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Since beginning my journey about a year ago to learn more about Apologetics, I’ve noticed a very concerning lack in the Apologetics arena. And that is the lack of black faces.
I recently did a quick Google search to see who “the internet” considered to be the top apologists of our time. I came across a top 20 list on crossexamined.org (here). Now, keep in mind that this list is a bit old, being published back in 2014.
But regardless, out of all 20 people listed, there was not one black individual. The only “ethnic” person listed was the late Ravi Zacharias. This did not necessarily surprise me, but it was disappointing. Given black history, African Americans have had to play catch up in a lot of sectors. So, I just had to accept that there were simply zero black leaders in Apologetics for me to learn from.
Just some background, I first learned about Apologetics accidentally, stumbling upon an apologist named Frank Turek online. He was probably my first introduction to Apologetics and my first introduction to the science of defending Christianity with reason. I practically binge-watched a bunch of his stuff online when I first discovered him. I was eating it up. It was so exciting to find answers to difficult faith questions, and reasonable responses to arguments I had no idea how to tackle.
After eating up a lot of Turek’s online debates, and prowling through his website (crossexamined.org), I started trying to find more content to dive into. And I quickly noticed two things. 1) The absence of women in Apologetics, and 2) The absence of people of color.
This honestly didn’t surprise me too much. This is a consistent trend in most, if not all, industries. I’ve grown accustomed to being the only black face in certain spaces, so I wasn’t super shocked, although a little disappointed.
With that being said, I am very hopeful that we will begin to see a huge change within the black community and church as it relates to Apologetics.
Maybe Black People Are Just Not Interested in Apologetics?
As I started to write this blog post, I got really excited. I figured, now that I’m actually going to dive into this topic and really do some research, I just know I’ll find some amazing black apologists that maybe just haven’t gotten much attention.
So, I began my search…crickets.
I searched and searched and searched and was highly disappointed to find almost completely nothing.
As a blogger, I do keyword research for SEO purposes, essentially making sure I’m including key terms in my blog posts that will help people find my content. Obviously, I want to write posts that people can actually find. So, I do research to find out what people are already searching for.
But when I looked up terms like, “black apologetics”, “black apologists”, “African-American apologetics”, “Apologetics for black people”, etc, there is practically no one searching for these terms. Based on my research, no one is interested.
So, this got me thinking, why aren’t black people interested in Apologetics? I’m interested in the topic! Am I just weird? lol
Then comes along an article published in Christianity Today titled “Rethinking Apologetics for the Black Church”. And a woman by the name of Lisa Fields was being interviewed about an organization she had founded that focused specifically on Apologetics within the black community! The organization is called the Jude 3 Project. Their Instagram profile reads “The primary mission of J3P is to help the Black Christian community know what they believe and why they believe it.”
And can you guess how many followers they have?!
They have 16,000 followers! 16K! Now, that doesn’t sound like a disinterested community. Of course, not all of those followers are African Americans, but I’m willing to guess that the majority are.
Why Does the Black Community Need Apologetics?
Based on my research, the Jude 3 project is a ministry that targets the black community where they teach apologetics through courses, lectures, blog posts, and so much more. The website was first launched in 2014, and they’ve been doing amazing work ever since.
I only just found out about them not too long ago. And I am so excited!
I’ll be 100% honest, being a black woman interested in Apologetics has felt a bit isolating at times. And that’s not to say that I don’t find community with other non-black Christians in this field of interest. But there is sometimes a unique experience that only your specific community can resonate with. A comfortability that you miss out on when you’re the only one.
So, I absolutely love, love, love what the Jude 3 Project is doing.
You might be thinking, why does color even matter in this sphere?
Simply put, it matters because the black Christian community needs to be equipped with the same education needed to defend Christianity that others receive. Because we’re mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends. And we have people in our lives that also need to hear the gospel. And if Apologetics is a way in which we can strengthen our own faith and help a non-believing friend or coworker find God, then it’s important. Salvation is for all people, of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
For instance, it’s no secret that there are people in the black community who believe Christianity is a white man’s religion. And so for that reason alone, they won’t even come near the Truth and salvation offered to them. But by learning Apologetics, we can help that part of our community see truth.
But if we don’t know how to articulate the facts, or don’t even know what the facts and evidence are, how can we even begin to tackle the unique issues and struggles presented in the black church?
Is Urban Apologetics the “Black” Apologetics?
Nine times out of ten, when someone uses the word Urban to describe communities, people tend to think of black people. But if you look up the definition of Urban, dictionary.com defines it as either “taking place in the city”, or “of or relating to the experience, lifestyle, or culture of African Americans living in economically depressed inner-city neighborhoods”.
But here’s the thing…not all black people live in “economically depressed inner-city neighborhoods”. However, that has become our story, our identity, and what defines us culturally. And while that is part of many of our stories, it does not represent everyone.
Lisa Fields, the founder of Jude 3 Project, said it best:
When I go into white evangelical spaces and tell white people that I’m doing apologetics for black people, they immediately think “inner city” because they’ve pigeonholed black people. I’m a black girl who didn’t grow up in the inner city.
Why does this matter?
It matters because when you place a group of people into a box and try to define them with a one-size-fits all definition, people will feel excluded. What if someone is not part of this “economically depressed inner-city neighborhood” group, but they’re black. If “black” apologetics is “urban” apologetics, this individual must not fit in anywhere.
At the end of the day, we are all responsible for defending the faith, as scripture states. So it is so important that all Christian communities are taught the skills that Apologetics offers, especially in a growing secular world.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.1 Peter 3:15
I value what Apologetics brings to the church and I would like to see more African Americans join the discussion. The culture shift that is villainizing Christianity is affecting every Christian, regardless of race or ethnicity. And we all should learn to defend our faith with reason.
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