A Practical Definition for Apologetics

by Rob Lundberg

Having just returned from from the National Christian Apologetics Conference and Ratio Christi Symposium, I have been thinking on the interactions I had with fellow apologists of the weekend. After some reflection, I cannot help thinking about the condition of the church in light of its misunderstanding of the spiritual discipline of apologetics.

Let me say that it is both troubling and encouraging at the same time. As Charles Dickens wrote in the opening of his work, A Tale of Two Cities, “it [is] the best of times, and it [is] worst of times.” The reason for this is because the church at large seems to be refusing, except in some circles, to engage the culture with the truth of the gospel. But engage the culture how? 

Folks, we need to realize that the culture is ratcheting up its assault on moral absolutes, absolute truth versus relativism, and the Christian worldview as a whole. The church needs to understand that there appears to be four major ideological storms rolling in, confronting not just the church, but also the culture as a whole.[1]

If the church does not begin to engage the culture with a well informed response, and if the church does not begin an apologetic based form of discipleship, I will predict along with the others that that the church in America will become an insignificant institution in this nation.[2]

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I have posted in the past on the subject of apologetics, and it might seem like I am beating that drum again. However in this posting, I have been thinking of a better way of explaining what apologetics is all about; and my hopes are that we can see that there is no reason to be intimidated by the meaning and see if it for the spiritual discipline that it really is.

How have we understood apologetics in the past?

If you have read anything that I have posted in the past, you might find a rigorous definition in there sounding something like something out of a formal classroom setting, “Christian apologetics”, is that branch of theology (in this case Christian theology) that attempts to give answers to persons who ask questions about or object to Christianity.”[3]

Some folks who are opposed to apologetics would like to defend, that they do not need to give answers for why they believe what they do. My first thought is that the person making the claim would have to give a defense or a response (apologetic) in order to try and refute the need for apologetics. You see that the discipline of apologetics actually defends itself.

I also want you to know that it is biblical. There are many passages that I could share with you in support of this idea [4], but there is one which has sparked the thoughts for this posting…


The Real Issue: A Practical Definition for Apologetics