What is this? | Contents Page | Summary

Overview Why Apologetics? Did Jesus Exist?  Is the Bible Reliable?  Jesus' Claims  Was Jesus God?  Conclusion

Overview > Apologetics Introduction

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 responsibility of giving a reasoned defense of Christianity is not the job of a select few theologians who specialize in apologetics. The Bible makes it clear that the job of defending Christianity belongs to every Christian and that all Christians should be prepared to do this at any time. [31, p.7] Christians are commanded to be prepared to give an answer for the reason that they have hope in Jesus Christ. "… Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…" (1 Peter 3:15)

Jude supports Peter's exhortation, instructing his readers to "contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3). He was instructing them to defend Christianity against the false teachings that were arising in the church. [31, p.7]

A Christian's reason for their hope in Jesus should include how and why they became a Christian e.g. Paul's account in Acts 22. It should also include their current relationship with, and experience of God; as well as a knowledge of who Jesus Christ is, and why what he did is so fundamentally important i.e. explaining the 'Good News' or 'Gospel'.

This apologetics study will examine only one aspect of a Christian's reason for trusting (placing one's faith) in Jesus Christ. It will examine intellectual reasoning, arguments and factual evidence for Christianity.

Why Apologetics?

Obedience

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 p.8]

There are at least another two practical reasons for doing apologetics: to break down barriers preventing non-Christians from seriously considering Christianity, [31 p. 7] and to instruct and strengthen Christians. [1 p.22]

Removing Barriers

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.

Strengthens Christians

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]

Much of the world rejects Jesus Christ as God and all the other major beliefs of the Christian faith. Christians are confronted with ideologies that contradict or attempt to refute their beliefs. God can and does use apologetics to help believers whose faith is wavering and to ease the suffering caused by doubt. Apologetics can be especially reassuring to new believers seeking to rationally justify their step of faith. It is a wonderful and joyful experience to discover that one's faith is firmly grounded on objective truths that are confirmed by sensible, verifiable evidence. [31 p. 9]

Intellectual Suicide?

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.

Apologetics can bring you to faith in the same sense as a car can bring you to the sea. The car can't swim, you have to jump in the sea in order to do that. But you can't jump in from a hundred miles inland. You need a car to first bring you to the point where you can make a leap of faith into the sea. Faith is a leap, but a leap into the light, not into the dark. [1 p. 21]

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]

 


(c) 1999 - KnowWhatYouBelieve.com

Comments and suggestions are welcome

This Free Apologetic Study is available in a small group study format