Literature as Apologetics – Podcast
What is the value of literature as a mode of apologetics? In this talk, I make an argument that indeed literature has an important place in the work of apologetics.
Argument and evidence can play an important negative role in the removal of obstacles to belief, but such arguments are not sufficient by themselves. We can know facts about Christ and about Christian doctrine and yet not know him at all. To be most effective in our apologetics and evangelistic work, we need a mode of apologetics, one that is complementary to reason-based apologetics, that will help people to make the connection between doctrine and reality, and to awaken the desire to answer that call of “Come and see.”
We need what we might call a positive form of apologetics: what is increasingly (and aptly) being called imaginative apologetics.
Here, I outline a basic argument for the value of literature as a mode of apologetics, focusing on three features of literature that make it particularly valuable: that literature is incarnational, experiential, and incomplete.
You can click on this link for the audio, or use the player.
At various points in the talk, I reference C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader,’ and the essay “Meditation in a Toolshed,” which can be found in the collection God in the Dock, as well as J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories,” which can be found as a PDF here but also in print form in The Tolkien Reader.
I also read and discuss the poem “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins: here is the text of the poem:
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim:
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
The recording lasts about an hour. After I was done speaking, we had a lively Q&A session which was not recorded. Several of the questions were related to further resources, and so I have listed and linked (as appropriate) to the resources that I mentioned in my responses during the Q&A. For current work in the field of imaginative apologetics:
- Malcolm Guite’s book Faith, Hope and Poetry, which I reviewed here, and his website.
- Michael Ward’s book Planet Narnia, which I reviewed here, as well as The Narnia Code, and his website.
For organizations supporting the development of Christian literature: