The word apologetics comes from the Greek ‘apologia’, meaning a defence. Christian apologetics attempt to form a defence for the Christian faith and the teachings of the Bible that should be taken literally. Modern atheists, historians, scientists, evolutionists, humanists, philosophers and teachers of other religions are continually criticising the Bible and attempting to make the Christian faith seem incompatible with truth and knowledge. However, we will try to show that not only is the Bible consistent with factually valid science, history and so on, it is also an infallible means to finding an answer to every question a Christian can be asked.
Why is it important to learn?
Christians should be equipped to defend their faith. Apologetics is not about winning a fight or making others seem unintelligent, but about bringing people to the truth of Jesus. The central theme of any conversation with an unsaved person regarding debate or apologetics should be the gospel message of Jesus Christ. It does not glorify God if we debate meaningless topics without the primary intention of getting someone saved. The Bible often encourages believers to keep learning so that we can give people the answers they may need to accept salvation. It may just be the first step needed to sow the seed for someone, or it may give them the answers they have been waiting for. For example:
1 Peter 3:15-16 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”
2 Timothy 2:24-25 “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;” We should be ready to teach and instruct with patience, gentleness and meekness.
Colossians 4:5-6 “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” We should be prepared with wisdom to give those who do not have the true wisdom of Jesus, and prepare so that we know how to answer every man, every question that could be thrown at us.
2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
Jude 3 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” We need to earnestly contend (fight) for the faith.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” We should be equipped (furnished) by the Bible, and use it for reproof, correction, instruction, etc.
Acts 17:11 “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The Bereans were called more noble, because they studied the scriptures daily to check for themselves what they were hearing.
Titus 1:9 “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” The gainsayers are opposers or people who contradict what has been said. We should be able to exhort (advise, encourage) and convince them.
Acts 18:28 “For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” We should be able to show people through the Bible the truths of God’s word.
Proverbs 15:23 “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”
What should we avoid?
Again, the focus of apologetics should not be on ‘winning’, but getting people to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. Of course Satan will try to prevent this, so we need to prepare to fight against distractions and foolish arguments. As Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” There are certain things we should be ready to withstand and avoid, which are simply being used to distract us from spreading the true message of salvation. For instance:
1 Timothy 1:4 “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.”
1 Timothy 4:7 “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”
1 Timothy 6:3-5 “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
1 Timothy 6:20 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:”
2 Timothy 2:16 “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
2 Timothy 2:23 “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.”
Romans 1:22 “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,”
Titus 1:14 “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”
Titus 3:9 “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”
So we are commanded to avoid encouraging or engaging in debate over fables, endless genealogies, strife over words, vain babblings, oppositions of science falsely so called, foolish and unlearned questions and so on. Scripture tells us this will only lead to ungodliness and fighting, we should keep the focus on the good news of Jesus Christ and only answer honestly intended questions.
As Christians, our focus should not solely be on learning the wisdom of the world. For example, we should not spend more time learning about false religions than studying the truths of the Bible for ourselves. Although it is constructive for us to watch debates, engage in conversations and learn as much as we can, it is important not for us to get too caught up in learning the ways of other religions, cults or belief systems. It can be a danger to a new believer, or even sow unfounded doubts in the mind of the most assured Christian. It is far better for us to dedicate our time to learning the truth and getting to know the inerrancy of the Bible for ourselves, rather than dedicating more time to the wrong knowledge.