Why Study Apologetics?
By Dillon Burroughs
As a writer and teacher of apologetics, the field of study that provides evidence for Christian beliefs, some have asked why I believe apologetics is important. There are many reasons that could be listed. However, the following five are those that I believe are most important:
First, we are called to love the Lord with “all our mind” (The Great Commandment). Jesus responded to the religious leader’s question about the Greatest Commandment with the words, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). How can we love the Lord with “all our mind” without considered the reasons why we believe?
Second, we are called to be able to give an answer for the hope within us. 1 Peter 3:15-16 teaches, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” This passage involves three parts: 1) Live with Christ as Lord, 2) Be prepared to answer, and 3) Answer with gentleness and respect. All three are important, but it is essential to understand that to give an answer we must know an answer. Our personal testimony can serve as a powerful response, but so can other information about the existence of God, the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, and the evidence for the accuracy of Scripture.
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Third, we are called to honor God in all we do. This includes our knowledge of His truth. 1 Corinthians 10:31 notes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This “whatever you do” also applies to how we study our faith and communicate it to others. Why wouldn’t we want to know all we can about the evidence for our faith and how to share it?
Fourth, we need to know right teaching so we can avoid and correct false or unhealthy teaching. Titus 1:9 instructs that a church leader “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” It is not wrong to stand against unhealthy spiritual teachings. A Christian leader needs to know what the Bible teaches on important issues both to grow personally and to be able to spot times when the Bible’s teachings are being used inappropriately. Ideally, those who do so will “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
Fifth, we should desire to be able to reason with people with differing beliefs to help them understand the gospel of Christ. In Acts 17, the apostle Paul was grieved at the many false gods the people of Athens followed. He used these other religious views as a discussion point to direct his audience to the true God and the good news of the risen Jesus. Not all of his audience believed, but some did, revealing that this approach to providing evidence for our faith is effective in reaching some of those who may not be reached in other ways.
Apologetics offers us the opportunity to better understand our own faith and creative and compelling ways to communicate it to others. Rather than downplaying the important and strategic roles of apologetics, Christians can pursue the evidence for the Christian faith as an effective means to bring the truth of Christ to many who need to know our Lord…
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