It is easy on first reflection to think of a Christian apologist as someone who goes about apologizing for the Christian faith. I freely confess to being a little uncomfortable (when new to the faith) on hearing this term but after a little digging on my part I soon realized that the exact opposite is the truth. According to Christian apologist Dan Story; The term apologetics is derived from the Greek word apologia, which is found seven times in the New Testament (Acts 22:1; 25:16; 1 Cor. 9:3; Phil. 1:7, 16; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:15). The English equivalent of apologia is defense (literally, “a speech for the defense”), and it’s translated that way in 1 Peter 3:15 in the New American Standard and New King James versions of the Bible. In the original Greek language, apologia had a definite legal connotation. It was a technical term in ancient Greek law. When apologia is used in the New Testament, it describes a public defense of the gospel, as illustrated in Acts 22:1. Sometimes, in fact, this defense was carried out in a court of law (Acts 25:16; 2 Tim. 4:16).
So then; far from apologizing for Christianity, Christian apologetics is the discipline of giving sound reasons for not apologizing and actively promoting it’s truth and implications.
There are many differing disciplines within Christian apologetics (pre-suppositional, evidential, philosophical..… etc) and as stated in the previous blog I will be cherry picking as we go; though in the main I will be dealing with evidential apologetics when looking at creation issues. That said; it is impossible to overstate the role ‘Pre-suppositional beliefs’ play, when interpreting evidences. Whatever the branch; all have the goal of seeking to provide a rational justification for the truth claims of the Christian faith. When we are thinking specifically about ‘evidential apologetics’ there is an almost uniquely Christian element. Henry M Morris points out in his book ‘Many Infallible Proofs’
“…. As a matter of fact, the entire subject of evidences is almost exclusively the domain of Christian evidences. Other religions depend on subjective experience and blind faith, tradition and opinion. Christianity stands or falls upon the objective reality of gigantic supernatural events in history and the evidences that they really happened. This fact in itself is an evidence of its truth…..”
I am acutely aware that ‘faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ (Rom 10: 17). I am also aware that it is only by the working of The Holy Spirit that any person can turn to Christ for salvation. So why on earth (one might ask) would anyone even bother with seeking to become familiar with apologetic arguments. The answer to these questions demand more time, space and skill than I possess and this blog is not really the place if I am to hold to my commitment to brevity; but here are a few reasons why I think every Christian should have an interest:
It’s a command: 1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense (apologia) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
2Co 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
It’s a Biblical principle: The early Christian community consistently used evidences to convince skeptics regarding the truth of Gods Word. This is especially true with regards to the resurrection of Christ (Acts 4:33; 1Cor 15:1-8 etc.) When preaching to pagan cultures Paul begins his ministry not by quoting passages of Scripture but by appealing to the physical creation and their own intuitive knowledge of a Creator.
It’s an encouragement: So often Christian people have their faith suppressed and their tongues silenced by what they hear is a ‘scientific fact’, which somehow contradicts what God has revealed in His Word. Just a little investigation can often obliterate these doubts and bring fresh courage and zeal. This was my own experience when I first believed (more in this in later blogs).
It produces real results: Whilst ultimately it is the entrance of Gods Word which produces real saving faith; it has been the testimony of many, that God has laid the foundations for gospel presentation by reducing to rubble, the platform upon which all wrong assumptions/beliefs were built.
I do not believe in Christianity because it gives me nice, happy thoughts etc.. I believe in Christianity because it’s the truth. Speaking personally I see no point in ‘wishful thinking’ regarding some ‘after life’ if there is no reality behind the thinking. I have no wish to build my life, hopes and dreams on a delusion and I would not encourage anyone else to do so. The very fact that the facts of creation and history referred to in the Bible lend themselves to investigation should be an encouragement to any honest enquirer.
I really hope you may see why this subject is so fascinating to me. It aught to be in every ones interest to want to know the truth regarding the nature of creation and our role in it.
I end this blog with another quote from C.S.Lewis:
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important”.