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Why Apologetics?

“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.”

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

As I was browsing social media, I came across a post in a group of which I am a member. That post proposed an interesting question: Is apologetics a legitimate discipline and is it really needed? What followed was a host of people weighing in on the question. Some proposed that apologetics was either not a legitimate area to focus one’s studies or was ultimately not needed. While I refrained from sharing my thoughts on that post, I did ponder the question. Is apologetics a legitimate discipline? Do we really need apologetics to advance the message of the Gospel?

            To frame this discussion, we need to start from the ground level. One of the primary tools we humans have been given for interactions with the world around us is the ability to think and apply reason. We reason that it would be a poor decision to drive into the oncoming lane of travel when riding down the highway. We reason that we shouldn’t put our hand on the eye of the stove when it is turned on because we understand what will take place if we choose the alternative. Yet, when it comes to our faith in Christ, we are often told that reason is not something that need be applied. Many have adopted the idea that the mind should be checked at the door when it comes to discussions involving faith. The study of apologetics proposes the opposite to be true. As apologists, we understand that the application of reason to faith and the transformation of the way that we think is paramount to our ability to defend the faith against philosophical attacks. Further, we are given a command in Scripture that we are to renew our mind (Romans 12:2). This does not seem to fit into the narrative that we should not use reason in conjunction with our faith. In fact, it implies quite the opposite.

            We also see that we are given a direct admonition to always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) for the reason we have hope (1 Peter 3:15). The study of apologetics provides the tools necessary to make a defense for Christianity against philosophical and intellectual attacks, but it also helps us quantify the reason for the hope that we have as followers of Christ. Simply put, apologetics seeks to bring evidence to the surface that supports the claims of Christianity. It speaks to the validity of the faith that we have as Christians and gives the ability for the believer to place their faith in things which evidence supports as true. Not only does the study of Christian apologetics give reasons to believe, but it also solidifies that belief to the point that it’s no longer simple belief but is rather a hopeful expectancy of what is to come.

            If we believe that apologetics is a legitimate and needed discipline, then we have a responsibility as those who practice it. It is true that we are implored to continually be prepared to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ. However, there is more to the story. We are told that we should seek to do this with gentleness and respect. It is important that apologists are levelheaded and possess the ability to respectfully engage in conversation with those who stand in opposition to the Christian faith. It is then our responsibility to do everything within our power to be thoughtful in how we engage with others. As followers of Christ, we certainly have a reason to be hopeful. The task then becomes for us to clearly and concisely proclaim the message of the Gospel in a gentle and respectful manner. While this can be increasingly difficult in today’s cultural climate, we understand the message of the Gospel is certainly one that is needed on a broad scale. As we seek to proclaim that message far and wide, let’s not forget to use the tools we have been given. While there may be those who do not prefer an apologetical approach to ministry, it is evident that God has given us tools such as our mind to use for a purpose. Ultimately, apologetics is needed because the message of the Gospel is worth defending. As we work to give reason for the hope that we have in Christ, we need not neglect Christian Apologetics. It is a very needed tool that ultimately can be used to reach the world around us for Christ.

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