Prologue to Apologetics, Part 1
One thing that comes naturally to Christians is a desire to share their faith. Ideally, their message is the good news of salvation from sin and its consequences through the atoning work of Christ. This is known as evangelism. Evangelism is an attempt to witness to the truth of God’s word in Scripture to unbelievers in an effort to be an instrument through which God powerfully draws sinners to Himself.
In distinction from evangelism, apologetics seeks to defend Christianity against various attacks from unbelieving thought, whether they are religious or secular. Apologetics is a term derived from the Greek word apologia. This word refers to a defense, a reason for holding some conviction. In 1 Peter 3:15 the Apostle states, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” An ever-present danger in this field of study is that of defending or “proving” the existence of a generically defined God, what I’ll call “theism in general.”
We need to allow the conclusions drawn from biblical study and exegesis to set the parameters of how we go about defending our faith. We must present to those whom we wish to evangelize God as He testifies to Himself in the Bible. Any God other than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is an idol. So, if the Bible teaches a Trinitarian God, then we should settle for nothing less than persuading our listeners of that conviction.
In this introduction of apologetics we should cut the “apologetic pie” into at least two pieces, defensive and offensive apologetics. Defensive apologetics is the apologist’s attempt to respond to attacks against the truth or/and rationality of the Christian faith. Offensive apologetics seeks to demonstrate the rationality, coherence, beauty, as well as the truth of the biblical worldview. It presents positive reasons, and not simply defenses, why our listeners should adopt the Christian worldview as opposed to all the other philosophies of life available to them.
So, in summary, we’ve (really) quickly looked at three things. First, apologetics is the form of Christian witness that seeks to engage in both rational defense as well as present rational proof for the truth of Christianity. Second, Christian apologetics, in order for it to be worth its salt, needs to defend Christianity as it’s presented in scripture, not a generic, or possibly watered-down fashion that makes it easier for the unbeliever to accept. And last, the practice of apologetics can take one of two forms, defensive and offensive apologetics. The former “blocks” attacks against the faith, and the latter constructively builds a case for the Christian worldview.