Mentionables: How a Few Internet Apologists Became a Grassroots Movement

Updated on March 2, 2018
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Joel is a writer who has spent 7 years researching and writing on topics of religion. He has a BA in psychology and an MA in education.

The Lay-Apologists

A Christian Apologist is a person who uses scholarship, science and philosophy in order to show that Christianity is a true and sensible worldview.

Apologetics was traditionally a curious subset of theology that remained a slight novelty tucked away in the glossary if seminary textbooks. However, all of that changed about 20 years ago.

At that time, radical acts of terrorism had the world re-thinking the concept of religion, and the dangers that blind adherence to a belief-system might entail. So severe was the reaction, that there was an international call to do away with religion entirely - especially Christianity.

With every aspect of Christianity being called into question, suddenly the practice of defending the sense of this religion sprang to the forefront of theology, and the long-dormant practice of Apologetics was revived.

The call to dismantle and destroy Christianity, with its traditional morals and counter-cultural attitudes rolled into the street and was picked up by the everyman. And as a result, the everyman Christian became an everyman Apologist.

Now Apologists were no longer stodgy seminarians - more and more they became young men and women whose beliefs were assaulted daily in the school, the street and social networks. This next generation of Apologists began to self-educate with the vast amount of resources pouring out in the form of books, websites and podcasts. And soon these new Apologists were producing their own books, websites and podcasts.

The Joke that Wouldn't Stop Growing

In August of 2017, a few lay apologists - consisting mostly of bloggers and podcasters - began a conversation on Facebook when one of them wrote the following:

So I have this fantasy of starting a nation-wide apologetics tour and conference featuring all of the talented and devoted Apologists that I know who don't receive as much attention as I feel they deserve. I would call it "The Mentionables".

These bloggers and podcasters began joking and discussing the idea. The conversation kept going for days, and became too long for one thread. So one of them decided to create a Facebook group devoted to the discussion.

Instead of creating a group, however, the man accidentally created a page - a front for an organization. Without meaning to, he had created a front for a group that didn't yet exist.

On this team that had begun as a joke was a graphic artist. He created a logo and began to create marques for the group. There was a web-designer who created a very professional looking web page for the group. There was also among the team a professional voice and recording artist. He quickly suggested and then began hosting a team podcast.

Unlike most podcasts, this wasn't a regular panel of members discussing subjects or interviewing guests: this podcast featured a rotation of team members, each bringing their expertise to the table.

A Diverse Team

The members that came to the team represented a lot of diverse talents, specialities and backgrounds.

Among the team were a former atheist, with a great deal of insight into that mindset; an urban apologist who ministered on the subject of race as it related to Christianity and a man with Asperger's syndrome who raised disability awareness in the church.

These men had a range of expertise that included psychology, philosophy and scholarship, among other fields.

One member notes,

"It feels like one of those movies where a bunch of people who don't know each other are hanging around somewhere, then discover that each of them has a special skill, and someone says 'we should team up!' and they do. That's basically what happened with The Mentionables."

The Conference

Once the team was more or less cemented and a podcast was in the works one of the members chatted with a friend about the excitement he had for this project. Unbeknownst to him, the friend approached his large church and organized a conference for the team. Now this group, spread across the nation, was going to come together at a single point. After working together remotely for almost a year, the group would finally meet one another face-to-face, and share a stage as they found the platform the group had been formed to provide.


Always on the search for projects to do, the team, of course, started the podcast, but they also began to publish articles. Then, by pure happenstance, someone submitted a question to the group.

What approach to take? The group could choose one member to answer the question, or they could all answer it. They all answered it. Multiple answers gave a much more rounded perspective, and this quickly became a popular format. More questions were submitted, specifically because people liked to get several answers to their question.

The team took this format and ran with it in a project wherein they took a list of atheist questions and each member gave an answer to each question. What was generated was a book-length document that became the group's signature project.

The Grassroots Movement

As the Mentionables gained momentum, more small-time apologists clamoured to join ranks. With the movement growing too large to be a simple speaking team, they began, instead, to construct a network - a catalog of talented unknowns around the country - each of whom brought something to the table.

The catalog continues to grow, with the hopes that they all become a resource to one another and to the larger Christian community.

The Future

In this writer's interview with the members of this team, they all seemed uncertain about the future of this project they accidentally started.

One member, Neil Hess, sums it up this way:

I've found that we sync up very well. While I realize that making speaking “my job” is very unlikely, I am happy to serve the body and meet other believers. It is really helpful to find people who have carefully thought about the same questions as you. When you realize you aren’t the only one asking them, it can have a huge impact on your life. Studying scripture and realizing the reality that Jesus is who He said he is, that God is real, that heaven and hell are real and that the bible is reliable changed my life more than anything else. I want to give that same hope to others out there along their journey and to lovingly, but firmly, challenge those who oppose it.


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    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for sharing the dynamics of this group. Quite an interesting start!

