Why do we do apologetics? That’s a fair question, but before we can answer it maybe we should define the word for the sake of those who are not familiar with the concept.
“Apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia, which is translated “answer” in I Peter 3:5
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (I Pet. 3:15 NIV)
Peter is admonishing us to prepare ourselves intellectually, and not merely spiritually. That means that we have to study and know our material. Paul also makes the case for the intellectual presentation of the Faith.
“just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.” (Phil. 1:7)
Additionally, he describes to the church at Corinth the act of defending the faith.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (II Cor. 10:3-5 NIV)
Paul was known to cast out demons, raise the dead, heal the sick, and shake off a deadly snake during his ministry. If anybody could rely on the supernatural power of God to effectively communicate the gospel it was Paul, and yet he also saw the need for the power of persuasion through a well thought-out presentation as well. You can see that by how he reasoned from the scriptures in the synagogues (Acts 17:2) and discussed his views with the Greeks at Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17:16-31).
Jude also tells us to oppose false doctrine in his brief epistle.
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3 NKJV)
To “contend” for something means that you fight for it, although as Paul pointed out we don’t resort to physical confrontation. We battle spiritually and intellectually. Jude was talking about people who have distorted the biblical teaching of grace, presenting it as a license to sin rather than as a manifestation of God’s mercy to fallen humanity. But grace isn’t the only doctrine that has encountered such twisting. There are many other teachings, and many ways that each one is twisted. That’s why we have to study and prepare.
I was raised Baptist, but when I was seventeen I started attending an Assembly of God church in my home town. They were talking about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, a topic I never heard about in my Baptist church. I asked my mother about the subject and she gave me a copy of The Baptist Standard, a weekly publication from the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In that issue they were addressing the matter because at that time several Baptist churches in Texas had pastors who turned Charismatic and started speaking in tongues and teaching their congregations about the subject. Thousands of people across the state were leaving Baptist churches to attend Charismatic services. Here’s a news article about this from October of 1975.
DALLAS (AP) – The Dallas Baptist Association voted Thursday to remove two charismatic churches from its membership, the first such action it said has been taken in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. Ousted from the association were Beverly Hills Baptist Church of Dallas and Shady Grove Baptist Church of Grand Prairie. The Rev. C.E. Colton, pastor of the Royal Haven Baptist Church, introduced the resolution which asked the association to refuse to accept messengers, or delegates, from the two churches.
Colton said the two churches are known to practice openly the charismatic gifts of faith healing, in which a person is declared healed. Colton’s motion to purge the two churches passed by a majority vote. The Rev. Olen Griffing. pastor of the Shady Grove Church, said “We plan to continue preaching as a Southern Baptist Church.” He said the action by the Dallas association does not affect his church’s affiliation with state and national Southern Baptist groups. The Rev. Howard Conaster, pastor of the Beverly Hills church, was not available for comment.
As a result, Southern Baptists in Texas felt that thy had to take a stand. They published a four part series in The Baptist Standard by a professor from the New Orleans Baptist Seminary entitled An Open Letter to Charismatics. They also published twenty articles on the subject in a column entitled What Baptists Believe. A well known pastor called speaking in tongues “senseless, insane, and idiotic”. As you can see, it was a tumultuous time for Baptists in Texas. I read the arguments presented in the Baptist Standard and other publicatons. Essentially they were saying that tongues ceased when the New Testament was completed. As I compared the Baptist position to the position of the Pentecostals in the Assembly of God church, I began to understand why so many people were opting for the Charismatic churches. I came to the conclusion that even though I was raised Baptist, I had to side with the Pentecostals. I then went through a similar struggle on the issue of eternal security. That was the beginning of my interest in apologetics. Over the years I’ve gone through several such experiences with many other bible topics.
My friend Marcus Curtis’ story is very different from mine, but there are similarities. He was introduced to Christ from a member of the UPC (United Pentecostal Church), and struggled for years with their legalist doctrines. That drove him to search through the Bible to find the answers to his dilemma. As a result Marcus became very knowledgeable about a number of bible topics, prophecy in particular. That’s why I wanted him to contribute to this blog. He knows things that I don’t know and vice versa.
Today’s world is becoming more secularized all the time. People are constantly bombarded with anti-Christian rhetoric from the worlds of education, entertainment, science, politics, religion … you name it. Eventually it has an effect. They need to know that most of that comes from prejudice against Christ and Christianity rather than factual information. They need reliable resources to counter all of the garbage that is dumped on them by the world on a daily basis. That’s why I do what I do. Hopefully by providing good information and provoking thought I will be able to counter the negativity and inspire and prepare people to go out there and do battle in the intellectual arena. God bless.