by Rob Lundberg
If someone were to ask you “why” you are a Christian, would you resort to your personal testimony or could you give some pretty strong credible answers to curious question that come your way from people seeking answers? This is why we need apologetics in our spiritual disciplines and daily walk in a post Christian America. What is apologetics?
The word apologetics comes primarily from the word, apologia (apologenomai), which means giving a reason for why you and I believe what we believe.
Expanding on this meaning, apologetics is giving a reason or defense of our Christian faith, why you are a Christian and not an embracer of some other truthclaim or worldview. There are two sides to apologetics that can be described as the positive side and the negative side.
When we think of the positive side, we are speaking to building a case for why Christianity is true. What we are doing is that we are building a positive case for the Christian faith by defending the objective nature of truth, giving reasons for God’s existence, providing a defense of miracles, arguing for the credibility of the Gospel record, providing evidence of the deity of Christ and reasoning for the divine authority of the Bible.
Addressing the negative side of apologetics When we are answering objections to faith. C. S. Lewis put it this way, “To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet the enemies on their ground—would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered” (The Weight of Glory, 50).
Apologetics also undergirds evangelism. And this is why we say that we are engaging in an evangelism undergirded by apologetics. Apologetics is therefore pre-evangelistic, in the sense that we use it to pave the way for the gospel.
I don’t know if we realize this or not, but over half the world is what is called, non– theistic. In other words they do not believe in the one true God. In many more scenarios in our culture today, you and I cannot effectively evangelize until we first pre–evangelize. Many people have questions but those questions are based upon cultural assumptions that need to be answered before we can get them to understand that Jesus is the the Son of God; the Bible is the Word of God; that miracles are acts of God; and that salvation is only of God. But their question is is there really a God. This is where pre-evangelism comes in.
We must start with where people are and take them where they need to go. If someone already accepts biblical theism (that there is a God that exists), then it is not necessary to deal with that point. However, if someone does not accept biblical theism, that there is one transcendent God who does miracles, it is here that we need to begin.
I don’t know whether you realize this or not but do you realize that doubts are beginning earlier and earlier, where some say that they begin in grade school? And then if those doubts are not addressed and discipleship takes place in the home and the church, the departure happens in the first year of college/university.
Let me give you some food for thought. The last Barna statistics I saw showed that only 9% of evangelical Christians really have a biblical world view and only 51% of Evangelical pastors have a Christian world view! Those statistics should be alarming to think that as skepticism grows in American culture, the church is finding itself “behind the Eight Ball” for reaching the culture.
These results confirm what we see illustrated in Acts 17:17–18 with the Apostle Paul at the Areopagus in Athens,
“So he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God–fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him.”
People from many walks of life, atheists, scientists, skeptics and the like have looked at the evidence and come to believe the truth of the Christian faith and trusting in Jesus. Many of those former skeptics, like myself have seen the Holy Spirit work through the evidences for the Christian faith (a result of apologetics). But perhaps you are still not convinced.
Try talking to someone who has asked you why you are a Christian. Give them your testimony and see how that works for you. In fairness to you, your testimony works just for you. But you need more than that.
Apologetics is giving a reason or defense of our Christian faith. It has a positive side that builds a case for Christianity and a negative side that answers objections to faith. And apologetics paves the way for the gospel and is therefore pre–evangelism.
Allow me to close with four reasons why you need to be able to defend what you believe (do apologetics):
1) the Bible commands it,
2) Culture demands it,
3) Church needs it and
4) results confirm it.
If God is a God of reason, who created people with reason, He surely would not bypass reason on the way to faith. If you believe something, you must have reasons to believe it or else why believe it at all?
Tell me what you think! Let’s “kick it around”! I would love to interact with you on this subject. Leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob is a blogger, writer and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and to communicate the message of the gospel to a confused culture in a confused, chaotic, “brave new world.” He is available to come and speak to your church, college club, or group. Find out what people are saying.
If you would like to book Rob for a speaking event, you can do so by emailing him at email@example.com If you have other questions about apologetics or doing apologetics, or if you are looking for apologetics resources, contact our ministry by email.