Roots of Our Faith: Christian Apologetics — Where it all Began
By Joseph Justice
The term “apologetics” is often viewed by many Christians as another technical, theological term that finds its place alongside other daunting words like eschatology, premillennialism and soteriology, just to name a few. These are words that appear to be exclusively reserved for biblical scholars and theologians whose research finds them sitting comfortably in their ivory towers – distant from the hearts and minds of average Christians.
Defending the Faith
While it is true that terms employed in some Christian circles of conversation, like our Greek word ἀπολογία (apologia) can often seem remote from the ears of everyday Christians, it would be a shame to actually believe the caricature above. To do so is to miss out on the rich history of how the Greek language influenced early Christian thought, and the impact such words still have in the Church today.
Let’s make it clear from the start that the word “apologia” — which transliterates into the English language as “apology” — is in no way describing the sense of a person’s remorse to another party. Indeed, the word has nothing to do with the English word apology as in, “I apologized to that man for accidentally stepping on his foot.” Rather, the word in its original Greek context literally meant something like the English word “defense,” even more specifically for the Greeks, it was a legal term defining a written or spoken defense used in a court of law.
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It is in this context of defending the Christian faith that the apostle Peter writes to encourage early believers to “…always be prepared to give an answer [apologia] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” So, we see that the term is not exclusive to scholars and theologians — in its very essence, every Christian should be actively engaging with apologetics, for, the word simply means in Christian speech, to have a defense for one’s faith in Christ. Now, let’s turn our attention briefly to some of the earliest Christian apologists…
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