Defending The Hope That Is In Us: Apologetics For The 21st Century -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 04:2 (Jun 2004)
Article: Defending The Hope That Is In Us: Apologetics For The 21st Century
Author: John Warwick Montgomery

Defending The Hope That Is In Us: Apologetics For The 21st Century

John Warwick Montgomery

An invitational lecture at the Hope for Europe conference of the Evangelical Alliance, held in Budapest, Hungary, 27 April-1 May 2002. John Warwick Montgomery, Ph.D. (Chicago), D.Théol. (Strasbourg) is Distinguished Professor of Law and Theology and Vice-President for Academic Affairs—U.K. and Europe, Trinity College and Theological Seminary (Indiana, U.S.A.); Emeritus Professor of Law and Humanities, University of Luton (England); Barrister-at-Law, England and Wales; and Member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

I. Where We Are & Why This Is Important

Christian believers concerned with defending the Faith once delivered to the saints need to recognise the unique cultural situation in which we find ourselves at the turn of the new millennium. This uniqueness stems from a combination of factors, by no means limited to increased secularism and secular self-satisfaction. The major factors are: (1) An enlargement of what Canadian sociologist Marshall McLuhan termed “the Global Village”: the exponential increase in world communications, resulting in continual, unavoidable contact between believers and unbelievers. (2) Pluralism, to an extent unknown in past ages, even during the Hellenistic period; its consequence being a multiplying of sects, religious and philosophical viewpoints, and the interpenetration of worldviews (e.g., Eastern religions transmogrified into Western “New Age” orientations). (3) Increased sophistication on the part of religionists. Examples, among many, include Scientology’s use of legal intimidation to stifle criticism of the movement, paralleling the employment of legal teams by multinational corporations to protect their public image;1 also, al-Qaeda’s use of highly sophisticated computer technology to further their integrist and terrorist agendas.2 (4) A growing realisation, stemming in large part from the events of 11 September 2001, that all religions are not in fact “saying the same thing”—in spite of what we were told by generations of liberal clergy and comparative religion teachers.

Why are these considerations so important? Recognition of the current situation is vital because only by knowing it, will we direct our Apologetic to the real needs of the unbeliever. The bedrock principle here is:

[1] Apologetics ≠ Dogmatics.

By this we mean that, whereas Dogmatics begins with God’s special revelation of himself in Holy Scripture and expounds its content, Apologetics begins where the unbeliever is: “becoming all things to all people, that we might save some”...

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