In his book Engaging Unbelief, my friend Curtis Chang tells the story of winning a hard-fought intellectual argument with a young skeptic named Alex. Knowing that he had decisively refuted Alex's arguments against Christian faith, Curtis paused, waiting for the inevitable moment of repentance—perhaps a question like, "What shall I do to be saved?"

Instead, Alex said, "Yeah, well, so what?"

Alex's verbal and literal shrug of the shoulders neatly sums up the challenges facing apologetics, the effort to "give a reason for the hope that is in you," in the postmodern era. Once upon a time, the enemies of Christian truth were clear enough. Evangelicals strove to refute the arguments of atheists like Bertrand Russell, the author of the celebrated book Why I Am Not a Christian. Armed with the sharp dagger of the truth, they waged war against the giants of secularism and humanism. However massive those giants were, they certainly never would have shrugged their shoulders in the face of a challenge.

In retrospect, of course, Christianity's atheist opponents actually were quite weak, both in print and in person. Russell's book has not aged well—it reads like a college sophomore's term paper, rehearsing bromides stolen from the various boutiques of the Enlightenment. The most savage and influential of all the atheists, Friederich Nietzsche, deteriorated under the influence of what certainly seems to have been mental illness, and his intellectual heir Michel Foucault died of aids after a life of unenviable and increasingly desperate hedonism. The visage of modern atheism, to quote contemporary apologist Ravi Zacharias, is shattered—but it's not just Christians who know it. Few in Nietzsche's time or since have cared to look his brutal vision—much ...

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Always in Parables
Andy Crouch
Andy Crouch is an editor at large for Christianity Today. Before working for CT, Crouch was chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine which won the Utne Reader's Alternative Press Award for spiritual coverage in 1999. He was formerly a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. Crouch and his wife, Catherine, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, have two children. His column, "Always in Parables," ran from 2001 to 2006.
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