Taking the Gospel to the City: Why We Need ‘Urban Apologetics’

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UrbanFaith talks with Chris Brooks about his book, Urban Apologetics, the significance of apologetics for evangelism, and some of the unlikely voices in apologetics.

We’ve all been there. We are engaged in a conversation with a friend about Christ and they bring up a question that we are not prepared for. They have an intellectual objection that we never thought of and we don’t have an answer. Many Christians fear sharing their faith due to moments like this. These moments are the reason apologetics exists. Apologetics is the term given for the Christian defense of the faith. Chris Brooks is the senior pastor of Evangel Ministries and also the founder and president of the Detroit Bible Institute. He also hosts a Detroit-aired daily radio show, “Equipped For Life,”and is the newly appointed Campus Dean of Moody Theological Seminary Michigan. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Chris over about his new book “Urban Apologetics” and apologetics in general.

What caused you to become involved in apologetics?

Pastoring my church in Detroit, which is heavily involved in evangelism and missions. We have been really focused on winning the city for Christ. In 2004 we had some pretty aggressive campaigns and we would send people out and they would come back stumped by the objections they were receiving from the people they encountered. So I decided to dedicate more time to make sure I equipped them before sending them out. What you will find a lot of times is pastors are either not evangelistically driven or if they are evangelistically driven they don’t equip their people.

See it all goes back to scripture. My study of Matthew 28:19 gave me evangelistic passion. I wanted to see my generation won to Christ. That passion had me looking up answers to people’s objections. Seminary made me realize what I was doing was apologetics. So I ended up taking a class in apologetics and coming to understand this is what I have been doing all along, and then finally I graduated with a degree in apologetics.

What inspired you to write a book on apologetics?

Two things. First it comes from a passion for the gospel in the urban community. People have intellectual barriers and need answers to their questions about life, so I wanted to provide the answers from Christ and scripture because most people assume that we don’t have answers.

Secondly it stems from our members being sent out to do evangelism and coming back with the questions and objections of the urban community they were sent to. I took it upon myself to develop a specific ministry of equipping Christians to answer people’s objections regarding the faith.

Why do you believe apologetics are important for the urban context?

Answering people’s questions about the faith is not a suburban, middle class, white thing; it’s a people thing. The objections may be different but we still are called to answer them. The Ferguson issue is a prime example. Many in urban communities are asking, “Where is the God of Justice?” Evangelical Christianity needs to address that.

So I see myself as a bridge between the academic apologists and the urban community. My goal is to spark apologetics in the urban context and at the same time spark urban concerns in the academic apologists context.

Is there a distinction between apologetics and evangelism?

They are both two sides of the same coin. Evangelism is the goal. C.S. Lewis said, “Apologetics is removing the rubble.” It is clearing away the intellectual and emotional barriers. For instance many have intellectual questions such as “Is the Bible reliable?” Apologetics helps to answer those questions.

It is not about presenting a good argument or winning an argument, we are not trying to be the Great Debaters. Like I say in my book, “Apologetics without evangelism is aimless.” When people are evangelizing and sharing the gospel you do not have to motivate them to dig into apologetics. They want to because they want to provide a reasonable defense for their faith in order to win someone to Christ.

At the same time evangelism without apologetics is defenseless. If people have questions and we cannot provide a reasonable answer our evangelism may come to a halt.

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SOURCE: Urban Faith
Ramon Mayo

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