What is apologetics?
Apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that deals with establishing and defending the faith. The Bible tells us in first Peter 3:15 to always be ready to give an “apologia”, a reasoned defense, for this hope that is in us. This term apologia is the term used when a witness would stand in court. They would have to give a reasoned defense and convincing proof that what they are saying is true. Every Christian’s time will come when they have to stand trial before those that contradict.
Titus 1:7 says that the overseer of a church needs to be able to teach sound doctrine and refute those that contradict it. In apologetics it is useless to merely refute your opponents. You need to be able to teach sound doctrine. Refuting needs to be done when it gets in the way of sound doctrine being effective. You can lead someone away from false beliefs, but unless you lead them to true beliefs they are not any better off. For this reason apologetics and theology need to go hand in hand.
What is theology and why is it important in apologetics? Theology is simply the study of God. (Okay, it’s not that simple.) When you have an accurate view of who God is many of the challenging questions to the Christian faith find answers. In Christian’s theology, God is reasonable. Since God is reasonable there is nothing about him that contradicts logic. Since we are made in the image of God and, by the Spirit of God, we are able to comprehend truth, our reasoning may be consistent with the thoughts of God. When we give a reasoned defense for the Christian faith we are using our God given faculties in a godly way to describe the nature of God.
But, doesn’t reason go against faith? No. Faith and reason go hand in hand. Want to see why? The Bible uses thine terms “know” and “believe” together in the same verse several times. John 10:38, Jesus does these things so that the people may know and believe that the father is in him. John 16:30, the disciples came to believe that Jesus was from God because they became sure that he knew all things. An increase in assurance led to a increase in belief. In first Timothy 4:3 the believers are called those that believe and know the truth. Since they know the truth they can now believe the truth. In first John 4:16 the believers know and believe the love of God. Faith is continuing to hold to God’s nature beyond the realm of our knowledge. It does not contradict knowledge, faith goes beyond knowledge- even fulfills knowledge. It is a personal revelation (proof) of God’s love that becomes a faith-based love. Since the people have a solid knowledge of this love of God, they are able to put trust in it. Biblical belief is trust, clinging to, and this belief is fulfilled as our knowledge and assurance increases.
So apologetics gives reasons to believe in Jesus. The reason does not contradict belief, instead it gives the belief a solid foundation. We should believe the things that are most likely true. Greater belief does not depend on less evidence or proofs. Those beliefs collapse under questioning and examination. We can only go so long without thinking rationally. If what we believe does not lineup rationally in our minds, then we are not likely to hold that belief for long.
At this juncture apologetics meets with 1 of the biggest problems facing the church today. Many people, especially young people, are leaving Christianity because many of their questions are failing to get answered. Most of them are not equipped to take on the challenges that the smart (alec) skeptics are ready to throw at them. Very few of them are ready to stand up for their faith in the college atmosphere. They haven’t been taught the correlation between intelligence, logic, and good evidences that are in Christianity, therefore Christianity has a way of embarrassing their intellect.
As Frank Turek says, “You know why they’re so easily talked out of it? It’s because they’ve never been talked into it.” Church’s mainly teach to have the deep spiritual connection with God. This is a great teaching, but the deepest walk with God, the 1 with the most conviction, will be the 1 that fills the entire life of the person. This includes not just the person’s spirit, but the person’s mind and behavior. Not just the way a person thinks about religion, but the way a person thinks about the entire world. Not just the way a person wants to behave at church, but the underlying dedication of their entire life.
So what good is apologetics? Apologetics refutes those in error, and keeps you out of error. Apologetics is a chance to give more of yourself over for the glory of God. Apologetics is a way to bring Christianity to more people. Apologetics is a way to deepen your knowledge of God, and therefore deepen your faith in God.
What is apologetics?