Overview > Apologetics Introduction
The term apologetics is derived from the Greek word apologia. The English
equivalent of apologia is defense, or literally, 'a speech for the defense'.
[31 p .2] An apologia typically focuses
on explaining, justifying, or making clear the grounds for some course
of action, belief, or position. This study focuses on Christian apologetics,
a reasoned defense of Christianity.
The first reason, for the Christian, is out of obedience to God's will.
Refusal to give a reason for faith is disobedience to God (1 Peter 3:15).
[1 p.22] Christians are also encouraged
to love God with all of their heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37).
Moreover, by defending the truths of God, Christians defend His honor
and name, thereby bringing God glory. As the apostle Paul said, "whatever
you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). [31
People deserve to hear and understand the case for Christianity. When they raise intellectual objections, they should receive concrete, verifiable answers that support the authenticity of Christianity. We live in a world with many contradicting beliefs and claims. What do we do when these views and beliefs clash - when contradicting beliefs all declare to reflect divine truth? Which set of beliefs should someone accept? Without any clear, objective way of choosing, we might throw up our arms in despair and reject all religions, believing that there is no way to intelligently discern which, if any, is really true. Or we might arbitrarily choose one, or even sample several options to try and discover what we like best. [31 p. 4,6]
Many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, decide whether to believe or not with their hearts, much more than with their heads. Even a perfect argument does not move people as much as emotion, desire and concrete experience. When it comes to convincing non-Christians about the truth of Christianity, apologetics aims at getting to the heart through the head. Generally, we can't believe what we know to be untrue, and we can't love what we believe to be unreal. Arguments may not bring a person to faith, but they can certainly keep a person away from faith.[1 p. 21] Christian apologetics aims to address the arguments and intellectual barriers that people may have when it comes to considering the truth of Christianity.
Many Christians are comfortable in their faith and don't feel a need
to back it up with evidence. However, many do desire the affirmation
of apologetics to strengthen their faith. Although, when speaking to
doubting Thomas, Jesus commends those who believe without 'seeing' (John
20:29), he still provided Thomas with the evidence he desired (John
20:24-27). [31 p. 9]
Christians do not have to commit 'intellectual suicide' in order to
have faith. It is not a blind trusting of something unknown or uncertain.
In fact, people are to love God with their heart, soul and minds (Matthew
22:37). Apologetics aims to demonstrate that Christianity is grounded
in objective and historical fact.
One last point on the use of apologetics. The goal of apologetics is not victory but truth. It is aimed against unbelief, not unbelievers. The arguer's tone, sincerity, care, concern, listening and respect matter as much as their logic - probably more. The world was not won for Christ by arguments but by holiness: "What you are speaks so loudly, I can hardly hear what you say". [1 p. 22,23]
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