Imagine you had blood poisoning some years ago. Certain symptoms developed, and you realized you were seriously ill. A skilled physician told you what the problem was, and there was a cure: penicillin. The drug was administered, and within days you were on the road to recovery. Its an easy scenario to imagine, and you could rewrite it easily to widen its reach.
Here’s the critical question: Did the physician heal you? In one sense, yes. In another, no. The physician told you what was wrong with you, and what needed to be done if you were to be healed. But what actually cured you was penicillin. The physician’s diagnosis told you what the problem was. But in the days before penicillin was discovered, this condition meant only one thing: death. There was nothing that could have been done to save you. Identifying the problem would not have been enough to heal you. A cure was needed.
This analogy allows us to get a good sense of how apologetics works, and how we fit into the greater scheme of things. To continue this medical analogy, apologetics is about explaining that human nature is wounded, damaged, broken, and fallen – and that it can be healed by God’s grace. The apologist can use many strategies to explain, communicate, and defend the idea that there is something wrong with human nature. Equally, we can use many strategies to explain, communicate, and defend the fact that there is indeed a cure. But the apologetics itself does not heal; it only points to where a cure may be found.
We may provide excellent arguments that such a cure exists. But in the end, people are healed only by finding and receiving the cure, and allowing it to do its work.
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