When you hear the words Christian Apologetics what first comes to your mind?
Recently, I was sharing my hopes for this blog with my dad. Excitedly, I rattled off the three areas about which I plan to write: personal stories of God working in my life, the truth of Christianity, and Christian Apologetics. He took a moment to consider what I had shared, and then proceeded to ask, “So that third point means what? You’re going to apologize…for Christianity?”
When I first heard the term Apologetics I remember having the same thought. However over the past few years, I have learned more about what apologetics is as well as the things it is not.
Here are the top three things Christian Apologetics is not that I had thought it was at one point or another:
1) Christian Apologetics is not… an apology
As I said, when I first heard the term ‘apologetics’ I had the same thought as my dad. That’s interesting, I mused, I wonder how a Christian Apologist goes about apologizing? Soon enough I realized I was mistaken. Apologetics is not an apology. Apologetics is a reasoned defense of one’s beliefs, similar to a lawyer presenting a case in court.
Upon learning the true definition, I had a flutter of excitement. Ah this is great! I thought, (albeit perhaps not in my most humble or kind moment) now I can prove to everyone that my way of thinking is right and their way of thinking is wrong!
However, once again, I was misguided.
2) Christian Apologetics is not… winning an argument
While presenting my beliefs in a reasoned and logical way might cause others to come to agree with me, winning an argument is not the purpose of apologetics. Sometimes winning an argument is a pyrrhic victory; it comes at such a cost that the win is not worthwhile. The purpose of apologetics is to be prepared to authentically engage with others by having thought through your beliefs so that you can adequately share those beliefs as well as answer others’ questions.
Which makes sense, right? We live in a day and age where we expect things to be verifiable and logically sound. Apologetics must have arisen out of our post-enlightenment thinking, I assumed.
Yet, on this point I again was incorrect.
3) Christian Apologetics is not… a new idea
Apologetics began after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. When Jesus was crucified, the disciples were afraid. You may have heard about one of the disciples, Peter, thrice denying knowing Jesus. Along with this, the Bible tells us that the rest of the disciples scattered and went into hiding. However, after his resurrection, Jesus went and found his disciples.
After seeing and being with their risen Lord, the disciples knew everything he had told them was true. Death is the ultimate finality, but Jesus arose from the dead. Only the Son of God could have done such a thing. Jesus’ resurrection bolstered the disciples’ faith and spurred them to tell their fellow Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah who had come so that they may be forgiven of their guilt, shame, and sin. By believing in him we can all have eternal life in heaven. The disciples began sharing this good news through…apologetics.
With their fellow Jews, the disciples reasoned from their Scriptures that Jesus was the promised Messiah. The disciples had gone from being scared and meek in hiding to men who boldly proclaimed and explained the truth of Jesus’ life. However, the Jews were not the only ones presented an apologetic.
Later there was a man named Paul who was persecuting and killing early Christians. Paul had a dramatic experience with God that caused him to believe in Jesus. He then completely changed his life and began traveling to different countries in order to share about the hope of Jesus with people who were not Jews. Since the non-Jews had no faith in the Jewish scriptures, we learn that Paul made his apologetic through their every day experiences and the spirituality they had encountered in their culture.
…And that’s a bit of what I have learned about apologetics. In hopes of keeping this relatively short, I will save ‘What exactly is Christian Apologetics’ for a future post!
Share with me: What are your thoughts on Apologetics? Have you heard of apologetics before? If you have, did you ever have one of the misconceptions I had? Seriously, call me up, write me a note, send me a message or comment somewhere. I would love to hear your thoughts.