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Introduction to Apologetics

June 28, 2013
Bible
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV)

This blog exists for one primary purpose: to help Christians answer challenges to the faith we profess. “Apologetics” is the reasoned defence of a religious belief; as you can see in 1 Peter 3 above, all Christians are commanded to be ready to engage in apologetics.

Why?

One may ask, “Why engage in apologetics at all? Any human argument, no matter how well-thought-out, will not win a person for Christ.” This challenge to apologetics is wrong for two reasons: Firstly, I myself am evidence that a person can be convinced of Christianity through rational argument; secondly, because apologetics can play a key role in “clearing the field” for evangelism – for sharing the gospel.

There is no fence

 Fence
Jesus said: “Whoever is not with me is against me.” (Matthew 12:30 ESV)
John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50 ESV)

Whatever you make of these verses, one thing is clear: In Jesus’ mind, there is no neutral ground and there are no fence sitters: either you are with him, or you are against him. Therefore, when people ask questions or give challenges about Christianity, they do so from one of four perspectives:

  1. They are already Christian (“for” Jesus), but they are doubting an element of their faith.
  2. They are interested in Christianity (“for” Jesus, in a sense), but they want to resolve some outstanding issues before fully committing.
  3. They are hostile to Christianity (“against” Jesus) because of the challenges they put forward.
  4. They are hostile to Christianity (“against” Jesus) for reasons other than the question they put forward, and are using the questions as an excuse to not pay attention to the claims of Jesus and his spokespeople.

Apologetics is useful for each of these kinds of people. Apologetics give a Christian comfort and help to alleviate his/her doubt; apologetics will remove the barriers that prevent a near-Christian from crossing the line; apologetics will open the road for the gospel when a challenger’s challenges are answered; and apologetics, if done well, will lower the guard of a hostile non-Christian, forcing him/her to consider what the Bible actually says.

There are no silver bullets

Silver bullet

That said, apologetics is not the silver bullet. Apologetics is not the gospel message; defending the faith, by itself, will not cause anyone to trust in Jesus Christ as their saviour and king. Only the gospel saves, and only God can cause a person to turn and trust in his son. Defending the faith, therefore, should always be followed by sharing the faith – by sharing the message of Christ crucified, risen and ruling.

So, how should we defend the faith, so that we can share it? That question will be covered in the next post!

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From → On Apologetics

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