If you believe in Jesus, then apologetics is for you; it is not just for “intellectuals.” The clearest definition I’ve heard is that apologetics is the communication and defense of the Christian gospel. I have heard some speakers say that “God does not need His people to defend Him.” Of course that is true in a literal sense, as if God is in danger. But God certainly uses people to speak for Him. God certainly does not accept blasphemy. And God does engage people intellectually. “Come now, let us reason together says the Lord…” (Isa. 1:18 ESV) So, if you’re thinking, “our faith doesn’t need defending,” I would challenge that assumption.
Consider I Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”
The word translated to “defense” in this word is the Greek word apologia, from which the word “apologetics” comes. The word is used seven other times in the New Testament (Acts 22:1; 25:16; I Cor. 9:3; II Cor. 10:5-6; Phil. 1:7; II Tim. 4:16). Apologia was a word used to describe the defense that a lawyer would make for a client in a court of law. It does not imply a clever “one-liner” response.
I can’t remember who it was, but I once heard someone compare the need for teaching apologetics to teaching a missionary the language of the nation he is evangelizing. That’s a great illustration because that is what apologetics is all about – speaking the language of our culture. And the language of our culture is skepticism.
Christianity Today recently ran an article titled “Watch Out, Pastors, Millennials are Fact-Checking Your Sermons,” which revealed a Barna Group survey showing that about 40% of church-going Millennials will research and fact-check truth claims made by their pastor. Millennials are those born between the 1980’s and 2000s. They are the now teenagers through age 33.
They have good reason for this. Millennial Christians cannot afford to be uneducated in their beliefs. We live in a time where the Christian faith is put on trial daily. If Christians, especially those in high school and college, do not know how to defend their faith with truth and logic, or if they make any false claims, they will be intellectually chewed up and spit out.
For years, Christians have thought that sensual temptation is the biggest danger for the college-goer, but that is secondary. The biggest problem for the Christian in college is that they are made to feel stupid for believing in Jesus. Church, we must prepare our young people to face the intellectual challenges that the world is bringing upon them. Christianity is for the heart and mind.
Non-believers have legitimate questions to ask us such as, “If God exists, and is all loving and all powerful, why is there so much suffering and evil,” or “Why do you believe the Bible is the word of God other than because it says it’s the word of God?” or “What evidence is there that Jesus actually rose from the dead?” A lack of reasonable, logical answers to these and other questions are barriers to belief.
But there are good answers to be had, and I have personally witnessed people come to faith in Christ shortly after meeting a Christian who could dialogue with them and answer some of these questions. It was like the spiritual and intellectual walls of Jericho came crashing down and the Holy Spirit flooded the city!
For so long, we have been taught that we should believe that what the Bible says is true because the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible says it is the Word of God. This does no good unless we realize that we ought to believe the Bible is the Word of God because what the Bible says is true! The truths of the Bible do not need to be taken on “blind faith.” God’s word can stand up to any challenge, and that’s what apologetics is for. We have a most reasonable faith.
However, we must always remember the second half of I Peter 3:15: “…do it with gentleness and respect…” The art of apologetics is not a weapon. It must always be associated with evangelism. Winning an argument is not the goal. Winning a soul to Christ, is. Our world is searching for answers, and it is our duty as Christians to do our absolute best to show them that answer. There are many resources available to help you and your church delve into this wonderful, rich world of apologetics. Check out the “ASK” program at RZIM.org or visit sites such as apologetics315.com or bethinking.org to get started.