What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why Do Christians Need Apologetics?

"What are you apologizing for?" "What is apologetics?" These are some of the popular questions I get from believers who have been in church most of their life. Sometimes when I ask a young person, "why are you a Christian?" I get answers like,

"My parents raised me that way." 
"Because I have prayed a prayer for salvation."

Other answers I get sound like personal testimonies. But personal testimonies, being raised in a Christian home, or praying a prayer for salvation do not answer the question, why are you a Christian. Please understand, I am not discounting any of these things.

Being raised in a Christian home is not a blessing that I had the privilege of experiencing. Praying a prayer does not save a person, it is only a response to the saving work of God in the life of the sinner.
And giving you personal testimony is a sharing of what God has done in one's life. So what is apologetics? Why do we, and especially our young people need apologetics?

What is apologetics?

I have given an answer to this question in other writings in the past, so let me just give a quick definition. Apologetics is simply, giving a reasonable defense and communication of the gospel of Christ and the Christian worldview in a loving, and winsome manner. It gives an offense for communicating the truth of the Christian faith. It gives a defense when the Christian faith is confronted by an antagonistic objection or worldview. And it demonstrates a love for people as we give the answer to the question, why are we a Christian and not a believer in Islam, or the "green cheese goddess," or  something else.

So why do Christians, and in particular young Christians need apologetics?

As a Chapter Director for a local Ratio Christi group, I find that Christian college students have difficulty with this question of why they are a Christian.  It is any wonder that the statistics are what they are?

If we were to look at the Barna Group and Lifeway Research over the past few years, we have seen startling statistics. Seventy five percent (3 out of 4) church attending Protestant youths will drop out of church in the years following high school. One of the major factors cited for this is an intellectual skepticism that can develop, particularly in the often religiously hostile university setting. Teens may come to realize that they have not carefully thought through what they say they believe. They are unable to explain, for example, why the New Testament is believable, why it is not intolerant to assert that Christianity is distinctively true, or even who we can be certain that God exists. Most young Christians today are not equipped intellectually to stand firm in their faith, and they need to be equipped.[1]

The truth is that every believer already, whether they realize it or not, does apologetics. The question now becomes, do they want to continue to do it poorly or do they want to do it well?  We all get questioned or challenged about our faith, whether it is a direct challenge or an indirect one. We can respond by saying, "I just believe" or "That's just the mystery of God," but when we do we are essentially telling the one challenging and questioning us that their inquiry is not worth our time or our energy.[2]

Apologetics does not replace evangelism. Apologetics paves the way for evangelism.  It can move intellectual roadblocks that prevent someone from seriously considering the gospel.

The God of the Bible asks you and I to love Him with not just our hearts and souls, but also with our minds (Matthew 22:36-37).  This means learning to reason and think well. It means using our minds to grasp the marvelous truths that God has revealed about Himself in both the Scripture and the general revelation (creation). It is has been said, in the Christian life, faith and reason are like two wings of a bird working together. Understanding how Christianity is reasonable and sound encourages and strengthens our personal faith. It also emboldens us in our witnessing.

Conclusion.

I have incorporated this discipline in my life and ministry and would love to share with you some of my encounters and how God moved in the hearts and minds of people from different world views and the Christian worldview. We definitely live in a post-Christian culture.  Will you not consider this essay and share it with others.  This ministry would love to serve you or your group or your church in helping you learn to engage your world for the Kingdom.  Thank you for engaging this essay and I hope to serve you in whatever way I can.


Notes

[1] Part of the reason is not just the parents fault.  The parents have not been equipped, so how they can equip their kids? The pastors have not been equipped to equip their flock, which includes the parents who are ill equipped to equip their kids.  Why is this? It is because, if the pastor is seminary trained, the seminaries have not equipped their students, who are going into serve the churches, to equip their flock. Is it any wonder the church is behind the eight ball in reaching and engaging the culture.

[2] Many of us are finding out that we cannot do evangelism in today's culture, without doing some amount of pre-evangelism (i.e., apologetics). Apologetics is the "hand-maiden to evangelism."

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