What is Apologetics?
Many confuse apologetics with the practice of apologizing. This is not an accurate definition of what the word apologetics actually means. Apologetics is giving a defense for the truth of something. Christian apologetics has to do with giving a defense for the truth of the Christian faith. Most Christians derive this branch of theology from 1 Peter 3:15: “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
Apologists like William Lane Craig and John Lennox will present a case for the truth of Christianity. Craig’s case for Christianity usually deals with five arguments, which include the cosmological argument, the fine tuning argument, the moral argument, the argument for the resurrection of Christ, and the argument from experience. We can call these Craig's five ways. Some atheists and agnostics have found these arguments convincing, while some challenge these five arguments. Apologetics is an essential part for a Christian to know what they believe and why they believe. Apologetics could be used for any worldview to defend why a particular worldview is objectively true. Christian apologetics is used to establish the objective truth of Christianity.
There are two types of apologetics in natural theology. These include positive and negative apologetics. Positive Christian apologetics is the “attacking position” which presents arguments for Christianity. These arguments can include the teleological argument or the ontological argument for the existence of God. They seek to prove the existence of God in objective reality. Negative Christian apologetics deals with answering criticism of Christianity. Examples of negative apologetics would be dealing with the problem of evil and answering supposed Bible contradictions. Both types of apologetics help make the case for the Christian faith. If Christians study apologetics, then Christianity will have more critical thinkers that will know what they believe and why they believe it (Craig 2010:13-26; A Brief History of Apologetics).
Why Should Christians Study Apologetics?
If someone is a Christian, then they are obligated by 1 Peter 3:15 to give an answer for the hope that is within. Early Christians were apologists or a least studied Christian apologetics. Paul was an apologist because he reasoned with the Jews in the temple to convert them to Christianity. Paul used his testimony and converted first century Jews to Christianity. Jesus Christ was an apologist himself, since he performed miracles to establish his deity. If early Christians like Paul and Peter were apologists, then Christians who believe in these men should reflect their ways. If the founder of Christianity himself was an apologist, then the people who believe in him should reflect his ways as well. Christians need to know what they believe and why they believe it. Atheists and agnostics have them beat when it comes to this question Christians need to evangelize through apologetics (Craig 2010:13-26; A Brief History of Apologetics).
Apologetics for Witnessing to Atheists and Agnostics
Many Christians fall from their beliefs because they don’t know answers to difficult questions about Christianity. Many will either become atheist or agnostic because they’re not convinced of Christianity and what it teaches. 75% of college students are non-religious due to most colleges have anti-religious thought. Only 1% of youth pastors will try to intersect faith and science to Generation Z (Teens who were born from 2001 to 2017)which will lead to belief that science and faith are compatible. Most Europeans are non-religious because of their beliefs in post-modernism which is post-religious thought. Most of these groups are sincere seekers of truth, but have failed at receiving a solid defense for the truth of Christianity. Christians seem to be living in a cloak of blind faith and suspend critical thinking. Christians need to apply philosophy to their theology if they want to reach out to critical thinkers like atheists and agnostics (Craig 2010:29-52; Mohler 2008:15-37).
The New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris challenge the truth of Christianity with ridicule and contempt. Apologists have countered New Atheist’s arguments and have participated in debates with all members of the New Atheist movement. Typically, atheists will know more about Christian apologetics than your average Christian. Christians need to know their theology and know why it corresponds with reality. If Christianity is just a belief system based on blind faith, then atheists have no reasons to listen to Christians. Christians should study apologetics because it helps with witnessing to other people such as atheists or agnostics. Atheists will ask questions that they want answers for, so Christians need to be able to answer those questions. Apologetics helps maintain a Christian’s own faith and possibly convert atheists and agnostics to Christianity. Many skeptics do not have good reasons to believe in Christianity, so skeptics just don’t believe. If Christians present good reasons for Christianity, then intellectually the atheist or agnostics will accept Christianity as true. If something is objective, then people can’t deny it (Mohler 2008:65-85; Zacharias & Vitale 2017:38-61). The question is rather: Is Christianity True? If so, then will Christians present a case for Christianity? Christian truth needs to be spread through Apologetics.
Craig, William Lane. On Guard. Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2010. Book
Mohler, Albert Jr. Atheism Remix. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008. Book.
Ravi Zacharias, Vince Vitale. Jesus Among Secular Gods. New York: Faith Words, 2017. Book.
“3. A Brief History of Apologetics.” Bible.org, bible.org/seriespage/3-brief-history-apologetics. “Christian apologetics.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Sept. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_apologetics.