“Jesus is the answer” was a popular Christian poster back in the late 20th century. “But what was the question?” was an equally popular graffiti response. Now as it happens, I believe firmly that Jesus is indeed the answer to the questions people have and to the root problem behind every problem this world faces.
However, so often, we fail ta ask the questions that people are asking. Just as too often, our attempts to be relevant in worship to contemporary culture mean that we sing songs written and chosen by men in my age group, so, we tend to give attention to answering the apologetics questions that people are not really asking. Now, partly this is shaped by those engaging in apologetics cutting their teeth on University campuses but even then I’m not convinced that the big questions we are asking are the ones that most students are bothered by.
I think another factor is that we engage with apologetics matters primarily through the books we read. People who engage in apologetics tend to be people who read books and blogs. We also look at what the best sellers are. The reality is that in a world where people read less and less, it doesn’t take much to have a best seller. If you don’t believe me, have a look at what is in the non-fiction chart at the moment and knock on a few neighbours’ doors to see how many people can name them.
The situation gets worse when we move off campus. For most of the past 20 years, we have assumed that non-Christians are concerned about whether or not we can refute Richard Dawkins, now the obsession tends to be with Jordan Peterson Unfortunately most people simply have not heard of Jordan Peterson, less still have read him and an even smaller proportion will be bothered about what he has to say.
Apologetics is about giving a reason for the hope we have. There are lots of genuine reasons why people are looking for hope and not finding it in the world around them. Let’s engage with what people really are asking.