By Elysia McColley
If you are reading this blog, you probably have some interest in Christian apologetics. But what is Christian apologetics in the first place? In its broadest sense, apologetics is the branch of theology that seeks to give a rational defense for the faith that we profess.
Let’s take a look at what apologetics is, starting with some misconceptions about it. By the end of this article, you will hopefully have a better idea of what this dynamic branch of theology is about and why you should pursue it.
What Apologetics is Not
1. Apologetics is not apologizing.
However, the two words do share a common root, the Greek “apologia,” which means “defense.” When you apologize to someone for something that you did, you give a defense for behavior that caused the person harm. And your best defense may simply be, “I’m sorry that I hurt you with what I did.”
2. Apologetics is not about proving other people wrong.
If your goal is to prove that someone is wrong, apologetics may not be for you because your motives can cause more harm than good. The aim of apologetics is to sanctify Christ as Lord, and accomplishing that goal is only possible with an attitude of humility and contrition before God.
In the course of apologetics, you will probably discover reasons why things that other people believe are wrong. You will probably also discover that many of the things you believe are wrong. You will also gain the tools that you need to build bridges to unbelievers so that you can communicate the gospel in a way that is thoughtful, intelligent, and able to answer any questions that they may have.
But ultimately, remember what Jesus said in John 13:35: “By this will all people know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” The goal is not to be right. The goal is to love people the way that Jesus does.
3. Apologetics is not about trying to understand the mind of God.
There are some things about God that we can understand, that God wants us to understand, because He revealed them to us in His Word. However, there are some things that we cannot understand. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” Additionally, Isaiah 55:9 says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
In seeking out a rational defense for the faith that we profess, we have to remember that there are some things that we will not be able to understand. We cannot know the mind of God. We cannot know with certainty what He is doing in a particular situation or why some things are happening the way that they are. But we can know God and, through a reasoned and defensible faith, have confidence that His ways are perfect.
4. Apologetics is not giving intellectual assent.
The study of apologetics can get into some heady, intellectual ideas that require a lot of thought, care, and attention. However, the goal is not to be able to give intellectual assent to a theological principle. The goal is to have absolute certainty in your heart that Christ is Lord so that you can live out a transformed life. After all, the best defense of the faith is a life made whole through the grace of God.
The intellectual struggle has value. It exposes the false beliefs and ideologies that may have infected your thinking and prevented you from fully acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It transforms your mind so that you can love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. However, the intellectual struggle is not the end goal. Getting caught up in the arguments can ultimately detract from your Christian witness.
Remember that Jesus does not need you or anyone else to defend Him. However, you need to know with absolute certainty that He is Lord.
What Apologetics Is
1. Apologetics is evidence for the hope we profess.
How can you know that the Bible is true? How can you know that God is good if the world is so full of evil and suffering? How can you even have hope when the world around you is falling apart?
Apologetics is about being able to give a reasonable answer to questions such as those above. It begins with your faith, supplies it with knowledge, and helps produce a rational defense for what you know in your heart to be true.
2. Apologetics is a quest for truth.
We no longer live in an age in which the idea of one singular, absolute truth is questioned; the post-modern ideology that permeates today’s thinking questions the existence of any truth at all. Apologetics dismantles this mindset by seeking out the basic truths of God’s Word in such a way that one has evidence for them.
Ultimately, the quest for truth is the quest for knowing God. Don’t get so bogged down in the details that you forget to seek Him with your whole heart.
3. Apologetics helps answer the big questions.
We have all faced some of life’s biggest questions at some point, whether in a discussion with a friend, sitting in a college classroom with an atheist professor, or in a late-night musing that starts to wonder if anything that we believe is true at all. What are we here for? Is there a purpose and a meaning in life? Can we know that God is good, despite all the bad things around us? What should we make of scientific theories, such as evolution, that seem to stand against what the Bible says?
These questions are really big ones, and apologetics is the branch of theology that seeks to answer them. The important thing is that you answer them in a way that helps you to better acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ in your life so that you can love people the way that He does.
Hopefully, you now have a better grasp of what apologetics is and why it is worth pursuing. And hopefully, in reading through articles on 10-Minute Apologetics, you are finding some of the answers that you are looking for and developing the tools you need to start seeking out answers for yourself.