What is Christian Apologetics?
- The word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word “apologia,” pronounced “ap-ol-og-ee’-ah.” It means, “a verbal defense.” It is used eight times in the New Testament: Acts 22:1; 25:16; 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6; Philippians1:7; 2 Timothy 4:16, and 1 Peter 3:15.
- Apologetics is the Biblical call to all Christians to give a defense of their faith. Apologetics, apologia in the Greek, means to give a defense, like one would do in a court of law.
- Christian Apologetics seeks to address misconceptions and defend the Christian faith from an intellectual point of view along with a Biblical worldview. It deals with the pursuit and defense of GOD’S TRUTH.
- Apologetics helps point people to truth found in Scripture and the ultimate truth that came in the person and teachings of Jesus.
Are there any Biblical Models for Apologetics?
1. Jesus used apologetics to prove who he was and what came to do. Jesus’ ministry was all about providing evidence of his Deity, love for his creation, and sovereign power over that creation.
Jesus disclosed His fulfillment of the Old Testament Law and prophecy:
- “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. –Matthew 5:17-18
Jesus defended the importance of understanding the Scriptures:
- And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’‘ –Matthew 22:37
- Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? -Mark 12:24
Jesus provided evidence for His identity through His miracles:
- Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” –Luke 5:18-26
2. Paul used Apologetics during his mission trips:
Yet Saul (Paul) grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. -Acts 9:22
3. Apollos used apologetics:
For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. -Acts 18:28
4. Peter used apologetics it in Acts chapters 2, 3 and 10 and in both of his letters.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect –1 Peter 3:15
5. Stephen used apologetics it in Acts chapter 7 before they stoned him.
6. John used apologetics throughout the entire Gospel of John to prove Jesus’ Deity.
7. Most of the New Testament Authors used apologetics providing evidence for what had happened and for who Jesus was. They also wrote polemically to refute false teaching in the early Church.
8. The early Church fathers used apologetics (disciples/leaders of the Church in the first three centuries like Justin, Origen, Ignatius and others) defending the truth of Scripture and the identity of Jesus.
Is there a reason Apologetics is so important?
According to Sean McDowell, Professor of Christian Apologetics, Biola University:
1.Apologetics give us confidence: When confronted with tough issues concerning our faith we know how to respond and where to get answers.
2.Apologetics helps us hold on to our faith: Even though emotional situations may play a role, we can hang on to truths we know when we go through times of doubt.
3.We all have genuine apologetics-related questions: For example, why is there evil and suffering in the world? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Where did we get our Bible? And, we have social issues to respond to like abortion, homosexuality, marriage, euthanasia, etc.
4.Everyone is an apologist anyways: All Christians are called to be ready with an answer. We all will try to answer questions, but what kind of apologist will we be? Will we represent God correctly? “From the shortest texts and tweets to the humblest website, to the angriest blog, to the most visited social networks, the daily communications of the wired world attest that everyone is now in the business of relentless self-promotion–presenting themselves, explaining themselves, defending themselves, selling themselves or sharing their inner thoughts and emotions as never before in human history. That is why it can be said that we are in the grand secular age of apologetics” Os Guinness (Fool’s Talk, 15-16).
5.Everyone needs to see that Christianity is objectively true, especially our young people: Many have bought into the secular worldview that defines faith as a matter of feelings and experiences in opposition to facts and reason. Apologetics training helps us see that there is an objective truth that can be known.
In today’s culture Christianity is under attack spiritually and from secular humanistic philosophies. Christians need to be equipped to answer questions, correct misconceptions and defend the faith.
Warnings from the Apostles Paul, Peter and John:
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. –1 Timothy 4:1
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. -2 Peter 3:3
I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. -1 John 2:21-26
Watch this twelve minute video for an overview of Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell, M.A. Christian Apologetics and Author of eight “iwitness Apps” for mobil devices.
How can we use Apologetics today?
Start with the concept of truth. Truth is objectively knowable, it is not relative. The truth is out there for all who sincerely seek to find it. Truth is what matches with reality, and reality is that thing you bump into when you find out you’ve been sincerely wrong.
God has revealed truth in 1) His general revelation (the creation); 2) His special revelation (the Bible); 3) The teaching, ministry, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus; and 4) through His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth given to all believers.
Making the Connection:
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” –John 8:31-32
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” –John 14:6-7
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” –John 14:15-17
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” -John 15:26
For a more in-depth look at Christian Apologetics watch this forty-five minute video by one of the top Christian Apologist, Author, and Debater of our time Dr. William Lane Craig:
Join us next week as we begin to explore the New Testament and A Case for Christ.
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in! Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
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1 Peter 3:15