The recent spate of books, lectures and debates by atheists are awakening the sleeping giant of the church, said Lee Strobel, one of America’s most popular Christian apologists.
“The new atheists have kicked the church in the ribs, and she’s waking up,” said Strobel, who will speak next weekend in Tulsa.
“I’m seeing it all over the country,” he said of huge apologetics conferences, new scholarship in the academic world and more formal debates.
Strobel said the average person in the pew is not reading the late Christopher Hitchens and other popular atheist authors, but neighbors and co-workers are.
“They’re getting questions they can’t answer,” he said.
Average Christians are ill-equipped to answer those questions, and they are asking their pastors for training in apologetics, the study of the rational defense of the faith, he said.
“I think we’re entering a golden era for apologetics,” he said.
Strobel, a former atheist and Chicago Tribune journalist, said he doubts that surveys showing a rise in atheism accurately reflect a trend in U.S. society.
More people identify as secular because it has become socially acceptable to do so, he said. In fact, politicians in some parts of the country who used to emphasize their Christian heritage now do the opposite.
Strobel said that as he travels and speaks, by far the No. 1 question people raise is how can a loving God allow pain and suffering?
Christianity has an answer to that question, but people who are suffering do not want “five intellectual steps to understanding,” he said, they are looking for a personal answer…