By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
When doing apologetics there are important things to remember prior to and during our interactions with unbelievers. First, we do not want to forget our spiritual and intellectual commitments. Remember that Jesus Christ must be sanctified as Lord in our hearts at all times. Never within our apologetic interactions are we to defend the Christian worldview from some other foundation. Jesus Christ the Lord is to be sitting on the thrones of our hearts and mind. This commitment should be assumed at the very outset. The danger is when we start our thinking independent of the Lordship of Christ and the truth of God’s Word. Another danger is not recognizing that while you begin with the authority of Christ at the outset, the unbeliever begins his or her thinking on some other authority, but they start at an authority nonetheless. We all have our authorities. The job of the apologist is to expose the faulty authority of the unbeliever and demonstrate its fallacious nature.
Another point in our mental checklist is that we are biblically commanded to offer a defense whenever Christ is challenged. This does not mean that we are to argue with every unbeliever on the street, rather, when God places us within a context in which the gospel is being challenged, we are to be ready to engage if the opportunity arises. This is the “always being ready” aspect of apologetics as per 1 Peter 3:15.
Within our mental checklist we are also to remember that we are defending the Christian worldview as a unit, a system of belief with interconnected concepts that are essential to understanding the whole. We are NOT defending the Christian worldview in a piecemeal fashion, that is to say, block by block. We do not discuss specific points of Christian theism as though the other points are irrelevant. For instances, the resurrection of Jesus is not an event without a worldview context. The resurrection of Jesus is impossible if the Christian God does not exist, and the resurrection of Jesus is meaningless if not explained within the backdrop of the divine revelation which we have in the holy scriptures. Apologetics requires that we thinking systematically about our worldview which is grounded in scripture.
Lastly on our mental checklist is to engage unbelievers with gentleness and respect. 2 Timothy 2:24 tells us: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” This can be difficult given the fact that apologetic encounters by definition can be contentious and adversarial. We have two opposing viewpoints coming up against each other, and these view points consist of strongly held beliefs about the nature of reality, how we know what we know, and how we should live our lives. With this said, regardless of the high stakes involved, we are to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ and engage people firmly, logically and rationally, but with gentleness and respect.