Hey guys and gals
Week one is underway of the Apologetics classes. Currently Apol500 and Apol502. (intro and history of apologetics respectively). Did you know that word doesn’t think apologetics is a word? It makes writing it constantly really annoying (I know I know just add it to word’s dictionary…I hate adding things). Most of this is pretty basic, some of my notes and my forum post from Apol500 because I liked it.
some of the basics.
Apologetics- the defense of something.
An apology is a defense. A rational justification – defeating challengers or charges that have been leveled.
Christian apologetics – presents a reasonable defense of the Christian faith and world view. It’s a formal defense of Christianity.
Christian apologists engage in the practice of defending Christianity.
Arguments for the existence of god, the bible, historical accuracy, Jesus, resurrection.
Challenges: existence of evil.
The Bible commands us to be apologists: 1 peter 3:15; Jude 3; 2 corinth chapt 5; Mathew 28; John 20
A call to evangelism has a natural relationship to apologetics because there will be those who object to the gospel, rational and intellectual rejections to the gospel. Apologetics helps break down this barrier between other world views and Christianity.
Apologetics can be a tool to break down barriers so that evangelism can be effective.
Peter calls us to give a reason for our hope (as our modern translations read) in 1 Peter 3:15. Peter’s writing also calls for an explanation or defense of that hope. The word defense is often (and in this case) a translation of the Greek apologia or apology. An apology is not how we currently use the term, an admission of wrong doing, but rather the defense of an act or belief. Socrates gives his Apology before the court of Athens as a defense for his behavior and teaching. The idea of an apology might best be understood in a modern setting as the defense’s argument in a courtroom (Belby 2011).
What Peter is telling Christians is that we need to be able to give a reason for our faith. This idea is the bases for apologetics, a rational explanation, and defense of the Christian faith. In The Preacher’s Homiletic Commentary, it explains that modern translations fail to get a play on words that exists in the original text of 1st Peter. The authors of the commentary rewrite the verse as “be ye ready always to give a justification to everyone who would require you to justify the hope that is in you.” The Pulpit Commentary explains the text saying “ready always for an apology to every man.” The Homilies section of the same text explains the text as saying it’s a reason for hope in spite of persecution (Caffin 2011). The emphasis being to give both defense (apologetics) and explanation (evangelism) in a world that was hostile to the faith.
This distinction of a world hostile to the faith forms an interesting point for Christian Apologetics. The world around Peter was not ready to accept Christianity in place of their world views at the time. We see Christ Himself engage in defensive apologetics. When He is approached by the Sadducees about the existence of marriage in the afterlife, Christ quickly derails their attempt at a logical trap. Christ does this by addressing the false assumptions in the question itself, an undercutting argument in defense apologetics (Groothuis 2011 and Belby 2011). More commonly for apologetics, we think of debates, one of the more famous recently would be Dr. Ham debating Bill Nye. This form of response and retaliation is another type of defensive apologetic, rebutting arguments (Belby 2011).
For Peter or any Christian to reach through evangelism (or explanation of hope) the Christians needed to pierce the wall of the world view. Apologetics focuses on the rational defense of the Christian world view but also on offensive arguments. Offensive apologetic arguments can be both construction and deconstructive. The deconstructive apologetic arguments work on disproving other world views. Constructive offensive argumets are developed in preparation for challenges that may arise (Belby 2011).
Both offensive and defensive forms of Apologetics have the goal of defending Christian dogmas. Although similar and reliant on theology, apologetics is concerned with defending the elements that must be true for Christianity to be true (existence of God, the atonement of sin, etc.). Theology, on the other hand, debates doctrines that don’t change core tenants of the faith.
We as Christians practice apologetics to pierce the walls that protect opposing world views so that evangelism can take place the world (Belby 2011). We are also tasked with defending the wall that protects the Christian world view from attacks. Apologetics must be a rationally planned defense, and it is important given that Apologetics is a discipline practiced by other religions and secular world views. These attacks or questions raised by other apologists or simply day life can come from external consumers of apologetics (which is what the above scenarios deal with) but also internal consumers that are already Christians (Belby 2011). Apologists must tend to the Christians with the same strength and delicacy as they would an external question.
Belby, J. 2011. Thinking About crhistian Apologetics. IVP Academic. Dovers Grove, Il.
Caffin, B. 2011. 1 Peter. The Pulpit Commentary Vol 22.
Groothuis, D. 2011. Christian Apologetics. IVP Academic. Dovers Grove, Il.
Tuck, R. 1996 1 Peter. The Preachers Homiletic Commentary Vol. 30.