What is Apologetics?
In other words – are we able to defend our faith? This is what apologetics is about.
Q: What the word “apologetics” means?
The word has little to do with how we understand the word “apologize” today, although
it comes from the same root. The Greek word “apologia” means “a verbal defense”.
Q: What does that mean with respect to our Christian faith?
The best answer this question is to look how the word is used in the Bible. The word
“apologia”, occurs several times in the New Testament (Acts 22:1; 25:16; 1 Corinthians
9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Philippians 1;7,17; 2 Timothy 4:16, 1 Peter 3:15) and
1. Peter 3:15 probably explains best, what Christian apologetics really means.
. . . but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to
everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
Thus in general, Christian apologetics deals with answering any and all critics who oppose
or question the revelation of God in Christ and the Bible. That can include studying
specific subjects as biblical manuscript transmission, philosophy, biology, mathematics, evolution, and logic, so that you can give discuss with experts who influence the way society thinks about these issues today. But more commonly it simply means giving an answer to a question about Jesus, about a Bible passage, or about a specific situation where faith makes a difference. You don’t have to read a ton of books to be able to do that, nor do you need to have extraordinary intelligence. But you do have to know the Word of God – and this not just superficially. Everyone is able to make a defense of the Christian faith (just consider what kind of people Jesus chose as apostle) and everyone is called to do so.
Apologetics can both be defensive and offensive. The Bible explains both.
For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart,
since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all
are partakers of grace with me (Philippians 1:7).
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of
God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2. Corinthians
You can and should defend your reasons for believing. But you should also “attack”
opinions that oppose Christianity. Of course, you need to do this with gentleness (never attack the person, only reproach what has been said) and should be well-prepared beforehand. After all, you want to convince people to change their views and beliefs and – if they are not Christians yet – bring them to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Roughly there are two major ways of dealing with opposition. You can provide evidence
for Christianity, i.e. for Jesus’ resurrection, the biblical manuscripts, fulfilled prophecy, miracles, etc. Or you can deal with the presuppositions of those who oppose Christianity, because presuppositions effect how a person views evidence and reason.
Another interesting issue is how to deal with the use of evidence, reasons, philosophy,
etc. when talking to people who don’t believe in the Bible the same way as you do. Should
you only those criteria acceptable to unbelievers? Are we allowed to use the Bible as a
defense of our position? Is reason alone sufficient to prove God existence or Christianity’s
truth? What part does prayer, using the Bible, and the sinful nature of the unbeliever play
in witnessing? How do these factors interrelate to bring an unbeliever to faith?
The questions are easy. The answers are not. That’s why we will study apologetics in
the months to come.