Sing a Better Song Apologetics

I thought this was a really great illustration from my friend Jeremy Larson:

When Odysseus schemed to evade the Sirens, whose beautiful song enchanted and ultimately destroyed sailors, he had his crew put wax in their ears and ordered them tie him to the mast. The Sirens’ song drove him mad momentarily, but his crew kept their course, and they made it through. However, manhandling people into a decision is rarely effective, and sometimes the brash confrontational nature of certain kinds of apologetics can push people away more than it draws them near. We can learn a lesson from the bard Orpheus, who, upon finding himself in a similar situation to Odysseus, simply sang a better song.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.


  1. Bruce on September 3, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Hi Mark,

    I think I see what you and Jeremy are saying here. And I agree that there are many issues that “we” as Christians are brash and confrontational over that perhaps are peripheral and not core tenets to die on.

    But surely we will, by standing firm on core non-negotiables, at times find ourselves accused of being brash and even confrontational. Jesus was on several occaisions. At one point he looked around at the 12 and said “Are you guys still here? Don’t you want to leave too?” Should Jesus have sung a better song here? One not quite so brash and confrontational? He drove everyone away.

    Should Stephen have been less brash? Less confrontational? Why couldn’t he sing a better song? He drove them to stone him.

    Though I think I understand the point made here. I am concerned that the desire to “sing a better song” too often becomes a song no longer true to the Gosple that is confrontational to sin and sinful life choices. The Truth of the gospel directly challenges these and cannot be anything but confrontational.

    Please receive my sincere apology if I am off-track here or have mi-understood your intent.


  2. Mark Ward on September 4, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Bruce, I fully agree with you. And a glance over my own apologetics—on this blog and in a forthcoming book from BJU Press—will show that I do. This is a both-and: let’s be true to the gospel and as winsome as possible.

  3. mlward on September 9, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    A follow-up. As I was listening to this really great conversation, I was reminded that truth, goodness, and beauty are all parts of our apologetic. My post emphasized beauty. Bruce, you came back emphasizing truth. We need to make sure that goodness gets in there: “Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

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