Apologetics and Evangelism: Why Do We Share Our Faith?
by Eric Chabot
I do not come from an overly religious background. I would consider myself to be raised as a nominal Christian. When I became a Christian at age 24, I was quite eager to share my new faith with those around me. But as I went forward and attempted to do some evangelism, it became evident to me that people had a lot of objections to the Christian faith. I proceeded to the local Christian bookstore to look for resources that would help with these objections. This was when I discovered the field of Christian apologetics.
For starters, apologetics is not about apologizing for being a follower of Jesus. One of the primary passages that is used in discussing apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15 which says, “But in your hearts acknowledge Christ as the holy Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have yet with gentleness and respect.” In the context of this passage, Peter is writing to a group of persecuted Christians. The word “Lord” (Gr. kyrios), is an indication of Jesus’ divine status (Acts 2:34-36). Peter does not just suggest we be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us, but he commands that we do it! As Christians are called to give a reason for the hope within them, it is imperative to be both gentle and respectful.
In defining apologetics, the word “Apologia” (in general, meaning defense), and its verbal form “apolgoumai” (make a defense) are words used in classical Greek, in New Testament Greek, and also in Patristic writings.
In other words, apologetics is a branch of theology that is concerned with presenting an intelligent defense of the Christian faith. Jesus calls His people to “make disciples of the nations” (Matt.28:19). Within the context of Matthew 28:19, apologetics is part of that discipling or teaching ministry.
I am convinced that many Christians are apathetic to apologetics because they don’t understand the relationship between evangelism and apologetics. Many Christians are taught that we should tell others about Jesus so they could can go to heaven when they die. I think this is a bit simplistic. We need a much broader understanding of why we are called to share our faith. And when we share our faith, we will start to get challenged. This is a good thing. So having this mind, let me give some reasons as to why we should share our faith:
1. The Starting Point
If you don’t agree with the following syllogism, it makes it hard to want to share your faith:
1. The New Testament documents are historically reliable evidence.
2. The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate. This claim to divinity was proven by His miracles/His speaking authority, His actions, and His resurrection.
3. Therefore, there is reliable historical evidence that Jesus is God incarnate.
So if this syllogism is correct, it leads to the next syllogism:
The Command to Make Disciples: Matt 28:19
1. Whatever Jesus teaches is true.
2. Jesus taught that we are to “Go and make disciples of the nations” (Matt 28:19).
3. Therefore, Christians should desire to “Go and make disciples of the nations” (Matt 28:19).
This command does not mean we need to be sent to some far distant land to preach the Gospel. The command applies to every Christian no matter where they are located. God uses us wherever we are.
It is true that much of the Church has focused on the “go” part of this command. But we need to remember that The Great Commission is accomplished while we “go” about living our daily lives.
The context of Matt 28:19 is that in fulfillment of the Great Commission, we are to make disciples. We are to baptize new believers and we are to teach them. Unless there has been teaching and instruction about the commands of Jesus, there has not been any discipleship. So it is clear that people can’t enter into the process of discipleship without hearing about the Gospel…
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