What apologetics is not: "I think the way this article was framed is a bit sensational, and does a disservice to the body of Christ." This is from a person who has little skill of making a cogent persuasive statement. That was only a remark that is meant to express a loud comment against something.
Throughout the history of the church, Christians have been called upon to explain why we believe what we believe. The apostle Paul spoke of his ministry as "the defense and confirmation of the gospel." Peter said we need to "be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you."
This activity of the church came to be known as apologetics which means "defense." But, if it is important that we defend the faith, how do we do it?
- n. (used with a sing. verb)
- The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.
- Formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system.
What is apologetics, anyway, and what is it supposed to do? Apologetics has been defined as "the science and art of defending the faith." It is expressly concerned with the question of the truth of Jesus Christ. In the days of the Greeks, when someone was summoned to court to face a charge, he would present an "apology" or a defense. For Christians, this might mean answering the question, "Why do you believe that Jesus is God?" or a question more often heard today, "Why do you think Christians have the truth?"
- So, apologetics is first of all defense. It has come to include more than just defense, however. Not only is the truth of our beliefs an issue, but also the beliefs others hold.
- A second task of apologetics is to challenge other people to defend their beliefs.
- A third task of apologetics is to demonstrate a case for the truth of the biblical message.
One might call this task "establish" Christianity (although the matter of proof must be qualified). If this seems to be too ambitious a goal, we might speak simply of influencing people of the truth of the biblical message.
Apologetics is typically a reaction to a specific question or encounter, either stated outright or just implied.
- Paul reasoned with the Jews for whom the cross was a stumbling block, "explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead." In the second century, apologists defended not only Christian beliefs but also Christians themselves against such charges as atheism and worldview . In the Medieval era, more attention was given to the challenges of Judaism and Islam. In the era of the Enlightenment, apologists had to defend Christianity against the narrow confines of scientific rationalism. Today the challenge has shifted again, this time from attacks on specific doctrines to the question of whether Christianity has any claim to final truth at all.
A QUESTION THAT SHOULD BE ANSWERED APOLOGETIC:
"I'd like to know why you assume God is the answer to everything. Some of these people don't want to hear all this stuff about Jesus. Did you ever think that maybe the reason that some kids want to commit suicide is because of the pressure put on them concerning religion? People are constantly pushing others to believe in God... that's wrong... that's a sin. What good is it gonna do to convert people. I say leave them be. There is nothing wrong with people's beliefs. What would make me happy is if people would stop trying to convince me that there is a God... There isn't in my opinion... and I am very happy without a God. So, maybe you should look at that perspective as well."
Understanding how to think properly, or logically, is important for Christians for several reasons.
Good, logical thinking is especially important for an apologist. On the one hand, it can help prevent us from putting together careless arguments for what we believe. On the other hand, it helps us measure the beliefs of those who challenge Christianity. Too often we stumble at criticisms which sound good, but which really stand on logically shaky legs.
This task is one what we need to work on all the time in our presentation of any sermon we preach or any paper we write.
Every sermon we preach is designed to be stated in a apoligetic form. To give a reason why we believe the text.
Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant, Proof Checked by Charity Whisnant