Q: #268. What is Christian apologetics?
By: Steve Shirley
A: The word "apologetics" comes from the Greek word "apologia" which means "defense." Therefore, from a Christian viewpoint, when we speak of apologetics, it means "defending" all aspects of the Christian faith. This defense applies to dozens of areas such as: the Bible, the Gospel, the existence of God, the deity of Jesus, the trinity, the resurrection, creationism, and prophecy to name a few. It can also involve exposing the errors of false teachers, false prophets, or other faiths. Our primary goals in doing this should be to lead unbelievers to salvation through Jesus Christ and to strengthen the faith of those who are already in Christ.
With solid evidence behind us, we should be able
to "defend the faith" with sound, logical, rational, and reasonable answers.
Obviously, the only way to be able to do this is through personal study. How
can we "defend" what we know very little about? From a personal standpoint,
this is how this whole website started. As a fairly new Christian, I was
asked questions about my faith that I was unable answer or defend. This
upset me, so I set out to find the answers using tools such as: the Bible
(and study Bible notes), commentaries, dictionaries, a concordance, and
Christian websites. As I found the answers, I wrote them down so I would be
prepared to answer if I was asked again. Eventually, I was asked to put
these "studies" online, hence JesusAlive was born.
(Years later, I am still finding new answers to new questions and putting them online .)
The Bible tells us clearly that every Christian should be "ready" to do this:
(1 Pet 3:15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
"Answer" in this verse is the Greek word "apologia." So, in other words, "be ready to give a DEFENSE to every man." The Bible is filled with verses that show this being put into action.
Paul, in speaking to the Jews: (Acts 22:1) "Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence (apologia) which I make now unto you."
(Phil 1:7) Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence (apologia) and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
(Phil 1:17) But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence (apologia) of the gospel.
Paul is shown over and over "persuading," "disputing," and "reasoning with," people over "things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8). For example:
(Acts 17:1-4) Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia,
they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: (2) And Paul,
as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned
with them out of the scriptures, (3) Opening and alleging, that Christ must
needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus,
whom I preach unto you, is Christ. (4) And some of them believed, and
consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude,
and of the chief women not a few.
(See: Acts 17:17, Acts 18:4,19 Acts 19:8-9 for more verses)
Here is one response that Paul got: (Acts 26:28-29) Agrippa replied to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian." (29) And Paul said, "I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains."
Friends, as I said above, our whole purpose in practicing apologetics should be to win unbelievers to Christ or to strengthen the faith of those already in Christ. We should not be trying to "defend the faith" with those who have no interest in hearing the truth. Practicing apologetics just for the sake of arguing is pointless and the Bible tells us to avoid this.
(Titus 3:9-11) But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. (10) Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, (11) knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
(2 Tim 2:24-26) The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, (25) with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, (26) and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
(Mt 7:6) Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Be warned that practicing apologetics is one of the more difficult aspects of the Christian walk. Preparing and studying can be hard work. And, as you step out to share the truth, there will be many times of discouragement (you will sometimes wonder if you are getting anywhere) and attacks against you and your character (i.e. you are "intolerant," "hateful," "homophobic," etc...), but there will also be those (much fewer) times when God will use you to change a life. When that happens, you will find that all of the suffering is worth it.
*** For more verses on this topic see: (Jude 1:3)(2 Cor 10:5)(2 Cor 5:11)(Titus 1:9)(Acts 18:13)(Acts 19:26)(Acts 28:23)(Acts 24:25)