What is apologetics? I realize that a lot of people are not familiar with what apologetics is, or what an apologist does. So, let’s start with the basics.
The word apologetics derives from the Greek work apologia, which means to give a legal defense, much like a lawyer does in court by using evidence and practical arguments. Apologetics is not the art of saying sorry for something you did.
It is the art of defending that which you believe.
“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” ~ Titus 1:9
In a way, apologetics is the act of defending our faith unapologetically to the world, and then explaining the ‘why’ in a way that the average person would understand.
Dictionary.com defines apologetics as “the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.” And as you can guess, an apologist is the person that sets out to defend the faith. An apologist argues for the validity of the Bible and all its claims using intelligible, evidence-based, and logical arguments.
It’s the apologist’s job to explain the faith in such a way that a non-believer could come to see it as truth; to convince the skeptic that Christianity is real.
Arguments to Defend the Faith
One major argument that nonbelievers have is that Christians often defend Christianity using the Bible itself. If the person you’re evangelizing to does not believe in the Bible, and you are only using the Bible to defend the Bible, then you will get nowhere.
In addition to using the Bible as evidence, an apologist should pull facts and evidence from sources outside the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, the Bible is the best source. But part of the issue for a lot of skeptics is that most people see the Good Book as one big manuscript full of fairy tales.
Now, apologetics has 4 major methods or ways to approach defending Christianity. I have listed those below with a brief overview of each.
- The Classical Method – The classical approach is probably the most traditionally used method. The apologist usually presents their case in two steps: First, establish that there could reasonably be a god. Second, then defend why that god is the God of the Bible.
- The Evidential Method – In the evidential approach, the apologist leans heavily on historical, archaeological, and geographical evidence to prove their case. The idea is to show that unbiased, indisputable evidence exists that supports the Bible’s claims.
- The Presuppositional Method – This approach is very interesting, and I can see how this would not go over well with most nonbelievers. Essentially, the presuppositional apologist claims that the authority of the Bible must be accepted in order to argue anything. It claims that in order for anyone, nonbelievers included, to logically reason for or against anything, they have to borrow from Christianity to do so. Basically, the goal here is to prove that without the Christian God, nothing is possible.
- The Cumulative Method – Apologists in this category take the best arguments from all four methods, and tailor it to create a big picture view.
But for now, I hope this gives you a good starting point from which to begin your own studies. I am very excited to dive deeper and really develop my skills as a newbie apologist.
Do We Need to Defend Our Faith?
There are people who argue that we do not need apologetics; that evangelizing has no place for it. They object to defending faith by way of apologetics because people don’t turn to Christ because of apologetics, they turn to Christ because Jesus changed their hearts. And this is true, only Jesus can change a person and truly open their eyes to truth.
However, what if God uses apologetics to start the conversation, to help open the eyes of the skeptic, or spark the interest of the agnostic, or humble the hard-core atheist.
It’s no different from traditional evangelism, in my opinion. Apologetics is just a different way of tackling the act of spreading the good news.
Apologetics reaches the people who seem unreachable, the most hardened, the almost-too-far-gone. Perhaps our words cannot make the ultimate heart change, but we can speak a word that might make them second guess their own reasoning.
Once the door is open, and the walls are down, Jesus can begin the real work of softening the heart, and pouring in the understanding, truth, and wisdom that only He can provide.
Always Be Ready to Give a Defense
Apologetics can and should be part of evangelizing. There are too many lukewarm Christians in today’s world. And I believe it’s because a lot of them don’t even know why they believe.
They don’t have a strong foundation, so when their faith is challenged, they start to question, doubt, and even abandon their faith, leaving non-Christians even more confused.
How can a lukewarm Christian pull anyone to Christ? In today’s society the opposite is happening, especially with our youth. Our children are going to college and coming back nonbelievers. They are entering the lion’s den ill-equipped to fight the battle.
Study the Word. Pray often. And always be ready to give a defense.
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