The Apologetic Task

by  Ben Holloway

The task of apologetics is not mainly the task of trained lawyers, theologians or philosophers. It is the task of ordinary Christians living an ordinary Christian life.

The clearest reference in the Bible to apologetics is in the first letter of Peter to Christians who were attempting to live in towns that were—to varying degrees—hostile to the Christian beliefs. Peter tells them to expect suffering along the way and he teaches them how to conduct themselves in a godly way. Peter is especially concerned with ordinary Christian life. He writes:

For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good? But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil (1 Peter 3:13-17).

That little word in verse 15 is what we are talking about. It is variously translated ‘defense’, ‘answer’, or ‘explanation.’ Though some people talk about apologetics in relation to the law courts (often talking about Socrates making a defense in a court), Peter has no such idea in his mind. Peter thinks we should all be doing this work as we live godly lives and sometimes experience opposition for what we believe.

Apologetics is part and parcel of obedience to Christ displayed in a godly life. Peter assumes that those doing apologetics are those living in obedience to Christ and doing good. They have ‘set apart Christ as Lord.’ So, the task of apologetics is carried out by people who living in obedience to God’s word. Apologetics is not the task of using long words; it is the task of using godly words that explain your godly life…

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