Apologetics is a word that most of the Christians have heard but not known what it really is. My effort in this article will be to give you some information on what apologetics is and deal with some of the common misconceptions regarding apologetics.
First of all, what is Apologetics?
- Apologetics is a Christian Theological branch that defends Christianity as a worldview and provides reason and understanding as to why Christianity is a true religion. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used for a speech defender or an answer given in reply. The basis of apologetics is found in 1 Peter 3:15 which says “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (defense) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV).
Is apologetics a newly developed theological branch?
- Simple answer to this question is no. The history of apologetics traces back to the beginning of Christianity in the 1st century. The early church saw number of prominent apologists whose writings are still popular. These people played a vital role in the early church. As you know, the early church was persecuted heavily by the Jewish and Roman authorities. These apologists wrote to the higher authorities in defense of Christianity and showed in their writings what Christianity really was as there were many misconceptions about them. Beginning from Paul the apostle, Patristic writers such as Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Justin Matyr and Tertullain were all apologists. In fact Terullain is the one who has provided us with understanding most of our Christian doctrines including Trinity. Hence their contribution to Christianity is immense.
Is apologetics all about arguments?
- No, apologetics is not all about arguments. Argument is a part of reasoning and nowadays it is seen in a negative way. In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements typically used to persuade someone of something or to present reasons for accepting a conclusion. What an apologist does is that he provides reasons in order to make his point clear. Hence a reason provided should not be taken always in a negative form of argument. Apologetics is not just to reason with someone but is also to have deeper understanding of the Word of God. My interest in apologetics led me to dig deeper in the Word of God and have better understanding of it.
What are the uses of apologetics?
- Uses of apologetics are many. It helps us to have deeper understanding of the word of God. It helps you to buttress your faith with reason so that when asked about your faith, you can provide reason for it. It helps you understand your own worldview better. We need apologetics to counter the bad image that we have in media and cultures. There are a lot of false teachings out in the world, we need apologetics to help us understand the truth. We need apologetics for the work of evangelism. Apologetics and evangelism goes hand in hand. It in fact strengthens the work of evangelism by equipping Christians. Finally, schools and colleges are not a friendly place for a Christian (e.g. Evolution being taught in the school).
Why is then apologetics not been used much?
- It is a natural question that if apologetics has so many advantages, then why is apologetics not been used much? Simple answer to this question is that we have an attitude of not putting reason to faith. We have an understanding which tells us that putting reason to faith is wrong and it belittles the faith. But this understanding is wrong. Anselm of Canterbury said during the scholastic era “I believe so that I may understand”. Faith forms the foundation for our knowledge. Apologetics doesn’t belittle the faith but it enriches it and takes it up to a level that it can take the highest degree of scrutiny and come out strong. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Our whole faith depends on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and apologetics even after 2000 years of that incident provides us with concrete evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Another problem is that we think we don’t need apologetics because people really don’t ask much intellectual questions but time is changing now. There is an explosion of knowledge in this era and people are asking questions. Children go to schools and colleges and there they are taught all sorts of things. A 10th std boy asking the question to a leader during the gospel camp that from where did Cain got his wife is an example of how nowadays children and youth are having all sorts of questions.
Satan very well knows the impact Christians will make when they are well equipped. This is the reason why he is in some or the other way trying that people should not have interest in apologetics and they equip themselves. I hope people will soon start feeling the urge to equip themselves. Jesus said in the end times “Many will come in my name, claiming I am the Messiah. They will deceive many.” If you don’t want to be deceived, start equipping yourself.