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What is Christian Apologetics - part A

See the Apologetics Podcasts for an mp3 download of this study.

Definition of Apologetics:

Christian apologetics is the intellectual discipline wherein the intelligent effort is made carefully to delineate and to contend for the truth claims of the Christian faith before the unbelieving world, specifically, its claims of exclusive true knowledge of the one living and true God, in a manner that is consistent with the teaching of Holy Scripture.

Comes from the Greet root “apolog” - defense or reply to a formal charge.

Nature - both defensive and offensive

The Biblical Mandate of Apologetics:

1 Pet. 3:15-16 
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?  14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense [pros apologian] to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;  16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.  17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

  1. command to “sanctify” (regard as holy) God in the face of persecution, and to be ready
  2. assumes a heart of faith “hope that is in you” that can be recognized by others
  3. implies that all Christians are capable of engaging in apologetics
  4. assumes communication with unbelievers
  5. calls on every believer to be ready on every occasion to give to anyone who asks, the reason for his faith in Christ.
  6. indicates the attitude that we should have when engaging in apologetics, “meekness and fear”

This passage does not say we can “reason” men into the kingdom of God.

The “Paraclete” is the master “Apologete”. 

Reymond - “A divinely initiated, regenerating work of almighty grace accompanying the gospel proclamation is alone capable of enabling men to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Faith’s Reasons For Believing, p. 20).

What comes first: Apologetics or Exegesis/Systematics?

If we start with apologetics and allow unaided fallen man to establish both the possibility and presuppositions of Christian theology, what must we deny?
What is necessary before anyone can engage in apologetics?

Aspects of the Task of Apologetics:

  1. To answer particular objections.  For example, resolve alleged contradictions between scripture statements.  Respond to hostile theories to biblical truths such as Christ’s bodily resurrection, His virgin birth, His miracles, etc.  Such discussions with unbelievers will naturally lead to the defense of basic Christian presuppositions (which leads us to #2).
  2. To give an account of the foundations of the Christian faith.  Such foundational issues may involve the following questions.
    • Does God exist?
    • Has he revealed himself?  If so, where and how?
    • Why do I believe these things?
    • How do I know that what I believe is true?
    • This leads us to the study of epistemology (branch of philosophy dealing with the theory of knowledge: what is knowledge, how is knowledge acquired, how do we know what we know.) 
  3. To challenge non-Christian systems.  This involves exposing the irrationality inherent within non-Christian systems of thought.
  4. To persuade men of the truth claims of the Christian faith.  Goal should be evangelistic not merely to “win an argument”.