Why Learn Apologetics?
by Glenn Smith
I sometimes encounter those inside Christianity that do not believe that Christianity should be defended. I was once told by a minister at Rice University that using apologetics was not only wrong, but hurtful to the cause of Christ. Leaders of churches have told me that they did not believe faith should be defended, but that if we merely study the Bible, we will adequately prepare people spiritually for anything they will encounter outside the church. I respectfully disagree for the following reasons.
The Bible Commands Us to Defend Christianity
- Jude 3 tells us to “earnestly contend for the faith,” with the word contend meaning to fight vigorously. The context is clear, since the remainder of the small book speaks about false teachers who have crept into the church and done much damage.
- 2 Timothy 2:23-26 tells us to not argue about foolish things, but to gently “correct those who are in opposition” which is then defined as non-Christians who are in need of salvation (v.25-26). We are commanded to correct lost people who oppose us.
- Colossians 4:5-6, speaking of those outside the church, tells us we must always be ready to answer each person.
- 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks us about the hope that is within us.
- Acts 18:27-28 tell us that Apollos “powerfully refuted the Jews in public” which encouraged the Christians there.
Therefore not only are we commanded several times to defend the faith, we are given examples in the New Testament that clearly defend Christianity against those who attack it. In this context, not defending Christianity is direct disobedience.
We Know the Harmful Results of Not Defending Christianity
We have clear evidence of what happens when we do not defend Christianity. First, those who feel that Bible study alone will guard Christians against attack will rarely teach the whole counsel of God. Church leaders often teach the parts of the Bible which deal with practical living skills, but ignore the key theological concepts that protect their flock from the lure of the cults. For example, in the first 300 years of the church, there were more than a dozen heresies about how the two natures of Christ relate to each other and salvation. Many of these false teachings are still around today in various heretical groups. Are we to ignore these teachings, hoping that our church members do not have to deal with these issues?
Second, while the arguments of the modern atheists are not logical, their rhetoric is quite effective. For example…
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