Apologetics and Evangelism
by Philip Venables
Let us define these two terms to start with:
Apologetics: “That aspect of Christian theology which seeks to set out and demonstrate the credibility and plausibility of the Christian Faith” (Alister McGrath in The J.I. Packer Collection).
Evangelism: The presentation of the Christian Gospel to people with a view to them embracing that message and being saved.
It would be my contention that apologetics is a part of evangelism. When apologetics comes to be divorced from evangelism then it has lost its way. If we are just seeking to prove that the Christian message is credible and plausible then we are just competitors in an intellectual game. If we win the argument then we can pat ourselves on the back. if we lose then it’s a shame, but there are no great consequences.
However, the message of the Bible, and that of how Jesus Christ came into the world, is not a message which is simply to be pitched in among all other theories, philosophies and messages to vie for supremacy. It is rather the message of how God is working in the universe to bring glory to Himself. It is not “a message” – it is “the message”. All other messages are trying to make sense of this world. However, they never will do because they do not argue from the true source which is that of Scripture.
But we do have to be aware of the need to seek to engage with people in this culture. If we just do evangelism without any thought of apologetics we are very likely to fail to evangelise. This is because we will not be engaging with people. They will hear this message which has no connection with their lives and thereby dismiss it as utterly irrelevant because it has no traction into their situations.
Listening to messages from Word Alive in 2013 by Dan Strange are helpful. He seems to have got to the heart of this issue. His assertion is that many people are so far away from the knowledge of the gospel, that we really do have to track a long way back as regards to getting them to consider this gospel as relevant…
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