Have you noticed that the word “apologetics” often creates immediate discussion? To the uninitiated in the discipline, the common line is, “What are you apologizing for?” To the one who knows and understands the discipline, the discussion takes on a debate all its own.
I remember the first time I laid my hands on a text discussing the role and place of apologetics. I could not put it down. It is hard to pinpoint the exact reason I was so engrossed in the subject. Was it because I was the product of my culture, knew my faith was in the minority, and on every corner I was asked to defend the “why” of my newfound beliefs? Was it because I was debating these issues within myself? Was it because God Himself planned a path for me that I was to undertake in the years that followed? Maybe a little of each?
All of these had a place in the lines that converged in my personal makeup and calling. What I did not anticipate was having to give a defense of why I was “defending the faith.” “You can’t really argue anybody into the kingdom.” “It only caters to pride, you know?” “Conversion is not about the intellect; it is all about the heart.” As the litany of questions run for why one gets into it, so the reasons run as to why we should stay out of it.
In short, apologetics is the best subject that ends up defending itself when a discussion begins on the topic. The one who argues against it ends up using argument to denounce argument. The one who says it is all a matter of pride ends up proudly defending one’s own impoverishment. So goes the process of self-contradiction.
I am convinced, in the words of C.S. Lewis—who in my estimation is probably the greatest apologist in recent memory—that the question of being an apologist is not so much in answering someone’s question whether you use an apologetic or not. Rather, it is whether the apologetic you already use is a good one or not. —Ravi Zacharias (from, Think Again)
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