I didn’t realize, until entering graduate school, how often I would hear the question:
“Apologetics? What’s that?”
When you love a discipline as much as I love this one and truly realize its importance, the shock value of that question never decreases.
So, despite my desire to immediately delve into some difficult questions about Christianity, I will instead offer a brief explanation of what Apologetics is, why it is indispensable to today’s church, and what every Christian should be doing.
“Apologetics” comes from a Greek word that means “speaking in defense.” It is the discipline of actively, intelligently, and articulately defending and promoting the Christian faith using systematic reasoning, and requires using knowledge from philosophy, science, theology, history, and textual criticism to form a rigorous case for the historicity and viability of Christianity. This is not something new; it has been practiced since the time of Paul the Apostle! You may also recognize the name of one of the early apologists–Justin Martyr (103-165 AD).
The next shocking question that sometimes follows is:
“Why does the Christian faith need defending?”
<Gasp! Choke! Wheeze!>
Remember the old cliche: “If all Jesus wanted to accomplish by saving us is getting us into Heaven, He would have taken us there immediately afterward.”
The Great Commission!! Remember that?
Acts 13:47–“For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring Salvation to the end of the earth.'”
Matthew 28:19–“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Well that’s talking about evangelism, right? Yes! But guess what—–>Apologetics is evangelism. I’m not calling them synonymous, I’m saying that the application of Apologetics is a very important form of evangelism.
In our present culture (and world), we are dealing with non-believers that either:
1. Don’t believe the Bible is the word of God, period
2. Believe a different faith is true and Christianity is false
You can have all the biblical knowledge there is to be had and still not begin to reach people like these. Apologetics is enormously useful when there is a person in your life (or that enters your life) that ascribes to such ideas. When they hear sound arguments that come from sources of knowledge that they do trust to convey truth, there is a much greater probability that they will give Christianity fresh consideration!
Guess what else? Apologetics is not just for evangelistic purposes. Believers can immensely deepen their faith with this type of knowledge. When you have a good understanding of why you are justified in believing what you believe, there is a strong sense of confidence that grows out of that knowledge–confidence you sorely need when relating to this secular society and fortifying yourself against its effects.
What are some of the questions Apologetics addresses? Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list to get your brain going in this direction:
1. How do we know the Bible is true?
2. Hasn’t modern science disproved the idea of an Intelligent Designer of the universe and life on earth?
3. Why can’t all religions be considered different paths to the same God?
4. What evidence is there that Jesus of Nazareth was bodily resurrected on the third day after his crucifixion?
Are you overwhelmed by the thought of learning the answers to questions such as these? Don’t be!! There is no shortage of great resources for arming yourself with a good base-knowledge of apologetics. More than half the battle is simply knowing where to find an answer when your brain comes up short. I hope that I can help in that regard by using this blog to promote trustworthy books, DVD’s, articles, and conferences.
So, the short answer to “What should every Christian be doing?” is:
1. Understanding the need for Apologetics knowledge in carrying out the Great Commission
2. Becoming knowledgeable in basic Apologetics
3. Becoming capable of finding answers in reliable, trustworthy sources
BOOK RECOMMENDATION OF THE DAY: On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision by William Lane Craig
In my next post, I will address the vital importance of Apologetics in raising children who are equipped to go out into this broken world on their own.