Q & R: On apologetics

Here’s the Q:

I am in the middle of your book New Kind of Christianity, and am really
excited about many of your ideas. One question I have that has been
nagging at the back of my mind as I read your stuff, comes back to
apologetics. Do you have any thoughts on what a new apologetic might look
like? It seems to me that winning arguments is no longer the goal; that
instead we are seeking to engage in conversations (as you point out quite
helpfully). I have found myself at a crossroads lately because my two
favorite courses of study are Jesus and apologetics. But am I right in
thinking that these two ideas are somewhat opposed to one another? Or am I
missing something? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Reply after the jump.

R: Thanks for this good question. Like you, I’m deeply committed to understanding Jesus and apologetics. But I think your instincts are right – apologetics will be very different going forward, less arguments and more conversations, exactly as you say. I actually wrote a short book on this subject. It’s called More Ready Than You Realize. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Speaking of hope – that’s another key shift. If you recall 1 Peter 3, where Peter uses the term we translate “apologetics,” he’s challenging us not to give “reasons for the beliefs that we hold,” but rather “reasons for the hope that we have.” Obviously, beliefs and hope are interwoven, but hope, it seems to me, is the focus. It’s a wonderful spiritual exercise to trace the word “hope” through the New Testament … I highly recommend it.
Here, for a sample, are some of the first 20 or so references …
Matthew 12:21
In his name the nations will put their hope.”
Acts 2:26
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope,
Acts 8:22
Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.
Acts 23:6
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”
Acts 24:15
and I have the same hope in God as these people themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
Acts 26:6
And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today.
Acts 26:7
This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me.
Acts 28:20
For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”
Romans 4:18
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Romans 5:2
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:4
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:5
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 8:20
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope
Romans 8:24
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 15:4
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.