** This article is posted at www.thinkchristianly.org by Jonathan Morrow **
Defending the faith is not optional. The Bible makes this clear:
“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15; cf. Philippians 1:7).
From this passage we learn that apologetics involves responding to objections (defense), making a case (offense), and giving hope (Christ-centered).
In addition to Peter, the book of Acts repeatedly records Paul reasoning with people about Christianity (Acts 14:15–17; 17:2, 4, 17–31; 18:4). Luke records that Paul “entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:8–10).
For hours each day, Paul sought to persuade the intellectuals of his day that Christianity was true!
When discussing the importance of apologetics, three common objections are often raised.
First, people claim that apologetics is not practical. Isn’t apologetics only for academics and intellectuals? The short answer is no. Here’s why. Everyone has questions—you do, your kids do, your friends and neighbors do, your family does, and our culture certainly does. It’s that simple. We will either think carefully or poorly about these questions, but the questions themselves cannot be avoided. By the way, Christianity welcomes tough questions!
Next, people say you should just preach the simple gospel and not worry about all of that intellectual stuff. Pearcey’s observation is critical here: “The ultimate goal is to preach the gospel. But the gospel is not simple to those whose background prevents them from understanding it. Today’s global secular culture has erected a maze of mental barriers against even considering the biblical message.” Apologetics serves evangelism and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20).
Finally, some Christians object that too much knowledge leads to arrogance. I would suggest that the remedy for arrogance is not ignorance, but humility. John Stott is right on target: “I am not pleading for a dry, humorless, academic Christianity, but for a warm devotion set on fire by truth.” Dallas Willard observed that part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and love others well is to think clearly.
“Bluntly, to serve God well we must think straight; and crooked thinking, unintentional or not, always favors evil. And when the crooked thinking gets elevated into group orthodoxy, whether religious or secular, there is always, quite literally, hell to pay.”
Engaging our minds as Christians is an act of worship and part of loving God with all of our minds (Matthew 22:37). Defending and commending the faith (Jude 3) is just as biblical as loving the poor and caring for the widow or orphan. Both are commands from God. Neither is optional.