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Take This Bread: Alister Mcgrath On Evangelism And Apologetics

I'm so pleased that Alister McGrath is our keynote speaker at Unbelievable? The Conference 2013 this coming Saturday.

This excerpt from his article "Evangelical Apologetics" has a helpful analogy on eating at a banquet to show the relationship between evangelism and apologetics:  

If evangelism is defined as "inviting someone to become a Christian," then apologetics is clearing the ground for that invitation, so that it is more likely to receive a positive response.

Alister McGrath

Evangelism may be likened to offering someone bread, and apologetics may be thought of as persuading people that bread is available and that it is good to eat. Apologetics stresses the reasonableness and attractiveness of the Christian faith; evangelism makes the offer of that faith.

One might imagine two different approaches to inviting friends to a dinner party. The first approach stresses that a banquet is scheduled, explains why it will be enjoyable, and reflects on the great time everyone will have. The second approach issues an invitation to that party. It says, "You’re invited."

It asks, "Will you come?" Apologetics affirms the truth and attraction of the gospel. Evangelism issues a personal invitation to place faith in Jesus Christ.

As a kind of pre-evangelism, apologetics prepares the way for an invitation to be issued, by helping people understand what Christianity is about and why it is so attractive and meaningful. Then the way is clear for the next stage: presenting an invitation or challenge. The banquet analogy brings out a basic but often overlooked distinction between apologetics and evangelism.

Apologetics is non-confrontational; it is not threatening. But evangelism is confrontational, for it asks individuals to consider whether they are ready to take the step of faith - a step for which apologetics has prepared the way.

Interact with Alister McGrath at Unbelievable? The Conference this coming Saturday 25 May.

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Unbelievable? presenter Justin Brierley blogs on all things theology, apologetics and ethics.

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