The Significance of Apologetics
by R.W. Johnson
“…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pet. 3:15)
This verse says a lot to the Christian. The first thing to note is that this verse doesn’t call Christians to hunt heresy and go looking for debates and arguments at every whim. We are to give a response when someone launches an objection our way or asks a question. Moreover, the way we respond to the questioner is important as well. Many try and leave off that last part of the text, abandoning the virtues of “gentleness” and “respect” and taking up personal attacks and unrighteous anger. I’ve found that this doesn’t work and it usually shows two things: 1) The person who gets angry doesn’t know what they’re speaking about or 2) They don’t have a pure motive in the conversation. Whether it is one of both of those, they don’t reflect Christ and that is not how apologetics, in a biblical sense, is to be done.
There are churches who feel that apologetics isn’t necessary or that being able to give a natural defense (one apart from Scripture) isn’t something we should engage in. I would strongly disagree with that conclusion, though, based on what we read in Acts 17. The Apostle Paul reasoned with and quoted philosophers and poets while he was preaching the Gospel. Granted, there are times when natural theology and apologetics aren’t needed. Sometimes people just need to hear the Gospel—we see that in Acts 2. Not much of a defense was given by Peter, just a lot of truth and conviction. Apologetics should be one type of arrow in a Christian’s quiver, but not the only one…
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