3 Ways the Gospel Changes Apologetics
by J. Daniel McDonald
First Peter 3:15 serves as the clarion call for Christians to be ready to give an answer for their faith in Jesus Christ. The Christian Standard Bible captures the urgency in Peter’s exhortation when it states: “be ready at any time” to give an answer. Believers of all ages must expect to face situations where their faith is challenged or questioned. Further, believers are to think through what they believe, and why they believe it.
Christians in the 21st century—particularly in the West— have gladly taken up Peter’s call in 1 Peter 3:15 to be ready to give an answer for their faith. We are blessed with a wealth of apologetic resources to aid in understanding the various charges brought against Christianity and in answering these charges. Believers have at their disposal numerous books, websites, conferences, videos—you name it—such that Christians today are well-equipped to proclaim and defend the Gospel.
While Christians have understandably emphasized Peter’s call to action in verse 15, not enough attention is given to the manner in which we are to carry out our defense of the Christian faith. Note the entirety of Peter’s exhortation:
But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
Taken in isolation, Peter’s exhortation to be ready to give an answer seem to give warrant to various manners in which to do apologetics. Today, the general sense of some apologists is that giving an answer becomes more about winning arguments and demolishing ideas antithetical to the gospel. Granted, Paul states in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 that we are to demolish everything raised against the truth of God and to take captive every thought in obedience to Christ. However, the manner in which we do apologetics is not left to our own discretion.
How we conduct our apologetics is just as important as our obedience to defend the faith…