Christian Apologetics: Rational Defense of the Faith

So I don’t lose anyone at the gate, Christian apologetics is a field of study and practice that offers a logical defense of the faith. There are many, excellent, websites that explain apologetics and its history further. If you have the time, I suggest you click on the links and check them out.

The word “apologetic” doesn’t have to do with saying you’re sorry. Rather, it comes from the Greek word “apologia”— which means, “a verbal defense (as in court.)” It is used several times in the New Testament. We’ll get to that later.

Apologetics uses philosophy, logic, science, and reason to provide supporting evidence of the Christian faith, the existence of God, and the infallibility of Scripture.

God’s Word: Is it enough?

Yes. But there is more. To the Believer it is God’s inspired Word. We know it is full of truth, but many people come from a worldview that has corrupted their understanding of the truth. To those who see the Bible as the “Bronze Age mythology of goat herders,” shouting Scripture at them will not do. How can we expect them to understand the truth when the lens they evaluate the truth with is broken?

Christian apologetics is a tool God has given us to help fix that lens and make a heart more receptive and understanding of His truth. Also, for the Believer, it helps bolster our faith and give us the defense of our faith God orders us to prepare—but more on that later.

Challenging the Bible

Apologetics is grounded in Scripture.
The Word of God is perfect and authoritative. It can stand the test of scrutiny and that scrutiny is an excellent foundation for apologetics.

It’s important to note that challenging and questioning Scripture is not, in of itself, a sin. The Book of Habakkuk (Old Testament) is composed almost entirely of the Prophet Habakkuk challenging God—who answers those questions. Job also questions God, and God provides answers that leave Job in awe.

We know the Bible is God’s infallible, perfect, Spirit-inspired word. It’s because of that we can say with certainty it can hold up to scrutiny, stand up to and answer questions of its validity, and be challenged.

Some believe that Scripture, however, is the end of the argument. There is nothing more than faith and faith in Scripture. But what of those who reject that truth? Is that it? No.

By design, God has left His fingerprint on all of Creation, evidence pointing to His existence, character, and involvement. God intentionally gives us evidence of His handiwork that exists outside of Scripture, but, are made clear by Scripture.

“For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. ”

Romans 1:20 (HCSB)

God Created Logic

Logic and reason are not our enemies and certainly not God’s. You can have both faith and a logical reason for that faith without compromising Scripture—or your relationship with God. Reason and logic are not the antithesis of faith. God created both and uses them for His glory and our benefit.

Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 (AMP)

Apologetics uses philosophy and logic through a Christian worldview
The existence of God can be shown through logical arguments.

The problem is when logic and reason are used without the clarity of a Biblical worldview. If you reject the source of Truth, God, and you reject His revelation of truth, Scripture, then any “truth” discovered will be inherently flawed.

The unbeliever, and all too often the Christian, will give precedence to flawed thinking and falsehoods that contradict God and Scripture. Evidence is neutral and does not prove or disprove anything, rather, it is to be interpreted through a lens. If that lens is flawed, then the conclusions reached with that lens will also be flawed.

Ready to Provide a Logical Defense

It’s important to understand that apologetics is not just an option, but a requirement of serving Christ.

The Apostle Peter wrote:

“But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.”

1 Peter 3:15 (AMP)

Having faith is great. We are saved by grace, through faith. However, God also tells us to have a reason, or apologia, for our faith. Remember back to the beginning: a defense as in one that you would present at a court hearing—a thought out, rational argument that uses the Christian worldview, the lens of Scripture, to reveal the truth to those whose lens is broken.

Apologetics: Not the End of Christianity

We can not rely solely on apologetics. It will not save people. It is a tool that must be used in light of Scripture, by guidance of the Holy Spirit, in love.

Alister McGrath writes in his book, Mere Apologetics,

Apologetics is not a set of techniques for winning people to Christ. It is not a set of argumentative templates designed to win debates. It is a willingness to work with God in helping people discover and turn to his glory. We are to “follow Him” by casting our nets out to everyone and pointing them to the greater reality of God and the risen Christ.

Apologetics is not a weapon, but a tool that must be used with love.
Photo: Jo Christian Oterhals / Flickr

We can not continue to confront an increasingly hostile world demanding a reason for our faith with a language they don’t understand. Apologetics allows us to open the door of their minds to the truth of Jesus Christ so that further evangelism can be done. In the process, it also provides a defense and encouragement to Christians who are increasingly bombarded by an onslaught of corrupted reasoning and falsehoods aimed at dismantling and blotting out the truth, and destroying the Believer’s faith in the process.

Do you have a favorite apologetics resource? Share it with us in the comments below.

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