Ask most church goers what it means to do apologetics and you will most likely be met with blank stares, an explanation about how we are to apologize to others, or tales of boredom as they tried sitting through a lecture or trudging through a book full of philosophical arguments. While the study of Apologetics can take you off into heady arguments, that’s not all Apologetics is.
Apologetics simple means to offer a reasonable defense. At a minimum, that requires us to tell others what we believe and why we believe it.
Be Ready Always
As Christians we are called to do just that – offer a reasonable defense for our faith. Peter makes this clear when he says,
“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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pe 3:15–16)
The context in which Peter gives his command wasn’t peaceful. Christians were living in exile, experiencing ostracism for their faith, and suffering persecution. Yet Peter tells them not to fear or cower, but to be ready to offer a reasonable defense for the hope within. Christians, then, in all walks of life, locales, and cultural climates must be ready to offer a defense of their faith.
Tied to Our Mission
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commands His disciples to go and make more disciples. In order to be obedient to Jesus’ command, we must be able to tell others what and why we believe what we believe, which means we must spend time preparing ourselves to offer a reasonable defense.
“When we become Christians, we do not leave our mind in the parking lot. We are called to think according to the Word of God, to seek the mind of Christ and an understanding of the things set forth in sacred Scripture.” – Burk Parsons
So if your neighbor notices you are a Christian and asks what you believe, you should not only be able to answer his or her question, but you should also be able to tell them why you believe it. Hearing that means many of us need to get busy learning what we believe and why.
Suggestions to Get You Started
The first place we have to start is with God’s Word. It is the foundation of our beliefs because it is the place where God reveals who He is, who we are, what He has done and is doing, and how we are to live. There are a variety of tools to help you read through the Bible. Here is a great list.
Next, I would suggest looking into the Theology and Biblical Theology books listed on my Book Recommendation page. These will give you both an overview of the biblical storyline and a deep understanding of the theology and doctrine of God’s Word.
Lastly, take a look at the New City Catechism. It is a quick way to build your doctrinal and theological knowledge.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you know what you believe and why?
- Are you ready to give a defense?
- How will you prepare yourself?
With Gentleness and Respect by Burk Parsons TableTalk Magazine January 2016, pg 2
An Apology for Apologetics by Stephen J. Nichols TableTalk Magazine January 2016, pg 6