The Ten Commandments of Apologetics
Excerpt from the book, Engaging the Closed Minded: Presenting Your Faith to the Confirmed Unbeliever by Dan Story
Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views. Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul of Tarsus, including writers such as Origen and Augustine of Hippo, and continuing currently with the modern Christian community, through the efforts of many authors in various Christian traditions such as C.S. Lewis. Apologists have based their defense of Christianity on historical evidence, philosophical arguments, scientific investigation, and other disciplines.
The Ten Commandments of Apologetics
I. Gospel first, apologetics second: Always try to start a witnessing encounter with the Gospel. The job of apologetics is to pave the way for a presentation of the Gospel. It is pre-evangelism. It is wrong to assume that every unbeliever harbors intellectual objections to Christianity. Hence not every evangelistic situation will require an apologetics defense.
II. Stay with the essentials: Most non-Christians know little about the Bible or what Christians believe and what they think they know is often in error. When sharing the Gospel, avoid theological subjects that will be confusing to unbelievers, like eschatology or predestination. Confirm the message of the Gospel by sharing your personal testimony demonstrating the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit in your own life.
III. Remember your goal: The goal of apologetics is to overcome intellectual obstacles to Christianity so that unbelievers are willing to consider the Gospel. Apologetics is not theology. You don't have to give the definitive theological answer to any issue, only an appropriate answer that can be defended scripturally.
IV. Never give people a problem: Never force apologetics on someone or create illegitimate reasons to use it. The impulse is to go out and confront everyone you know and challenge their misbeliefs. Apologetics is not an excuse to argue. Often Christian love and understanding may be all that is needed.
V. Find out the real problem: Sometimes unbelievers will raise issues against Christianity that do not mirror their real concerns. They may feel more comfortable discussing a popular argument rather than what's really bothering them. Whatever the issues, you must identify them and respond accordingly.
VI. Avoid distractions: Apologetics deals with intellectual obstacles, not moral issues. For example, that a man and woman are living together out of wedlock should not prevent you from sharing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Nor should it interfere with a discussion of apologetics. God will deal with the moral issues once a person sees his or her need to become a Christian.
VII. Apply evangelistic and missionary techniques: The ultimate goal of apologetics is evangelistic. The purpose is to bring people as quickly and as efficiently as possible to the point where they renounce their non-Christian worldviews and accept Jesus as Lord. It also involves seeking unbelievers on their own turf.
VIII. Know what unbelievers believe: Be as a missionary who before going into a foreign culture learns as much as possible about their religious beliefs, language, social customs, ethical behavior, cultural taboos, and so on.
IV. Don't be intimidated: Most non-Christians have little knowledge of the Bible and few have read even a portion of it. They seldom ask sophisticated questions or need in-depth answers. If you do encounter questions you cant answer or arguments you cant refute, admit it.
X. Keep the right attitude: Don't be self-righteous or pushy. Try to create an environment that encourages the work of the Holy Spirit.
Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. - 1 Peter 3:15-16 The Message