Journal Article Review on Gen-X Apologetics by David Neff
In his essay, “Gen-X Apologetics,” David Neff presents three different apologias from three different books. As the adolescents of this generation are highly influenced by rapid social change, global village concept, cultures, and customs, they have undervalued the meaning and purpose of life. Children in their juvenile are highly shaped by their contemporary cohort and culture than intimate family. And they have lost their hope and faith upon God whom their parents believe and have taught them to believe too. The main point of the essay is to be equipped to reason the bombarded queries of seekers regarding Christian faith and social issues in the postmodern world.
To demonstrate his apologias, Neff shows the case of the elder Michael Novak and his daughter Jana Novak. Her 14 religious questions to her father on faith, science, other religions, and social issues give us the feel for young adult of this generation’s concerns. Novak writes to his daughter how Evangelicals stresses on personal relationship with Jesus than Catholics do. Besides, he also supports his ideology by emphasizing on the nature of God and the Logos. Neff says that he “needs more than tenderness” (1). In response to his daughter’s question, “Why Christianity”, Neff talks about incarnation as an evidence that God is alive. He challenges people to receive Jesus for complete transformation of the spirit and mind. He claims the objective truth of loving God as the origin of all truths. Also, Novak is aware of the truth what he believes might not be convincing to his daughter no matter how well he develops his logical arguments. So, he hopes his daughter finds the real truth.
Secondly, Neff introduces Douglas John Hall, a respected Canadian theologian, to show us how he defends his faith. People are anxious about their lives; they have no purpose and significance of their life. Rather, life seems superfluous to them. In this context, Hall encourages his younger listeners to know who Jesus is. Defending his argument for who Jesus is and why Christianity, Hall also makes case of incarnation of man in Christ Jesus. Further, Hall states that God does not want to save us alone, but he wants to save his entire creation. And he adds, “faith is relational, a response to God’s faithfulness and not a mere conclusion of the mind” (3). As apostle Paul also writes how entire creation is also anticipating for her freedom from the agonizing pangs of the world that is laid upon her from the day of the Fall.
Finally, Neff demonstrates how Stanley Grenz, evangelical Baptist theologian, presents his apologia – what Christians really believe and why – to today’s youth. Grenz addresses to Gen-X who are more influenced by then musical cultures and less seekers of objective truth. To the Gen-X, he writes that sin is rebellion against God, but he forgives our sins and saves us through substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross. He invites people to receive hope that comes from transcendent God.
These are questions seekers ask, which cannot be avoided. Grenz, Hall, and Novak are presenting their logical arguments and explaining the real truth. Neff says that apologists should explain where the truth comes from to defend their arguments and why they are reliable. These three writers tell these young seekers that their search is meaningful because God is either on way we choose or he is at the end of the road already.
I strongly agree with the main point and conclusion of the author. The examples are very contextual in the postmodernism world. We cannot guarantee that our children will inherit the same faith we have. In their spiritual journey, they may encounter many questions. They want answer of every question, because there are many factors which influence believers and nonbelievers. We also come to face many challenging questions that contradict with our faith. The reason Jana Novak writes to her father.
Apologetics, the branch of theology that explains the reliable truth and defends the faith, has enormous scopes in ministry. There are too many questions which need to be answered to new believers and seekers. Every religion teaches humankind to be good. In this situation, how we present Christianity utterly different than any other religions depends on our logical developed arguments. People need convincing reason to believe. Novak, Hall, and Grenz have revealed what people want to know.
From my own personal experience throughout my ministry in the mission field, people from other faith want satisfactory answer of why we believe in Jesus. Why a man of other faith leaves his group until he finds convincing believable facts? Unless I have persuasive reason, I cannot present the historical and living Jesus. When we share the gospel to intellectuals, they demand evidence. To invite them to Christianity without giving evidence of living Jesus is like asking people to leave their house and come to live with us. Four years ago, I met a student of microbiology who was an atheist in the mission field. Before I handed him a copy of the New Testament, I had to give persuasive reasons of my faith. He did not become Christian right after he got the Bible, but later he made Jesus his personal God and savior because of the Bible.
Therefore, we should be ready to respond the queries of people when they ask us. God has put us in the earth to be witness of His hope. Our reason alone cannot stand by itself if there is no faith. Faith precedes reason, and reason should be presented in gentleness reflecting God’s image from our life. So, our life and our reason may be parallel to each other.