Is apologetics, philosophy, and worldview training really necessary? After all, shouldn't we just preach the simple gospel and leave all that “intellectual stuff” to the academics? Nancy Pearcey offers good insight here that I agree with:
"The ultimate goal is to preach the gospel. But the gospel is not simple to those whose background prevents them from understanding it. Today's global secular culture has erected a maze of mental barriers against even considering the biblical message" (Saving Leonardo, 15).
Recently I spoke at our church on Is Jesus the Only Way to God? There are few statements that are more politically incorrect than that one. But Jesus did not shy away from making culturally unpopular statements, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Among other things, Christianity teaches the exclusivity and uniqueness of Jesus (cf. Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5).
But according to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life study (2009) based on interviews with 35,000 adults and out of a sample size of 9472 Evangelicals, a startling 57% of Evangelical adults agreed with the statement “many religions can lead to eternal life.” That is not good soil for the Gospel to take root in!
There are many observations to make here, but I want to highlight just one.
When Christians say that Jesus is the only way to God, what our culture hears is “We think Butterfinger is the best candy bar and consumers of all other candy bars are going to hell.” And that would be a ridiculous claim. Many think Christians are imposing our particular religious preferences on others.
But that is not why Jesus is the only way to God. As my friend Brett Kunkle has pointed out, Jesus offers both the diagnosis and the cure. Jesus is the only way because he is the only medicine that can cure the spiritual disease that is killing us...sin (John 8:24). That is the claim and it’s either true or false.
The simple Gospel is getting lost in translation because of the background beliefs people have today about faith, God, religion, and morality—these are no longer considered objects of knowledge in our culture. Now more than ever, we must help people see that faith is reasonable, Christianity is a knowledge tradition, and that belief in God is not religious wishful thinking (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Christianity can be investigated with eyes wide open (Luke 1:1-4). It rises to the level of being true or false! So boldly proclaim the simple Gospel but also do the hard work necessary so that others can understand what Jesus is actually claiming (1 Peter 3:15).