Why do we need apologetics?
Updated: Sep 30, 2021
A common response from Christians unfamiliar with the purpose of Christian apologetics is to ask Why do we need apologetics? Isn’t having faith enough? Aren’t faith and reason opposites?
As I wrote in Part 1 of this series, Scripture indicates that every Christian is expected to be ready to make a defense [apologia] and give reasons for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15); to contend for the faith (Jude 3); and destroy arguments and opinions raised against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5). In other words, every Christian is instructed to be an apologist. But,why?
The heart of apologetics is evangelism. Apologetics helps to remove obstacles that exist between a non-believer and trust in Christ. By demonstrating that Christianity is reasonable to believe, it helps clear the way for a non-believer to receive the gospel message. But, isn’t having faith enough?
Consider this: If a non-believer asked you why you believe the Bible is true, how convincing do you think the answer, “Because I have faith” would be? Think about it—if your faith is what makes the Bible true, then the non-believer’s lack of faith would logically make it not true. What if, instead, you offered actual evidence that the Bible is reliable? What if the truth of the Bible could be demonstrated apart from your personal faith in it? Wouldn’t that be more compelling, and more likely to lead to deeper conversations with the non-believer? The same is true for many other questions non-believers often ask: Why do you believe Jesus was raised from the dead? How can you believe in miracles? What evidence is there that God exists? Being able to give reasons and evidence is much more persuasive than simply saying “I have faith.”
Apologetics is also an essential part of strengthening the church. It helps to verify truth and guard against false teaching. While personal testimony and religious experiences are important, they cannot be used to distinguish truth from error. People with different religious beliefs can have very similar religious experiences, but not all religious beliefs can be true. The solid evidence that exists for Christianity sets it apart from other worldviews. Additionally, apologetics equips us to encourage other believers with sound doctrine and to build more confident faith in ourselves and others by understanding why we believe Christianity is true.
Finally, apologetics is necessary to equip the church to answer objections and challenges from a culture that is growing increasingly hostile toward Christianity. It enables us to demonstrate to skeptics and non-believers that Christianity is a reasonable faith, not a blind faith. But, aren’t faith and reason opposites?
During the apostle Paul’s ministry, he found common ground with his audiences in order to persuade them—to win them over (1 Cor. 9:19-23). He reasoned with the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue (Acts 17). He did not go from town to town telling his dramatic conversion experience. He did not tell them to just “have faith.” He offered reasons and evidence from the Scriptures in order to persuade them that Jesus was who He claimed to be.
The Bible tells us to love God with all our mind (Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37). God created our minds with the ability to reason. Our faith (trust) in Him is a response to the evidence that gives us reasons to believe. Faith and reason are not opposites, but are connected and complementary. They are both valuable in the life of a believer.
In Part 3, I will offer some principles and guidelines for using apologetics in a God-honoring way. https://www.girltalkapologetics.com/post/how-should-we-use-apologetics