Often people think apologetics means apologizing for our faith. Such are the wonders of language when it changes over time! But that is not what we mean by apologetics. I have gathered a list of definitions from several Christian apologetics books (the first book is the most important one!).

“but in our hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense 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, The Apostle Peter.

“Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith.” Apologetics Study Bible, Kenneth D. Boa.

“Apologetics can be defined as ‘that New Testament ministry which seeks to provide rational grounds for believing Christianity in whole or in part and to respond to objections raised against Christianity in whole or in part.'” Love God with All Your Mind, J.P. Moreland.

There are four commonalities involved with these definitions. For the sake of space I will cover the first two this week and the last two next week.

First, any apologetic issue will make a claim about reality. Christianity makes a lot of claims about reality. For example: God exists, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and the Holy Spirit lives in my heart. You actually cannot make it through a single page in the Bible without reading some sort of claim about reality.

Christianity makes a lot of claims about reality.

Second, there is a conflict or objection to the claims Christianity makes. The Bible even tells us that people have opposed (2 Tim. 4:15) and will oppose (Gal. 5:17) the message of Jesus Christ.

These challenges can come from nearly anywhere, even within the church. Some people join a Christian cult. Maybe they grew up in a different religion. It is becoming more and more popular for college students to lose their faith in a “science” class (more on why science is in scare quotes later).

The Bible tells us that people have and will oppose Jesus Christ.

The fact that people disagree is not much of a surprise. People disagree about things all the time without really needing to “defend” anything, right? So what makes apologetics disagreements any different than a disagreement about window drapes?

What makes apologetics disagreements any different than a disagreement about window drapes?

Once, I was explaining to an atheist on facebook why I thought Jesus Christ really exists. I gave him an argument that I thought was fool-proof. If he doubted my argument, then he would have to doubt the existence of every single historical figure known to man. Imagine believing that there was no Aristotle or George Washington! What he said surprised me at first. He said, “Every other historical figure doesn’t expect me to change my life.” What he said shows that there are huge implications, even eternal implications, to what we believe. And that is what makes apologetics disagreements different.

Has anyone ever challenged something you believe as a Christian? What was it?

Your Friendly Neighborhood Apologist

Jason

4 thoughts on “What is Apologetics: Part 1

  1. My sister just assured me that she has been in contact with my mom and others who have died, thru a medium, they are all in heaven.
    Being a good person is all it takes.
    She is not open to a biblical conversation, and how dare I say my own mother is in hell.
    Hardest when family is involved. 😔

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    1. Thanks for your comment! Apologetics with family can be hard. There is a lot of history there that can get in the way of seeing things clearly but for family there should also be love. Everyone’s worldview is built through a variety of factors and the apologist will be on the lookout for when love (charity) is the proper answer. Peter says to make your defense “with gentleness and respect” for good reason. I’ll admit this isn’t my strength, I’d much rather duke it out, but God’s working it into me.

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  2. I have heard that statement before, “You just have to be a good person to get to heaven”. However, when I counter as to is there a level of good that one must obtain, and what level is that and who decides; then the conversation gets a bit messy. I usually ask, “Should God make that decision?” If the answer is no, then I ask again “What level of good is good enough?” Usually they don’t know. That prompts me to state that since we don’t know what level of good is good enough then there must be a standard and someone must determine that standard—that someone must be God. If God has set a standard then God must tell us what that standard is. Hence, the Bible and the example of Jesus’ life. It is here that we realize that it’s not how good we are that gets us into heaven, but how good were not that keeps us out. Since we cannot meet God’s standard of “good”, then God must provide a plan that allows us to gain eternal life and that plan must be easy enough for anyone and everyone to accomplish. “For by faith are we saved through grace, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man can boast.” Eph: 2:8-9 For those who have a hard time believing in faith in Jesus, I ask them one question: “Is there anything you can do that would wow God?” If not, then don’t rely on “good” or “minor bad” deeds.

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    1. I had a similar experience. I asked someone what it takes to get into heaven. They told me that all it takes is to be a “good” person. I asked her if that’s all it takes, why did Jesus have to die such a gruesome death. She didn’t know. The goodness that God expects from us is clearly beyond our grasp as sinful people. He took our shortcoming so seriously that Jesus had to die so that we could live. What a marvelous sacrifice!

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