What Is Apologetics?

By Brett Kunkle

arguing-evangelism1Arguing Evangelism

When Christians ask me what I do for a living, I’m hesitant to answer.  Inevitably my reply includes something about “apologetics.”  But for some believers, apologetics has a questionable reputation.  It amounts to intellectually bullying or argumentative one-upsmanship.  It’s all head and no heart.  So you can understand my hesitation.  However, is this an accurate view of apologetics?

I Peter 3:15—kind of the apologist’s theme verse—says to “always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”  Simply put, that’s apologetics.  But in this short description, we discover three important details.

First, doing apologetics means playing defense.  The Greek word for “defense” is apologia, from which we get the word “apologetics.”  Think about a football game.  At any time during the game, one team is trying to score (the offense) while the other is trying to stop them (the defense).  If your team has a really bad defense, you’ll get blown away.  Similarly, maybe you’ve been roughed up by some really tough objections to Christianity.  You’ve heard the challenges before.  “How can a good God allow suffering?” “The Bible is full of errors.”  “Jesus can’t be the only way to God.”  Apologetics helps us defend Christianity against tough questions.  

Second, doing apologetics means playing offense.  Back to the football analogy.  A good defense is vital but you can’t win if you don’t score.  The offense must advance the ball to get a touchdown.  In the same way, apologetics attempts to give a “reason” for our hope by advancing arguments in favor of Christianity.  We offer evidence for God’s existence, reasons to trust the Bible, and arguments for the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  By playing offense, we give others good reason to think Christianity is true. 

Third, doing apologetics means giving hope.  What are you defending and giving evidence for?  “The hope that is in you.”  Ultimately, apologetics points people to our hope, Jesus Himself.  That’s why “we demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  Objections raised against Jesus must be demolished.  But notice something.  The Bible doesn’t say we demolish people.  Rather we demolish arguments…


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Recommended Resources: Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions | On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision