Nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate.
I have to agree with C.S. Lewis here. I still collect apologetics books with the hope that someone will have some original material. Or maybe someone will explain a common Christian-ism (“People send themselves to hell”) in a way that makes a bit more sense. But what happens when those explanations still fail to satisfy? I also have to agree with my friend Neil, who claims apologetics are not for the lost, but for the saved. If you are already convinced of Christianity’s basic doctrines – belief in God, belief in sin, belief in Jesus’ resurrection – then apologetic explanations are a lot easier to accept. You’re not as inclined to notice logical fallacies around the edges.
In church recently, a man shared his testimony and offered his reasons for belief. In a nutshell, it boiled down to Pascal’s wager: it’s better to believe and be wrong, because nothing will happen to you after you die, as opposed to not believing, and ending up in hell. For those who already believe, this makes perfect sense. Then you have people like me with the following objections: 1) Can’t this wager be used to justify belief in any religion? And 2) Is fear of being wrong really a good reason to become – or remain – a Christian? Doesn’t sound like a relationship of love to me.
When you’ve been searching and searching for years and the answers still don’t make sense, maybe it’s time to drop the questions and focus on what does make sense: redemption. Radical compassion. Humble servitude. The faith I am fighting to reclaim was something truly beautiful. I’m afraid that if I dwell too much on making sense of hell, original sin, and other less-than-pleasant teachings, I’ll lose my faith altogether. I don’t want that.
So as much as I’d love some answers, what I’m happy settling for right now is a community of like-minded believers who share the same struggles, and use their stories to encourage one another. I want to meet more people who feel like walking contradictions; who are constantly told they can’t be both Christian and [blank].
I no longer feel a need to defend my faith. My experiences are my own, and unlike apologetic arguments cannot easily be refuted.