By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
Apologetics should be practical and useful for everyday life situations and not confined simply to academia and the discussions/debates between the scholars. If we are reminded of the primary context of the New Testament, much of its content is aimed at the average joe of the first century of which we as modern readers can glean great practical application. The New Testament itself presents to us a narrative in which God used normal people to proclaim and defend his truth. Indeed however, this is done through the power and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit and not by the autonomous intellectual efforts of man.
Speaking of apologetics as having to be practical does not entail that we are simply searching for pragmatic ways to use it and apply it. Nor am I suggesting that we should in apologetics simply use what works. We are not concerned simply with what works but rather, what is true and honoring to God. Hence, there is a biblical and unbiblical way of doing apologetics. We do not want to engage in the sort of practical apologetics that forsakes the biblical truth, and it is possible to forsake biblical truth both in our method and in our conduct. That aside, apologetics needs to be applied in a biblical fashion to the world of unbelief and not simply in the realm of the hypothetical couched in the ivory tower of the scholars or within the confines of the church debating issues between fellow believers. We need to take apologetics as it were “to the streets” as Christian apologist Greg L. Bahnsen once put it, and as was exemplified by the apostles.
- Peter proclaimed, Let all the House of Israel therefore know for certain that God made him (Jesus) both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36).
- Saul increased the more in strength and confounded the Jews that dwelt in Damascus, proving that Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 9:22).
- As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three sabbath days he reasoned with them from the scriptures (Acts 17:2).
- So he reasoned in the synagogues with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happen to be there, including certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (Acts 17:17).
- Every sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks (Acts 18:4).
- Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God…and later reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-9).
It is clear that the Apostles knew how to “take it to the streets”. In like fashion we too should learn how to move from theory to actual practice, whether that is through literally taking it to the streets through street evangelism or virtually via the internet, which by the way, is a fertile field that needs to be continually tapped into, or whether it is around the dinner table or in the work place. Regardless of the medium, the truth is that Christians need to be actively engaging their culture and the particular contexts that God has placed them in. And hence, we must mold our apologetic to reach the culture and context that we are in. However, this molding of our apologetic is not the molding of its truth and method, but rather, it is the molding of how we communicate these timeless biblical truths that the world needs to hear. In that sense, apologetics must be practically applied to our current situation.