Christian Apologetics is the art of defending the Christian faith against intellectual attacks from non-Christians as well as showing it is true through rational argumentation and evidence. Christian Apologetics establishes that Christianity is true through evidence and reason while responding to objections against it as well. The term “apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia which literally means defense. It’s what lawyers do for their clients in a court of law. They provide an apologia for their client’s innocence. The word apologia can be found in 1 Peter 3:15 which is a passage that explicitly commands us to do apologetics. It says “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” <-- This is from the NIV and translates "apologia" as "answer".
There are Christians however who don’t think apologetics is important. They say “You should just preach the gospel and let The Holy Spirit work”. Below are quotations from 10 apologists who give their reasons for thinking that Christian Apologetics is important. Of course, if you’ve been following this blog for a while then you already know my take on the importance of apologetics. I mention in yesterday's blog post how God used it to prevent me from apostatizing, so I won’t include any citations from myself in this article.
1: C.S Lewis
“If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now – not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground – would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”
((C. S. Lewis, from “Learning in War-Time,” a sermon preached in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, in 1939))
2: William Lane Craig
of Reasonable Faith
“When I travel around the country speaking in various churches, I meet parents all the time who come up to me after the service and say something like this: “Oh, if only you had been here two or three years ago! Our son (or our daughter) had questions about the faith which no one could answer. And now he (or she) is far from the Lord.” It just breaks my heart to meet parents like this. The fact is that our Christian high school students and college students are intellectually assaulted in secular high school and university by overwhelming relativism conjoined with every manner of non-Christian philosophy. We dare not send these kids out to battle armed with rubber swords and plastic armor. We need to prepare our kids for war….Begin simple, get more profound as they grow. It’s not enough anymore to just read Bible stories to our kids. They need doctrine, and they need apologetics. I have to tell you the truth: I find it very difficult to understand how parents today can risk having children without having had some training in Christian apologetics. I think it’s that important!”
3: Bobby Conway
The One Minute Apologist
The One Minute Apologist
"By studying apologetics it shows you are serious about evangelism. It's saying that you care about the world enough to study in order to answer their hard questions”
((from the “On Guard DVD Companion”))
4: Sarah Ankenman
President of The International Society of Women in Apologetics
"Those who oppose apologetics do so because they fear that by teaching people 'what'” they believe, they will lose sight of the 'who'. This is a rational fear to have, as there are definitely those out there who have lost sight of the reason for doing apologetics in the first place. However, just because there are people misrepresenting the point of apologetics, it doesn’t mean you should throw out the baby with the bathwater. It does not mean you can ignore the hard questions your youth may have and substitute it with worship services and water balloon fights every week because that is easier and less controversial. Nancy [Pearcey] writes, 'There’s nothing wrong with good clean fun. But the force of sheer emotional experience will not equip teens to address the ideas they will encounter when they leave home and face the world on their own. Young people whose faith is mostly emotional are likely to retain it only as long as it is making them happy. As soon as a difficult crisis comes along, it will evaporate.' This is true across the board, not just with youth, but with mom and dad as well."
((from her blog essay, Apol@&#%!))
5: Lee Strobel
"The average Christian in the pew is not reading books by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, but their neighbors and coworkers are. I think congregations are putting pressure on churches to equip them better, educate them more and give them opportunities to grow in this area. Churches that have relied in the past on a lifestyle evangelistic approach that lacks intentionality need to be a little more intentional in reaching people and bringing answers to their questions. I’m all for lifestyle evangelism, but I’m also in favor of intentionality, where we seek out opportunities for spiritual conversations and are equipped to explain the gospel and why we believe it."
6: R.C Sproul
"Before I can call upon Christ as my Savior, I have to understand that I need a savior. I have to understand that I am a sinner. I have to have some understanding of what sin is.I have to understand that God exists. I have to understand that I am estranged from that God, and that I am exposed to that God’s judgment. I don’t reach out for a savior unless I am first convinced that I need a savior. All of that is pre-evangelism. It is involved in the data or the information that a person has to process with his mind before he can either respond to it in faith or reject it in unbelief."
(From, Defending Your Faith)
7: Rob Lundberg
“The truth is that every believer already, whether they realize it or not, does apologetics. The question now becomes, do they want to continue to do it poorly or do they want to do it well? We all get questioned or challenged about our faith, whether it is a direct challenge or an indirect one. We can respond by saying, ‘I just believe’ or ‘That's just the mystery of God,’ but when we do we are essentially telling the one challenging and questioning us that their inquiry is not worth our time or our energy. “
8: Brett Kunkle
"Ultimately, apologetics points people to our hope, Jesus Himself. That’s why “we demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Objections raised against Jesus must be demolished. But notice something. The Bible doesn’t say we demolish people. Rather we demolish arguments. Belittling others is not our goal. Merely winning arguments is not enough. Instead, we remove obstacles of doubt to Christianity so people can take a serious look at Christ, the only source of hope for this world."
(From the article, What Is Apologetics: Arguing Evangelism)
9: Mark Mittelberg
"Apologetics has never been more important than it is now. People throughout our culture, including many of our friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers, are becoming increasingly secular. They're moving farther and farther from Christian teachings and morality. The Bible mandates that we must be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks (1 Pet. 3:15), so this is not an optional activity for Christians or the church. We must confront the errors of our culture and present in their place the truth and gospel of Christ."
10: Brian Auten
“I want to see churches start their own apologetics ministries because it is our scriptural mandate to ‘always be prepared to give an answer.’ Yet there often is very little preparation going on! When challenges to faith come, people struggle to find substantive answers. This may cause some believers to resort to a sort of “believe it anyway” mentality; for others it causes them to abandon the faith altogether. Research by the Barna Group has shown that a majority of young people walk away from the faith around the time they go to college or university. They simply have not been equipped to deal with the secular challenges that come against their faith.”