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By Gary Ridley Sr. On November 17, I have a couple of shelves full of books on apologetics in my library. Some are very philosophical and technical — the kind you need a dictionary handy in order to understand. Some are like cookbooks that give recipes for every question you might encounter in defending Christian faith. A good friend recommended David K. It has been around a while but I was not aware of it.
Dialogue is often seen as antithetical to proclamation and defense of Christianity. The author makes a case that dialogue does not require neutrality or a commitment to pluralism. He writes:. Dialogue as I use it means something like this: apologists and dialogue partners, whether individuals or groups, come together as equals. They honestly admit their differences in world view and culture. But they display a serious desire to sharpen and broaden their understandings.
They agree, at least tacitly, to listen carefully and sympathetically to each other, to explore the ground, structure, and rationale of various views, to sift what is culturally relative from what is universally applicable, and to look for what deserves the acceptance of all. Two paragraphs in the introduction set the trajectory of the book:.
Since this includes the mind, faith is consistent with reason chap. Significant developments in philosophy are reaffirming the rational viability of Christian thinking chap. Important results from philosophy of science are breaking down the barriers between science and other kinds of thought. Science does not preclude theology chap. Apologists can use a flexible yet rational epistemology that claims neither too much nor too little chap. Other religions do not rule out a Christian defense, for genuine dialogue with other persons is possible and rewarding chap.
If these intellectual movements clear the path for apologetics, then how should dialogical apologetics proceed? Apologists must assess dialogues as to their conceptual structure. Logic, although it will challenge many readers, is profitable chap. Attitudes play a key role in apologetics. All conversations are saturated with racial, social, and cultural dimensions. These must not be ignored chap. Persuasion is not mere salesmanship, but a strategy for presenting legitimate reasons for faith when they are most likely to be heard chap.
Each chapter concludes with a helpful summary of the key concepts covered. The chapters in Part 2 also include a sample dialogue illustrating the strategy presented. The theoretical section may stretch some , but is within reach of anyone with at least some college education. Logic is often disparaged by cross-cultural workers but Clark points out that one cannot use any language without using logic. The goal of dialogical apologetics is:. I should not evaluate the success of dialogue only by whether my partner agrees in the end.
Of course, I hope the other is convinced of Christian truth. But if, in addition to making the case, I understand his views better, develop a relationship with him, or grow intellectually or personally, then I have succeeded. This distinction is important to keep in mind when we do ethnographic study. Cultural sensitivity does involve generalization, but not to the exclusion of getting to know the individual.
Clark explains:. While he [the apologist] must categorize people in groups, he must also search out the features that distinguish individuals from the category. I gain knowledge by asking honest questions, signaling openness and safety verbally and nonverbally , and listening carefully. I must also assume that any question the other asks is a request for information, not an implicit criticism. An apologist should make asking questions acceptable, not taboo. Clark writes:. He will seek to grow in grace, to develop godly character that consistently expresses itself in the details of life.
He will continue to grow as a person who is consistent, sacrificial, mature, completely honest, and genuinely caring. It provides a model for authentic dialogue that is compatible with the defense and proclamation of the gospel.
If you have not read anything on apologetics lately, I highly recommend it. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. He writes: Dialogue as I use it means something like this: apologists and dialogue partners, whether individuals or groups, come together as equals. Two paragraphs in the introduction set the trajectory of the book: …here is what each chapter argues: Faith as personal trust is an act of the whole person.
The goal of dialogical apologetics is: … to present the best case I can for the truth as I see it for the benefit of others. Clark explains: While he [the apologist] must categorize people in groups, he must also search out the features that distinguish individuals from the category. Clark writes: … every apologist will seek not only a clearer conceptual grasp of Christian ideas and arguments, but also a richer personal experience of the Savior those ideas point to.
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Dialogical Apologetics: A Person Centered Approach To Christian Defense
We need to besensitivetothepersonal,racial,social,philosophical,culturalandfeltneedsofthepeoplewithwhomweshareChrist. Does Christian witness mean being prepared to contend intellectually with competing philosopies? Or should witness address the felt needs of the person with whom Christ is shared? Both the worldview and the inner needs of the unbeliever are important, writes David K. Clark, as he considers how Christians can earn a hearing and use opportunites effectively.
Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. By David K. Grand Rapids: Baker, , pp. Anyone who desires to do apologetics one-on-one will find much help in this book.
Dialogical Apologetics: A Person-Centered Approach to Christian Defense
Clark is a unique and helpful book dealing with the practical application of apologetics. The goal: developing an approach to apologetics that focuses on dialogue, sensitivity, and personal persuasion. What is dialogical apologetics? The author spends a good deal of time defining and unpacking the concept.
Dialogical Apologetics : A Person-Centered Approach to Christian Defense