God’s Not Nervous, Either
As we live the hope of the gospel, we are reminded by Peter in 1 Peter 3.15, to be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have. One of my favorite books on “apologetics” is Dallas Willard’s book, “The Allure of Gentleness”
Here is an encouraging excerpt:
The Christian attitude in apologetic work consists in three things. The first is to have confidence in God and his truth. We’re not nervous, and God’s not nervous either. You can ask him any question. The only thing that’s required with God is that we be honest. You can’t fool him anyway. I’ve heard people say that you should never ask God for the same thing twice, because that proves that you didn’t believe in him the first time—as if he didn’t know until you asked him the second time! You need to have confidence in God. He is firmly on his throne, and Satan can’t do anything about it. Nobody can.
Second, we are to be humble, generous, and open toward other people. If someone has a position to spell out, we listen to it. There’s a wonderful passage in which Charles Finney, in his Revival Lectures, says:
I have heard a great deal of preaching against Universalists, that did more hurt than good, because the preachers didn’t understand how Universalists of the present day reason. . . . When ministers undertake to oppose a present heresy, they ought to know what it is at present. . . . It is of no use to misrepresent a man’s doctrines to his face, and then try to reason him out of them. . . . He will say: “That man cannot argue with me on fair grounds; he has to misrepresent our doctrines in order to confute me.” Great hurt is done in this way. Ministers do not intend to misrepresent their opponents; but the effect of it is, that the poor miserable creatures who hold these errors go to hell because ministers do not take care to inform themselves what are their real errors. . . . I mention these cases to show how much wisdom a minister must have to meet the cases that occur.
But that’s exactly what goes on. We are to be generous, we’re to be open, and we are here to learn together. We haven’t learned everything yet—we’re here to learn and for that we need humility. And, third, we are to have a true desire to lovingly serve. We all want to serve. Remember that Christianity is the only religion based on love. What other religion has a John 3:16? So apologetics is really about helping people.
From The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus. Copyright © 2015 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.