Doug Groothuis: How Jazz Can Shape Apologetics – DEFEND Mag

This article is by my favorite Christian philosopher and apologist, Dr. Douglas Groothuis. In it, he provides some excellent advice for defenders of the Faith in his unique way. One of the reasons I am such a fan of Dr. Groothuis’s work is that he obviously puts a lot of work into his writing. It is apparent from the quality of his writing that he not only takes great care in choosing the right words, but that he loves to read and write as well. Instead of just regurgitating dry facts, I believe it is important for a Christian apologist to have a unique, creative, and well-crafted apologetic. As Dr. Groothuis says, we must spend “time in the woodshed” (study hard), but also learn to improvise and express “truth through personality”

Just as jazz musicians, apologists need to “know their charts” by having spent much “time in the woodshed.” That is, they need to master the standard apologetic arguments on the nature of truth and faith, the arguments for God’s existence (natural theology), the reliability of the Bible, the deity and resurrection of Christ, the case against rival worldviews (atheism, pantheism, polytheism, Buddhism, Islam) and much more. However, knowing the arguments (the charts) is not the same as offering the arguments in various interpersonal settings. These include one-on-one, in a small group, in a larger group, in a lecture, in a sermon, on line, in a postal card, and more. This demands inventiveness, being prepared “in the moment” to size up the scene, seize the moment, and jam accordingly. Apologetic witness should never be stilted or clichéd, just as jazz is never hidebound to one way of playing a tune. As Phillip Brooks said of preaching long ago, apologetics is “truth through personality.” No one else has your personality and every situation is unique. So make music—in your solos and through group dynamics.

Ecclesiastes 7:19 ESV

Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.


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