Defending, Equipping, and Contending for the Christian Faith
What is truth? This question posed by Pilate to Jesus has challenged philosophers, thinkers, and theologians. However (like Pilate who walked away after his inquiry) many who claim they are in search of truth, really have no interest in finding “truth” because it will demand a lifestyle response. Therefore, many make truth elusive, especially where the divine is concerned, so no ultimate commitment or rejection is required due to glorified agnosticism. Though there have been distortions of the Christian faith, doctrine, and practice, the core truth claims of Christianity remain. The Christian, today, has to be willing to stand on the faith and have the proper approach, appeal, and apparatus to defend the faith. This post is the beginning of a three part series concerning Christian apologetics.
When individuals hear the word apologetics, they oftentimes feel this is reserved for a special class of Christians who are well versed, educated, and hold some sort of ecclesiastical accreditation or office. However, anyone who has received Christ is capable of engaging in apologetics. Apologetics does not begin with study, research, knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, or a comprehensive understanding of Church history (all of which are important and will enhance one’s ability as an apologist), but it starts with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. A personal encounter with the Christ serves as the Christian’s initial evidence of the reality of the truth of God revealed in Christ. It is the basis for all true apologetics.
Now, the question remains, what is apologetics? Apologetics comes from a greek word meaning “speaking in defense.” It is not complicated in its scope. Every Christian who has received Christ should be able to speak in defense of their faith and hope in Him. Each individual will be unique in how they approach defending the faith. Some will do it in scholarly settings and debates while others will defend the faith among family, friends, and the community. It is a charge that is laid upon all who have received God’s gracious gift of salvation. It is not something to be afraid of. If you have received Him and know the gospel message, you have the necessary tools to stand as a Christian apologist.
In his first letter, Peter gives his readers the mandate for speaking in defense of the faith; again, to stand as Christian apologists.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. I Peter 3:15-16
This call to be able to defend the faith extends to Christian today. We cannot be afraid to say that there is one truth which is revealed in Christ. In an age of relativism, to assert that there is one truth is seemed as bigotry, ignorance, and arrogance. However, we cannot allow cultural criticism to hinder our kingdom witness. On today, ask Christ for grace, strength and wisdom to stand in defense of the faith. In the next two posts, we will from the above verses explore how to engage in apologetics. Next week, we will discuss “The Mindset of Apologetics.” Until then, remain faithful to Him who will never leave you nor forsake you.