Why Apologetics?

conversation“Why apologetics?” is a common question. I’d like to consider four issues:

  • What is apologetics?
  • Why do apologetics?
  • What is the best kind of apologetic?
  • Further resources

What is apologetics?

First, what is “apologetics”? ‘Apologetics’ just means ‘a defense of the Christian faith.’ This includes everything from arguments for God’s existence to telling great stories which capture the beauty and wonder of the Biblical narrative. It can involve rebuttals of arguments against Christianity and discussing the intellectual challenges that other worldviews face.

Whatever form it takes, we are commanded to do this with “gentleness and respect, having a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Why do apologetics?

Jesus provided his followers with two great commandments. Here they are, in Matthew 22:37-39

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

We all neglect these commandments to one degree or another. The best answer to the great question, “why apologetics?” is to recognize that Christians have a great moral responsibility to love God with all of their intellectual energy and rational capacity. To bring the full strength of our mental capacity to bear upon the challenging questions and discussions of our time will inevitably lead us to consider various apologetic topics.

Christianity is a religion which calls its adherents to robust intellectual activity. When Christians neglect hard thinking, it is a matter of legitimate critique and embarrassment, but it is a fault that can be remedied through continual study and encouragement within our churches and Christian fellowship groups.

What is the best kind of apologetic?

The old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is really true. We have to admit that people who love to argue and be right are often the same people most likely to be drawn into ‘apologetics.’ Unfortunately, what this trend has led to, at least in my own life, is a growing pride and self-righteousness about “having the right answers” and “winning the debate.” This is wrong. Pride and arrogance need to be repented of whenever we discover them in our lives.

That is, the best kind of ‘apologetic’ is to love God and then love other people really well. We need to find greater joy in being God’s beloved sons and daughters than in the short-lived and shallow pleasure of demonstrating that someone else is wrong. We need to find greater joy in building a friendship with someone who is different from us than in looking for the chinks in their armor so we can attempt to humiliate them with our sharp repartee.

If you find yourself getting angry, frustrated, and insecure in a discussion, take a deep breath, say a prayer, ask to continue the discussion at a later time – the bottom line is that you need to find a way to be present to your friend in a way that is humble, self-forgetful, and genuinely loving. This typically means asking good questions, listening well, seeking to deeply understand other points of view, being sympathetic, and presenting your points in a thoughtful, kind way.

“Love” is a high standard, a higher standard than any of us can meet. This brings us back to the great love God has for us, and reminds us of God’s incredible forgiveness and acceptance of sinners. Be encouraged by God’s love and ask for God to empower you with the Holy Spirit so you can love others well.

Where can I learn more?

Here are some of the best articles on the value of apologetics in the local church:

Further Resources:

We offer other great resources on the best reasons for the existence of God: