As we move into what has been described as post–Christian America, it is increasingly important for Christians to know what they believe as well as why they believe it. The apostle Peter put it this way: “Always be prepared to give an answer [apologia] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and with respect” (1 Peter 3:15, emphasis added).
First, apologetics is the defense of the faith “once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). The word “apologetics” is derived from the Greek, apologia, which means “a reasoned defense.” As such, it involves providing an answer, not an apology in the contemporary sense of the word. Just as good attorneys defend their clients in courts of law by presenting solid evidence and sound reasoning, so too apologists defend the truth of Christianity through well-reasoned answers to the questions of skeptics and seekers alike.
Furthermore, apologetics is pre–evangelism. As such, apologetics is the handmaiden to evangelism. It is using our logical answers as springboards or opportunities to share the good news of the gospel. The Christian faith is not a blind faith but rather a faith firmly rooted in history and evidence.
Finally, apologetics is post–evangelism. In the swirling waves of doubt and despair that often threaten to submerge our faith, it is crucial to be familiar with the pillars or posts on which our faith is founded—namely, that God created the universe; that Jesus Christ demonstrated he is God through the immutable fact of his resurrection; and that the Bible is demonstrably divine rather than human in origin.
This, in a nutshell, is what apologetics is all about. And remember—if you are looking for a truly rewarding experience, try becoming an apologist. Not only will you experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit working through you, but you may just find yourself in the middle of an angelic praise gathering when you’ve helped a lost son or daughter of Adam find his or her way into the kingdom of God.
For further study, see William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994).
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”