The Greatest Apologist Ever
by Steven Kozak
Regardless of the seemingly countless objections to the study and practice of apologetics in the everyday Christian life, the concept and discipline of apologetics is taken directly from the Scriptures, and therefore is a vital part of the life of a disciple. If we study the model given to us in the Bible, we can clearly see a defense of faith in Peter, Paul, and even Jesus. In large part, advocates of apologetics see 1 Peter as the only necessary proof that we as Christians need to “defend” our faith. Certainly this should, and even could, suffice. Peter reminded the early first-century Christians of the duty they had to be ready at any moment to defend the gospel—a fundamental and important concept in a dangerous and volatile time for the church. But what about the ministry of the apostle Paul? Certainly the great evangelist and author of the majority of the New Testament, the apostle to the Gentiles has something for us to learn from. Paul’s missionary efforts have provided the church with countless years of wisdom and example for leadership, church planting, conflict resolution, practical living in light of the gospel, joy in suffering, and yes, even the practice of apologetics.
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In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church he told them,
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
It almost seems abundantly clear that Paul is reminding a church that is divided, and focused on human accomplishment and status, that what matters is not our arguments, creative words, or knowledge; but instead with the power of the Spirit. At first glance we might draw the conclusion that through Paul’s example, apologetics is not only unnecessary, but un-biblical. Apologetics, then would be undermining the work of the Holy Spirit. What might seem to be a problem passage in terms of apologetics; what looks like Paul working to make a point that he did not try to persuade the people to believe in Jesus, but relied on the power of the Spirit; turns out to only be part of the story…
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