“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” 1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)
Lets talk apologetics for a minute. There is a problem with Christian retention in the west. Millennials are leaving Christianity in record numbers. The reasons given by individuals who have left the faith are numerous and vary from person to person. However, there is one narrative that is often blamed by the Christian community. The story goes something like this, a devout Christian youth heads out to college and encounters a professor who is hostile to Christianity and converts the youth to atheism.
The Christian leaders have responded, that if only the youth had received apologetical training they would have been able to counter the hostile professor and the youth would have remained a faithful Christian . Therefore, we need to prioritize apologetics according to some Christian leaders. Because of this the apologetical movement has gained popularity over the last decade. There have been popular movies and numerous bestseller books produced in the area of apologetics. An individual does not need to search far to find popular apologists who have gained a celebrity type status in Christian circles.
Before we go any further let me make it clear that I am for apologetical training for all Christians. Apologetics can be a powerful tool in helping Christians understand their faith and be unpersuaded by secular arguments against Christianity. However, I do believe apologetics is not the only solution to Christian retention. It has its place but standing alone apologetics is not sufficient to combat the decline of Christianity in the west.
The experience I had attending a public university as a philosophy major was quite different from the popular narrative of an atheistic professor picking on a unprepared college student. In the philosophy department of the school I attended we had professors who were atheist and professors who were Christian. And I can say neither tried to persuade any student during a class I attended to their own position. The professors I had were all professional and did an excellent job of teaching the material but leaving it up to the student to form their own conclusions. Perhaps my experience was unique, but I do believe my experience is probably fairly common throughout public universities.
So at this point you may be thinking, okay, what else do we need besides apologetics to help retention rates. Lets look at the first part of 1 Peter 3:15,” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts”. Christianity at the core is about a transformation, about a regeneration of the heart. We serve a Holy God, we must take time to understand what this truly means. A Christian needs more than a head knowledge of God that is obtained through intellectual means, they need a heart knowledge of God that comes through the lived Christian faith. We as Christians need to understand that we are to develop not only our minds but our heart, learning what it means to live each moment for the glorification of God.