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apologetics, Thinking

Christians don’t need apologetics? Think again.

“We don’t need apologetics. We just need the Holy Spirit.”

“We don’t need to ‘apologize’ for anything!”

“I just believe, and that’s all.”

“There doesn’t have to be a reason to believe in Jesus, you just have to feel it.”

Perhaps you’ve heard some variation of these mantras from leaders or members in your church. I have something to say:

They are wrong.

Consider Jesse Kilgore, a young man who read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, lost his faith, and killed himself.

Yeah, this is an extreme example. But think about it for a second: if you’re a member of a church community, have you heard of youths losing their faith? Have you heard or experienced the day a child comes home and says “I’m an atheist?”

“Okay,” you say, “but what does any of this have to do with apologetics?”

Well, perhaps its best to define the term first. Apologetics can most basically be defined as the defense of the faith. Apologists are people who study philosophy, theology, and other fields in order to become equipped to argue for the central teachings of Christianity. Such argumentation can involve both scientific and philosophical evidence.

Why do we need it? Think once more of the youths who leave the church: how often do they have a rationalization for this lack of faith? It is, in my experience, every time. “There isn’t enough evidence to believe in God,” they may say, or “There is so much evil in the world, I can’t believe there is a good God watching it all.” Such objections are indeed challenges to the faith. But without apologetics we would be left treading water. To the first objection, the response could only be “There may not be, but why not just believe?”; to the second, we could only say “God has his reasons.”

What about to someone like Jesse Kilgore? Could apologetics have helped him? I’m not trying to make light of his suicide–but I think that yes, apologetics would have helped. Had he been exposed to arguments for the existence of God, he would have known Dawkins merely caricatures them and ignores their premises. Had he read books on perspectives on the Creation account (theistic evolutionism, intelligent design, or creationism), he would have been unphased by Dawkins’ arguments for evolution. The bottom line is there are rational arguments out there which easily rebut Dawkins’ claims. It is a failure in the church that Jesse hadn’t been exposed to them.

Christians, I challenge you to learn apologetics. Learn a “case for Christianity” which you can utilize whenever you are witnessing to someone who thinks there are no reasons to believe. My own example of such a case is here. Learn about some more of the basic arguments. Read Lee Strobel, read William Lane Craig. But don’t reject apologetics. Our youths need more. Those without faith deserve more. Apologetics is part of the core of our Christian heritage, let’s make it part of our lives.

Let us not forget the commands to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and to always have a defense/reason (apologia) (1 Peter 3:15).


SDG.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

21 thoughts on “Christians don’t need apologetics? Think again.

  1. We need apologetics in every church! We send missionaries to Africa, China etc., and we need to send apologists to universities etc.,

    Posted by Christine Davis | June 8, 2011, 5:07 PM
    • This is absolutely correct. Efforts must be put into making apologetics of greatest importance in the education of Christians. We are in an age in which Christianity will not get a hearing in the public square if it cannot be defended philosophically and scientifically by its adherents.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 10, 2011, 3:55 PM
  2. Think again.
    I will probably make some people angry when I say this but, if you knew me personally, then you would know that I really don’t mind forcing people to question even their own “ideal” perception of the world. Even if it offends them.
    It is human nature to view those on “the defense” as weak and wrong.
    This is where “apologetics” puts the Gospel of Christ in a demeaning position.
    I have been a Christian since I was a child. For a short time in my life I left the church. I was in college attempting to take on a new perspective of the world. I traveled and socialized with people from different cultures and religions. They were never impressed with religious teachers trying to force their views on them. Mainly because it is done in a very passionate by weak and defensive way. The Gospel of Christ and the Power of Christ in and of itself is enough to bring people to Christ. Men living what they preach, helping others and teaching those who ask them for help is how ministers should serve. Do ministers help those in need? Or do they merely help those in need as long as it does not put too much of a burden on them?
    I wonder how many actually leave everything and serve him? How many just leave the part they are willing to part with?
    I have met many missionaries. I have never met one as pious and generous as they are in the movies.
    Paul writes to visit cities then leave wiping the dust of your feet if they do not accept you. Yet, I know for a fact that there are several ministries in countries where conversion to Christianity is illegal. This is going against the gospel so I don’t understand~ why do they do it? What are they gaining? It can only be for selfish, personal reasons. Because attempting to force Christianity on any community against their will is going against the gospel and the will of God.
    Here is another example from The Bible in Matthew 12. “Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.’ He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.’
    Trying to top that? it’s not possible. He did it. If they don’t believe it when they hear it then they are not His and do not hear His voice.
    Did you ever stop to think that maybe more people would be more interested in the Gospel of Christ if it was considered a sacred and holy epitome given from God himself instead of something to be forced on people who have already heard and have chosen not to accept?
    Did you ever stop to think that maybe if we ignored the unrighteous and held our beliefs too sacred to share with the ungodly then perhaps they would feel left out and come looking for what secret knowledge made us so hopeful and inspired while they were miserable in their sin? But what do we do instead? We give them more attention and attempt to “defend” a gospel that has nothing at all to be defensive about.
    Have you looked around at the attacks against God and the church by the atheists and the homosexuals to see how they blaspheme The Holy One and His Promise? It is disgusting. And yet ministers still think apologetics is the way. Jesus was not a weak man who went around like a sheep speaking effeminately and spreading peace and love. He got angry. He was as much a man as He was God.
    It’s time to stop apologizing and realize that this is a much more wicked and adulterous generation than the one Christ spoke to 2,000 years ago. People who degrade our God need to be shunned- not apologized to for anything.
    God help them all.

