18 Reasons Christian Leaders Should Be Apologists
Saints and Sceptics
1. Just as theology flows naturally from worship and confession, apologetics is the natural outcome of evangelism. At some point the Christian moves from proclaiming the Gospel to persuading the unbeliever; once this move takes place, the Christian has moved from evangelism to apologetics. In any case, the unbeliever will soon ask “why should I take anything you say seriously?” The Christian will have to state some reason for the hope that is within him; so his answer had better be good.
2. Apologetics is just reasoning with those who do not believe; and this is exactly what Paul does whenever he preaches the Gospel. Sometimes he reasoned in the Synagogues, using the Scriptures to show that Jesus fulfilled God’s promises to Israel. At other times he defended his Gospel from the charge of irrationality by calling attention to evidence available in the public record. He was even prepared to argue with a mob of idolaters that their sacrifices were irrational
3. The author of Acts reports several trial scenes to establish that the Apostles were reasonable men of good character. This was simply part and parcel of their mission to spread the Gospel.
4. The Church was commanded to preach, but it was also instructed to persuade: Paul is often described as “reasoning” (dialegomai) with unbelievers.
5. One objection to apologetics runs as follows: “Only God can effectively call someone to faith”. But how does God call us? Typically, through his word; and it is astonishing how often God’s word reasons with unbelief.
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6. For example Paul opens his chief theological statement, the book of Romans, with a critique of idolatry and polytheism. The creator’s eternal power is revealed through the natural world; the author of this creation must be far greater than anything in the created realm. Yet, even though everyone instinctively searches for God, pagans worship with pieces of wood and stone. This is foolishness, for they should know that something even more beautiful lies behind the beauty of nature.
7. Paul makes a similar argument to the Athenians in Acts 17. The ‘world and everything in it’ reflects the power of one creator. If everything in this world depends on a creator, then it follows that the creator cannot depend on anything in nature. These arguments would have been familiar to the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers of Athens. They might even have been sympathetic to Paul’s argument that because all men searched for the same thing, it was more reasonable to believe in one creator. Creation, after all, testified to one designer and one providential plan.
8. In 1 Corinthians 2v4-5, Paul says that “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 men’s wisdom, but on God’s power”. But Paul was not critiquing apologetics in this passage; his target was the Corinthians’ love of rhetoric…