Puddleglum Apologetics: Spiritual Discipline to Steady a Chap

grim-reaper-656083_1280To Resolve or Not to Resolve?
The New Year has chimed across the Globe, and, somewhat reluctantly, I’ll hop on the Resolution wagon, after all, and set some apologetics ministry goals.

Discouraging Reality
I’ll resist the strong urge to nap on the couch instead. A real temptation, because all those goal-setting questions and motivational memes are a bit exhausting and, between you and me, a long look back down the road of my apologetics journey reminds me that, in the words of CS Lewis’ melancholy Marsh-wiggles, “life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie.

Apologetics: just the thing to Ground you in Reality
To paraphrase mangle the words of the most famous marsh-wiggle of all, the cheerfully pessimistic Puddleglum, “Now a job like this – a journey across the landscape of unbelief, looking for a converts who probably don’t care, by way of arguments that have been ignored for eons – will be just the thing. If that doesn’t steady a chap, I don’t know what will.

The Apologist’s Irrevocable Call
Of course, it’s more than that. The siren call to apologetics ministry is more than a glum trudge across Christendom with the side-effect of personal spiritual and character growth. It’s not just a way to feed my mind and quiet my own soul. It’s more, even, than the deep adventure of diving into the great truths of God and pushing on the edges of wonder and eternity. The call to engage in aplogetics sounds in my soul –  because Goliath is out there, defying the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Also, lost sheep are out there and the Shepherd teaches that even one of the 99 is worth the cost of rescue. William Lane Craig has argued that, although the number of people predisposed to come to Christ through apologetic arguments is tiny, they are the kind of people who have a disproportionate influence on others once they do. He also explains that “it is the broader task of Christian apologetics to help create and sustain a cultural milieu in which the Gospel can be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women.” It matters that we hold the line.

And so, my modest resolutions for 2016:

Resolved #1: Mobilize
To set out once more to discover ways to mobilize the 99% in the Church who aren’t using the hard-won apologetics resources available to them. (Hebrews 10:24)

Resolved #2: Be a Voice, however Small
To add my own voice to the growing chorus of those broadcasting the truth in a post-Christian culture permeated by the leaven of secularism. (John 1:23; Ephesians 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:2)

Resolved #3: Refresh and Succor 
To encourage, support, and refresh the dedicated band of apologists who defend and proclaim truth, each in their own spheres of influence. (1 Corinthians 16:18; Philemon 1:7).

pray silhoette sitA Prayer Before Setting Out

Father, I pray for my brother and sister apologists. I pray that you would prosper their ministries, provide for them, and help them to find their delight in you. Fill their hearts with the deep, glorious truths about yourself and the world that you have made.  You have invited us to ask and have promised to give generously the pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable wisdom from above, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy. Precious Heavenly Father, flood our minds and hearts with this wisdom!

Kindle in all of us a passion for your Word and compassion for people who are living in darkness. I pray that you would give us uncommon discernment and courage for these times. Help us to redeem the time, for the night is coming when no man can work. Remind us to be sober and vigilant, to not be taken in by the wiles of the devil or led astray by the sin that so easily entangles. Help us to make guarding our hearts a priority. We pray as your Son taught us: Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil. Help us to persevere and to grow in grace as we contend for the faith once delivered to us. 

Finally, we pray that you would give us effective strategies and establish the work of our hands so that we can accomplish your purposes in our generation.

In Jesus’ strong and precious name,