    Posted by Angie | July 19, 2011, 11:06 PM
    • I think out of respect for the gospel we cannot refuse to defend. 1 Peter 3:15a “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;” The Greek word used by Peter here is apologia. We are literally commanded in scripture to do apologetics. It is part of the very Gospel you so fervently defend.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 19, 2011, 11:14 PM
      • And don’t you think it is a bit strange to be offering a defense of your position, which is literally that we should offer no defense?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 19, 2011, 11:18 PM
    • Angie, you have some valid points, but I think there may be a bit of a misconception about “apologetics.” When we say “apologetics” we do not mean apologizing. It is simply providing valid reason for belief. Let’s look at it this way – if you were sick and needed medication, would you be content taking the medication that you simply _felt_ was the right one that could make you feel better? Or would you rather take the medication that has been tested and approved for the type of illness you have? Even when we operate with a certain level of faith, it is generally not some sort of blind faith, but something rooted in evidence.

      You said, “That’s my view. I don’t feel the need to defend it any further than stating it.” But isn’t this a completely subjective way to live? What would you say to someone who told you the same thing, except about Hinduism or Islam? Would not Christ want you to tell the world _why_ they should believe in _Him_ too? You see, there are reasons _why_ not all religions can be true, and even better reasons why Christ is the only true God.

      You touched on a very important point in that some people will rebel against God no matter what kind of convincing evidence is brought to them, but that is all the more reason to provide the evidence. Men will be without excuse on judgement day. We are commanded to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Apologetics is not about trying to convince people. It is about providing rational reasons to believe in Christ. All we’re simply called to do is provide reasons. The rest is the work of the Holy Spirit.

      Posted by Arthur Khachatryan | July 20, 2011, 9:07 AM
  3. People who ask should be answered. People who blaspheme and ignore the Gospel of Christ themselves should be ignored.
    That’s my view. I don’t feel the need to defend it any further than stating it. I’ve never met a religious teacher who was willing to question the way they do things. They get comfortable where they are and it is very difficult to change. It’s just something I’ve noticed.

    Posted by Angie | July 19, 2011, 11:41 PM
    • So you are comfortable merely asserting things without any reason to believe it? I am unconvinced, particularly given the fact that, as I pointed out, Scripture itself explicitly commands us to do apologetics.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 19, 2011, 11:45 PM
  4. Why can’t we do both? Why not do apologetics (which incidentally is not apologizing, but “giving an account for”) and love people with all of our hearts a the same time? Angie, you seem to be assuming it’s either or. Christians who do nothing but apologetics yet harbor bitterness and hate in their hearts do harm to the Gospel’s perception among the nations, but people who simply follow their convictions and love others without giving reasons for their doing so are doing harm to the Gospel as well.

    Posted by evang522 | July 19, 2011, 11:44 PM
  5. There has already been enough accounting for. More than enough. When I did my search for the truth, much like Lee Strobel did, I found more than enough proof and accounting for the Gospel of Christ. Was inundated with it.

    Times have changed. I believe we need to be stronger and closer-knit as a community of believers as a whole in the Body of Christ now and let Christ lead the others to Him on His own. Is His hand shortened that He cannot do it?
    I cannot help but think that when we do it in our way that we take away from Him doing it in His way.
    I could be totally wrong. But I don’t think so.

    Posted by Angie | July 20, 2011, 12:01 AM
    • What does any of this have to do with not needing apologetics? Lee Strobel is an apologist! In this post I wrote that we need apologetics, and thus far all you’ve said is things like “we need to be stronger… as a community of believers.” Okay, I agree.

      But what about, “let Christ lead the others to Him on His own”?

      Sorry, it seems again that we have explicit commands contrary to that: Matthew 28:19, for example “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

      We aren’t told to sit back and wait for believers to come. We’re told to go. We’re also told to make a defense (apologia) of the faith.

      So we have Scripture telling us to do what I’ve argued for here. I don’t see any reason to abandon Scripture.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 20, 2011, 8:50 AM
    • Angie, you said //When I did my search for the truth, much like Lee Strobel did, I found more than enough proof and accounting for the Gospel of Christ.//

      What about people who are not as proactive? Don’t they deserve to know the truth that you found as well? This is all that apologetics is. There are many people that simply live their lives completely oblivious to the very good reasons why Christ is Lord. I think they deserve to know these facts as well. In fact, wouldn’t it be against our better judgement and unloving to lay low and allow the masses to perish?

