I was talking with some friends at church yesterday and the story being told reminded me of the inside out approach.  I could actually recognize the structure of it as I listened which made me happy!  It’s always nice to know that you are retaining and able to apply what you learn in school.  Yay God!  I was going to write about it, but I think this paper that I wrote a couple semesters ago will do a better job at explaining it clearly.

Apologetics Using the Inside Out Approach

There has been a general historical shift that has moved culture from pre-modernism through modernism to arrive at the post-modernism culture of today.  Apologetics requires a solid understanding of this shift and the ability to use an others-centered approach to reach people with the Gospel.[1]  Christians must be able to go beyond following a template of techniques to offer an individualized, multidimensional, holistic approach to Salvation.[2] This paper will demonstrate using the inside out approach to apologetics as an effective way to engage secular friends inside their post-modernism framework to create space that allows apologetics to take them to the cross.  It will use the following scenario to show how the inside out approach can be applied: A Christian friend responds to a secular friend’s saying, “My biggest problem with Christianity is, for one, that Christians seem so intolerant and judgmental.  And secondly, their sexual ethic seems to suppress basic human desires and our freedom to live fulfilled lives.”

The inside out approach involves Christians meeting people inside their cultural framework by “affirming the aspects of their position that you find admirable but then also identifying points that seem unsatisfying, impractical, or fallacious.”[3] In this scenario it is appropriate to affirm that Christians can seem intolerant and judgmental. This can be discussed by expressing agreement and asking what behaviors stick out to them as intolerant and judgmental.  For example, they may feel that Christians are intolerant and judgmental of lies being told when the purpose for telling the lie is to protect someone from being hurt.  Culture says that if you cannot say anything nice that you should not say anything at all which is lying by omission.  However, the Bible clearly states that lying is a sin (Prov. 12:22, NASB).  The inside out approach would challenge this assumption by pointing out that this is not something that only Christians have a problem with, but that the secular culture as a whole has a problem with lying. Asking the individual if they would be okay with being lied to if the person doing the lying was trying to protect them allows someone to trace out where their assumptions ultimately lead.  Asking a question such as “Do you think if people were more tolerant and nonjudgmental of lying that it would affect your ability to trust people, or how you determine who you can trust?” would be helpful.  It would create space that allows the person to consider the problems in their assumption and be more open to considering the plausibility of Christianity.[4]  Further, pushing their assumption to the end would also open the door to discuss the consequence and misery that results from the secular view of sex.[5]  Fortunately, it would also create space to talk about the hope of a lasting relationship when done God’s way. [6]

The topic of sexual ethics has changed with the changing of society and post-modernism holds a different perspective on what is acceptable, tolerable, and embraced concerning a sexual worldview.[7]  The way truth is determined has also shifted.  According to John Stackhouse (2002), the confidence that came from research, science, and technology has been lost to the idea that perspective is everything.[8]  He explains that “human perception had become necessarily perspectival, that is, a matter of a subjective point of view based on from where and by whom the viewing is done.”[9]  Therefore, another way the inside out approach can be effective is by tying A and B doctrines together.  This is done by considering an A doctrine, “a belief that is generally affirmed in a given culture,” and a B doctrine, a “Christian belief that a particular culture finds difficult, if not all together repulsive.”[10] Hence, to understand the individual’s cultural framework is critical to being able to engage them with a holistic apologetic approach.

To affirm an acceptable part of the claim concerning sex in the given scenario, it can be agreed on that sex is a basic human desire and can play a part in living a fulfilling life.  These are agreeable A doctrines.  The B doctrine would be that Christianity only approves of sex inside the confines of marriage between a man and a woman.  This is an appropriate time to explain that God is not against sex, but created it and instructed people to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28).  A question to tie the A and B doctrines together would be to ask, “Since you believe that sex is a basic human desire that is part of living a fulfilling life, why not believe that God gave us the plan of how to enjoy sex without the hurt and pain that comes from sexual immorality?  And if following His demands creates the very best scenario possible for our long-term freedom and enjoyment, wouldn’t that be like what you or I do for our children when we set rules for them?  Wouldn’t it make sense that because God loves us, He would put demands on sex that allow married couples to have the freedom to live sexually fulfilled lives without the problems that come with sexual immorality?”  These questions tie the A and B doctrines together and create a positive dialog that “forms an alliance between the Bible and one of the listeners’ own beliefs, which can powerfully move people to accept other things the Bible says.”[11]

In Conclusion, the inside out approach creates opportunities to discuss Christianity with people who hold a secular view in a late-modernism era.  This is an approach based on understanding biblical doctrine and being able to engage people where they are in their beliefs.  It is meeting people inside their cultural framework and making them feel heard by identifying the parts of their assumptions that align with the truth of scripture.  Once they feel heard, they are in a position to be more open to having a part of their assumption challenged by following it through to the end.  The inside out approach also allows a bridge to be built for an effective way to challenge them to consider a B doctrine based on the A doctrine they do accept.  The inside out approach is a positive, successful way to share the Gospel in a post-modernism society.

butterfly (5)

Bibliography

Berthrong, John. “Love, Lust, and Sex: A Christian Perspective.” Buddhist-Christian Studies 24, no. 1 (2004): 3-22. Accessed February 18, 2018. https://muse.jhu.edu.

Liberty University. “Apologetics at the Cross: Holistic and Contextual” 4, accessed February 18, 2018. http://learn.liberty.edu.

Liberty University. “Preparing to Engage (not Spin) in Late Modernism from the Inside Out” 17, accessed February 18, 2018. http//learn.liberty.edu.

Stackhouse, John. Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith Today. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Accessed February 18, 2018. eBook Collection, EBSCOhost.

Taylor, James. Introducing Apologetics: Cultivating Christian Commitment Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. Accessed February 18, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

[1] Liberty University, “Apologetics at the Cross: Holistic and Contextual” 4, http://learn.liberty.edu

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 15

[4] Ibid.

[5] James Taylor, Introducing Apologetics: Cultivating Christian Commitment (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), accessed February 19, 2018, ProQuest Ebook Central.

[6] Ibid.

[7] John H. Berthrong, Love, Lust, and Sex: A Christian PerspectiveBuddhist-Christian Studies 24, no. 1 (2004): 3-22, accessed February 19, 2018.

[8] John Stackhouse, Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith Today (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, eBook Collection, EBSCOhost, 26, accessed February 19, 2018.

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid., 16

[11] Liberty University, “Preparing to Engage (not Spin) in Late Modernism from the Inside Out” 17, http//learn.liberty.edu