4 Things You Need To Know About Apologetics
by Joshua D. Chatraw & Mark D. Allen
Apologetics, in its most basic form, offers an appeal and defense for the Christian faith. In other words, apologetics, through word and deed, answers both why a person can believe (defense) and why a person should believe (appeal).
The goal of apologetics is to clear away the debris of doubt and skepticism to make a path for the gospel to be heard. For some, this sounds attractive. For others, making an appeal and a defense for the Christian faith sounds like a distraction from the gospel.
Here are four things you should know about apologetics:
1. Not everyone needs philosophical arguments for their faith
“Apologetics is where it’s at.”
When a distinguished colleague made that assertion, I remember thinking, Are you serious?
Observing the professors and administrators around me nodding their heads in agreement, I quickly realized there was a disconnect between the way they saw apologetics and the way I saw it. While they embraced it, I held it at arm’s length.
Because apologetics seemed only to answer questions no one in my orbit was asking.
For several years, I pastored a church in suburban Virginia. Our congregation was mostly made up of young, up-and-coming, middle- and upper-middle class families. They were not asking for philosophical arguments about God.
What they wanted to know was how to make their marriages work, raise healthy and high-achieving kids, succeed in their careers, reduce stress, deal with their feelings of loneliness, overcome addictions, recover from loss and pain, and know that God was real and working in their lives.
It seemed that if God existed, we would be convinced of his existence not by arguments, but rather by experiencing him in our daily lives.
A few years later, I pastored a small church made up of mostly elderly folks, located in the county seat of a farming community. Early in my tenure, we advertised a Sunday evening series based on David T. Lamb’s book, God Behaving Badly. A layperson had recently taught a popular Sunday evening series on end-time events, so it seemed reasonable to expect this series would also be well attended.
Yet when the time came, no one from the community was there. The congregation seemed to enjoy the series, but I’m not sure many of them understood its relevance. It seemed for that community, apocalyptics were more intriguing than apologetics.
2. Apologetics uses our doubts to help us grow
My twenty-year-old son, Colton, hit a crisis of faith. At first, all was well. His first year of college was life-changing, and I had never seen him so happy. But then at the beginning of his second semester, Colton crashed.
It was like he had lost his way. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. School was no longer interesting to him. He dropped out of college and began hanging out with friends who were intelligent, but unambitious and atheistic. Colton spiraled into a morass of doubt and depression. I hoped he would benefit from reading apologetic books. The material initiated fruitful discussions between him and me. While not leaving all of his doubts behind, he began to grow in his faith again…
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