      Posted by Arthur Khachatryan | July 20, 2011, 9:13 AM
  6. If you read Matt 9:1-7, why does Jesus heal the paralytic? Why did Jesus instruct Thomas to touch his wounds? What are we told that Jesus did in Acts 1:3? Jesus did not ask for blind faith, he gave proofs.

    Posted by Robert Vroom | July 20, 2011, 5:05 AM
  7. Rabbi Hillel was a perfect example of a teacher who knew he was a spokesman for sacred truth. A mysterious truth that should be searched out~ not a truth to be compiled, packaged and mass produced. He said everything that needed to be said when (with his hand on the scriptures) said “everything you need to know is in here- read this and treat others the way you want them to treat you.”
    Apologia is merely meant to answer those who have questions or those who attack the gospel- and to do it wisely. It is not about guest speakers getting paid thousands per booking nor is it about book signings. As soon as it becomes about financial profit then it becomes something else. It becomes harlotry.
    “And that’s all I got to say about that.” ~Forrest Gump

    Posted by Angie | July 20, 2011, 11:09 AM
    • I think you’re equivocating here. Apologetics is the defense of the faith. Not sure where you get the idea that it is about mass producing the gospel or forcing people into faith.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 20, 2011, 12:18 PM
    • The statements your making just don’t add up. On the one hand you say we don’t need apologetics. On the other hand, you say we do need to answer those who have questions. Which is it, Angie? Do we need to be prepared or not? I’ve showed you in Scripture where we are commanded to do apologetics. I’ve showed you in Scripture where we are commanded to go to others and teach them. Thus far you’ve only offered your own feelings and anecdotes. I stand on Scripture, and it tells us to do apologetics. See also Arthur’s comments.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 20, 2011, 12:22 PM
  8. People who live oblivious to the importance of the gospel and the importance of The Christ- God- are not going to be persuaded by someone getting in their face and telling them they’re wrong. In fact, it just angers them. When you “prepare” yourself you are becoming stronger in the faith and closer to God- this most of all benefits yourself and it rightly should. When people ask you for the information then you give it to them. If you throw pearls before swine the people remain swine and lose respect for you. They are not challenged to become something greater. They should be impressed with the grace and greatness that surrounds you. They should see you and want to be like you. They should not be offended by you. They should see that you have some precious, secret knowledge that they want to share in; Sort of like that cool student in high school three years above you that you want to be just like when you grow up. The Gospel of Christ is sacred and holy. Not something that should be thrown around.
    We are not commanded to share apologia. We are commanded to love one another as He loved us.
    And I want to tell Arthur that when I talk to people from different faiths I notice that there is a purpose for Islam, for Judaism, and for Christianity. Christ speaks to every nation and culture in his own way. The worst thing that we can do is offend them and carry an attitude that our faith is more “correct” or “better” than theirs. I know that Christ is the Truth, the Way, and the Light. I also know that religion has nothing to do with what kind of person you are in your heart. I believe wholeheartedly the outlook of Christ in the fictional book, “The Shack,” when Christ says that he has His followers from all faiths.
    People need to take their blinders off and start viewing everyone as one in the Body of Christ. Religious boundaries are easily overcome by The Spirit in Spirit. For men it is much harder to do.

    Posted by Angie | July 20, 2011, 4:47 PM
  9. J.W., I want to teach apologetics to our high school and young adults. I have Greg Koukl’s Ambassador series, but I’m looking for something designed for the high school age group. I can create my own, but I’m sure someone has already done something better than what I can come up with.
    Do you have any suggestions on a good curricula?

    Thanks!

    Posted by Charles | November 20, 2011, 10:47 PM
  10. “Rabbi Hillel was a perfect example of a teacher who knew he was a spokesman for sacred truth. A mysterious truth that should be searched out~ not a truth to be compiled, packaged and mass produced. He said everything that needed to be said when (with his hand on the scriptures) said “everything you need to know is in here- read this and treat others the way you want them to treat you.””

    I am not sure the rabbi, as quoted, provides a perfect example. If he truly believed that “everything you need to know is in here” — then it is inexplicable why he felt compelled to add, “treat others the way you want them to treat you.”

    “I’ve never met a religious teacher who was willing to question the way they do things. They get comfortable where they are and it is very difficult to change. It’s just something I’ve noticed.”

    There does seem to be some validity to this statement. If the statement is attempting to convey an idea in a manner to effect behavior, then would it not be considered a “teaching statement”? If it is a teaching statement, then it is a statement about religious teaching given the topic. If it is a statement about religious teaching, then the writer would be a religious teacher, who seems to be fulfilling the major theme of the statement.

    Posted by Billie | February 18, 2014, 8:10 AM

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