Apologetics isn’t always what it seems

by John D. Ferrer

Occasionally people say something about apologetics and it gets me excited. Yay! Someone else sees this great need and wants to DO something done about it. It’s nice to know some other people see what you see, and share your passion for it. Other times people say something about apologetics and it gets me . . . not excited. There are some misconceptions about apologetics that can make the whole field look foolish, misguided, or even dangerous. Here are some of the main misunderstandings with apologetics.

Misunderstanding #1: Apologetics is all about arguing

Apologetics deals in defending the faith, and while that can include logical argumentation it does not necessarily include “fighting” (i.e., not rational argumentation but informal bickering and mean-spirited kind of “arguing”). Some apologists gravitate towards the field because they have an unhealthy interest in disputes. But fortunately, when apologists do their job right they are peacemakers more than troublemakers. They have a conviction about truth and do what they can to help people better see the truth. Anytime someone’s “apologetics” is getting mean-spirited, hostile, and angry they are probably obstructing the very Gospel they are supposed to manifest. Where apologists have come off as overly controversial, petty, and pugnacious, that is to their shame. Apologists who sacrifice love for truth are leaving out half of the Gospel. We are to speak the truth in love. The Gospel is neither truthless love nor loveless truth. It is truth and love.

Misunderstanding #2: Apologetics is a particular field of study

This is only true in a sense. I myself studied apologetics (as a field) and went to seminary to learn how to do apologetics. Apologetics can be a field of study, but here’s the trick. Apologetics is not just a subject of study, as if you can learn your arguments for God’s existence and suddenly you are an apologist. Apologetics is far deeper and wider than that. For one thing, Apologetics is skill-training. It’s a craft. It might be a helpful label for a particular subset of theology, philosophy, science, or various “fields of learning.” But it’s not just that. One can learn all of that stuff and still not be an apologist since apologists don’t just know how to defend the faith, they do defend the faith. That makes apologetics both an art and a science, it is a skill and a field of knowledge. Put another way, apologetics is not some separate ministry for argumentative Christians it is how you do your various ministries…

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Apologetics isn’t always what it seems | Intelligent Christian Faith