Apologetic Evangelism 101: Introductory Considerations
by Fred Butler
The word “evangelism” can conjure up uncomfortable thoughts in the minds of many Christians today.
Those folks see evangelism as 2 hours of aimless wandering around on a Tuesday evening hunting down people who may have visited their church in order to share a canned gospel presentation with them. Or perhaps evangelism is hassling people at a laundry mat or in the mall with gospel tracts. Whatever the case, Christians will often struggle with thoughts of guilt, because they don’t “witness” enough, or they aren’t the “soul winners” like others they may know at church.
Additionally, the idea of apologetics is foreign to them as well. Apologetics is something only qualified seminary students do, or those folks who have specialized ministries dealing with cult groups and other false religions.
Those are two common misconceptions Christians have about evangelism and apologetics, and it will be my endeavor with these series of posts to dispel the discomfort experienced by Christians
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when they are in a position to evangelize. Moreover, I wish to shore up our theological thinking as to the best approach we should take when we defend our faith and engage the world with the Gospel.
Before I begin, it may be helpful to briefly define the words evangelism and apologetics as they pertain to the Bible.
Evangelism is a word taken from the Greek word evangelion, which simply means good news or glad tiding. We see this word used for instance in Romans 10:15 where Paul speaks of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things. Christians could rightly be called good news messengers, because we proclaim the good tidings of Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection.
Apologetics is derived from the Greek word, apologia, translated as a defense in 1 Peter 3:15. Our modern word apology is derived from apologia, but the word means much more than just saying “I am sorry.” It is a legal term that has the idea of removing misconceptions and answering objections. Thus, when a Christian engages a person in an apologetic encounter he attempts to remove the misconceptions the unbeliever may have about the Christian faith and answer any objections.
Now, with those two definitions in mind, allow me to dismiss two “myths” about Christians, apologetics, and evangelism…