What is Apologetics?
APOLOGETICS is any defense made for any faith or idea.
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS is defending the historic Christian faith.
A CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST is a person who presents evidence in favor of Christianity, Responds to arguments against Christianity, and removes other religions and worldviews as legitimate competitors to Christianity.
What is Not Apologetics?
NAME CALLING – This is a fallacy of logic. It’s like slanting, “ad hominum,” and argument by force. Name calling slants the issue by labeling the person rather than dealing with the argument. It’s also a form of “poisoning the well.” Also, it is an argument by force because it is a type of bullying. No one wants an unpopular label. And many people will accept error rather than receive a label they perceive to be undesirable. All of this leaves actual arguments, issues, and truth untouched.
SOPHISTRY – Apologetics lke any form of persuasion uses rhetoric. “Rhetoric” is simply the art of persuasion. For apologetics, the end is truth and the means are arguments and evidence. However, if the arguments replace substance with flowery wording and evidence with word games and fallacies, Apologetics has ceased and sophistry has taken over. This is not Christian Apologetics.
PURE ACADEMIC EXERCISE – Though it requires study, and at times it requires advanced information, apologetics itself is not a theoretical academic exercise like reciting times tables. Apologetics is immensely practical and relevant as all believes have consequences, so apologetics helps us determine which beliefs are true and which are false; which ones lead to life and which ones lead to suffering and death.
OPTIONAL – Christians are commanded to defend their faith. Our politically correct culture rejects defending anything except political correctness (which it defends emphatically, many times with name calling, sophistry, and argument by force). Some Christians don’t want to appear “pushy” and they associate “giving reasons why Christianity is true” with “being pushy.” Therefore, they do not engage other people’s ideas and religions. However, if God is real as claimed in the Bible, sitting back and letting people go to hell is the most unloving thing any Christian can do.
A SPECIALIZED FIELD OF STUDY FOR SPECIALISTS – Anyone who tries to convince anyone else of their beliefs has engaged in some form of apologetics. Arguments can be complex, and evidence can use specialized information and knowledge, but everyone should be able to give basic reasons for what they believe as well as the basic reasons and evidences for the doctrines of the historic Christian faith.
How Does One Do Apologetics?
RESPOND TO QUESTIONS – “Why do you go to church?” “Isn’t the Christian God and the Allah the same God?” “How can Jesus be the only way to God?” Quite simply, you do apologetics when you respond to questions about the Christian faith. When people ask you why you believe, your answer is apologetics in motion. When they ask you how you know what you believe is true, you are doing apologetics on the spot. When people tell you what you think and you explain why you disagree and why you believe them to be wrong, that is apologetics.
DISTRIBUTE MATERIAL – Tracts are great, but pamphlets, books, and websites are better. People have honest questions and honest issues with Christianity. These people need honest, well presented responses to these questions and issues. Coffee table conversations are absolutely essential, but beyond the conversation, people need material so they can search for themselves.
HOLD A BIBLE STUDY – When you tell people what the Bible says, you will soon be challenged in doctrine and ideas. This is where apologetics takes over and defends those ideas. Bible Studies aren’t just for Christians. Many people have questions, and a parachurch Bible study is a great, non-threatening way to share and allow for the deep questions and exploration of the ideas.
PREPARE – Read, research, and get ready. If God is the most ultimate being in the universe, he is at least worth your spare time, but I dare say, he is worth much more than that. Spend regular amounts of time getting ready for future encounters.
ENGAGE – The internet is not the best place for this as we have many web warriors who aren’t really interested in discussion as much as they are listening to themselves type. But if you can interact directly with people through social media, do so. If you have family members, talk to them (gasp!). As you talk with friends, you bring it up in conversation just like you would bring up any super critical, life or death issue as you care about your friends and you care about their eternal destines.
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