Does apologetics seem like some kind of far away airplane that only other pilots are allowed to fly? Are believers supposed to live without it? Apologetics is all about being able to communicate what you believe and why you believe it. Why do you believe that God exists? Why do you believe the Bible is the Word of God? Why do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Apologetics comes from the Greek word, apologia, which means giving a reasoned defense. Thankfully, believers today are able to learn from giant apologists who came before us.
Why should we “do” apologetics? First, the Bible commands it. We find a command in the Bible for believers to be engaged in apologetics – with kindness and respect. Second, the culture demands it. One goal of apologetics is for the enemies of God to be put to shame (1 Peter 3:14b-16). Third, the church needs it. Peter and Paul were the first two significant apologists mentioned after the resurrection, followed by many church Fathers. Fourth, results confirm it. Even if you haven’t benefited (yet) from apologetics, many many many people have already strengthened their faith by using apologetic skills, and the Lord can use it as a tool to change hearts and minds for Christ.
RC Sproul’s definition of Christian apologetics, “providing an intellectual defense of the truth claims of the faith,” coincides with other apologists such as Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. William Lane Craig’s definitions.
Dr. Norman Geisler adds, “Positively, it is building a case for Christianity; negatively, it is answering objections to faith.” Geisler goes on to give four reasons why believers should do apologetics: 1.) The Bible commands it. 2.) Our culture demands it. 3.) The church needs it. 4.) Results confirm it.
William Lane Craig points out three different purposes of Christian Apologetics: 1.) To shape culture. 2.) To strengthen believers. 3.) To evangelize unbelievers. He agrees with Dr. Norman Geisler that apologetics can be either on the defense or the offense. “Offensive apologetics seeks to present a positive case for the truth claims of Christianity. Defensive apologetics seeks to nullify objections to those truth claims.” As you can see, we need apologetics. If good people do nothing, then bad people can rise up and find places of leadership where they deceive other people.
Apologetics doesn’t replace the Gospel. It helps us become more of the people we are called to be: salt, light, speaking truth, loving others enough to tell them the truth – with gentleness and kindness. In other words, in order to love the Lord your God with all your mind, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and start learning from great apologists who came before you.
In my experience as an apologist, I have discovered at least seven additional things are very helpful when doing apologetics: 1.) Know, accept, and love the Word of God. 2.) Understand the laws of logic and knowledge. 3.) Understand the proper use of good philosophy. 4.) Present the Gospel. 5.) Trust the Lord, Trust the Lord, and Trust the Lord again. 6.) Pray continually. 7.) Make room for the Holy Spirit to do the converting.
There’s no better time than now to start learning good Christian Apologetics. There’s no need to look at apologetics as a far away airplane that only other believers can fly. Instead, take one step at a time. Start learning the nuts and bolts, so to speak. You’ll discover that it really is an adventure to fly with great apologists who came before us and stand on the shoulders of giants who have already worked hard on our behalf. Anyone who’s ever flown a kite knows firsthand that there is always a first time when the kite took flight and began to fly.
Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2008.
Geisler, Norman. Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True. Indian Trail, North Carolina: NGIM, 2016.
Sproul, RC. Defending Your Faith. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2003.