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Why Do We Need Apologetics?

By Lindsey Medenwaldt

I didn’t used to think apologetics was for me. My husband is an apologist, but I thought that was just a particular route Christians could choose to take to evangelize. After listening to him talk for years about how I should learn more about apologetics, though, I finally took his advice. I began to realize that my faith needed a firmer grounding than only my emotions, which is what I had relied upon for most of my life. This realization led me to pursue a master’s degree in apologetics and ethics at Denver Seminary.

When I started at Seminary, I thought for sure I was entering an arena where everyone would want to learn apologetics and would support the pursuit of apologetics. I thought Seminary would be full of students who had the same desire as I did, to be able to give evidence for what I believed. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.

It has been surprising to me how many other Seminary students have told me that they are just not interested in apologetics or how it is not their calling. It seems they have been misled, though, because it is their calling.

In fact, it is every Christian’s calling to do apologetics. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “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.” Peter was not writing only to pastors, but to all members of the church. The word “answer” is translated apologia in Greek. Apologia does not mean to give an apology; instead, it means to be able to offer a reasoned defense (like an attorney in a courtroom). In other words, we need to be able to give a defense for the hope within us if someone asks us a question about our beliefs. If we cannot provide the answer, we are not owning up to the responsibility we have as Christians. Paul and Jesus regularly used apologetics in their ministries, and what better examples to follow?

My first real apologetics conversation came during my first semester at Seminary. I was only a few lessons into the semester, and I was given an assignment to talk to someone who was not a Christian. I was stunned at how unprepared I was to answer even some of the most basic questions about my faith. I’ve been a Christian for more than 30 years, and I was brought to tears (and to my knees) when I realized all of the missed opportunities I’ve had in my life because I was not properly equipped with apologetics.

I often hear that apologetics is too intellectual and that faith is more of an emotional thing. This is an unfortunate misconception that seems rampant in the church. Our faith should not be grounded in our emotions. Mark 12:30 says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” We must strike a balance between our emotions and our reason in order to love the Lord fully. If we rely solely on our emotions, we are laying our Christianity on a weak foundation.

Remember the closing of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus spoke about building your house on a firm foundation (Matthew 7:24-27)? Jesus wasn’t talking about a literal house; He was referring to our faith. The foundation of our faith must be truth. Why? Jeremiah 17:9 says that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” This echoes Proverbs 28:26, which says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” In other words, using our emotions as the foundation of our faith is risky. A firmer foundation is one built on truth and reason. A firmer foundation is built on Christ who is truth Himself.

According to a 2015 Pew Research study, almost one-quarter of the American population does not affiliate with any religion (this group is commonly called the “nones”). Of these Americans, 78% used to believe in something, and many of them say they left their faith because of “lack of evidence.”[1] This should be troubling to you because Christianity has the evidence to support its incredible claims. We can show evidence that Jesus lived, that He died, and that He was resurrected. The Bible isn’t the only evidence, either. I am talking about extra-biblical sources that provide evidence for what we believe. If we cannot answer the questions posed by members of our churches, they will leave the faith. Period. Some examples of public figures who left the church when no one could answer their questions are Steve Jobs and author Dan Brown.

In sum, apologetics is for every Christian, not just those who think they have been called to it. We have all been called to it. It is not only important, it is necessary. Apologetics is being able to answer questions about your faith when asked. Why do you believe what you believe? Why should others believe the claims of Christianity over other religions? What evidence is there to support the claims of the Bible? If you cannot answer these questions, now is the time to start developing your responses. You do not have to be an expert, but you should at least have a starting point to keep the conversation rolling.

[1] Michael Lipka, “Why America’s ‘nones’ left religion behind” (Aug. 24, 2016), http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/. Last accessed on January 24, 2018.

Disclaimer: All views expressed by those associated with this ministry or on our platforms do not necessarily represent the opinions of Women in Apologetics, Inc. or its individual team members.

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