Apologetics Misunderstood: It Is All About Evangelism (Part One)
guest blog by Rick Schenker, President of Ratio Christi
Recently a minister asked me how Ratio Christi was different from other college ministries. I explained that we focused on apologetics—equipping students and faculty with the philosophical, historical, and scientific evidence for why Christianity is true. His next statement shocked me. He said, “So you are not focused on evangelism like these other campus ministries, right?" “No," I replied, "we are more focused on evangelism than many other ministries.” That shocked him.
There is a common misperception that apologetics is not about evangelism, but the opposite is true. Apologetics is all about evangelism. I wrote an article a few months ago called, Who is the True Evangelist? My premise was that the apologist is truly fulfilling the Ephesians 4:11,12 model of an evangelist by equipping others to “do the work of the ministry”– namely winning their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to Christ. Apologists are doing the exact thing that Paul told his protégé Timothy to do, “The things which you have heard from me…, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Think about it this way. People will only become Christians when they are persuaded that Christianity is true. People only stay Christians if they believe Christianity is true. The job of the apologist is to prove that Christianity is true. Salvation is a supernatural work, but who ever heard of someone being a Christian that didn’t first believe it was true. Somehow they became convinced that eternal life is a free gift from God that can only be obtained by trusting in Jesus Christ. So, how did they become convinced?
Of course I know salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit, but most people are first convinced through the information they have heard from people that are believers. This information usually comes from a combination of reading the eyewitness testimonies in the New Testament, from listening to various Christian messages, and having conversations with believers. Either way, they have eventually come to believe that Christianity is true, and that they need the redemption provided by Jesus and His death on the cross.
In our secular culture people are not even sure they believe in truth, and Christianity is seen as one of many options. They first need to have conversations that will give them the rationale that proves to them that Christianity is true. Yet most Christians are not prepared to give that rationale. In an article about Creating Confident Witnesses for Christ—Apologetics, It’s About the Conversations, I discuss some of the most common questions and objections to Christianity and the need to have apologetics training to be prepared to give the rationale that will lead people to the truth. If that’s not evangelism, than I don’t know what is.
When our Ratio Christi apologists do their work of passing their training on to faithful young men and women who will be able to teach others, they are training them to be evangelists to every person they will encounter—both Christians and non-Christians. These young people are becoming apologetic evangelists to their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. That places Ratio Christi at the cutting edge of apologetics evangelism in the world today.