Rawlings School of Divinity


Master of Divinity (MDiv)


Joshua Chatraw


Apologetics, Authenticity, Flourishing, Identity, Meaning and Purpose, Self


Christianity | Other Religion | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Many in American culture have either actively or passively adopted the idea that authenticity is one of the highest virtues, if not the highest. The cultural ideal of authenticity states that personal identity and meaning are found within oneself. Being true to ‘the real you’ is the path to meaning, pleasure, and flourishing. This way of framing personal identity proves to be insecure, unstable, and leads to a lack of flourishing. In contrast, a Christian view of authenticity provides stability and security and leads to the possibility of flourishing in this life as well as for eternity. There is a great deal that these two differing views of authenticity have in common, which provides many areas of overlap for relational and apologetic engagement. This apologetic approach is strongly relational and requires that each individual be pursuing redeemed authenticity in their lives. It also requires engaging in genuine relationships with non-Christians, which involves seeking to listen to their thoughts in order to understand their unique perspectives and opinions regarding authenticity, it’s strengths, and its weaknesses. After this information gathering is complete, appropriate apologetic arguments can be brought to bear with sensitivity and wisdom. Personal testimony, the argument from desire, moral and non-moral good, and Pascal’s wager are all very good starting points. The apologist must be prepared to have a sincerely felt discussion of God’s sufficiency to meet each individual’s need for stable authenticity and explain how Jesus is the most authentic individual that ever lived.