What is Apologetics?

Christian apologetics is that discipline concerned with defending Christian doctrine. Despite the name, apologetics is not concerned with apologizing, but defending, or answering.

But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15)

The phrase “give a defense” is translated from the Greek word apologia. It’s not hard to see where we get the English word. So, here we have a biblical mandate to be ready to defend our faith and give an answer to those who have critical questions.

What Apologetics is Not

Apologetics is not about showing who is the smartest. It is not about winning arguments, or debates. The purpose of apologetics is to win a person, not an argument. With this purpose in mind, apologetics becomes Christ-centered. This means that although we may be giving a rational defense for morality, intelligent design, or the reliability of Scripture; our main purpose is to convince our audience that Jesus died a sacrificial death to atone for their sins and they must trust in Him for salvation.

Apologetics is not a substitute for preaching, evangelism, or Scripture reading. Apologetics should be viewed as supplemental to the previous mentioned endeavors. While preaching a biblical passage it may be worthwhile to highlight an apologetic argument. For example, while preaching Genesis 1 you may take a moment to discuss the modern debate between Intelligent Design and Evolution.

Apologetics is not evangelism. However, it can be a tool for evangelism. One has not done evangelism until the gospel is preached and an opportunity to respond to the gospel has been given. Apologetics should be viewed as a tool to break-down the “walls” of the critic in order to win an opportunity for evangelism.

There is a plethora of apologetic resources being produced and that is fantastic! However, reading a chapter a day of the latest apologetic book is no substitute for reading the Scriptures. The Scriptures are inspired by God and are useful for teaching and correction. We should be more concerned with reading the Scriptures than apologetic resources. Nonetheless, I do recommend supplemental apologetic reading.

The Spirit of Apologetics

Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:16)

In the context of 1 Peter, Christians are commanded to respond to accusations against them with gentleness and respect. How much more should we conduct ourselves with gentleness when answering critics of our faith? Man’s anger will not accomplish God’s righteousness (James 1:20). Therefore, we must refrain from letting a debate get too heated, or from tweeting a less than genuine response. Better we lose a debate than our integrity.

Who Does Apologetics?

Apologetics is not (just) a professional endeavor. All Christians will  most likely participate in some form of apologetics whether they want to, or not. This doesn’t mean that you need to have every answer to every question. My advice would be to become familiar with an apologetic resource (I recommend them all the time) that you can continually turn back to when you have a question. This way, when you are faced with a question you are unsure of, you can easily go and search for answers from people who do apologetics as a profession.

Love as an Apologetic

Always remember that nobody has ever been argued into the kingdom of God. Ultimately, showing love to others – even our enemies – is the best apologetic. Yes, rational defenses can do much to prepare a critic for conversion, but ultimately it is the Spirit of God who calls. Let’s pray for our critics, seek ways to love them, and do our best to answer their questions.

Partner With Help Me Believe

You can become a partner for as little as $1 a month. For $5 a month you get access to premium rewards.
Become a Patron!

Recommended Reading

Advertisements

18 Replies to “What is Apologetics?”

  1. An excellent summary of what apologetics is and what it is for. Thank you and may the LORD continue to bless you and yours as you continue to serve Him.

  2. Wonderful explanation. Concise and yet thorough. God has given us a wonderful tool, and good teachers to help us learn to defend our faith. Glory to His name!

  3. Great explanation. The emphasis on presenting Christ through love and not in an argumentative manner is a great point.

  4. Excellent and informative post … God Bless you and your work.
    Reblogged on Bob’s Opinion

  5. Praise God for this! Just yesterday, we were actually talking and studyng about Christology. I know it is not an accident that I’ve read this post and followed this blog. Continue to Glorify the Lord. God bless you, Shalom.

  6. Thank you for sharing about the topic of apologetics, Haden. I appreciate what you said here: “The purpose of apologetics is to win a person, not an argument.” You are exactly right. We need to be reminded that we wrestle not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers. These are philosophies that go against the Word of God. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry!

  7. In high school, we did a topic on Apologetics in our Christian Religious Education class and I did not understand the topic that well. But with just a brief article from you, my understanding has been expanded…Thank you very much!

  8. I have often heard about but wondered what apologetics were without really getting a good understanding. I feel like your post has finally allowed me to and I look forward to reading more.

  9. Haden, I’m sorry but as a non-believer, this is what I got out of your article: There really isn’t a good reason to believe in God, so we’re going for their emotion. I suppose you have therefore constructed a framework that can avoid any hard challenge, such as from myself. I find this dishonest.
    What say you?

  10. This entire website is dedicated to giving reasons to believe in God. I’ve never tried to manipulate emotions. I’ll be waiting for that hard challenge lol have a good day, bud.

    1. Sure. I thought about some theoretical stuff, but really I want to know if you think it’s okay to kill entire families but keep the young teenage or pre-teen girls for sex slaves?

Leave a Reply