Overwhelmed By What You Don’t Know? Here’s Where to Start On Your Apologetics Journey

Perhaps you find yourself in this scenario: you are newly interested in learning how to defend your faith, but you are overwhelmed by just how massive the field of Christian Apologetics is. You might imagine yourself in a potential witnessing conversation and think of a hundred different questions or objections that a skeptic might raise. Where do you start? Should you brush up on every major world religion? Should you dive into understanding the relationship between science and faith? What about the mountain of hot button issues present in our culture? How do you prioritize what to learn and how deep you should go into each different topic within apologetics?

I have good news for you: once you begin to engage non-Christians in conversation, you will soon notice that the same arguments and questions come up time and again. They might be phrased in different ways, but you will recognize the same faulty thinking or objections throughout various conversations. This brings me to what I believe will be a helpful starting point on your apologetics journey: begin by developing a well-rounded knowledge of the Christian faith and how to explain its doctrines well.

If Christian apologetics is about defending our faith, how can we defend what we don’t know? You will find that it is crucial to be able to clearly explain Christian theology in evangelistic conversations. The ability to show that the Christian faith is a cohesive, coherent, and rational worldview whose doctrines fit together beautifully is a powerful apologetic. Many nonbelievers have misconceptions about what Christians actually believe. The objections they make against Christianity are often rooted in a misunderstanding of doctrine.

For instance,  consider these two common questions: How can a loving God send people to Hell, and if God is good and all-powerful, then why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? To answer these questions, we need to have a thorough understanding of several Christian doctrines such as sin, humanity, the person and work of Christ, salvation, and the character of God. Having a biblical understanding of these topics will prepare you to answer these questions and more.

Perhaps you find yourself witnessing to a person of a different faith, or to someone who thinks that all religions lead to God, or to someone who thinks that it’s arrogant to believe that Christianity is the only true religion. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert in world religions to respond thoughtfully here! If you have a thorough understanding of the person of Jesus–how the Bible describes his unique ability to atone for our sins and offer us salvation by grace through faith– you can provide an explanation of how different Christianity is from all other faiths. You don’t need to be an authority on Islam or Buddhism to explain why Jesus is so compelling and different from every other religious figure. You can explain the uniqueness of Christianity if you know its tenets well.

In a different scenario, the person you’re witnessing to may not be a true skeptic or hardened atheist. Maybe this person simply doesn’t understand the gospel. You might get the sense that they are depending on their own good works to get to heaven, claiming something like “only God can judge me” or “God knows my heart.” In this case, your knowledge of some of the doctrines already mentioned (sin, Christ and his work, salvation) is your tool! This person needs to hear what the Bible says about our brokenness and the consequences of our sin, but that God made a way for our redemption through Jesus. Having a thorough understanding of Christianity will help you speak to these issues.

Beginning your apologetics education by studying Christianity will enable you to defend your faith effectively, even if you haven’t branched into speciality areas within the field. So much of Christian apologetics comes down to explaining Christianity well. Knowing doctrine and being able to communicate it clearly will help you respond to a variety of questions and arguments that you might encounter. Understanding your own faith inside and out will serve you well, both in your relationship with the Lord and in your ability to share your faith with non-Christians.

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