Apologetics 101: Defining Apologetics

by Robie Day

Over the past few months, I have read several articles discussing the number of Christians that are able to provide a basic defense for their faith.  In each of these articles, the author’s main point was that in defending their faith, Christians, in general, fail by comparison to other religions.  And regardless of whether it is because of a lack of emphasis from church leaders, a lack of desire or interest from Christians in general, or because it is simply disregarded as unnecessary, it remains that many Christians cannot provide even a basic defense for the convictions they hold.  The reason for this is likely a combination of all of the above.  Yet, there is one more reason that I think is also a large factor: fear.  When people hear the word apologetics, they often view it as something to be left for seminarians, feeling as if they are not capable of comprehending such complex concepts.  However, I would contend that that could not be further from the truth.  While I admit that there are some very complex concepts that I still do not fully grasp myself (as I am certainly no Dylan Rowland), understanding the basic arguments for Christianity is something that is much more attainable than most people believe.  Having said that, over the course of the coming weeks, my intent is to help you understand the basic tenets of Christian apologetics by providing a definition of apologetics, the biblical warrant for apologetics, the various apologetic perspectives and methodologies, and of course, the basic apologetic arguments that will hopefully help you better defend your faith.

This week, I want to begin by simply providing a definition of the word apologetics.  In its simplest definition, apologetics is providing a defense of a given position.  The word apologetics is derived from the Greek word apologia, which was the term used for a speech or answer given in defense of an accusation, as a defendant would “speak away” (apo – away, logia – speech) accusations in a courtroom.[1] When a lawyer builds his case for his respective client, he uses any and all available information to build the strongest case possible.  For Christians, apologetics is providing a defense for the Christian faith.  This includes gathering all of the available information, both in and out of Scripture, to make the strongest case possible for the Christian faith.  For example, biblical scholars often take historical references from the Bible and compare them to the writings of secular historians in order to verify the accuracy of Scripture.  In defending the resurrection, a common argument points out the improbability of removing such a large stone from a tomb under the watch of trained Roman soldiers.  These arguments reason, through the use of both Scripture and secular history, to build a defense for Christianity.  My prayer is that this series of posts will help you gain an understanding of these types of arguments, and hopefully encourage you to continue to strengthen your ability to defend the Christian faith.

[1] Martin Batts, “A Summary and Critique of the Historical Apologetic of John Warwick Montgomery” (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977), 1.


10 responses to “Apologetics 101: Defining Apologetics”

  1. Elder Larry G Stanley says :

    Paul taught and preached in a consistant manner to all those he encountered. Jesus did the same with emphasis on who his listeners were. He spoke in a style that reached people in different environments., The sermon was the same but packaged different for his listeners. The main topic that is often not discussed is listening to the Holy Spirit. We can debate or discuss the methodology until we die; but are we avoiding the Holy Spirit in all we do or following a man made outline without the Holy Spirit. In every thing we do and everything we say and everthing we preach are we involving the Holy Spirit and leaning upon God to guide us. I know …..I am from the “Old School”. But one thing I know for sure is without the Holy Spirit, you are left with your own understanding and your own teachings. The Bible is clear to lean not to your own understanding but by the power of God. With that said, I do like a structured teaching that teaches the whole doctrine and helps brothers and sisters know the doctrine and defend the faith. I also like Preaching with power and demonstration of Prayer and the Holy Spirit of God. John said he saw an Angel carrying the everlasting doctrine. Question: That Angel is still there. Jesus told the Apostles that they would receive thier words from the Holy Spirit and it was a free gift. I know many churches today began to shout and even scream claiming they are in the Spirit. I am unsure what spirit and even question what spirit. But I also know that a dry sermon without the Holy spirit will not feed the children of God. Just lending a few concerns that my fellow Brothers from the 1800 also listed as important. I like the word, ” Defending the Faith.” The word Apolegetics to most folks sounds like apology? I actually did a survey and asked. That was their response. Maybe this helps aned maybe it doesn’t, but you asked for input.

  2. Thomas Owusu-G says :

    I think Apologetics is the way forward for Christians to be equiped with the truth. I am involved in Evangelism now, please give everything you think is neccessary.

  3. Larry G Stanley says :

    Very good article. I also like to listen to Christian debates on the doctrine. I like christian science PHD’s who challenge world views such as evolution and the flood.

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