Apologetics Is Evangelism
On occasion in our travels, we have heard well-meaning Christians say things like, “As non-profit organizations, apologetics organizations like you guys surely need support! We wish we could help. Apologetics is great, but we want to support mission efforts that are evangelistic—missions that teach the Gospel.” At the risk of sounding self-serving, we wish to gently respond to that line of reasoning—after all, ironically, it’s an apologetics issue.
Kyle Butt, one of our AP authors, said this about apologetics:
You walk up to the man on the street and tell him that Jesus Christ loves him and died so he could receive forgiveness of his sins. You explain that everyone should obey Jesus because He is the Son of God. The man wants to know how you know this information. You inform him that the Bible, the inspired Word of God, declares it to be true. He wants to know two things: (1) How can you prove that there is a God?; and (2) How can you prove that the Bible is His Word? He is not being belligerent or cantankerous; he simply wants some good evidence that would warrant the total overhaul of his life you are asking him to make.
It is now your responsibility to present solid, rational arguments that prove the things you have affirmed. You must defend the propositions you have presented. You are appointed for the defense of the Gospel (Philippians 1:17).1
Notice: apologetics is crucial to evangelism. When a person engages in apologetics, he is simultaneously evangelizing by exposing error and/or teaching truth.
Several times over the years I have been asked the question, sometimes even with indignance, “Why is your organization called ‘Apologetics’ Press? You have nothing to be apologetic for!” Just a few months ago, we received an e-mail that said, “I am leary of your name—Apologetics—I am a servant of the Living God and have no need to apologize for anything but I am seeking an answer….” Ironically, this individual was inadvertently requesting the very thing she thought she had no need for. The word “apologetics” is derived from the Greek word apologia, which means to give a defense or reply.2 Christians are commanded to “always be ready to apologian (give a defense) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Apologetics Press, therefore, was founded to assist Christians in following that divine directive: to give a defense of New Testament Christianity—countering attacks by enemies of the cross and providing answers to those sincerely seeking evidence for Christianity.
Apologetics is an important aspect of the Christian’s walk. One does not have to read far in Scripture to find examples of God and His followers defending the truth through logical argumentation and reasoning from the evidence, or those who were supposed to be His followers failing to defend properly the truth and choosing instead to succumb to erroneous doctrines (starting with Adam and Eve). In fact, examples of apologetics are in nearly every chapter of Holy Writ, whether directly or indirectly. Jesus, Himself, was an apologist—the Master Apologist.3 Paul engaged in apologetics constantly throughout his ministry, as did other New Testament evangelists, defending the truth of Jesus’ messiahship, deity, and resurrection.4 In fact, it could be argued that apologetics is the primary mode of evangelism used in Scripture. If Christians are commanded by our Ruler to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3), to “always be ready to give a defense” (1 Peter 3:15), and to “persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11), apologetics is central to implementing our Commander’s orders.
The bottom line is that apologetics is crucial in being able to reach others with the Gospel. False concepts must be countered and evidence provided in order to build a foundation for the obedient faith that saves. Regardless of whether or not we as Christians choose to support apologetics efforts, we should all be clear about the fact that God intends for all Christians to be apologists. It is our responsibility to prepare ourselves for that endeavor. Souls are at stake.
1 Kyle Butt (2001), “What is Apologetics?” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=826.
2 William Arndt, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised, p. 96.
3 Dave Miller (2011), “Jesus Was Rational,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=10&article =1245; Dave Miller (2011), “Is Christianity Logical? [Part I],” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3869.
4 Eric Lyons (2016), “Apologetics and the Growth of the Early Church,” Reason & Revelation, 36:62-71, http://apologeticspress.org/pub_rar/36_6/1606w.pdf.