Last week we said that apologetics involves two people or groups who disagree about something significant. This week I want to talk about two more elements. And I have compiled another list of definitions from other apologists.
“Christian Apologetics is the application of biblical truth to unbelief.” Covenantal Apologetics, K. Scott Oliphint
“Christian Apologetics involves making a case for the truth of the Christian faith.” On Guard, William Lane Craig
“[Apologetics] refers to the defense of what you believe to be true.” Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh and Sean McDowell
“The task or science of Christian apologetics is primarily concerned with providing an intellectual defense of the truth claims of the faith.” Defending Your Faith, R.C. Sproul
“Christian apologetics is “the discipline that teaches Christians how to give a reason for their hope.” Apologetics to the Glory of God, John Frame.
The third element in apologetics involves responding to objections about the faith. For some people, this is very easy. Children on the playground have no problem simply saying “uh-ha” when other children don’t believe them. But for many, this is not so easy. We want others to like us so we might let it go and say nothing. Or worse, we may play along in agreement just to get their approval! But Peter tells us to “always be ready with a defense (a response).”
Apologetics involves responding to objections about the faith.
Our fourth element is that our response has a rational or intellectual component to it. Peter tells us that our defense needs “a reason for the hope that is in you.” This reason is not merely a playground “uh-ha” but a reasoned response that others can understand. Having a reason means doing research, learning the evidence for your faith. We will be talking a lot more about this in later posts.
Our reasons out not be mere playground “uh-ha,” but a reasoned response that others can understand.
I think these are the hardest parts of apologetics. If we left apologetics to the first two points it would be easy to merely agree to disagree. That would save you some pride or preserve some sense unity. But to actually confront the disagreement and try to make your case to others is hard. There are lots of reasons we may fail to do this but I can tell you that doing the work pays off. J.P. Moreland tells a story about knowing why we believe what we believe can have a huge impact on our witness.
Knowing why we believe what we believe can have a huge impact on our witness.
J.P Moreland and his wife, Hope, were having dinner with a couple from church. Everyone was talking about theology and the church but her husband wouldn’t say boo (except when asking someone to pass the chicken). J.P. noticed this and to include the man he asked about the boat the man had parked in his driveway. From that point on J.P. could not get a word in edgewise. It was this kind of boat with that kind of motor. It had these features which were roughly the same that this other type. On and on he went. The man was an encyclopedia on the topic of boats and he would not stop talking. When we have an answer for our beliefs we are much more apt to talk about it with other people. People can sense our excitement and it’s easier for us to share our faith!
Have you ever provided someone an answer to their questions about Christianity?
Your Friendly Neighborhood Apologist