Apologetics defined, the role of apologetics in evangelism, and how Truth Story does apologetics differently.
What is apologetics?
The term ‘apologetics’ comes from the New Testament Greek word ‘apologi’ (Greek: ἀπολογί), meaning “a well-reasoned reply; a thought-out response to adequately address the issue(s) that is raised” (Strongs). It’s the same word used 1 Peter 3:15 to “make a defense”.
So ‘apologetics’ relates to making a defense in Greek, but what about a modern definition? I borrow Voddie Baucham’s definition when he said apologetics…
“Apologetics is about knowing what we believe, why we believe it, and being able to communicate that to others in a winsome, effective way.”
According to Baucham, apologetics is part theological (what we believe), part philosophical (why we believe) and part rhetorical (able to communicate…in an winsome, effective manner). Apologetics is the defense of Christian belief in an compelling way. More than that, the Lord’s servants are commanded to do apologetics (1 Peter 3:15, Jude 3).
The Role of Apologetics in Evangelism
But apologetics doesn’t stand alone. It serves in a servant role to evangelism or sharing the good news.
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Here’s how it happens:
When someone tells a non-Christian about the gospel (“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – 1 Timothy 1:15), that person usually does not believe the message. Long before he heard the gospel, the enemy planted mines of unbelief. These mines, or unbelieving presuppositions, are hindrances to that person believing God’s message of salvation. Belief is the goal, but unbelief always precedes belief.
The apologist (the person ‘doing’ apologetics) seeks to remove the obstacles of unbelief so the non-Christian can ultimately believe the gospel. These obstacles are both numerous and diverse. Obstacles to belief can relate to…
- Scripture (ex. Can the Bible be trusted?)
- Art (ex. Where does beauty come from?)
- Paranormal (ex. What about aliens?)
- Science (ex. Is evolution true?)
- Moral (ex. Is abortion wrong?)
- Many other areas…
Apologetics tries to remove objections to the gospel and other ideas that cast doubt on God’s existence, ability to communicate effectively to human beings, or the rationality of the Christian faith.
How Truth Story Does Apologetics Differently?
Like nearly every field over the past couple decades, interest apologetics has exploded in recent history. Many ministries, churches and apologists teach online, on college campuses, and in small and large venues. Various programs are teaching apologetics and enrollment continues to grow. In most cases, this a great thing. I rejoice that obstacles to the gospel are being removed so people can believe the gospel and be saved.
Truth Story aims to do the same thing: remove obstacles to unbelief so that people can believe the gospel. However, there are some distinctives in how we seek to practice apologetics…
Presuppositional apologetics is an approach to Christian apologetics which aims to expose the faulty foundations of unbelieving thought and argues the Biblical worldview alone makes human experience intelligible. Presuppositional apologetics, or presuppositionalism, is usually contrasted with classical or evidential apologetics which depends on traditional proofs for the existence of God. This is not to say that we are anti-evidence, only that we understand evidences to be less convincing to unbelievers because of their underlying presuppositions and spiritual condition.
A testimony from a converted believer with a similar background as an unconverted hearer has a particular power. That’s why we aim to introduce you to Christians from diverse backgrounds so the good news can be presented in diverse and powerful ways.
Finally, apologetics sometimes becomes untethered from its Biblical anchor. Apologists can venture into defending deism or theism. They can even deny clear teachings in the Bible like the special creation of Adam and Eve. This is unfortunate. Our aim is to be thoroughly Biblical in our approach. We want to defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints as revealed in the Scriptures (Jude 3) – not some impotent version of theism.
We want to remove as many objections against Biblical Christianity as possible. Like Baucham, we want to “know what we believe, why we believe it, and be able to communicate that to others in a winsome, effective way.”