In a culture consumed by consumerism in the age of globalization, the Christian who seeks to make a case for his or her dependency on an old rugged cross and an empty tomb must compensate for the lack of “common ground” between the believer and the unbeliever. Because of the secularization of the culture and the dwindling of the Christian mind, there are now few epistemological topics on which the believer and the unbeliever can converse without talking past each other simply because their categories of thought are vastly different; in fact, it was Blamires’s fear that many Christians, hoping to woo the culture, might end up unwittingly borrowing more from secular categories of thought than biblical ones. The secularization of the Christian mind proves to be one of the biggest hurdles to clear when it comes to modern apologetics. Not only is the apologist seeking to build a rational defense of the faith, but now must also contend with the fact that much of the zeitgeist has shed itself of the more traditional categories of thought that would allow for natural inroads into conversations about that faith. Ironically enough, the real merit of being a culturally aware apologist can be seen (at least in principle) in Scripture. Consider the oft-discussed instance in Acts 17, wherein the apostle Paul visits Athens and finds within an altar to an “unknown god” the opportunity to preach the gospel to the Athenians in the Areopagus. He quite literally exegetes the culture of Athens in the first century and concludes, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects” (Acts 17:22ff) and manages to leverage their interest in religious affairs to steer the conversation to Yahweh and His messiah. In a sense, cultural apologetics is one of the oldest methods, used to some degree by at least one of the apostles. Evidence-based apologetical methods, while certainly having merit, especially in the twentieth century, arose more as a response to an increasingly secularized culture that worshipped at the altar of science and swore by the scientific method and philosophies such as empiricism.
This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with JOURNAL contributing writer Cole Burgett about his online exclusive article “What Has Athens to do With America? A Case for Cultural Apologetics.”
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Note the below podcast and article are drawn from principles Paul Gould uses in the Cultural Apologetics book mentioned above: