Apologetics for the Average Christian
Written by: Nathaniel Wall
One of the primary verses for encouraging us Christians to practice apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15 “…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.”
The Greek word for “make a defense” is “apologia”. This is where we get the English word “apologetics”. The word apologetics doesn’t mean Christians need to apologize or say they are sorry. Rather the word apologetics means Christians are commanded by God to defend the truth of Christianity.
This verse means… “Christian persuasion is for all Christians, not just for experts and certainly not just for so-called intellectuals.” (Fools Talk by Os Guinness p. 37)
Therefore, to encourage Christians in the area of apologetics, here are four thoughts.
4 Thoughts on Apologetics
#1: Aim For The Right Goal.
While it’s important to present the truth clearly, it is the ultimate goal of the apologist to win the person, not the argument. Apologists must persuade with passion and truth but not arrogance.
“It is difficult to be around people who always have to be right. They are frankly a pain in the neck, and when we behave like that as Christian apologists, we betray our Lord.” (Fools Talk by Os Guinness p. 169-170)
Sadly, too many apologists care more about being right than about people coming to Christ. This is repulsive to an unbelieving world.
“There are far too many Christians of whom it has been said that they won the argument but lost the audience.” (Fools Talk by Os Guinness p. 171)
People want to know you care before they care about what you know. Apologetics is a task of love; love for God and love for people. The end goal is to see people place their faith in Christ for His glory and their good.
Colossians 4:6: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.“
#2: Maintain Godly Character
“If we are inconsistent in what we believe, it is we who are wrong and not the faith. We must therefore work to close the gap between our talk and our walk.” (Fools Talk by Os Guinness p. 192)
Don’t blow your lid in a conversation.
Colossians 4:5: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.“
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.”
#3: Keep Growing In Truth
Too many people see apologetics as nothing more than a “technique” to master, but this is not the way of Christian persuasion. The truth is there is no one way because people and situations differ. Therefore, so do apologetic methods.
“Jesus never spoke to two people the same way, and neither should we. Every single person is unique and individual and deserves an approach that respects that uniqueness.” (Fools Talk by Os Guinness p. 33)
Let’s be honest, no one knows the answer to every question. The best way to get better at sharing truth with someone is to grow in truth yourself. One of the best way to grow in truth is by engaging in apologetics. Unbelievers can challenge you to grow as you challenge them. As you grow in your faith, you will continue grow in your ability to share truth. The more confident you are in truth, the more confidence you will have in engaging in dialogue with others.
Colossians 3:16: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.“
#4: Ask Good Questions
Jesus wasn’t one who just told people what to think. He was compassionate and helped people discover the truth. Jesus was a master at telling parables and asking questions that caused people to wrestle with truth. While some of us lack the creativity to tell great parables, an apologist should ask questions that get to the heart of the issue. Help others discover truth through an attitude of compassion.
Help “people see the logic of the positions that they have chosen over against God” (Fools Talk by Os Guinness p. 191).
Here are a few resources to help you get started: