Christians today are called to serve the cause of Christ at one of the crucial turning points in human history. The generations now living have witnessed an explosion of knowledge, the collapse of distance, the rising and falling of empires. Cultures and societies have been radically transformed, and expansive wealth has brought great material comfort even as the most basic structures of society are undermined. Families are fractured, lawlessness abounds, violence invades, and the media bring a constant stream of chaos into our lives.

The reality of truth is itself denied. Postmodern Americans accept meaning as a replacement for truth, and exchange worldviews as quickly as they try on new clothes.

This is a very strange time to proclaim and defend the Christian faith. Evangelism is difficult in an age when most persons think their most basic problems are rooted in a lack of self-esteem, and when personal choice is the all-determining reality of the marketplace. In the same way, the task of apologetics is complicated by the postmodern condition. How does one defend the faith to persons unwilling to make any judgment concerning truth?

In a very real sense, the defense of the faith has fallen on hard times. Liberal churches and denominations have so accommodated themselves to modernity that there is virtually nothing left to defend, except perhaps the Golden Rule. Postmodernism has been a great gift to the liberal churches, for it has given them new ways to sound like they are saying something important without running the risk of offending anyone.

Evangelicals seem perplexed by the postmodern condition. Some see postmodernism as a new opportunity--the death of Enlightenment rationality. Others see postmodernism simply as modernity dressed up for a new millennium. In any case, the apologetic task is stranger than it used to be.

Centuries ago, apologetic giants walked the earth. Apologists and theologians such as Athanasius and Augustine, Irenaeus and Cyprian, Ambrose of Milan and Anselm of Canterbury, Tertullian and Chrysostom, gave themselves to defending the Christian faith. We remember also the medieval Catholics such as Thomas Aquinas, and of course the Reformers--Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Knox. In the United States, we think of Jonathan Edwards, J. Gresham Machen, Carl F. H. Henry, and Francis Schaeffer. These men and other like them were unapologetic apologists, known for their defense and proclamation of the truth.

They had substantial opponents as well. The famous skeptic philosopher David Hume was once observed on his way to hear George Whitefield preach one of his five o'clock morning messages on Christ. The observer chided Hume: "I didn't think you believed in God." Hume replied, and referred to Whitefield: "I don't. But I am convinced this man does."

The times have certainly changed from those days. England's King Henry VIII was granted the title "Defender of the Faith" in 1521 by Pope Leo X, who was grateful for Henry's attack on Martin Luther. Though Henry was to make his own break with the papacy in later years, successive British monarchs have retained the title, down to Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth is to be the last of the British monarchs crowned with this title, "Defender of the Faith." Charles, the current Prince of Wales, is likely to be England's first New Age king, complete with belief in reincarnation, a panentheistic worldview, and postmodern morals. In a recent interview, Charles declared himself unwilling to take on the title, "Defender of the Faith." Better, he said, to be known as "Defender of Faith" since "people have fought each other to the death over these things, which seems to me a peculiar waste of people's energies." He added that he would be the "defender of the Divine in existence, the pattern of the Divine which is, I think, in all of us, but which, because we are human beings, can be expressed in so many different ways." So the future King Charles will defend faith, but no particular faith, including Christianity and especially the Church of England, of which he will be head. Charles will be the perfect king for a church whose bishops routinely deny the most basic doctrines of the Christian faith.