“All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables;
indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.
This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”
Matthew 13:34-35 (ESV)
[continued from Apologetics Tip #16a)
For some reason, we apologists rarely employ good stories until we’re around a “safe” crowd of fellow believers and friends. Then we turn off our “apologetics mode” and start talking with others about our lives and their lives, about bad dates, crazy kids,travels and trials. If we would let our apologetics flow across and through our whole lives, we can more naturally gravitate toward stories as they are natural to us. We don’t live as propositions, or lists, or charts, we are complex personal wholes that defy reduction into simple formulas. Storyform communication just makes sense.
Making your apologetics story-form doesn’t mean abandoning everything to become a blind bard in Athens. It can be as simple as asking people, on occasion, for their story or offering yours. Personal testimonies are a fine kind of apologetics. Or when they ask you a question, let your personal story come across as the relevant context that helps shape your understanding, your biases, and your opinion of things. Storyform apologetics also allows for good ideas or challenging questions to communicate through illustrations. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a storyform illustration can impart a whole theology.
Jesus used parables a lot–“All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable” (Matt 13:34). For Jesus stories sufficiently obscured ideas that he didn’t want the hard-hearted listeners to hear (Matt. 13:10-17). But for those with “ears to hear” these parables put big heavenly ideas “on the bottom shelf” where common people can reach. Stories are great clarification, but apologetics isn’t always about persuading people into the faith or even about empowering the faithful to greater faith. Apologetics can even give a defense to those who don’t want to hear. Is this not how debates usually work? Rarely, if ever, do the two debaters persuade each other. But, so a good parabolic point might confuse or agitate the debating opponent even as it woos and enlightens the open minded onlooker. Stories can do that too.