Apologetics and Christ’s Commission
by Ian Murray
There is a sad reality within some Christian circles: there are many Christians who believe that apologetics is not important. Why is this? Mainly this is because of misconceptions of what apologetics is and a lack of recognition of the importance of apologetics in the Gospel message. Regarding misconceptions, for those who are new to the ‘world of apologetics’ it would be good to begin defining terns. What is apologetics? Dr. Richard L. Pratt writes:
“The term “apologetics” is often misunderstood… The word “apologetics” is … derived from the Greek APOLOGY… When Paul stood before the mob in Jerusalem, he said, “hear my defense (apology) which I now offered to you.” (Acts 22:1)” [i]
So apologetics is the defense of the rationale or a position held by the person including theological positions such as Christianity or Islam. However for many Christians, one’s rationale for their personal Christianity has been demoted to at least a mere past-time activity. For many Christians when the word ‘apologetics’ is reduced to issues like: ‘The proofs for the existence of God’ or ‘the problem of evil’. This is what often comes to mind and as a result many Christians believe since this is what apologetics is, apologetics should best left for books, conferences and coffee houses; but not in mainstream Christianity – evangelical ministries & the Sunday morning pulpit.
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However the irony of the anti-apologetic position is the person who adheres to this view is forced to be an apologist by defending their reasons for their position. This clearly makes the anti-apologetic position a self-refuting position as the proponent of this view is forced to use the very thing they are against; they depend on the idea that they need to provide arguments, and preferably good ones, to defend their view that offering a defense for your view is not necessary.
Ignoring the self-refuting position for a moment, one has to ask though: Why would a Christian believe defending their view is not important, or at least not very important? The following are 4 examples of ‘anti-apologetic’ apologetical arguments:
- “You can’t intellectualize someone into heaven.”
- (Or) “You can’t argue with someone into heaven.”
- “All we as Christians are to do is to ‘show & tell’ the love of Jesus.”
- (Or) “We are called to spread the Gospel of Jesus – make disciples, not intellectuals.”
As true as these claims are, does this mean that apologetics has no serious application in the life of a Christian? No! So how do apologetics come into play with the Christian’s Good-News message? Apologetics is the main theme of 1 Peter and provides a good case study…
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