You Can No Longer Separate Apologetics and Evangelism
by Lenny Esposito
Yesterday I was interviewed by Mike Spaulding for an upcoming episode of Soaring Eagle radio. During our talk, he asked me about the growing need to incorporate apologetics into our evangelism efforts. Of course, Christians are commanded to study and be prepared to defend the Christian faith. There are many verses in the Bible commanding us to defend our faith. Therefore, we should be ready to do so.
The idea of apologetics as a necessary part of one’s faithful walk is new to most Christians. They understand the need to worship God, to live a set apart life, and even the command to evangelize given by Jesus in the Great Commission. However, learning apologetics isn’t something preached from most pulpits today. Yet, in the first few centuries, apologetics and evangelism were inter-reliant. In fact, when you look at the writings of the early church fathers, you see how big a role apologetics played in their interaction with the outside world. Here are just a few examples:
Justin Martyr lived in the second century AD, just after the apostles. Seeking to be a philosopher by training, he began to look for a satisfying understanding of the world. After seeing Christians bravely stand up to martyrdom, Justin converted and “he acted as an evangelist, taking every opportunity to proclaim the Gospel as the only safe and certain philosophy.”1] In his Dialogue with Trypho he explains how Christianity makes sense as a worldview, drawing upon Platonic ideas popular in his day. His First Apology and Second Apology he takes on many false charges circulating about Christians at the time, such as they were offering child sacrifices or cannibals. Part of Justin’s goal was to allow Christians to live peacefully instead of being persecuted around the Empire. However, he also knew that evangelism was made more difficult by those lies.
Irenaeus of Lyons
Irenaeus lived in the second century and turned his attention towards the Gnostics, a group that claimed to have secret knowledge about Jesus and the world. In his Against Heresies, Irenaeus argues for God’s unity and the reality of his creation, which the Gnostics denied…
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