People sometimes have a hard time with apologetics because it seems so confrontational. A friend of mine told me once that you can either win a soul or you can win an argument. I asked, “Is it too much to have both?” I said that a bit tongue-in-cheek but I have to ask if it is possible to argue in a loving fashion. Do all arguments have to end with anger or hate? I don’t think so, not if you know how to do apologetics well.
Apologetics is really a conversation about important and often controversial issues.
Apologetics is really a conversation about important and often controversial issues. I think the problem is that people don’t know how to disagree well. The Apostle Paul used some very strong language to describe some people’s beliefs (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), but he still loved people.
Greg Koukl talks about misunderstanding apologetics in his book, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions. “Apologetics has a questionable reputation among non-aficionados. By definition, apologists defend the faith. They defeat false ideas. They destroy speculations raised up against the knowledge of God. Those sound like fightin’ words to many people…. It’s not surprising, then, that believers and unbelievers alike associate apologetics with conflict. Defenders don’t dialogue. They fight.”
I highly recommend you read Koukl’s book. He suggests “a more excellent way” than the perception people have. He encourages apologists to ask questions, tough but fair questions about other people’s beliefs.
Koukl summarizes three question that can make the apologist task winsome and engaging.
He summarizes three question that can make the apologist task winsome and engaging. Question one is “What do you mean by that?” This is a humble way of asking for more information. Sometimes we need more information before we fully understand someone’s view. Sometimes we don’t know how to respond and need time to think before we respond.
Question two is “How did you come to that conclusion?” This is asking people why they believe what they do. Asking this graciously assumes that people have reasons and challenges them to support their view.
Question three is, “Have you ever considered?” After you’ve spent some time understanding their view, humbly offer up your view for their consideration.
Ultimately persuading people to the truth is loving.
Ultimately persuading people to the truth is loving Leaving people to their false views is not. Atheist Penn Jillette, of the Penn and Teller Magic fame, said this of people who are not wiling to share their faith. “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize… If you believe there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward. How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
Peter says we are to have “a reason for the hope that is in you.” Have a reason for the hope you have in Jesus Christ so that if/when a Penn (or Teller) asks you why, you’ll have an answer.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Apologist
Question: How often have you had people ask you why you believe what you do?