Overcoming the Skepticism of Christian Apologetics
by Alan Anderson
The practice of Christian apologetics must be approached in a way that seeks to strengthen one’s intellect and understanding of God so that we can make a comprehensive case/defense for the existence of God. Apologia is the Greek word that describes the action of ‘giving a defense’. There is a Biblical call for all Christians to be apologists, which necessarily entails that we love the Lord with all of our minds. Over the years I have developed a passion for apologetics. Sadly however, I’ve come to notice that ministries in apologetics within the church are quite lacking during a time when we need the most. Young adults are leaving the church at a rate that is much higher than we’ve ever seen in the past. The apologetics community has noticed a trend of skepticism among the church as far as embracing apologetics is concerned. As apologists, this fact has increased our concern for the future wellbeing of the church. Secularism is on the rise and loyal Christian adherence is on the decline among the present generation of young adults. It’s important to ask the question now, will the church regret not taking a more apologetic approach when the church has significantly weakened over the next century?
It’s true, being a competent apologist is not an easy task. It takes much time, prayer, and study. Regardless of difficulty, apologetics is an essential part of a Christian life. The classic scripture outlining our call to be apologists is 1 Peter 3:15, “15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Jesus clearly stated that the greatest commandment is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30-21, Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27) Jesus makes a specific mention of the ‘mind’. This should give all Christians a clue that we shouldn’t exclude the mind when practicing our Christian faith. The Apostle Paul parallels his Christian life as a ‘race’ in 2 Timothy 4. If this life is a ‘race’, why would the church unnecessarily delay training? I love the way Paul phrases his charges to future Christians regarding the vital importance of living a prepared Christian life,
2 Timothy 4: 1 – 8: In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
It’s evident that without intellectual preparedness, the dullness of our minds will ultimately illustrate our inability to “preach the word” and to be “prepared in season and out of season.” Apologetics is an art that will help Christians identify “sound doctrine” and help decipher the truth from what many people’s “itching ears want to hear.” Knowing the truth and effectively deciphering the falsehoods will help us “keep [our] head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist.” The directions Paul has laid out describe a transcendent directive that will last until the second coming of Christ. This isn’t an ‘I want you to do this but it’s no big deal if you don’t want to’ type of directive. The opening sentence of 1 Timothy 4 outlines the severity of his charge, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge.” This charge does not sound like a fluffy little remark in passing. This sounds like a firm command to all Christians because it’s directly connected to “God and Christ Jesus” and his judging of the “living and the dead.”
As the Western world is progressively growing more secular, Paul’s charge is more relevant today than ever…
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