The task of apologetics has several aspects to it. I want to explore these aspects and discuss why each are vital and important to doing apologetics.
- Answering Objections to the Faith
The believer engaged in apologetics will no doubt confront a vast array of objections against his position. The apologist must be well rounded enough to address them as they come. This may require the apologist to be familiar with a number of areas such as exegesis, Christian doctrine, church history, philosophy, science, and logic. The believer need not be an expert in each respective category, but a healthy and balanced familiarity with these areas will prove helpful when dealing with the unbeliever’s objections. As a quick aside, it is impossible to know the answer to literally every objection that is thrown at you. For this reason, never be ashamed of saying outwardly: I don’t know. Let me get back to you.
- Provide a Foundation for the truth of the Christian Faith
The apologist deals with fundamental questions of God, existence, the soul, miracles, the Bible, etc. In dealing with these fundamental issues, the defender of the faith will have to be able to demonstrate why the Christian worldview is true. And notice, it is the Christian worldview that the apologist is defending. As a worldview system, we do not defend pieces of our worldview independent of its other constituent parts. We defend the Christian worldview as a system intricately and logically connected in its parts. In discussing the truth of the Christian worldview, we will be necessarily led into a discussion of metaphysics (nature of reality), and epistemology (How we know what we know). However, because all of the beliefs we hold as Christians are connected to each other we do not engage in those philosophical categories independent of our revelational source, the Bible. God’s Word is to inform what we believe about the nature of reality (metaphysics), and how we know what we (epistemology). Again, defending the faith requires that we understand that which we are defending. This goes beyond mere proclamation. We are to do that also, but apologetics is more than that given that it seeks to also demonstrate the truth of that which we proclaim.
- Challenge the Unbeliever
The irony of apologetics as “defense” is that as a defense it engages also in offense. Offensive apologetics seeks to defend the faith not by being offensive to the unbeliever, but rather in the sense that the apologist goes on the offensive in attacking the unbeliever’s fallacious worldview. While we are to engage in answering objections as stated in point 1, we are also to raise objections ourselves towards the unbeliever to try and show the irrationality of the non-Christian position. Indeed, as defenders of God’s truth, we do not grant intellectual equality to the unbeliever’s position. While displaying godly character and respect in our interaction, we also seek nothing less than a full onslaught of the unbeliever’s worldview such that we seek to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). Our bold challenge to unbelief is that apart from the firm foundation of God’s Word and the Christian worldview derived therein, there is no intellectually coherent and defensible worldview that can justify its truth in the way the Christian worldview can.
- Persuading men of the truth of the Christian worldview
The manner in which we engage unbelief is just as important as the act of engaging the unbeliever within the apologetical context. As 1 Peter 3:15 teaches, we are to engage in the defense of the faith with “gentleness” and “respect”. Furthermore, we are to argue persuasively. Apologetics does not entail dry exposition of biblical truth, but rather we are to argue the Christian worldview as though we believe it with all our heart. (Indeed, we do believe with all our heart). Our defense should be a passionate one, yet a level headed one not governed by emotions but by the Lordship of Christ, rational and logical thinking and a desire to see the unbeliever come to the knowledge of the truth by the grace of God.