Apologetics is arguably the most misunderstood word in all of Christian culture. For many people, it conjures up images of stuffy old professors, angry debaters or intellectual snobs and know-it-alls. Others think it means we are apologizing for something.
Let's break it down.
Put simply, apologetics is the gathering of evidence for a belief, and articulating why that belief is reasonable. That’s it. If you are living openly as a Christian and have ever shared your faith with anyone, you are already doing it. The question is, are you doing it well?
When I first discovered apologetics, I was completely overwhelmed. I had so many questions, and I felt like I was jumping into the middle of a 1,000 piece puzzle. I had to sit back, take a deep breath and take it one piece at a time.
The first piece I tackled was how to approach apologetics in relation to my faith.
In my previous post, I explained that Biblical faith is not some kind of “blind faith” that requires us to believe something without any evidence. However, in my experience, some Christians actually buy into the idea that faith and reason are somehow in conflict.
One of the things I commonly hear when teaching apologetics is, “I don’t really need apologetics because I have faith!”
The problem is that we are living in a culture that for the most part has abandoned the belief that the Bible is inspired by God or is authoritative for life. David Kinnaman, President of the the Barna research group stated,
"With each passing year, the percent of Americans who believe that the Bible is 'just
another book written by men' increases. So too do the perceptions that the Bible is
actually harmful and that people who live by its principles are religious extremists."
The Barna group also reported that the percentage of people who believe the Bible is accurate in what it teaches is down by 15% since 2011.
We are living in a culture that isn't buying "because the Bible says so" anymore.
This is where apologetics comes in. Apologetics is not the gospel, but it can break down intellectual barriers, so the gospel can be heard. In his book, Conversational Evangelism, Norman Geisler calls this "pre-evangelism."
You may meet someone who won't even consider Christianity because they have heard that the Bible has been changed over the centuries and is riddled with mistakes and inconsistencies. Typically, when Christians hear this claim, they go right to 2 Timothy 3:16, which says,
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, and for training in righteousness."
Although most Christians would agree that this verse is true, to the skeptic this is circular reasoning. You can't say the Bible is true just because the Bible says so!
Using apologetics, and sharing information regarding the reliability of the New Testament documents can help clear away intellectual obstacles standing in the way of someone's faith.
The heart of apologetics is ultimately to win people to the truth of who Jesus is. Ravi Zacharias puts it this way:
"The role of the apologist is to win the person, not the argument." (1)
Learning apologetics can be overwhelming, so I recommend starting by listening to a good podcast. I like to listen in the car or while I work around the house. Check out my resource page, and be sure to subscribe below to receive great posts that can help you get started.
If you're a Christian, you are already an apologist. The question is: are you a good one?
(1) Ravi Zacharias, Beyond Opinion, 334
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