apologetics

If you’ve ever tried to share your convictions with someone (and if you’re a Christian, I would hope that you had!), you know how intimidating it can be.   I’ve been there.  We don’t want to be the one getting tongue tied and fumbling for words. Getting a conversation started is usually the hardest part of evangelism.  Most people’s biggest fear however is being asked a question you can’t answer. Apologetics can make a difference in these interactions.

Apologetics

How does apologetics solve this problem? Apologetics is essentially making a case for what you believe.  But does Apologetics benefit us in other ways besides evangelism?

Many Christians believe that Apologetics is too academic and requires too much study to be of value.  I disagree.  I believe the study of apologetics is essential not only for evangelism, but for our own growth as Christians. Here are four ways that being a good Christian case maker can be of value to you as a Christian.

1. Case Making will improve your knowledge of God.

Notice that in the great commission, the command is to make disciples of all nations. This is not a command to simply fill the Church with warm bodies. The command is to develop a robust Christian life. The first and greatest commandment given to us by Jesus is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. “(Matt 22:37).  Why does Jesus make a point to mention the mind?  Because our spiritual lives ought to include a deeper understanding of the nature of God.

We obviously get our knowledge about God’s nature and character from the Bible.  We should remember however that many people dismiss the Bible out of hand.  It’s for these people that we must become good interpreters of God’s word, God’s nature and God’s character.  We may have to meet them where they are at and explain things differently than we would in church.  Rather than just telling someone “The Bible says it, so I believe it”, we need to be able to unpack God’s wisdom for them in a way that makes sense to an unbeliever.

2. Apologetics will aid your spiritual growth.

As Lee Strobel points out in his excellent book on evangelism “The Unexpected Adventure“, there are two sentences you will never hear uttered together “My spiritual life is so dead right now” and “I am trying to win my neighbor for Christ”. Praying will be more urgent when you realize your dependence on God to open the heart of your neighbor.  When you are being challenged on the nature of God’s character by a child or grandchild, you will be challenged to study more.  You will never learn theology quicker than when you are forced to defend your beliefs against a heresy.

In short, when you put yourself into the game, the urgency of spiritual growth becomes more acute.  It’s no longer an academic exercise.  There’s something on the line!

3. Apologetics will keep you grounded when you face your own doubts.

Everyone at some time or another will face doubts of their own.  Having a strong foundation in apologetics can help you through times when you struggle emotionally with your faith. Grounding our faith simply on feelings gives you no where to turn when those feelings go away.

Have you ever been betrayed by your emotions?  I have. I’ve had crises of faith where I was angry with God.  The thing that brought me back from the edge on these occasions was that I intellectually knew God existed.  Had I relied strictly on my emotions to tell me what was true, I would have cut bait and run. The grounding we get from a deep knowledge of God’s wisdom and character can be a true blessing in times of turmoil.

4. Apologetics will help your evangelism

How many of you like to take tests?  If you are a parent, you have probably noticed a trend that happens with your kids over summer vacation.  If you ask them a question about any subject that they had in school the previous year, they probably can’t pull the information right off the top of their heads.  Why? Because they are enjoying their break and haven’t cracked a book in months.  Now, if there was a test looming on the horizon about that same subject, you can bet that they would be able to communicate the information to you.

Evangelism works in much this same way. If we don’t do it, we get complacent and can’t pull the information up when we need it. By continuing to study and learn, we are getting ready for the test.  We are preparing to follow the command Peter gives us to “always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence”.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the benefits of learning about what you believe and being able to communicate it to others. Don’t know where to start?  Here are three short books I recommend to begin the journey of developing a more robust Christian witness:

Cold Case Christianity– J. Warner Wallace

Mere Christianity– C.S. Lewis

More Than a Carpenter– Josh McDowell

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