Read here about these "new" apologists.

The first individual examined in this article, and founder of the website/organization that I linked, is this Tim Stratton.

Per above, Tim Stratton and his ministry is a result of, or we can say, greatly influenced by, William Lane Craig's work and ministry. Tim's emphasis or uniqueness in his ministry is, "our heavy emphasis on libertarian freedom (commonly referred to as free will) and how Molinism (a view explaining God’s sovereignty and human freedom/responsibility) answers so many apologetics-related questions." Dr. Craig is a proponent of Molinism as well.

Interestingly, Molinism's pretenses, namely, that free will exists in some specific ways, are not coherent with many views in the intellectual world - and also not coherent with many Evangelical views. In particular, the criticism from Christians is that it undermines God's abilities, especially his being beyond time, and overstates the agency of humanity. On a personal note, I would love to address the difficulties in theology that Molinism brings to light - they are not trivial - another time.

Middle knowledge or scientia media is the distinctive of Molinism. God cannot know future free acts in the way he knows other things. God knows some things absolutely, but future free acts are known only contingently.1

The incongruity with secular intellectuals is simply that people are not morally responsible.2 There are many other views, of course, but this view is perhaps the most extreme.

Whatever their conscious motives, these men cannot know why they are as they are. Nor can we account for why we are not like them. As sickening as I find their behavior, I have to admit that if I were to trade places with one of these men, atom for atom, I would be him: There is no extra part of me that could decide to see the world differently or to resist the impulse to victimize other people. Even if you believe that every human being harbors an immortal soul, the problem of responsibility remains: I cannot take credit for the fact that I do not have the soul of a psychopath.3

Both sides of criticism simply stem from a deterministic worldview. This deterministic worldview directly stems from modernity - or the emphasis on human rationality as supreme truth-finder - quite obviously, albeit not necessarily. If you can't understand it, it doesn't exist.

The next individual examined in the article is from the same ministry as the first, and works closely with him. This Scott Olson only adds an emphasis on marketing to the notes I added above, as well as a focus on the Church, saying, "I’m fascinated by marketing, persuasion, and influence, and I think that’s an area where Christians could use a stronger focus. For that reason, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from any hardcore studying of apologetics and I’ve been focusing on how we as Christian apologists can better articulate the importance of doing strong apologetics within the church."

This emphasis on the church is exactly what I anticipated with my hypothesis from two days ago that apologists are almost entirely inward-looking, leaving their shield on their back which faces the outside world. Their arms are outstretched, paired with a welcoming visage, saying, "It's OK! I've countered them! I've figured it out! Christianity is rational!" Their focus being inward, pastoral, is likely a result from their experiences with people in their churches leaving the faith, or having a "shaken faith" by human criticism. What would it look like if they were outward focused? Simply turn them around. To say it explicitly, the Christian Philosopher, then, is an evangelist to the intellectual world.

The next individual the article examines Matt Schmidt of Engage 360 also has this inward focus. "One conviction I had throughout much of my time in Ratio Christi was a frustration over the disconnect with the church and its integration of both apologetics and evangelism. Most of our chapters were doing great work with their students but churches were not interested for the most part, even in situations where the local directors were working to establish relationships. I had been thinking about how we could better serve the local church..."

We can see this inward focus results in the marketing approach mentioned before - we need the church the believe that apologetics are important as well as a focus on basic, or "useful" things. Matt Schmidt says about his ministry, "We wanted to try to focus on a very entry level approach that was something anyone could benefit from and use in their lives." What are all of these "new" apologists not mentioning at all? The outside world who forms the criticisms. I could wax eloquent about why these people need the Gospel in their culture - perhaps another time.

This church focus continues throughout the remaining interviews.

"I stumbled into apologetics back in 2012 when I learned that my brother had become an atheist."

"Our target market is Christians who are interested in apologetics."

"Our ministry is focused on reversing the trend in which Christian youth walk away from their faith in College."

"...we are the only ministry (outside the university) that provides training specifically for Apologetics to Christians in the area."

I pose the question, "Do you train up Christians in apologetics so that they may train up other Christians likewise? Is all of this towards the end of strengthening Christian's faith?" And perhaps I receive various answers. But, from the questions that the article did ask, we can infer that, even if only subconsciously, the answer is indeed "yes". Like so many "issues in the church" we can frame this as an incomplete fulfillment of the Great Commission. While we do find a couple of interviewees do mention evangelism, their focus is still on training Christians to evangelize.

And there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that. But I'll say this, all of these methods and ministries are not reaching even the ideas of modern intellectuals in honest, coherent ways, much less the people. They are reaching people who are not firmly rooted in the nuanced arguments of secular thinking. And they are reaching themselves. These "new" apologists are employing the work of (implied) "old" apologists, and each has the same target-market.

I think its time to take a new look at those who form current thought, and address them in a honest, loving, and engaging way. It's time for a Christian Philosopher to arise, and bring about a truly new wave of apologists. This Christian Philosopher will have their face forward, offering conversation to the most influential public intellectuals and those individuals that listen to them.

Footnotes:

  1. Norman L. Geisler, “Molinism,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 493.
  2. O’Connor, Timothy, and Christopher Franklin. “Free Will.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Spring 2020. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 2020. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2020/entries/freewill/.
  3. Harris, Sam. “The Illusion of Free Will.” Sam Harris, February 28, 2012. https://samharris.org/the-illusion-of-free-will/.