Why Apologetics?

by Charles E. Edmisten, III

In every era of church history, Christians have faced intellectual attacks that seek to undermine their faith. In contemporary Western culture, Christians have become accustomed to hearing that Christianity is unscientific, that its ethical standards are backward, and that its exclusive message of salvation is intolerant. Taking up the Apostle Peter’s command to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” 1 Peter 3:15, (ESV), Christians have responded to and countered the criticisms of unbelieving culture, an endeavor that has earned its own title – apologetics, the defense of the faith (from the Greek word apologia, “defense”).

Christians differ on the proper approach to apologetics, and its goal has sometimes been unclear. Too often the objective of apologetics has been to rationally demolish the arguments of unbelievers in order to convince them that they must accept the gospel. If only we could clear away the intellectual barriers, so the thinking goes, people will believe. But Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that “the natural person does not accept the

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things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (ESV). Salvation occurs when God shines “in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6, ESV). To engage in apologetics with the aim of logically persuading people into the kingdom of heaven is futile – man’s fallen heart cannot understand God’s truth, and requires spiritual enlightenment in order to believe the gospel.

This approach to apologetics does not begin and end with a proper understanding of why we challenge unbelief and proclaim the truth to a darkened world: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV). All human thoughts and ideologies that defy God must be brought into obedience to Christ. Our task when we expose the lies underlying atheism, secularism, Islam, or any other anti-Christian philosophy or religion, is to show that God’s glory shines forth in every area of human life, and every part of the universe…

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