...a warmth, a Christ-centredness, a deep and obvious concern for people marks every page of the Gospels and Acts, with the possible exception of a chapter like Matthew 23; but in the second century this too often gives way to a rather cold, almost arrogant, battering of the opposition.... To launch a full-scale and at times bitter assault on someone's cherished beliefs is not the best way of inducing him to change them. (EITEC, p351) (EITEC, p351)
That's the kind of apologetics I want to have. Positive, contructive, Christ-centred and evidently loving. Yet, it's all too easy to be negative and just throw dirt. It's easier and feels better short-term. Much like this recent campaign poster against Christians in Exeter, in a campaign accusing them of being fascists, a campaign that comes under the banner of "equal opportunities". This excites the choir, and motivated them to vote down the Christians, but not very likely to make a Christian suddenly imagine that they would be better not having Christian leaders in Christian groups.
The recently accused Evangelical students of Exeter could fight back with accusations that suggest that those who differ from them also believe a "disgraceful pile of bile" (as they themselves are accused of believing). Not very compelling. Not likely to win them over.
The Evangelical Christian students at Exeter are basically arguing that the Pope should be a Catholic... i.e. to have evangelicals leading the Evangelical Christian Union. In the independent republic of Exeter University this is however regarded as deeply offensive, exclusive and unacceptable. Living in 21st Century UK I can see how this perception happens. We're conditioned to think that anything that excludes anyone is evil - for very good reasons. Though it's amusing that this issue arises in the (just a little) exclusive club that is a University which necessarily practices institutional exclusivity based on intellect and finances...
There is a need to create plausibility for what we believe. What seemed like basic common sense (before you even think about the Christian side of the issue). We have a need to shape thinking so that Christian thinking is no longer seen as evil and instead as beneficial... shaping thinking so that what seems like common sense to us might also be so for others. To demonstrate through our warm words and lives that the gospel of Jesus is such good news that people would wish it were true - and then might be persuaded that it is.
How we do that is a question I'm wrestling with, but I'm sold on the idea.