Apologetics tools can help Christians engage wisely and humbly with our neighbours

Andrew Marcus has been in pastoral ministry for 15 years. He is an award-winning recording artist and the current director and host of The Indoubt Show, a young adults podcast and YouTube show. There, he interviews authors, leaders and pastors, discussing the tough questions and topics that young people face in culture and personal faith.

Could you tell me a bit about Indoubt? What is the vision and focus?

It’s a ministry with Back to the Bible Canada and is also connected to the Good News Broadcasting Association of Canada. We exist to bring the gospel, the good news, to the relevant issues of life and faith that young people are facing every day. We dive into the deep truth found in God’s Word and help young people navigate all that’s being thrown at them in culture today. We have a one-hour program that airs every Monday where we do interviews [with] pastors, theologians, authors—people who are significantly smarter than me.

We’ve seen the last three years there have been many storms; it’s been a crazy time. We’re seeing a lot of young people leaving the church and I think there’s a connection there where a lot of people are not rooted in truth. They’re not standing on a firm foundation that is biblical and godly. And so we want to be a ministry that is unashamedly gospel-centered. We don’t want to fit into the culture. We want to stand out and stand on the truth of God’s Word and help young people walk the narrow path [Matthew 7].

What topics are most pressing right now as your team plans episodes?

We look at what’s happening in our country and elsewhere, a lot of things kind of overlap with different places in the world. This last season we did a series called World Religions Unraveled and we unpacked Mormonism, Catholicism, and Buddhism. It went really well and a lot of people were engaging with it.

I’d like to do that again with maybe different religions because a lot of newcomers are coming to Canada. We have so many resources to equip young people to evangelize to nonbelievers, but there are not a lot of resources out there to equip young people to navigate and have conversations with people of different faith backgrounds. So how can we equip people when they’re connecting with a Mormon or a Buddhist or Hindu or Sikh or a Muslim? We want to just dive into those religions and what they believe to help people build bridges and have dialogues.  

Especially in a culture where people are quick to become offended, our reaction can be arrogance or defensiveness about our beliefs. What helps us speak with confidence while resisting that defensiveness?

It’s tricky. I always remember something I think my dad told me: the Lord gave us one mouth and two ears. So, we should listen twice as much as we speak. With touchy topics, we need to be good listeners and students first. 

We talk about grace and truth and sometimes we get heavy on one or the other. If we’re all grace, no truth, then we’re not pointing people to Jesus because Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life. And if we’re all truth and no grace, then we’re going to basically just be rude jerks. So we need to be all grace and all truth all the time. It’s crucial that we live in this healthy balance because people get offended so easily these days. [Dialogue] has to be in a trusting friendship. When we do live interviews, we need to create an environment that’s safe and a place where we can just be real. I could be real, they could be real, we could have different opinions and that’s OK. 

What I’m seeing in the Western Church is the total opposite of apologetics, where we’re not really defending and standing up for [our faith] anymore. We’re actually just trying to fit in and make people feel comfortable—the seeker-sensitive model of just trying to bring people in and not be offensive. But if you’re preaching the Word of God, it is offensive. It always has been.

The Bible calls certain things sin but the world says it should be celebrated—we’re seeing that happening in a lot of areas [today]. The Bible says something very different. It says something very different about marriage, says something very different about all kinds of stuff that our culture is saying yes and amen to. So if we stick true to God’s Word, which for most people seems outdated and offensive, it’s going make people uncomfortable and people will be offended. 

In the areas of apologetics and having a defense for our belief, we can’t just be shouting our truth from the rooftop and not listening to anyone. I mean, first Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” But then it says right after it, “but do this with gentleness and respect.” 

I think we need to be confident in the Word of God and know that it’s the same yesterday today and forever and that we don’t have to change our worldviews and our opinions to try to fit in. We’re called to be salt and light. And if we lose our saltiness, he says, you’re useless. But salt is supposed to be distinctly different. We’re supposed to be sprinkled and bring out this distinction, this different approach to life. 

The Christian tradition has a long history of apologetics, or the reasoned defense of our beliefs, while also grappling with the ways God is profoundly mysterious and beyond us. Which way do you see churches leaning right now? How do we better integrate these two realities?

I was just having a conversation recently with some of the guys at Apologetics Canada. And I think it was Steve Kim, the Alberta director, who said that they used to get tons of questions like, “How do we know God exists?” or those kinds of specific wrestling questions. He said they don’t get those anymore. The questions have now changed to, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” 

He was saying it seems like a lot of people have seen so much evil in the world—pride, hunger for money, wars, and rumours of wars, and all kinds of darkness. And now a lot of people aren’t even asking if God exists anymore because they’ve seen so much of Satan that they’re realizing there has to be something good—there has to be a God or someone who exists. It can’t just be all evil. 

I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had with nonbelievers, specifically on Facebook Marketplace, where we have these crazy engaging conversations. Everyone is telling me the same thing: There is so much evil; there has to be good. And they’re searching, and sometimes they search in the wrong places, but they’re starting to dabble with spiritual things and spirituality. 

And so I feel like there’s a shift happening where a lot of people are starting to dabble with the spiritual, with the profound mysteries of God, or just spirituality in general. But they are not necessarily asking those specific apologetic questions. 

For me, the balance is key. Like first Peter 3:15 says, we need to be prepared to answer for our hope. So there is that sense of apologetics and having a defense for what we believe, but there is such a different side—this profound mystery that’s beyond us. That even if we try so hard to understand, we will never comprehend the mysteries of God. And so there needs to be a balance of both. I think when we teeter to one side or the other, it’s the same thing that happens with grace and truth. You could just get lost in either of these camps. Every camp has that third way that isn’t so extreme on one side or the other. 

Anecdotally, I’m seeing a lot of younger Christians drawn toward liturgical practices that do embrace more mystery. But at the same time, they’re also hungry for the grounding tradition and orthodoxy that’s found in church history. To me, that’s very heartening. 

In my circle too, I’m seeing it and it’s really, really beautiful. That’s why we exist as Indoubt. We want to help people navigate and have these healthy balances where we can graciously and truthfully live out God’s Word. 

And also, we need to always remember we don’t have all the answers either. We’re constantly growing and learning and we need to be humbling ourselves before the Lord and realizing, “I don’t have my stuff together either.” The ground is level at the foot of the cross. And I think that really helps me when I interview people, because we’re all students. We’re all on this journey together and we get to grow and partner together with ministries and be on a mission together. 

And that helps take the pressure off. It becomes a joy that we get to do this together and learn together instead of, “I’m right, you’re wrong.” I tell people all the time, ‘If I’m wrong when we’re in glory together, I’ll owe you a coffee.” It’s OK for us to not have all the answers because we know the one who has all the answers and we can go to the Word of God to find that hope and assurance. And we can surround ourselves with good, solid believers and friends and learn together as communities.