not just wrong, they’re grievously, head-smackingly, mind-numbingly, face-palmingly wrong. I have no objection to apologetics in general, but if I read Jesus’ words correctly, we’re supposed to be WITNESSES first and foremost. We’re suppose to report what we’ve seen and heard. In my experience, that cannot be refuted.

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