This article was posted via teasicannon.com on January 15, 2020
IF YOU ASK THE MEMBERS OF THE AVERAGE CHRISTIAN GROUP WHAT THEY KNOW ABOUT APOLOGETICS, I’LL BET YOU’LL GET ANSWERS RANGING ANYWHERE FROM “I’VE NEVER HEARD THAT WORD” TO “I LOVE IT AND CAN’T GET ENOUGH!”
BUT YOU PROBABLY WON’T HEAR, “I THINK APOLOGETICS IS ROMANTIC.”
UNLESS YOU ASK ME.
Why would I answer this way? First … because I’m sort of a nerd, and second, because I think defending someone I desperately love is romantic. And since apologetics refers to making a defense for what you believe to be true, I believe it also means making a defense for Who I believe to be Truth, and that is Jesus.
I desperately love Jesus, and I’ll bet you do, too. He has done so much for me including accepting and loving me when I was filthy dirty, covered with sin and a reproach to all my friends; forgiving me for more than I can say; dying the death I deserved to die; healing my shattered and abused heart; redeeming countless messes I’ve made of things; and giving me incredible hope for eternal life with Him! And that’s just scratching the surface.
He is worth defending. More than worth it. Which is why I love the study of apologetics and want to encourage you to join me if you aren’t already swimming in the pool.
The word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which is translated defense and is found eight times in the New Testament. Here are a few examples (using ESV translation).
1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
Philippians 1:16: “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”
1 Corinthians 9:3: “This is my defense to those who would examine me.”
Father and son apologists Josh and Sean McDowell say,
“First Peter 3:15 uses the word defense in a way that denotes the kind of defense one would make to a legal inquiry, asking, ‘Why are you a Christian?’ A believer ought to give an adequate answer to this question. The command to be ready with an answer is directed toward every follower of Jesus—not just pastors, teachers, and leaders.”[i]
I agree. And ever since I started learning about the incredible evidence we have for our faith, I’ve been hooked. The evidence we have from science, history, archaeology, and philosophy is so substantive it’s sometimes called “an embarrassment of riches.” Wherever your faith stands now, it will stand even taller when you bolster your love for Jesus with facts.
Our kids, neighbors, and co-workers need us to have a more intellectually robust faith these days. When I was younger—even before I was really following the Lord—there was an automatic respect for the Bible. Sharing the Gospel with an unbeliever was often as simple as grabbing their hand and walking them down the Roman’s Road.[ii] Nowadays, people don’t simply trust the Bible. With relativism being the flavor of the day, the average person will look at you and say, “That’s just your truth.” How do we argue with that? Well…we start by giving them some evidence for the existence of objective truth!
That’s one reason we need apologetics. In fact, apologetics is being referred to as the new evangelism—or pre-evangelism. We might need to first establish objective truth exists, then that a god exists, then which God corresponds to reality, and then continue moving toward why we can trust the Bible.
It’s important for us to know that most all faiths have their own apologists. There are Muslim apologists who seek to make a defense for what they believe. There are Mormon apologists, Jewish apologists, and there are Christian apologists. Within the world of Christian apologists, there are those who devote their studies to defending the biblical worldview to members of specific false religions. For example, some apologists specialize in relating to Jehovah’s witnesses or with Eastern Mystic religions. Other apologists specialize in certain fields like science or philosophy. It’s fun to investigate the variety of ways different scholars contribute to the defense of the One we love.
Not only will studying apologetics help you to answer questions for others, but it will bolster your own faith when the storms of life come crashing against your heart. I truly believe Jesus knew exactly what we needed when he commanded us to love him with both our heart and our head (Matthew 22.37). He knew each one would need the other.
I realize that we are all in different stages of life, and we all learn in different ways, so I’ll leave you with four different resources that will lead you down this exciting apologetics road.
(Note: Please don’t blame me for your future Amazon bill. You might just become a book addict.)
- One Minute Apologist YouTube channel: these short videos cover a wide range of topics in less than five minutes. You can watch this while putting on your makeup! https://oneminuteapologist.com/
- Cold Case Christianity: Former cold case detective, J. Warner Wallace has an abundance of options at his website—from “quick shot” blogs to an app to videos to wonderful books for adults and kids! One easy way to start learning apologetics is to read his books to your kids at night. You’ll learn together (and learning the kids version makes understanding the adult versions far easier in my opinion). https://coldcasechristianity.com/
- I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist: Frank Turek and the late Norm Geisler wrote an incredible book that offers a robust overview of several issues I discussed in this blog—starting with the evidence for truth, the evidence for God, then moving someone forward systematically to belief in Jesus and the resurrection. Frank’s ministry is called Cross-Examined, and the website is packed with resources including small group curriculum, an app, podcasts, videos, and more. https://crossexamined.org/
- Credo Courses: If you want to dive into the deep end and study apologetics like a seminary student but from the comfort of your own home, I highly recommend these Credo Courses. They often run specials (sometimes even offering courses for free), so make sure to subscribe to their newsletter. https://www.credocourses.com/
[i] From their updated and expanded edition of Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World, (Harper Collins, 2017), page xxxii.
[ii] For a great video and explanation of the Romans Road, see: https://www.gotquestions.org/Romans-road-salvation.html