    • profile image

      James Pannafino 2 weeks ago

      I wish you His best, I honestly do...

      but your ramblings likely make sense only to a crowd of one, yourself.

      You seem to be determinedly in a self righteous 'attack' mode and convinced that everybody is wrong (besides yourself). You do not appear to be humble, nor willing to hear or learn from anyone else...

      at least that is my honest observation with what you communicate here.

      Even at this very moment your pride is likely being riled and you are readying your response, "I will show him!"

      Think about this, just for a moment...

      you know absolutely nothing about me, my life, and the multitude of years that I have sought to faithfully serve my wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. No, no, no... you assume some higher ground and build your 'straw man' arguments to defend yourself... the result, if you treat others like you have done here with your postings, is that you will give others reason why they don't want to be around Christians... or Christianity. They will reject Jesus if we misrepresent Him... please consider this.

      I will not be responding again if you move into the accuse and attack mode... I just don't don't believe that it is profitable to argue as such, nor pleasing to Jesus, nor a good way to spend my time... but I am always willing to talk, if you want to.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 2 weeks ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth. between the oceans

      JP--- The modern church system is not found anywhere in the new testament, the book for this the age of Christ. Jesus makes it clear in Matt 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

      He is talking to his disciples there and They were commissioned to make disciples and then their disciples were to make disciples--OF CHRIST, not of themselves and the churchmen do. Only a disciple of Christ that follows Christ alone can make disciples of Christ and THEY tell them TO GO AND DO the same, not to sit around and listen to them, make them rich or go sit somewhere and LISTEN to some man tell them his idea of God. They teach GO with Christ but the apostate church clergy teaches come and bring other to me. The are, if truly they become a disciple of CHRIST, filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore full of the TRUE knowledge of God as they POSSESS His Spirit and are possessed by it. In other words committed to follow Christ alone ,

      Read the scripture that tell us to not be deceived and read what the deceivers will do to mislead us, it is what the clergy of men does.

      The word as used in the scripture you use 1Per 3:15 is actually correctly translated as answer not defense

      Yes it makes it clear, clarifies that you follow man and not the risen Christ. You did the usual of churchmen. You found a word that the men before you say is a valid entry point for their false teachings, You can try to use scripture to make points it does not make but I do not fall for that foolishness from apostate man. Yes we are to have answer, from scripture the way it is written in scripture, not as found in a bible that has translated it in a manner to suite those that use their false doctrines. this one founded in the 1700's, never found in in scripture

      Christ is never told us to use the works of man to prove who He or God are. Nor did any of the original apostles.

      There is no new testament scripture that tells us to use the works of man for anything to do with God. In fact the new testament makes it clear that as Lord of this final age of man. Jesus is in control and we must go through Him to get to God, no man is needed, that is why He had God send the Holy Spirit to us, to TEACH US ALL TRUTH. Jesus is the ONLY HEAD OF MAN and he tells us what to do as confirmed in scripture.

      There is no such thing as the church system with their buildings, false clergy and all their programs to entrap the simple believers into their web, making disciples of the apostate hirelings that do not understand who Christ really is and His role in this age.

      The current apostate church system of man founded on the pattern of the temples and priest was ended at the cross and is not a part of Christ in any way.

    • profile image

      James Pannafino 2 weeks ago


      What is your understanding regarding apologetics? Your comment that "there is no scripture (show me one) that says we are to apologize for God" reflects (minimally) a serious lack of what you are referring to.

      I hope this helps clarify...

      1 Peter 3:15

      But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

      The word translated "defense" here is the greek word 'apologia' from which the term apologetics is derived. It simply means to give a reasonable and rational explanation for why you believe in Jesus to others. It is used throughout the NT (11x) as the gospel is explained (and defended) among the critics and skeptics in the first century. It has nothing to do with apologizing for God. I hope this is helpful my friend.

    • Tony Muse profile image

      Tony Muse 2 weeks ago from Texas, USA

      Very interesting, I had not heard of this group. I think that our faith coming under attack will be a major factor as time goes by and society seems to continue to distance itself from God. Thanks for the read.


    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 2 weeks ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth. between the oceans

      marc--philosophy cannot be rooted in scripture as it is not of God but of man.

      This age of the rules of Christ is exactly that ALL AUTHORITY on heaven and earth has been given to Him. He is acting in God's stead as the delegated authority that God has placed on earth for this final age of man.

      Jesus Christ and HIS GOSPEL, which of course includes the infilling of the Holy Spirit of God, which is the Gospel of God are the ONLY authority in this age.

      At the end of this age when Christ gives that authority back to God then God will become the Omega the last making Him the alpha, and the Omega for eternity.

      ONLY those that have come to be sons of God by doing ALL Jesus requires will be allowed entry into eternity and no pastor or any other false ministry can do an other way.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 2 weeks ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth. between the oceans

      JP. there is no scripture (show me one) that says we are to apologize for God. Teaching a perverted gospel instead of the Gospel of Christ helps no one other than satan. All 46000 shurch system DIVISIONS (which God hates) teach corrupted gospels in other words, a FALSE gospel

      The only scripture that tells the whole story of becoming a son of God, by being a disciple of Christ, there is no other way is this one to enter the eternal kingdom of God but through THIS MAN Jesus Christ the son of God..

