Introduction to Apologetics

Christian Apologetics is the defense of the reasonableness, relevance, and importance of Christian faith, the authenticity, reliability, and truth of the Bible.

Is apologetics Biblical?

Some people argue that apologetics is a waste of time, or that it’s unbiblical. A thorough read through the entire book of Acts shows that the apostles and early disciples did not share that position. Christ’s messengers employed a variety of modes and means to communicate the truth of Christ, according to the audience they were addressing. By the time you have finished reading the Book of Acts, you will have read dozens of examples of the followers of Jesus Christ providing an apologetic for the truth and reliability of Holy Scripture, the importance of believing God, and the reasonableness of the Christian faith.

First we need to define what is meant by the word “faith”. Properly understood, faith is having absolute confidence in the object of faith, or being assured in ourselves of the worthiness of that object to receive our unconditional trust. Christians are accused of having ‘blind faith’; they say the God we believe in is either logically impossible, or morally deficient. Unbelievers say that belief in God is irrational, superstitious, and founded on myths, and Christians are accused of using faith as a crutch to help us through the hard seasons of life or cushion us from our fear of death. How do we answer someone who says that science has proved the Bible false? What should we say to someone who says the Bible is factually false, or too old to be relevant in today’s world? How do we answer someone who tells you that the Jesus of the Bible never existed, or that we follow a disgusting religion based on human sacrifice?

The Christian’s purpose in offering an apologetic – a defence of the faith, the Scripture, and the living God – is to remove the barriers to belief that have been erected in the other person’s thinking. We are not out to win arguments but to win people to Christ; it is imperative that we keep our purpose foremost in our minds when we engage an unbeliever in discussion about why we believe Christ and why our faith is reasonable.

The two greatest harms to the gospel of Christ are those who profess to be Christians, but do not know what God says, and communicate falsehoods on behalf of Christ, and those who profess to be Christians while living a life contrary to what God says.

Your personal apologetic is as important as your verbal apologetic. If your life fails to reflect what you say you believe, the people you are trying to talk to will not hear you. The Christian message is one of supernatural transformation of everyday people by the power of an almighty, holy, righteous God. Do you live as one who has been transformed by the Spirit of God because of your professed faith in Christ, or do you look ‘just like everybody else’? Is God a real presence with you, or a concept you agree to? Unless they see in you what you claim is true, your best argument will never win the mind of a skeptic. They must hear the Word, for they cannot believe in Him of whom they have not heard, and they must see the Word living in you for it to not just be talk.

Do you love them as Christ loves them?

Jesus came to reveal the Father, and died to set men free from the penalty of our sin. We are to “go” to reveal the Son, by Whom the Father is revealed to men. Neither apologetics nor the gospel are “about me”. The Gospel of Christ is the good news that Christ came to save mankind from death if we will acknowledge God as God and believe Him. Apologetics is to be used to help the hearer to understand and believe God. As Christ was gracious and patient with the deceived masses around Him, we are to love and be gracious to those with whom we interact.

Apologetics is not exclusively an academic pursuit. Pre-packaged answers are inadequate to meet human needs. It is not as important to know or memorize convenient & ready replies as it is to listen well, think clearly, and respond to the real need of that person at the time. Many responses will be the fruit of a loving heart allowing the Holy Spirit to work the mind of Christ in you, so you are able to answer the truth in context to the right question at the right time. It is a ministry of our mind and heart in subjection to the Holy Spirit and the word of God. If I fail to stay close with the Lord, there will be neither power nor authority to my answer. People are more important than concepts. We are not here to establish an ideology but to call men to repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. We seek to share Truth.

If people get the impression that your purpose is to argue, you will lose your audience. Consider how you feel when someone gives you the impression that their purpose is to prove you wrong (conquer). Pride works in the unsaved heart; don’t provide it an unnecessary trigger, and guard against it in your own. Remember you are calling into question an aspect of their identity, which is a threat to their sense of being and self-definition.

What is the Gospel?

It is imperative for every Christian to be able to express a clear and complete presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Too often, Christians are guilty of offering a short, non-threatening or inoffensive quip about God loving the person and asking Jesus into their hearts, or inviting God into their lives. This is not the good news of Jesus Christ, and has cheated possibly millions of people from understanding both the salvation of Christ and the reason why every person needs it.

A good exercise for anyone, but especially someone who is unaccustomed to sharing the Gospel, is to take notes while studying through the Book of Acts. Every time an account is recorded of someone communicating Christ to an audience, note specifically what they said. For instance, in Peter’s first ‘sermon’ to the Jewish audience at Pentecost, he referred them to their own prophets about coming judgement, and God’s promise of a redeemer from judgement Who would rise from the dead and be the Lord of Israel. He referred them to their own history, their knowledge of God and their Scriptures, to demonstrate to them that Jesus was the anointed One they had been told to expect, and that His death was the covering for their own sins, to reconcile them to God and offer them everlasting life. This was Peter’s gospel to the Jews at that time, including his ‘apologetic’ of the explanation and fulfilment of the prophecies they had received from YHWH regarding this Christ.

Following this exercise to the end of the Book will provide a good basis to know what details were included in the message brought by the apostles and other disciples to the first century Jews and Gentiles, and give a better idea of what should be shared with our hearers today.