The Role of Apologetics in Today’s World
What is the appropriate role of apologetics in Christianity today and should it be used for evangelism or strengthening the church? The role of apologetics is crucial to Christianity today for several reasons. First of all, we are commanded to it! Through Peter, commonly regarded as the leader of Jesus’ disciples, God commands that we “always be 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, p1914) Not only are we commanded to be ready to defend or explain our faith we are commanded to be ready to do so with a gentle and reverent presentation. In other words to prepare ahead of time for these encounters! The Holy Spirit will certainly guide and speak through us, but only if we prepare our hearts and our minds for that time.
Apologetics also has a role in Christianity because Jesus modeled it for us, did it as an example. Dr. Caner clearly illustrates Jesus’ use of positive apologetics in John 14:6 and also negative apologetics in Matthew 23 in the video lectures supporting this week’s material. For those searching for the way to contentment and satisfaction, Jesus presented the image of a well-traveled, proven path to the truth of our existence in a positive way in John, then contrasted that path to that the Pharisees were taking in Matthew. These were not remarks any of us could make or repeat without the careful thought and preparation that apologetics demands.
Those of us who work to evangelize others must not only understand the commands and examples presented in scripture but also work to understand the belief systems we have built around them. Explaining to others in that gentle and reverent way is also accomplished by preparing and understanding how our beliefs compare and contrast with the many others around us. “The best armed church understands the methods of other belief systems.” (Caner, Video Lecture)
We are commanded, given examples to and encouraged to use the methods of apologetics to strengthen our personal beliefs and prepare ourselves to share the gospel with others. We are responsible to share, to present the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to convict. Preparing ourselves allows the Holy Spirit the opportunity to “come alongside” us to present the gospel and provide conviction to the “unbeliever of his or her live-and-death need for a Savior.” (Caner, p268)
In the end, the church is strengthened both by the understanding of the membership of its belief systems and by the gentle and reverent spirit created by the study of God’s word. The “renewing of your mind” that comes with this study prevents not only our transformation to the world around us but the strengthening of our individual faith and our collective faith as a church.