Use And Abuse Of Apologetics -- By: Abraham Kuyper

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 065:258 (Apr 1908)
Article: Use And Abuse Of Apologetics
Author: Abraham Kuyper


Use And Abuse Of Apologetics1

Abraham Kuyper

The Hague

I never placed apologetics in the foreground. The best generals always taught that in a severe war one perishes as soon as he stands on the defensive alone. He can expect success only when he boldly ventures to attack the enemy.

When in 1868, coming from my quiet village of Guelder,

I became, in Utrecht, acquainted for the first time with our

most prominent apologists, the beliefs which they held and the positions which they were maintaining did not at all realize my expectations. There was nothing in their beliefs to inspire courage or to arouse hope of victory or any desire for aggressive action, but rather to create anxiety lest we lose here an outwork and there a trench, and hence a desire to retreat to the middle of the fortification in order not to be threatened with complete defeat.

This vexed and troubled me so that I did not feel the least inclination to devote my youthful strength to the service of such a kind of warfare. By such endless apologetic and such constant attitude of defense the assailants were permitted to determine the entire plan of battle and to fix upon the vulnerable points of attack, and the apologists were compelled to follow. The apologists had no strategic scheme at all. They always were obliged to take the worst positions which their antagonists had selected for them. The result was, of course, that they lost ground at every move and abandoned what in the beginning they had endeavored to defend. Gradually the ground to defend became smaller and the phalanxes of the besiegers became more solid and bold. A great part of all that was sacred to believers was in that way always made to hang upon a thorny dispute over a single verse. When a certain book appeared it seemed that in answering it they had at least put in security this or that sacred fact; but when after three months another had appeared which overturned the erected timber work, our apologists were perplexed.

When Easter was coming on in 1870 one was doubtful whether Jesus really had risen or still remained in his grave. It was all uncertain. And the worst of it was that our believing apologists would not say this to everybody. They tried to arrange that no one should observe it, and were fearful lest the congregations should be conscious of the perplexity. Instead of deriving courage, strength, and animation from the faith of the church, the apologists day by day became accustomed to the experience of cherishing similtaneously two divergent beliefs, the one to be put before the

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