Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A New Kind of Apologist

Written by: on March 12, 2020

Rebecca McLaughlin’s book Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion is a breath of fresh air in the world of Christian Apologetics. It is refreshing in many ways but particularly for two reasons: (1) it is a written by a female; (2) with close ties to the UK Evangelical context. These reasons cannot be overstated in our current cultural milieu. In a YouTube interview McLaughlin mentioned the popular virtue today that says “who you are determines what you’re allowed to say.”1 Having struggled herself with same-sex attraction, this opens new opportunities for her to be able to defend the truth claims of Christianity in settings typically dominated by straight white male. Conservatives, both politically and theologically might not appreciate the mitigation of these traditional blind spots. However, for those she is trying to reach with the Gospel, and its defense, this is an absolute game changer. Experts like McLaughlin and others such as the speaking team at Women in Apologetics2 will revolutionize the apologetics landscape of our churches in the coming years, especially when one considers the fact that more women than men claim to be church attenders and engage in other religious activities.3

The second reason McLaughlin’s contribution to apologetics is welcomed has to do with her background growing up in London. For decades the church has been told by academics that the UK and the rest of Europe is hopelessly secular. They would routinely remind us that secularization begins in the UK, travels to Canada, then the U.S. and then to the rest of the world, perhaps finally landing in the global south. McLaughlin is an outlier here and may be on to something. Perhaps the origins and bastions of secularization within the intellectual centers of Europe is abating and her book just might reveal a hopeful reversal. 

McLaughlin’s most controversial4 chapter titled “Isn’t Christianity Homophobic?” is a gem because she writes from excellent primary sources, as well as her own personal struggles with same-sex attraction. There are plenty of experts who can pontificate about the perils, both from nature and Scripture, of the self-harm brought about by homosexual practices, but few can address this with insightful authority and provide practical knowledge on the matter. 

One of the best heuristic takeaways from the chapter is the way she uses subversion to frame and deal with the question of homosexuality. She starts by saying:

“People sometimes say that the Bible condemns same-sex relationships. It does not. The Bible commands same-sex relationships at a level of intimacy that Christians seldom reach.”5

Stating it this way not only grabs one’s attention, it forces the reader to consider intently what God has to say about relationships in general and sexual ones specifically. To be clear McLaughlin believes the Bible unequivocally teaches that sexual intimacy belongs exclusively to heterosexual marriage. However, for those who have a different view, she invites them to consider the idea and benefits of boundaries which are not uncommon concepts in everyday life. While she herself is happily married with kids, she confesses that there is no guarantee that God could change her natural instinct to be drawn toward women. Apparently, sexual fluidity is more prevalent than initially thought and may persist over time in both men and women. Deploying new discoveries such as this helps lessen the stigma for whom homosexual tendencies is a struggle, allowing space for open dialog, transparency and counseling. This is helpful especially among 13 to 18 year-olds, only half of whom believe one’s sex at birth defines one’s gender; and one third says gender is “what a person feels like.”6 

It is easy and regrettably far too common for Christians to judge homosexuals and cast their sin in some distinct dispensation meriting a special place in hell. It’s not true, it’s not biblical and serves to only besmirch the Christian witness. As Christian leaders we must continually remind ourselves that “heterosexuality is not the goal of the Christian life: Jesus is.”7

          1 Speak Life, “Rebecca McLaughlin Interviewed About Confronting Christianity,” interview by Glen Scrivener, May 6, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIYL7R7yaIg&t=14s.
          2 “Mission and Vision,” Women in Apologetics, accessed March 12, 2020, https://www.womeninapologetics.com/mission-and-vision/)
          3 “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World,” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, December 31, 2019, https://www.pewforum.org/2016/03/22/the-gender-gap-in-religion-around-the-world/)
          4 Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), Loc. 3196, Kindle.
          5 Ibid., Loc. 3209.
          6 Barna Group. Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the next Generation.
(Ventura, CA: Barna Group, 2018), 46.
          7 McLaughlin, Loc. 3194.

About the Author

Harry Edwards

Harry is married to Minerva and has the privilege of raising two young men. He is the founder and director of Apologetics.com, Inc., an organization dedicated to defending the truth claims of Christianity on the internet, radio and other related activities. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Education and a Masters of Arts degree in Christian Apologetics from Biola University where he currently works full time as the Associate Director of the graduate programs in Christian Apologetics and Science & Religion. Harry is currently pursuing a DMin (Leadership & Global Perspectives) from George Fox University. He is an active member at Ocean View Baptist Church where he leads an adult Bible study and plays the drums for the praise and worship band. In his spare time, Harry enjoys doing things with his family, i.e., tennis, camping/backpacking, flying RC planes and mentoring others to realize their full potential in the service of our Lord.

6 responses to “A New Kind of Apologist”

  1. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    This was a refreshing read wasn’t it Harry? And excellent point on the unique voice McLaughlin has. I really enjoyed learning from her research and views.

  2. Mario Hood says:

    I’ve been waiting eagerly to read your post this week as this is right in your lane… and it did not disappoint. I loved this book, one for her writing style but 2 for some of the same reasons you pointed out. Having a female and European voice is key going forward for the church and she delivers great insight and theology for the post-modern age.

  3. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Like Mario, I was looking forward to reading your take on this book. It was great to hear your appreciation and specifically for her gender and UK roots. I’m not familiar enough of the landscape of those that make up the apologetics world so it was helpful to hear your perspective. I appreciated how she addressed judgmental Christians and critics of Christianity in her arguments.

  4. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    I was so looking forward to your take on McLaughlin since I consider you the premier apologist(?) among us. Thanks so much for your scholarly rendering of McLaughlin’s work in general and her perspective on chapter 9. I too was most taken by both her perspective and the construct for her arguments. I really appreciate your insights and your scholarship. Many blessings!

  5. John Muhanji says:

    Harry, thank you for your elaborate exposition on this book. I am encouraged by the way you have described Mclaughlin as one who has been raised from the UK a land known to be home of secularism. I have to agree with you Harry, I was happy the way she brought out the issue of homosexuality referring to her own case of being attracted to same-sex people but she eventually got married and has children. Her description of homosexuality and her approach is well guided scripturally and I believe many who always condemn them can find a new understanding from the Mclaughlin approach and argument. I am very encouraged by this book and will always be referring to it all the time.

    Thank you, Harry, for your clear elaborate on Mclaughlin’s book. I appreciate this very much.

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