And behold, a lawyer stood up to put [Jesus] to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
– Luke 10:25-28
What is Christian Apologetics?
In brief, it is the bridge between faith and the intellect, and is part of loving God with our minds. In this, and the next few posts, I’d like to go into some detail about the “what’s” and “why’s” concerning Christian apologetics. I intend to make the case for you both from a biblical standpoint as well as from a purely pragmatic one as to why you (if you are a Christian) should care about Christian apologetics and hone your skills in Christian case-making.
What apologetics isn’t
“Apologetics” is a word that may not hold much meaning for most, and may lead others to think it has something to do with being sorry. As in, “I’m a Christian, and I’m really sorry about that!” or “I apologize for what these other Christians are doing!” No, this is not what I’m meaning by the word.
Others may hear the word “apologetics” and think about someone who just really likes to debate and beat people into submission with their rhetoric and personality, someone who knows a few facts and is just looking to shout down any opposing viewpoint. While this sort of apologist does exist, this is not what I believe the Bible calls us to be, and not what I am going to try to show you.
Prepared to make a defense
Because of the unfamiliarity with the word by most, and the negative association many have who do know the word, I have been moving away from the word “apologetics.” Instead, taking a cue from J. Warner Wallace, I think a better term is “Christian case-making,” although for the purposes of this introductory post, I will be using the two terms interchangeably. The goal of apologetics, then, is to demonstrate the reasonable nature of Christianity and its ability to best explain reality among the competing hypotheses. It is the field of theology that provides defense of Christian truth claims by providing evidence in favor of those claims and carefully investigating opposing viewpoints. Christian case-makers are concerned with answering the question “what is the rational warrant for Christian truth claims?”
Broadly speaking, apologetics provides two services. For the Christian, evidences are marshalled which serve to strengthen our belief and trust that the Christianity is an accurate guide to reality. This also gives us courage and confidence to work to persuade others without having to rely only on our subjective experiences as evidence. As the Stand to Reason tagline goes, we want to show that Christianity is something worth thinking about. For the non-Christian, apologetics is pre-evangelism. It is not common that people on hearing Christian gospel presentation will immediately convert. Often they will need convincing that it is an intellectually viable option. How can someone accept “God loves you and has paid for your sins,” if they are predisposed in belief that God cannot exist?
In part 2, I’ll show you the origins of the word “apologetics,” and in doing so, give a hint of the flavor of what and how apologetics should be.
Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!
(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)