A group of young seminarians had come to the end of their ropes. Time and time again they were challenged in public to defend the faith from heroes of the secular world but could not come out on top. They had tried every trick ever taught them and every method at their disposal yet their atheist adversaries made far better arguments and won over crowds with ease.
But the seminarians had heard tales of an apologist from days past; rumors of a man who could take down the mightiest of opponent with his wit and intellect. He was a man whom had fought the good fight through every secular idea his generation could throw at him: communism, evolution, and philosophy. But they also knew that this man had not practiced his craft for years. They weren’t even sure how to find him but they knew that it was only he who could defeat the secularism of their day and therefore spread the gospel of Jesus to those who were not yet convinced.
When a professor, who was once acquainted with the old man, told the seminarians how they could find him they jumped into action. They approached the sage, explained their situation and asked if he would publicly defend the faith once more against a famous atheist whose work was gaining much ground. After seeing the enthusiasm and hope of the young men the old apologist acquiesced and told them that he would do as they asked.
The event was scheduled. In a public forum the atheist and the apologist would have a showdown. Knowing the reputation of the old man, the atheist brought every weapon he had. He was going to tear down the evangelical faith once and for all. The old man was also ready.
The atheist stood before the crowd and with supreme eloquence he presented irrefutable evidence that evolution is true and that the Biblical account of creation in Genesis is archaic and erroneous. The audience was mesmerized by his wit and charm. When it was clear that everybody in the room was thoroughly convinced the atheist stepped aside and invited his opponent to respond.
The old apologist slowly rose from his seat, smiled at the atheist and nodded in thanks while walking to the podium. He approached the microphone and with humble sincerity said, “I suppose you’re right, my dear friend. Thank you for teaching us.” He then turned and walked back to his seat.
Not quite sure what to do, the atheist hesitated but stood again to give his second exposition. Again, with charisma and zeal, he tore apart the Christian faith. In a matter of minutes he convinced the whole of the room that the Christian religion was philosophically untenable. When he was satisfied he had done an adequate job he sat down.
The old apologist slowly rose from his seat, smiled at the atheist and nodded in thanks while walking to the podium. He approached the microphone and with humble sincerity said, “That seems to make a lot of sense. Perhaps you’re right.” He turned again and walked back to his seat, smiling the whole way.
The atheist didn’t understand. What could this old man be thinking? What would make him give up his faith so easily? He rose and asked, “Why won’t you defend the faith you’ve so ardently defended in the past?”
The young seminarians rose to listen, eager to hear the answer.
The old man smiled. He stood up and said, “I searched for Christ in politics and I could not find him. I searched for Christ in philosophy and theology but I could not find him. I searched for Christ in the Christian religion but could not find him. I determined that he must not be there. But I found him. He was on a cross letting the accusations of other’s destroy his reputation, his work, even his religion. And because they destroyed all of these things, and because there was nothing left to take from him, folks were able to see what God gave us in their place.”
“And what was that?” inquired the atheist.
“A man who is for others,” Said the apologist, “It seems the only real way to defend that is to emulate.”
So moved by his humility and unsure of how to respond the atheist took his seat. But one of the young seminarians, disappointed in the exchange, marched to the stage and told the audience that they would continue the debate. Taking things into his own hands he began to refute the atheist’s claims. He pulled no punches and left no stone unturned. He did a precise and flawless critique of the atheist’s logic rising to the occasion like the apologists of old. He deconstructed every word, phrase, and thought the atheist had put forth with depth and insight. Having thoroughly demonstrated the superiority of the Christian faith he turned to the atheist and said, “Now that you have something to respond to let’s see what you’ve got.”
With a look of uncertainty on his face he cautiously approached the podium. He looked at the old man, who was sitting contended in his chair, and he looked at the young seminarian who had proudly stepped aside. He shrugged his shoulders and with sincerity replied, “I suppose you’re right, my friend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.” With that he turned and walked off stage never to be heard from again in the public arena.
 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Christ the Center and Papers and Letters From Prison.