Elevator Apologetics Part 1: Don’t blame the hammer.

Rick Mattson Apologetics Leave a Comment

Starting today, a new series: apologetic material you can use in a short conversation (even on an elevator).

I will try to give you a single crisp image, a kind of “go-to” card you can play in various situations.

note: “Apologetics” as I am using the word means to make a case for Christian faith.

First image: Don’t blame the hammer.

This is not original with me. I use it all the time on college campuses (and other places as well).

It responds to the objection that the church’s history has been characterized by hypocritical, sometimes violent acts such as the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Salem witch hunts, and contemporary clergy sex and financial scandals.

The objector rightly says, “I thought Christians were supposed to be different. I thought they were supposed to be holy, honest, loving people. Why would I want to be part of an institution that’s been guilty of so many crimes?”

My response: “Good point. No excuses. But think of it this way: If I go out and pound dents into your car with a hammer, would you blame the hammer or blame me?

Dude, the hammer is ‘not guilty’!”


As a believer, I am often embarrassed at reading media accounts of Christians behaving badly. Doing harm to others in the name of God is one of the worst forms of abuse.

But the guilty party here is the person who misuses religion, not religion itself. Just as you wouldn’t blame the hammer, don’t blame religion.

Just to round off the point, I might say, “The proper use of a hammer would be to pound nails for Habitat for Humanity, a Christian organization that recently completed its 500,000th home for low income people.

Now THAT’S how to use a hammer!”

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