Introducing The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics

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We now live in a post-Christendom culture. For at least a thousand years, Western culture has been what you might call “Christendom culture.” Even if most people were not devout Christians, there was a positive understanding of Christianity in the culture. The great majority of the people had a positive understanding of the church, and so it was not that difficult to get people in the door. And many, many people went to church just because they felt they should—even if they didn’t have a devout or a vital relationship with Jesus Christ.

Second, the culture instilled in people a certain amount of background beliefs that the Bible assumes. They assumed there was a moral law. They assumed that there were some kind of moral absolutes. They also knew they needed to be forgiven. They had a sense of being sinners, even if they didn’t use the word. They believed in a life after death. They believed in a personal God. The culture instilled dots—and evangelism was just connecting the dots.

And so if you came to them and said to almost anybody in the culture, “Hey, when you die, you certainly want to know that you’re gonna go to a good place, right? And you’re trying to live a good life, but you know you don’t really live up to it and nobody lives as well as they should, but in Jesus Christ, you can have your sins forgiven, so you can know that when you die, you will go to heaven. Aren’t you interested in that?”

But what if the dots aren’t there? What if people don’t believe in God, don’t believe in moral absolutes, don’t believe they’re sinners? And what if you can’t get them in the door to come to church to hear the gospel preached from the pulpit?

How do you win people to Christ in a post-Christendom era? The church does not have any idea how to do it. The Keller Center is seeking to address this by raising up a new generation of younger thinkers and ministers and leaders who are able to do evangelism and cultural apologetics in a post-Christendom situation or milieu.

If The Keller Center is successful, and this new generation of younger thinkers and writers and scholars produce great cultural apologetics in a compelling way to very secular people, the church itself will start to translate this content. You’ll find all sorts of platforms and vehicles for the content that The Keller Center is producing. And if that happens, the reversal of the decline of the evangelical church in this country will take place. 

The second thing is many, many younger people are leaving the evangelical church for a variety of reasons. One of them is this: Just as we do not know how to effectively evangelize highly secular people, in the same way we really don’t know how to protect our own young people from the narratives and the arguments and the messages of our secular culture.

Because when you do cultural apologetics, you may be winning people to Christ who are not believers. But everyone knows that apologetics also serve as a kind of strengthening of faith and belief, especially of younger Christians. And therefore, cultural apologetics will not just do evangelism, it will do formation.

Twenty years from now, hopefully it will close that back door so that more young people are coming into the church than are leaving. And that’s our hope for what change and difference The Keller Center could make to the church.