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by Michael Ramsden
“The trouble with most theologians is that they go down deeper, stay down longer and come up murkier than anyone else I know.” Apologetics is not about injecting a dose of confusion into the Christian Gospel to try and make it sound more profound. It is about communicating the profundity of the Gospel so that it removes the confusion surrounding it.
Apologetics is really about evangelism. The word apologetics comes from the Greek word “apologia”, which literally means a reasoned defence.
Paul uses the word to describe his own ministry. In Philippians [1:7] he states that he is appointed for the defence and confirmation of the Gospel.
In 1 Peter a command is given that we should always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) for the reason for the hope that we have. For both Peter and Paul, they are clearly thinking of evangelism in these contexts.
A letter to the persecuted Church
“But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…” 1 Peter 3:15-16
This passionate letter is to the wider church, which is suffering under persecution. Its readers are exhorted to lead holy and obedient lives, an endeavour made possible because of the new birth that has occurred in their lives through the living word of God (1 Peter 1:17-24). Every chapter contains practical instruction as to how we should live and what attitude we should adopt. In the midst of all of this instruction, comes a very clear command – be prepared to give an apologetic for the hope that you have. What then can we learn from this brief text about apologetics?
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