      Matt 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

      notice there is no mention of any other man here other than individual disciples doing the work of the ministry like it says in Ephesians.

      ALSO NOTE it say we must do ALL and Teach ALL of what HE has said and shown us.

      All real disciples of Christ are to make disciples of CHRIST and not of man or their church system

    • profile image

      PastorMarc 2 weeks ago

      Throughout the bible we see the prophets and Christmas and the Apostles defending the gospel message with sound reasoning. Not me rely throwing scripture at people. Not merely denouncing any other reasoning aside from revelation.

      Philosophy should never be a means to supplant biblical truth. But But as But as we But as we live But as we love the Lord with all of our MIND, we use the rationale He gave us as we offer a defense for the hope we have.

      Philosophy Philosophy and apologetics must must be rooted in and grounded in the Bible to be used properly. But as we love the indeed they can and should be used.

    • profile image

      James Pannafino 2 weeks ago

      From one of those Mentionables,

      and a oh so grateful 'one dollar' apologist...

      Back in the '60's there was a slogan, "Power To The People", that never quite met with reality (like most other nonsensical cultural slogans that come and go like the weather... see COEXIST). As good intentioned as that sounded to the hippies and hipsters of that day everybody eventually had to grow up (and get a job).

      Still today, with our faithful evangelical church crowd, the 'power' question lives on, sort of. I kinda like the "Power To The People" attraction, but I also have enough of life experience to understand that is not how a fallen world functions. Here's a parallel suggestion... perhaps it is time for the Mentionables to adapt and adopt this forgotten dream with a Biblical revision, "Power To The Apologist!"

      The essence of this proposition is to merely recapture what our "great commission" calling has been all along, but somewhat forgotten and diminished with the professionalization of the primary apologetic directive to "...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."

      'Grassroots' would simply imply that the everyday believer (which really are all of us who love Jesus and seek to follow him faithfully) become that revived force-to-be-reckoned-with of God-fearers who actually engage our culture at every level, moving in faith upon the multitude of opportunities to be His voice to this generation... this would truly be a dream come true I might say!

      If we are to have an effective connection with the Millennials and Gen Z'er's we must first come to a confession, not of faith but of disobedience. The leadership of our movement, though so blessed intellectually, wondering servants of the Lord, and deeply appreciated by others (including the Mentionables, and especially myself), have not equipped the body of Christ for the real work of cultural ministry engagement (see Ephesians 4:12).

      For the love of Christ, let's follow His transferable model of actually building communication bridges (via provocative question and listening) that authentically bring the gospel to the multitudes who have no viable relationship with the church or individual believers... it can be done (this I know from weekly experience among those of our post-christian world), but not the way we have been going at it (e.g., non-effectual event-driven ministry... noting that lost people don't even know we exist, never the less participate in our gatherings, so why/how would they come?).

      My hope is only to encourage a new awakening among my fellow apologists, and trust that God is ready to inspire us to bring the gospel to a whole new generation of the forgotten among us.

      Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome.

      James Pannafino

      Ratio Christi, Regional Director NYS

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 2 weeks ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth. between the oceans

      You said; "A Christian Apologist is a person who uses scholarship, science and philosophy in order to show that Christianity is a true and sensible worldview."

      Neither God nor Christ need any man to apologize for them or explain them, we are told we must have the faith of a little child, and let God prove himself.

      That statement in it self shows this is not of God.

      Anything or anyone that uses other than scripture, esp philosophy which is a work of man, to "prove" christianity does not understand who Christ is or the workings of God with man. Philosophy is a work of man and NOT OF GOD and has NO relation to the things of God.

      Scripture is clear that CHRIST is the Lord of this age and He determines the rules of this age, Christ is the HEAD of Man and man is not the head of any man. Christ leads to the kingdom of God for eternity. Man leads to the kingdom of man for destruction.

      first there is NO SUCH THING AS A LAY ANYTHING that is a lie of the apostate man of the apostate and non-scriptural church system. Real disciples of Christ are a Royal priesthood and the only sons of God. The church system was done away with at the cross when Jesus instituted a new and different way.

      1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

      Hell is not an eternal place but a depository for those waiting for judgment.

      No one is going to hell for eternity. All man that have rejected Christ as Lord of this age will be cast into the lake of fire for their destruction. (second death)

      No one will be in eternal punishment but satan all man that are not sons of God through Christ are destroyed.

      No one goes to heaven, God comes down to the new earth with His throne and lives among His sons for eternity. That is the location of His eternal Kingdom.

      Rev 21:2-5

      3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

      You have drunk the koolaid of the apostate church system and its apostate man's doctrines and are promoting false doctrine . Repent and follow Christ instead of man