Why is Apologetics Important?
April 7, 2020
by Jerek Petrous, DDS, MS
When somebody asks me why I am a Christian, I give them two reasons.
- Reason #1: Because I met Jesus and He radically changed my heart (my personal testimony).
- Reason #2: Because there is excellent objective evidence that Christianity is true.
My testimony is powerful. It is personal, and we are called to share it. Nobody can argue with my first-hand claims. The first reason is all we need. However, although my testimony may be incredibly real to me and perhaps inspirational to others, it may not be enough to convince a hardened skeptic or even an open-minded seeker of truth. In fact, the Mormon missionary who knocks on your door or the Tantric Hindu priest you encounter on a mission trip could genuinely describe their own experience that led them to believe their particular faith was true. The same applies to them. Who am I to discount their experience?
Here’s the key. What separates my belief from theirs is reason #2. That’s right; excellent, objective evidence supporting the truth of Christianity. Other competing worldviews just don’t have this kind of evidence. When I tell people, this it often wigs them out. It’s the last thing they expect a Christian to say. Many people assume faith is just the place where reason ends where you take a “blind leap.” However, that is not at all what faith is. Faith is trusting in something you have good evidence to believe is true.
What is Apologetics?
Apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia which is taken directly out of 1 Peter 3:15. In Greek, it means a defense, as in a court of law. Christian apologetics, therefore, involves making a case (or defense) for the truth of the Christian faith. This isn’t just the job of philosophers, pastors and speakers though. As Christians, we are all called to defend our faith. The most frequently used word in Acts to describe conversion is “persuaded.” We are called to love the Lord with all of our mind.
Notice in the verses below how what we may call apologetics today was a regular rhythm taught by the apostles in the early church. For example:
“…always being prepared to give a defense (apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:5-6, NASB).
“…defending and confirming the gospel…” (Philippians 1:7, NIV 1984).
“Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4, NIV 1984).
“For he vigorously refuted the Jews opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:28, NIV 1984).
The Importance of Apologetics: Strengthening Believers
The first reason to learn and practice apologetics is to strengthen believers, whether it be yourself or a friend. By uniting our hearts with our minds, we become bolder and more confident in what we believe. This intellectual confidence can help us stay grounded in times of doubt or in times of hardship where we may only hear a whisper from God, as opposed to a previous season in our lives when our faith experience may have been more emotional.
The Importance of Apologetics: Winning Unbelievers
We know from Scripture that nobody will be argued into the faith. When someone puts their faith in Jesus, it was because God pursued them first (John 6:44). However, apologetics helps us to deal with the doubts of those we are witnessing to, helping us to “remove the potholes on the road to the cross.” Apologetics helps us engage with people’s doubts, arguments or confusion in a way that points people to the truth of the gospel.
The importance of Apologetics: Shaping the Culture
By learning and becoming versed in apologetics, we are helping to shape the culture around us in our homes, in our workplaces and in our social spheres. It is especially important that we as believers take this seriously as our culture slowly becomes increasingly post-Christian.
What are my next steps?
- On Guard by William Lane Craig
- I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Frank Turek
2) Download these free apps:
- Reasonable Faith
- Stand to Reason