The Importance of Apologetics
by Abi McCoy
The term “apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia, which means the act of giving a defense for a belief one holds. This word actually has roots in the vocabulary of the Greek justice system, when the defendant would offer “a speech in defense.”
In Christianity, apologetics consists of a blend of theology, philosophy, and science coming together in a (hopefully) wise and winsome manner in order to form a case for the existence of the Judeo-Christian God, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the reliability of the Bible as the Word of God, and how we ought to live should these things prove to be true.
Although there are many noteworthy people in the Church today— including Alistair McGrath, Francis Schaffer, John Lennox, Greg Koukl, Del Tackett, Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias, Gary Habermaas, Francis J. Beckwith, and William Lane Craig—who have dedicated their lives to the presentation and defense of the Christian faith and worldview, apologetics is not a recent invention. The Apostle Paul may perhaps be considered the first formal apologist, passing down to us his defense on Mars Hill and the earliest Christian creed recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” Later in Church history came those such as Augustine, Origen, Tertullian and Justin Martyr: Blaise Pascal, G.K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and so on.
Despite the ancient and noble tradition of presenting evidence for our Christian faith, some question the virtue of such efforts. Some very well-meaning people have problems with this approach. We’re asked, “Aren’t we supposed to believe in spite of lack of evidence, even in spite of evidence that seems to disprove our beliefs? Isn’t that true faith, to accept what we’re told without batting an eye, to just believe? If someone has doubts, isn’t that sinful? Shouldn’t we simply silence questions with a deeper devotion to God? Aren’t those who don’t believe our enemies? Does making the case really matter anyway?”
These same people say that no one can be argued into the Kingdom. Is this true? By way of an answer, I’d like to tell you a story…
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