Apologetics is Kindly Tilling the Ground
Apologetics kindly tills out obstacles against a firmly rooted faith.
My sister (Laura) and I had the privilege of holding an apologetics discussion this weekend with a group of women from Redeemer Modesto (our home church) who were on retreat in Twain Harte. She and I had three prep sessions together leading up to the retreat. I enjoyed those sessions with my sis as much as I enjoyed the actual discussion. Laura is the life of the party, and I could not have done it without her. It is much more interesting to provoke laughter with “The ‘sheep’ need to follow His voice, not just the sheep butt in front of them,” (Laura) than focus solely on the dry reality that it is okay to ask (seek… knock…), even if no one else is asking the important questions.
The following is just the handout that we didn’t actually set out to discuss. We didn’t even hand it out until the end. See our actual discussion notes here (more was said than is written there–like the fact that suffering people aren’t helped by intellectual arguments). We didn’t get to the “d” section of our discussion notes at all, but the discussion did go exactly where God needed it to, which is ironically where this handout goes: kindness, though in different words.
FOCUS VERSE: “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.” 1 Peter 3:15
Know vs. Show. Apologetics means “showing” why you believe something is true. Christian apologetics means showing why Christianity is true. We answer objections to the faith and give good reasons to believe in God and Jesus’ resurrection. We may “know” Christianity is true because we have the witness of the Holy Spirit–but we “show” Christianity is true by doing apologetics. Why? Because this love is not meant to be kept to ourselves. Matthew 5:14
Apologia means defense. In the “focus verse” above, the word “answer” in Greek is apologia (ἀπολογία), or defense, as in “legal defense”. The word “reason” is logon (λόγον). Also see 1 Samuel 12:7 (“reason with”), Isaiah 1:18 (“reason together” –Laura’s favorite) & 41:21 (“bring forth your strong reasons”), and Acts 24:25 (“he reasoned of”) for similar word use.
Is apologetics Biblical? Yes. Unfortunately, an unbiblical misuse of the word “faith” has become popular that makes it seem like only blind faith is genuine faith. However, the sort of trust in God that we have is not blind trust. We have good reasons to trust God through hard times. Even if we do not have access to the mountain of evidence…or it is too challenging for us to process all of it…the witness of the Holy Spirit is a good reason, in itself, to trust God. God warns against putting blind trust in anything and commands us to examine everything, and only trust the good (1 Thess. 5:21, 1 John 4:1). What we do when we “believe without seeing” (John 20:29) is trust the tested evidence we *do* have in the face of not knowing what will happen in any given situation. We trust that God has it covered and will fulfill his promises as he has in the past–before we see their fulfillment.
[ Other good apologetics verses to start with as you dig deeper: Matthew 22:37; Romans 12:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 13:11, 14:20, 15:3-7 & 15:14; Colossians 2:2-3; Acts 1:3, 18:27-28, 19:8 & 24:25; & 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ]
SHOW. The most important part of our focus verse is “do this with gentleness and respect.” Why? Because we should remember Jesus’ gentleness towards the adulterous woman. He stood against those who would have stoned her. When those men left, his gentle words were, “Neither do I condemn you, go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:11, 1 Cor. 13:1-2. [The event of John 8:11 is not found in the earliest manuscripts, but this sort of love is found throughout the New Testament.]
The best way to “show” what you “know” is to live as loved, especially by “giving an Answer” to those who ask! To withhold answers and instead tell doubters to “just have faith” is to block people from the kingdom (Matthew 23:13).
EQUIP YOURSELF WITH ANSWERS FOR THOSE WHO ASK:
Use commentaries, lexicons (for word studies), an apologetics search engine, et cetera, if you find yourself scratching your head about a Bible passage or current event, or if someone asks you a “God question” you can’t answer:
These phone apps are also available:
There are great books, websites, Facebook groups, and so on–too many resources to list–that you can use to dig deeper. These are just a few!
Tactics by Greg Koukl
Christian Apologetics by Douglas Groothuis
The Reason for God by Tim Keller
On Guard by William Lane Craig
(In a follow-up email, I recommended Mary Jo Sharp.)
Apologetics for Parents: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ApologeticsforParents
Christian Apologetics Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/groups/caalliance
Last but not least: Read as much C.S. Lewis as you can, fiction and nonfiction!