Why would someone study apologetics? First off, do you even know what apologetics is? Well, it is not apologizing for your faith, your Christian faith. For years, as a Christian, I would on occasion hear the word apologetics and never really understood what it meant.
To me it was one of those ‘theology’ words like hermeneutics, (the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts), or eschatology, (study of the end of things, or end times).
Yes, I was a Christian, but those kinds of words, discussions that would use such language or verbiage, was beyond me, and I had no desire to learn or understand it.
Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense of the Christian faith. Christian Apologetics is something every true believer should be involved in, even if it is only a little. A verse known to most Christian apologists is 1 Peter 3:15. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,”
Apologetics is often the step-child in church circles. Rarely is it popular. Most would rather read or listen to sermons about grace, love, forgiveness, hear encouraging words, receive encouraging words, and enjoy the worship on a particular Sunday with their favorite worship leader.
The reasons someone attends church will vary as much as the colors of Fall. Some attend for a feel good message, some will attend for the worship, some for the teaching, some for the children’s ministries, and some for the fellowship. The list could go on, and hopefully someone attends church for a variety of the reasons listed above, but one thing you will probably never hear someone say is, “I attend church for the apologetics taught”. I get that. Apologetics takes time, effort, and investigation into reasons for our faith.
Last night driving back from my school’s 8th grade graduation ceremony, I noticed a van on the side of the highway with its hood up. Outside the van and off to the side were a couple of adults with several small children. I pulled over and asked if they needed any help. The dad explained he and his family were on their way to Pinecrest for a church retreat and their van had broken down. The tow truck was en route, but it could not carry them all.
I offered them a ride, and took the dad and the three youngest up the mountain to Pinecrest. We chatted on the way up and if I recall correctly, he said his church was called Horizon Christian Fellowship, a Nazarene church. He shared that both he and his wife were raised Catholic, but the church they had been attending had little or nothing to offer their children as far as children’s ministries, so they started attending their current church and loved it because of the children’s ministries.
I shared where I attended church, how long we lived in the area, and that I taught Jr. High. I also shared I blogged on apologetics, but he did not know what it was. I mentioned 1Peter 3:15 and shared that I wrote about, and looked at the various evidences that support the Christian world view. I could tell he had little interest as he began to tease his children about the scary woods that might have monsters and zombies. A short time later, I dropped them off at the retreat area at Pinecrest.
I remember attending a men’s retreat, and one of the speakers specifically mentioned apologetics, but brushed off its importance. In a nut shell, he said having reasons for your faith will not win anyone to the kingdom, and he dismissed the impact apologetics can have on those who ask questions about their faith. His focus was love, which obviously is a major player to Christianity. Thankfully, my pastor was attending and spoke up about the importance of apologetics to those attending, and how it has a place and a positive influence within the Christian world view.
A month ago, a young man, (not from my church), told me he asked his Bible study teacher about apologetics, his teacher replied, “You can’t argue anyone into believing.” This young man struggled with this because he enjoyed apologetics and reading up on the subject of defending his faith. On the flip side, he respected his group leader and felt maybe his own interest in apologetics might be a waste of time. I told him it was common to get some push back from the church and then asked him, “Why would any Christian not want to have reasons for their faith?”
In recent years, there have been several scientific discoveries that suggest a supernatural being is involved. David Noebel, who started Summit Ministries in 1962, (to help ground Christians in their faith), listed four in his book, Understanding The Times, “The Second Law of Thermodynamics (stating that the universe is running out of usable energy and cannot be infinitely old), the impossibility of spontaneous generation of life from non-life (verified by Pasteur over 150 years ago), genetic information theory (which postulates that specified complexity, that found in DNA, comes from a mind, never by chance), and the Anthropic Principle (that the universe as well as planet Earth are specifically ‘fined-tuned’ to accommodate life). 1
The above examples are just a few that point to a God who created all that we know and understand. Students who enter high school or college, that have been exposed to apologetics, fare much better in maintaining their faith than those who just attend church, play games at youth groups, and treat their faith as a social construct for interacting with approved peers by their parents. When confronted with secular views concerning creation, they have heard answers that can address what professors teach, and don’t have to take their word as the ‘gospel’ truth.
Apologetics does not stop there. Apologetics looks at the historical evidence for claims of the New Testament and the resurrection of Christ. David Limbaugh wrote in his book Jesus on Trial, “…there is an enormous amount of evidence that the Bible is historically reliable and that it was written by real men who were united in their commitment to truth. I believe that evidence shows, well beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and that it teaches God entered this world in human form when Jesus Christ was born, that Christ lived a sinless life, that He was crucified, that He died, and that He was resurrected.” 2
The evidence is there, archeological findings, historical accounts outside the scriptures that confirm what the Bible says, and ancient manuscripts, (letters by the apostles), copied thousands of times that can be compared for accuracy. Finally, the dramatically changed lives of the apostles who were eye witnesses to the death, and resurrection, who had nothing to gain for professing the deity of Christ, except persecution and death.
I am thankful that the Lord put this fire, this passion, on my heart about three years ago to study apologetics. I have no doubt my children have gained significant strides in their faith due to my sharing and writing about apologetics, but I will not stop there. This summer my wife and I are sending three of our four children to Summit Ministries for the sole purpose of shoring up their foundation of Christianity.
Over the years in our own church, and in other Christian families we know, we have seen children become adults and walk away from their faith after attending high school or college. Some of these children were raised in the church, with devoted, Jesus loving parents who have been active in church, not just a Sunday Christian.
David Kinnaman wrote You Lost Me, exploring why young Christians are leaving the church. He pointed out that teens are one of the most religiously active groups in our culture which is followed by the twenty-somethings who are the least religiously active group. “Overall there is a 43 percent drop-off between the teen and early adult years in terms of church engagement.” 3 As a parent, those numbers should scare you.
I shared with a mother the other day the practice of inoculating our children to what the world has to offer, rather than isolating them. I remember when I was about 12 years of age I asked my dad if I could try a cigarette. He agreed, but said I had to finish it if I wanted to try it. I made it about a third of the way before I was turning green. That was the first and last time I ever smoked a cigarette. I experienced what the world had to offer in the presence of my parents.
Talk to your teens or young children about what skeptics or atheists say concerning their faith, so the first time they hear arguments against Christianity, it is not outside the home. If you don’t have answers, that is OK, someone will. There is a wealth of information and books that can help you learn about apologetics to further your faith, or the faith of your children.
Francis Collins, who was head of the Human Genome Project, a leading scientist in the study of DNA, and a professing Christian wrote in his book, The Language of God, “It is time to call a truce in the escalating war between science and spirit. The war was never really necessary. Like so many earthly wars, this one has been initiated and intensified by extremists on both sides, sounding alarms that predict imminent ruin unless the other side is vanquished. Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced. God is most certainly not threatened by science: He made it all possible.” 4
1. Noebel, David A. Understanding The Times. Manitou Springs: Summit Press, 2006. Print.
2. Limbaugh, David. Jesus On Trial. New Jersey: Regnery Publishing, 2014. Print.
3. Kinnaman, David. You Lost Me. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011. Print.
4. Collins, Francis S. The Language of God. New York: Free Press, 2006. Print.
Why Apologetics by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.knowingforsure.com.