What Is Apologetics?

What are we doing on this blog? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife is the inspiration for this series I’m starting. Recently, I told her that I wish she would share more of the stuff that I write on Facebook. She said she would, but a lot of it is very heady and a lot of her friends might not even know what apologetics is and would just get confused. The idea came to me then that sometimes in apologetics, we spend so much time talking about the deep stuff, we can forget there are people still on the shallow end of the pool who might want to come deeper but are scared to because they haven’t learned the basics of the shallows yet.

So let’s start with basics and since this is an apologetics blog, the question can be asked “What is apologetics?” It is not as was once joked, going up to a non-Christian and saying “I’m so sorry you’re going to Hell.” Too often, when we hear about apologetics, we think that someone is apologizing for something. That’s not at all the case.

The word comes from the Greek word apologia. An apologia was what you did when you went to court and had to make a defense. Plato wrote a dialogue with Socrates defending himself on trial and called it The Apology. Justin Martyr wrote a letter to the emperor to defend Christianity from criticisms and it was called The First Apology.

So when a Christian engages in apologetics, what they are doing is trying to defend Christianity. If someone comes up to you and asks “Why are you a Christian?” your answer is an apology of sorts. Even if all you do is give your personal testimony, it is an apology.

In fact, this gets us to a problem. Many times our apologetics is not really apologetics. Often times, you don’t tell why you are a Christian but rather how you became a Christian. Imagine being in the hospital for a loved one that you took there and having someone call and say “You’re at the hospital? Why?” They do not want to hear how you used the GPS to get there. They want to know the reason you are where you are. The journey to get there is not that interesting to them.

So if someone says to you “Why are you a Christian?” and you answer by telling how you grew up in a Christian home and were taught the Bible and came forward once in a church service and prayed to make Christ your savior, you’ve told something interesting and how you got to where you are today, but you have not told why you are staying there. I find it interesting that when I debate many online atheists, they still do the same thing. They still start with their personal testimony, like they can’t get past their Christian days.

How you got where you are can be interesting, but it’s more important to know why you’re still there today. You can’t live in the past forever. If I was to suggest some areas of apologetics to have basics on, it would be these.

First, I think you need a reason for the existence of God. Many people go with a design argument and that can be fine. You can also use C.S. Lewis’s moral argument. You can argue from the beginning of the universe. There are several arguments to use.

Second, you need a basic argument for believing the Bible. This could be something about archaeological discoveries that back the Bible. It could be the manuscript evidence that shows the text has been handed down well. Personally, I’d prefer you have some of each.

Third, you need an argument for Jesus. You need to be able to show what He claimed about Himself and that it matters. You need to definitely be able to show that He rose from the dead. This last one is central to the Christian faith.

“But I don’t want to be a scholar.”

In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy really. I definitely encourage reading books because that is where the best information is, but there are other ways. You can go on ITunesU and listen to seminary lectures given by scholars in the field. You can listen to podcasts, and readers of this blog know that I have one that I would be thrilled to have you listen to. Many of us will happily dedicate time to our favorite TV series or to playing a game or to a sport. How much are we willing to dedicate to Jesus who we say is central to our lives? If our devotion to these in practice is greater than our devotion to Jesus, we have a problem.

I’m also not saying that you have to quit your job and do nothing but apologetics, but you can listen to podcasts some such as during your commute to and from work. This is an investment of your time for what you say is most important. It can also help bring others to Jesus. Why not do it?

Another good apologetic today in our day and age is your marriage. If you are single, make sure you honor the opposite sex well. If you are married, honor your spouse well. Outside of Jesus Christ, your spouse should be your next great priority. Even if you have children, your spouse must come first.

I hope you’ll find something else out if you start this journey. Apologetics is fun. It’s a great feeling of confidence to know you have the answers when someone asks you a question. There is something enjoyable about disarming someone who thinks he is going to destroy your faith. It’s also just fun learning new things, especially things about Jesus. You will also come to have a deeper walk with Jesus as you learn more about Him and who He is and that will result in a greater commitment to holiness on your part.

I hope you will take this seriously and prepare for the journey.

In Christ,
Nick Peters