The Future of UK Apologetics: From Big Brands to Locals in Pubs

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I studied with RZIM and interviewed Ravi Zacharias. I asked Alister McGrath what comes next.

The collapse of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) has posed many questions for where Christian apologetics goes from here.

As a parish priest in North London in one of the most multicultural boroughs in England—and as someone who spent a year studying at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (run by RZIM) and interviewed Zacharias for a Christianity Magazine cover story—I have plenty of theories.

So I tested them out on one of the best British apologists: Alister McGrath, the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University.

Interested in apologetics since his own conversion to Christianity back in 1971 (and last interviewed by CT in 2019), McGrath offers a measured yet devastating critique of the field in the UK and beyond. Yet he also inspires, arguing for the end of “big ministry” and the birth of local and heartwarming efforts where one doesn’t need a first-class degree to get going.

Below is our conversation:

SM: Is the implosion of RZIM just the start of a major change for apologetics in the UK? The way we do apologetics, the people we recruit, and the places we do it all need to change fundamentally, don’t they?

AG: What’s happened is that people have been made aware of the problems with big apologetics ministries. The personality and specific apologetic approach of a single individual becomes normative, not just one option. It then becomes a brand that is only accessed by a particular group of people.

Apologetics should be a very rich field of study, and we need to allow multiple approaches. The problem with the “brand” approach to apologetics is that it becomes entangled with organizational concerns: building a reputation, building …

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