Challenges presented to me from Cultural Apologetics?
There were not so many challenges to my approach of apologetics, just some interesting points that have made me change up my approach to apologetics. Not everyone’s starting points contain philosophical objections and historical objections to Christianity. Paul was a cultural apologist since he dwelt with the Jews and the Greeks on Mars hill from their starting points and not a particular apologetic method. Paul meets them at their starting points without compromising the Gospel. Many people’s rejections or objections to Christianity are not always in the epistemological realm. Rather, they have to do with culture and how some Christians have painted a hostile approach to modern day culture. “Christians tend to give Jesus moral and spiritual authority in their lives, but when it comes to gaining other kinds of knowledge, Christians tend to follow the rest of the culture looking to scientists or Hollywood instead (33).”
An example of this would be how some Christians condemn secular music because it is not Christ centered. What history shows is that the arts, like music, is due to many Christians during the Renaissance. The Christians who condemn secular music attack the music for its genre rather than its content. Someone’s starting point may come from a musical background, and so illuminating for them the ideas of Christians during the Renaissance and the Medieval church music presents the idea of the beatific vision. The beatific vision is a representation of stain glass photos and music to present the presence of God or for the non-believer a moment of transcendence.
The duty of the cultural apologist is to show the desirability of Christianity from a musical starting point or any starting point for that matter. The task can become difficult to not give up essentials of Christianity because someone’s rejection might be an essential to Christianity. A challenge for me is meeting some from cultural starting points because I’m not well equipped in culture. It’s also difficult to deal with objections to core points because the task of showing desirability is next to impossible until you get them to accept the core claims of Christianity they reject. Cultural Apologetics also emphasizes on the point that apologetics must be done biblically, with Gentleness and Respect (1 Peter 3:15). As a fallen person, this is a very difficult thing to do when someone comes from a hostile methodology in expressing their objections and rejections to Christianity. This is the task of Cultural Apologetics, to present the desirability and truthfulness of Christianity to each person’s starting point in a gentle and respectful manner, even if they come from a hostile attitude.
Most compelling points from the Cultural Apologetics?
“As John reports, ‘Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him’ (John 12:37) (40).” Gould points out here the Jews starting points were not looking for miracles. One could argue that the Pharisees were very egoistic in their practices of the Scriptures and wanted to be praised instead of being belittled and humbled like the tax collector. The point being, the starting point of miracles is not for everyone, but is still for some. Even pointing to the case for the resurrection will not convince everyone even if they see it as true. They have a starting point that is a barrier to them from believing in Christ.
A fairly interesting point Gould makes on the next page describes the necessity of the Gospel and how it’s related to everyone. “In the Bible we find not only the greatest story ever told but the greatest possible story ever told (41).” The idea of the God who is the greatest conceivable being, wanting to redeem those who need to be saved and are broken, dies the worse death in human history, and allows for atonement to everyone, is the greatest possible story to conceive. This is relatable to anyone who goes through pain (which is everyone), because they can relate to Christ since he went through the worst pain when he didn’t deserve it. This is a message that relates to all and everyone’s starting points can implement the Gospel when you approached it in the right cultural apologetical manner.
“The materialism, reductionism, scientism, naturalism, Darwinism, and nihilism of our day find their roots in the changing philosophical and cultural scene of the late medieval and early modern period (51).” All these worldviews are emphasized in our culture and pollute the minds of young thinkers and produces harmful starting points for the cultural apologist to approach. Cultural apologetics does not neglect refutations to these worldviews, but rather offers a gentle and respectful argument against these worldviews which show the desirability of Christianity. A positive case for Christianity from a cultural apologetic approach shows the desirability of the Gospel over these cultural worldviews.
Points of Curiosity; new changes to my apologetics method and an example of a cultural apologetic approach:
I use to consider myself just a cumulative case apologist, but this book has changed my perspective to endorse a combination of both cumulative case apologetics and cultural apologetics as my new methodology. Cumulative case apologetic says that there are multiple pieces of evidence for Christianity that makes an overall case for its truthfulness. By adding a cultural approach, we add the approach that we draw a specific piece of evidence for Christianity relating to someone’s starting point. Using that piece of evidence (cultural, historical, scientific or philosophical), you show the truthfulness and desirability to that person’s starting point.
Argument from Desire:
1. Out natural desires have a corresponding object that satisfies them.
2. There exists in us a natural desire, the desire for transcendence, that nothing in the material cosmos can satisfy.
3. There exists some object beyond the material cosmos that can satisfy this desire.
4. The Transcendent object of our longing is God.
5. God exists.
A new argument for God’s existence to me is played out from pages 75- 79 of the text. It has four premises and a conclusion that use desires of the transcendent and roots those desires in God. Premise one is defended by pointing out natural desires for hunger and thirst which is point made by C. S. Lewis when he defended this argument. We have a natural yearning for something higher than the physical things we see around as that is transcendental in nature like the good, the beauty, and the truth. The conclusion ultimately grounds God for the reason why we have these transcendental experiences and desires.
Of course, this does not get you Christianity. From a cultural apologist approach, we can argue that Christianity through general revelation best satisfies as the explanation for these desires. If someone’s starting point are these desires, then the cultural apologist can use this piece of evidence to lead towards Christianity to get the conversation started. The argument from desire is one piece of evidence among many that makes the case for Christianity. This is just one example among many that make the case for Christianity and for showing the desirability of the Gospel to anyone. Cultural Apologetics is a book that every apologist and Christian needs to read up there with books like Reasonable Faith and Evidence That Demands a Verdict.
Cultural Apologetics by Paul Gould: https://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Apologetics-Conscience ImaginationDisenchanted/dp/0310530490/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr