Apologetics on Mission

by Justin Holcomb

What Is Apologetics?

The word “apologetics” is from the Greek word apologia, which means “the act of making a defense.” This word is used several times in the New Testament, but its usage in two passages is particularly relevant. In Philippians 1:7 &16, apologia refers to a defense of the gospel, and in 1 Peter 3:15 it refers to a defense of the Christian hope.

Apologetics is “an activity of the Christian mind which attempts to show that the gospel message is true in what it affirms. An apologist is one who is prepared to defend the message against criticism and distortion, and to give evidences of its credibility.

Defensive Apologetics

One form of apologetics is to defend the gospel from challenges. Defensive apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith by showing that the objections to the true claims of Christianity cannot and do not stand. Defensive apologetics addresses objections to the concept of God’s Triunity, to the problem of evil, to the Resurrection, to biblical criticism, and so forth.

For example, negative apologetics is used to rebut the claim that the doctrine of the Trinity “is an Error in counting or numbering; which, when stood in, is of all others the most brutal and inexcusable.” Negative apologetics will show that the doctrine of the Trinity is at least possibly true.

Another example is to defend against the charge that the bible contains errors, contradictions, or inconsistencies. To give answers to the challenges that Jesus rose from the dead is also defensive apologetics.

Positive Apologetics

Another form of apologetics is to offer reasons to believe the gospel. Positive apologetics is the use of Christian evidences to demonstrate the viability of the Christian faith. Apologetics intends to “show”, in a positive manner, that the claims of the Christian faith are indeed intellectually defensible and rationally justifiable.

This is the method of making a positive case for the validity and truth of the claims made in Christian Scripture such as the resurrection of Christ, the existence of God, and the historical reliability of the Bible.

Critiquing Unbelief

Another use of apologetics is critiquing unbelief, which combines both the positive and negative forms. Some streams of apologetics seek to show that unbelief is irrational and that holding to views such as relativism will lead one to undesirable and irrational conclusions…


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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:   Apologetics for a New Generation: A Biblical and Culturally Relevant Approach to Talking About God  / Apologetics for the Twenty-first Century / More apologetics resources >>>