Love and apologetics

A few days ago I retweeted this:

For my friends who are involved in Christian apologetics, I would rephrase this to say that “if your apologetic doesn’t make you love people more, it’s wrong.”

Gagged ManThere are two reasons that I say this. The first reason is that love of neighbor is the second great command (Matt. 22:39) and our defense of the faith must be done in a way that fulfills this command.

The second reason can be found in the familiar verse, 1 Peter 3:15. At the end of that verse, Peter encourages us to give our defense with gentleness and respect. The word translated respect is phobos, which has the literal meaning of fear. Perhaps the idea is that we should have some fear of giving an offense. In other words, the message might be offensive, but the messenger should never be.

Most of the apologists I know (and read) seek to do their apologetics in a loving way, being courteous with those who disagree . There are a few who are rather brash and belittle the arguments of those who they oppose.

But all of us, through impatience or pride, sometimes fall short of the command to love the one with whom we disagree. If love of God and love of neighbor is not our motivation for engaging in the discussion, then we are better off remaining silent.