Humility and the Apologist

By Edward Vines

15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 1 Peter 3:15

1 Peter 3:15 is one of the most often quoted Bible verses by Christian Apologists. It is commonly used to demonstrate that the practice of apologetics is scripturally based. We write it, recite it and sometimes use it to defend the practice of defending. Unfortunately, while we, as apologists, zealously emphasize the first portion of the verse, which directs Christians to always be prepared to defend the faith, we sometimes gloss over the admonition to do so with gentleness and reverence.

It is exceedingly important that the apologist always be mindful of this second part as humility is foundational to the Christian faith. There are two specific reasons that immediately come to mind for why gentleness and respect are emphasized here.

The first is so that the one who is being ministered to is not alienated by an apologist who approaches him in a condescending or contemptuous manner. As Christian Apologists we should look to the example set by our Lord who was born in a lowly manger, lived a life devoid of material resources, and always put others first, even to the point of submitting to death on a cross.  While Jesus offered words of life to the multitudes he also expressed deep love for them as individuals. To approach others respectfully and with humility offers non-believers a glimpse of the loving character of Jesus which stands in stark contrast to the world. It should come as no surprise that the opposite approach yields the opposite results. In short, no one is attracted to arrogance. Chapter 15 of the Book of Proverbs provides counsel related to this: A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger. For a single lost person to reject the gospel message due to the pride of the messenger is a tragedy of eternal proportions…

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