The Changing Face of Apologetics: I Agree with Lee Strobel

Well, it looks like I agree with Christian apologist Lee Strobel. If he's right then I got it right in my book. In an interview for the evangelical magazine Christianity Today, he was asked this question: How have evangelism and apologetics changed? Here is his answer:
They have become more relational, more story-driven. Josh McDowell would go on college campuses and describe why to trust the Bible. And people would come to faith in droves. Then they stopped coming to faith in so many numbers, and he didn't know why. And now he takes a story approach. "You know," he says, "I was the son of the town drunk. This is how it affected my life and my relationship with [my dad]. This is what prompted me to seek spiritually. This is the evidence I found. This is how my life was changed. This is how I reconciled with my father." So it becomes a story.

That's what my ministry is about. I tell my story: I was an atheist. I scoffed. My wife became a Christian. It prompted me to investigate. Here's the evidence I found, how I received Christ, the difference it's made. It's a story. And I found that in postmodern America, people often are willing to engage on the level of story.

If he's right then deconversion (deprogramming) stories are useful in counter-apologetics too. In my book I tell my story. I tell how I came to faith, what experiences I had in the church, what experiences led me away from that faith, and why I personally decided there was no God. It's a complete story about my past Christian life, some parts of which are ugly. I also produce what some people describe as a massive refutation of Christianity in it, but it contains a story, my story.


Kel said...

That makes sense, storytelling seems to be central to the human experience so why wouldn't it be an effective means of proselytising?

UnBeguiled said...

I found this deconversion story on youtube. I thought it was fascinating:

edson said...

Of course Faith process is a personal story. Some people came to faith because their lives were miserable and were only radically transformed when they say that Jesus came into their hearts. However, when one gets into faith this way but convert out for some reasons like the lack of perfect loving christian community, hell doctrine, biblical inerrancy, etc, - one is left to ponder: were these people really touched or their process of faith was purely an emotional one?

DenCol said...

Excellent point and a crucial question, edson!

smalltalk said...

Stories are very important in relaying viewpoints and information. It does a couple things...

1. provides a way for the listener to relate. When listening to stories people tend to inject themselves into the story.

2. hides and diminishes supporting or non supporting facts. It takes mental dedication and purposeful cognitive effort to analyze a story.

This is further hidden by different translations of the story. Take for example Zechariah 14:2. Its a prophetical story, on initial glance it doesn't appear bad, however in depth analysis shows that it promotes rape. Some translation versions use the word rape, others use ravish. But it takes analysis of the context to realize its defilement of women.

DenCol said...

Hi UnBeguiled,

I just listened to all 8 parts of that de-conversion story. It was a very sad testimony of the incredible garbage in the church world today. I agree with almost everything he said about churches and their ministries. The church today is an absolute joke and a waste of time. Worst than a waste!

In the end, he admits that he never saw any real miracles, healings, etc. So then he does not consider his initial conversion as a miracle event. I could NEVER say that my conversion was anything less than a miracle, and I have definitly been healed instantly and miraculously touched by God.

His beef is mainly with the church and the Bible. He could not handle the enormous amount of filthy bathwater and could no longer even find the baby! He was "Crucified by Christians" (the name of an excellent book). I understand his disallusion with "Christianity" (really churchianity). I am a church atheist - I no longer believe in any "church". They all suck!

feeno said...


Easy big guy, I was right there with you unto the very end when you say "all churches suck". Many Christians feel as bad as you do when we turn people off of God.(Do you really think you're the only one who cares)? But the church ain't perfect 'cause we ain't perfect. And you are part of "we".

I don't like airing our dirty laundry out here, but since you still haven't gotten a blog like Mr. Loftus has suggested you left me no choice.

I like you and am rooting for you even tho doctrinally we are polar opposites, but you can't say my church sucks until you've gone there at least once.

Before you Atheists go get all "holier than thou" on us because you've got the Christians fighting with one another, remember me and DenCol aren't fighting. OK DenCol say something nice to me.

Peace out, feeno

Jim said...

Lee Strobel admits he "investigated" Christianity because his wife converted. I long suspected his "conversion" was probably because of a girlfriend/wife.

My good friend became ultra Christian because his girlfriend was. My brothers best friend (a Christian) converted to Islam because he wanted to marry a Muslim girl.

Too many guys get into religion because of women.

Her: "Ummm . . . I want you to go to church with me"

Puppydog: "Sure, whatever you want, dear"

It's really sad . . . I even thought it would help once upon a time. Now I realize how pathetic that was.

DenCol said...

Hi feeno,

Let me clarify. The is only one church. There in no your church or my church. As soon as we put up a building and put a name on it, we have already separated ourselves into another "my church".

In the Bible, there is no Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, etc. The is no Willow Creek, Calvary Chapel, or Vineyard. There were no denominational, non denominational, independant, charismatic, Calvinist, Arminian, Weslyian, or any other types or doctrinal distinctions. There was just "the church" the body of Christ - period.

There were no buildings, no senior pastor, associate pastor, youth pator, head elder, church boards, committees, youth groups, singles groups, worship teams, choirs, Sunday school, ushers, greeters, pulpit, altar, altar call, tithing, baby dedications, etc etc etc etc. All man made nonsense.

Who was the pastor at the church at Corinth? Rome? Galatia? Ephesus? Not one mention any pastor running the show? Todays one man or 2 man pastoral ministry is totally unbiblical. More man made bologna. The pastor(s) do not run the church and do all the teaching! Anyone can teach if so lead by the Holy Spirit.

Anyone can sing a song, lead a prayer, share a testimony WHENEVER they want to ans without being asked or waiting for the "right"time.

If I come to your church next Sunday, can I teach? Or do I need the pastor's permission and sanction? I have much, much, more that is unbiblical about today's church assemblies. Do I need to go on?

feeno said...

Your great, but you should really start a blog.
Dueces, feeno

Sabio Lantz said...

John, stories are fantastic. I just started your book. The first part is your elaborate history -- but it makes you real. Well told so far. I am looking forward to learning.

BTW, for transparency sake, you did not mention or I missed:
1) Why you dropped out of the PhD (as if you needed more !)
2) How you have made a living the last 10 years or so.

Keep the posts coming !

John W. Loftus said...

Sabio Lantz, thanks for your encouragement.

I dropped out of school because the Catholic funding dried up for many of us Protestants that year and for my general lack of encouragment at getting a teaching position. Lot's more to tell. But I didn't like the school since it was Catholic and liberal.

I have been doing all sorts of things to make a living. Right now I own a business but it's failing in this economy.

Let me know as you read further what you think of my book.