The English word “apologetics” comes from the Greek “apologia,” which means defense or vindication. For example, Peter used this word in 1 Peter 3:15 (emphasis added):
“…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…” (NASB)
Why should we always be ready to make a defense for our hope (in addition to being obedient to God’s word through Peter)? The Bible contains truth claims, many of which are unique. For example, the Apostle John wrote that Jesus Christ said of Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, NASB).
We are asked to believe the Bible’s claims are true and trust God based on who He is and what He has said and done. We do or don’t believe for a variety of reasons. Some people attempt to undermine the truth or what the evidence indicates. Some people teach ideas that go against what the Bible states, again for a variety of reasons. God does not need our defense. God tells Christians to defend the faith for the benefit of other people.
People have questions about God, truth, faith, and consequences: Is God really there? Is the Bible true? Why does evil exist? What purpose is there in life? What is the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins? How should we evaluate prophecy? What is truth? God says He is the embodiment of truth (John 14:6, Col. 2:2-3, Rev. 19:11, etc.) and His word is true (Ps. 119:160, John 17:17, etc.). He says faith is the assurance or substance of things hoped for, the conviction or evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, NASB). God has shown that He and His word are trustworthy. The evidence is abundant, from supporters and detractors, whether directly conclusive or circumstantial, and has been compiled and compared with other evidence over centuries to see what is consistent, cohesive, complementary, or contradictory.
Evidence cannot save people, only God can do that; but evidence or apologetics may help the believer understand better what and why he believes, encouraging interaction with others, and may help the unbeliever work through truth claims or obstacles to faith on the way to knowing God for eternal life through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
C.S. Lewis described challenges and values of apologetics in his essay, “Christian Apologetics” (Easter 1945), in the compilation of his writings titled God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (1970):
“The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it good for society or something of that sort. Now a clearly maintained distinction between what the Faith actually says and what you would like it to have said or what you understand or what you personally find helpful or think probable, forces your audience to realize that you are tied to your data just as the scientist is tied by the results of the experiments; that you are not just saying what you like. This immediately helps them to realize that what is being discussed is a question about objective fact – not gas about ideals and points of view.” (italics in original)
Ravi Zacharias captured areas on which to focus our attention in the introduction to his book, Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend (2007, posted on rzim.org):
“Malcolm Muggeridge once said that all new news is old news happening to new people. He was right; even as Solomon said, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’ (Eccl. 1:9). All that has happened before so often happens again. But in quoting that verse, we forget something very important. The people to whom it is happening are new, and the answers, however old, must never sound stale.
Those two key realities sum up an effective apologetic: how to relate to the questioner and how to make sure that the answers are couched in a relevant context. If we miss those two converging lines, we miss the moment of opportunity…”
For more information, the attached file contains over 100 links to apologetics and related resources, including organizations and authors, books and articles, audio and video, with summaries from the websites (note the summaries may not cover all subjects on the sites). Many have links to related sites and resources (e.g., other apologetics pages, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.). There are some diverse views in these resources that are supported in various ways. Some people who study theology, philosophy, history, science, mathematics, law, and related fields disagree with some other people who study in these areas. Human understanding is finite. God’s word can be used to measure what people say on a number of subjects. Keep comparing scriptures, truth claims, evidences, ideas, models, and worldviews. Enjoy and share the truth.