What do Christians mean when they talk about apologetics? What is it?
First, apologetics has nothing to do with apologizing. In the New Testament, the Greek word apologia is used in various places regarding a defense or answer. For example, 1 Peter 3:15-16 states, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [a form of the Greek apologia] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Second, apologetics includes both a positive presentation and a defense of the faith.
Jude 1:3 notes, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” Believers are to both present the faith and contend or answer those who have questions about it.
Third, apologetics includes correction.
In Titus 1:9, one of the requirements of a church leader it to “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
What does this mean for us today?
We are called to know what we believe and why we believe it. Part of loving the Lord with all our mind as noted in the Great Commission (Matthew 22:34-40) is to study our faith. This can take place through:
• Bible reading
• Listening to the Bible
• Church attendance in a Bible teaching church
• Small group Bible studies or classes
• Personal study of books, websites, or other resources about the Bible
• Mentoring with another mature believer
There are many ways to grow, but we must be committed to growing.
In addition, we are called to know the reasons for our faith. This can include investigations in related areas like science, philosophy, or history. When properly understood, these fields of learning should complement our faith rather than contradict it.
Finally, our learning should also help us in sharing our faith with unbelievers. Many people have questions about faith. It is our responsibility to provide answers to help point people toward the truth of Christ.
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.
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