We have been looking for a number of weeks now at bible difficulties and I have attempted to give an answer to many of the common objections people have to the bible and in fact the existence of God Himself. As you can imagine, opponents to Christianity are always trying to find fault and so it is important to bring a strong defence to what we believe.
This defence of the faith is called ‘apologetics’. It is not as the name might suggest apologising for the faith, but it is based on the Greek word ‘apologia’ which means ‘a verbal defence’. The term was used commonly in the Greek courtroom. In its essence a definition would be ‘A reasoned defence of the Christian faith against objections.
The 4 main bible verses that ‘apologists’ quote for using this form of defence are as follows;
always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 peter 3:15)
contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5)
And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead (Acts 17:2-3)
It is important to mention though that these verses aren’t just for the elite few who are clever at debating. No, we should all know what we believe and give a reason for it. The trouble is, we live in a world where we see the church leader as professional. He is the one who will win all our arguments for us. If we could only get the people asking them to come to church.
I love the Alpha course, but one of its main drawbacks is we hand over our own responsibility of explaining the faith to our friends and relatives to the people who are running the course. Our culture has become used to being spoon fed information, and this can make us very lazy in studying for ourselves.
Apologetics can be defensive and offensive.
It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. (Philippians 1:7)
The 2 Corinthians 5:7 passage I quoted earlier gives an example of the offensive side. But it is not about winning arguments. An important aspect, mentioned in the 1 Peter passage above is the way we debate and talk to people who oppose us. It is so important that every conversation is respectful and gentle.
A gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1)
When we discuss things in a winsome way we leave the door open for further discussion. There is no point in winning an argument if the way we win it completely turns off the other person because we have been rude or aggressive.
Apologetics has many forms, including studying and debating subjects such as; philosophy, biology, evolution, and logic. But it can also consist of simply giving an answer to a question about your own faith and why you believe and you don’t have to read a ton of books to do that. You certainly don’t have to be highly intelligent to engage in apologetics. Remember, in the New Testament the majority of the key leaders are pretty uneducated. It is only really the Apostle Paul who was really clever. The key is being filled with the Holy Spirit and diligent studying of the bible. God will guide your words when you stand for Him. A bible verse that gives me great strength is in Matthew 10:19-20 speaking about what will happen when we are dragged before rulers and authorities
do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Why not give it a try? See who you can start a conversation with this week?
Next week I will be looking at this subject a little further and giving my own testimony of how responding to a questioning friend helped me in my own faith.