The Goal of Christian Apologetics
by Parker Settecase
Apologetics, Christian Apologetics, should be just that- Christian. Like I’ve said in my other posts on the subject, apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia and is most readily associated with “the defense of the faith”. But the biblical depiction is much more than mere defense.
The Apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 3:15, exhorts us to always be ready to give an apologian (defense) to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us, and we are to do so by first and foremost honoring Christ the Lord as holy in our hearts, and we are to give this defense with respect and gentleness. So obviously apologetics is concerned with defending the Christian faith in a Christian manner. But the apologist isn’t finished after they’ve given a defense, we’re also called to go on offense.
The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2:3-5, reminds us that we are to wage war with unbelieving thought, though our wars are not to be fought with physical weapons but with spiritual weapons- with the power of God- the only power that can destroy strongholds. We are to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. We are to go after vain philosophies, empty deceit, and plausible arguments that are meant to cast doubt on God and His Word. In fact, we are to attack every thought that’s contrary to Christ and bring all our thoughts into submission to his Lordship.
Likewise, Jude, although he passionately wanted to write to his audience about their common salvation, felt that they needed to be exhorted to “contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints”. According to Jude, Christians are to ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι (epagōnizesthai), to contend earnestly for the faith- to wrestle- to fight- to claw- to scratch- to pit oneself against unbelief! The Christian Apologist is to defend the faith against attacks from and to go on the offensive against unbelief, with gentleness and respect, of course. Seen from these two perspectives we get a more full understanding of apologetics, but we’re not quite complete yet…
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