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Summary in 400 words or less:
[Written by Mikel Del Rosario]
Many years ago, while I was in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University, my wife and I attended a family gathering. A relative heard I was in grad school and asked me, “What are you getting your degree in?”
I said, “Um… Apologetics.”
She replied with a chuckle, “I’m SO sorry!”
“It’s not really that bad,” I said, looking kind of confused.
Today, I still get odd responses at family gatherings when this comes up. But even Christians who come to my live apologetics workshops at area churches ask me, “Why does it sound like apologizing?” I get it. Our discipline has a weird name.
An “apologetic” just means a defense. Peter commanded Christians to be ready with answers when people ask about the faith. In 1 Peter 3:15, the word translated as “answer” (in the NIV) is the Greek word, apologia. And that’s why the word apologetics kind of sounds like apologizing. But it’s actually more like what a lawyer does when he or she presents an opening statement or argues a case.
As I like to say, obeying this command just means you’ve got reasons for what you believe and you’re ready to talk with anyone who’s got questions. It doesn’t mean getting all flustered or defensive. It doesn’t mean being a jerk or getting into fights. It means speaking the truth in love as we represent our Lord in everyday life.
For Christians, apologetics helps confirm that the faith is true. But the Holy Spirit also uses it to help unbelievers discover that Christianity is true.
I like to say that there are three essential elements of everyday apologetics:
- Understanding the answers to tough questions about Christianity
- Giving good answers to those who ask tough questions about Christianity
- Being a wise ambassador of Jesus
Part of this last point is being a good listener. But it also includes making our answers memorable. That’s one reason I’m a big fan of using stories, objects and illustrations to explain the faith. It helps makes ideas that have to do with apologetics easier to understand and easier to remember. Being a wise ambassador–speaking the truth in love–is part of loving God and loving others.
So a quick way to understand apologetics is “defending the faith.” Whether you’re building a positive case for the Christian faith or defending against common objections, keep in mind “the three essential elements of everyday apologetics.” Listen. Share. Love.
Scripture for YouVersion: 1 Peter 3:15
Short audio/video: https://youtu.be/rBCnMTPkm58
Three questions (one fill-in-the-blank, one multiple choice, and one discussion question):
1. An ‘apologetic’ just means a _____________ .
2. Being a wise ambassador for Christ includes:
a. Being a good listener
b. Making answers memorable
c. Loving God and others
d. All of the above
3. What are the best reasons you have for believing Christianity is true?
References for further reading:
William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith
Norman Geisler, To Everyone An Answer
Dr. Ed Hindson, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics
Collaborators: Mikel Del Rosario, Mark McGee
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