What is apologetics and is there only one way of understanding of apologetics? This posting is going to take a question and answer approach to this subject and answer some questions that pertain to the essence of apologetics and the “Why” questions for its necessity.
The only question we will not answer in this posting will be one that is focussed in a particular methodology (“doing apologetics”).
1. What is Apologetics and Why Do We Need It?
I have posted a definition of how this ministry answers the first part of this question. Looking at the top of our page, you can find that definition. Before getting into the definition, let me state that I believe apologetics is SCRIPTURALLY mandated. Let me see if I can sustain this for us. To answer the first question,
Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.
To take this a little deeper, the Greek word for the task known as apologetics is the word apologia; is also used to mean an informal explanation or defense of one’s position (c.f. 1 Cor 9:3; 2 Cor. 7:11) and the word would aptly describe giving an answer to the skeptical, abusive, or derisive inquiries of ill-disposed neighbors. This passage (1 Peter 3:15) is one of 19 times in the New Testament is where the word apologia, or its verb form (in the participle), is found. The late F. F. Bruce cited that 47% of the New Testament deals with defense of the faith. And this is where I would have to say that apologetics is a divine command.
2. Was Apologetics Part Of The Early Apostolic Church’s Example To Us?
Yes, without question. Not only do we see apologetic discourse in both the Old and New Testaments, but the duty of the apologist did not die. Many of the early Church Fathers were engaged in apologetic debate with those who were opposed to the true nature of Christ, the nature of the Godhead, and the issues regarding salvation by grace through faith. When you look at these issues, we can see that we have a responsibility to uphold. Thankfully the Church Fathers boldly contended for the faith, but they have passed the baton to the succeeding generations of Christians who would follow, even to this day. If we don’t carry this torch that has been passed on to us, then their labor was in vain. This is why I like the passage: “Join with others in following my example brothers and take note of those living according to the pattern we gave you….for many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” – the Apostle Paul In Philippians 3:17
3. Can You Provide One Example of Someone Engaged in Apologetics in the Bible
When I think of apologetics in the New Testament, aside of the example we see from Jesus’ responses to the Pharisees and Sadducees in (a) matters of taxes, (b) the adulterous woman, and (c) marriage in the resurrection, I see the Apostle Paul following the example of the Master.
What does that mean? Simply stated I believe that Christianity alone is true. If we were to compare or contrast Christianity with the other great (in the quantitative sense) religions known to man we could defend this and provide with refutation why those other religious systems fail. Without a doubt, Christianity is true. That is why we are to,
5. Is Apologetics Just Limited To Jesus’ and Paul’s Teachings?
I would say that apologetics could not more important today than any time in history. It was important in the ancient church confronting a primitively pagan culture. Our culture is more sophisticated in its pagan ideas and we need, now more than ever Christians who will be willing to be “case makers” for their faith (apologists).I really don’t care if anyone, be they a layperson or a pastor, thinks that apologetics is not for everyone. But if one works a job in the marketplace of ideas of the workforce, their Christian faith cannot help be confronted or even come under fire.
Some might think that apologetics might be for the intellectually rigorous, but they forget that Peter was written to displaced Christians who were under persecution. We are not too far from facing persecution for holding to views of pro-life and pro-family and pro-traditional marriage.
That being said, I believe that people in the pew cannot do without apologetics and that every pastor should teach his congregation apologetics because of these two benefits. I cannot tell you how many Christians have come to me over the years, at my workplace asking me for reasons to hold on to their faith. Why is the church not seeing this? Allow me to finish this posting with a couple of good reasons for the church today to be involved in equipping and training our saints to defend their faith.
For these reasons I would say apologetics cannot be neglected in the church of this age.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org If you have other questions about apologetics or doing apologetics, or if you are looking for apologetics resources, contact this ministry by email or by phone (540.424.2305).