Why Study Apologetics? Part 1

12 October 2020

Why should you, as a Christian, study apologetics? Why is it important for you to set some time aside to learn at least basic apologetics? Well, one reason is that apologetics helps you fulfil the biblical command to defend your faith. In First Peter 3:15, the apostle Peter commands all Christians to always be ready to explain why they believe in Christ. Peter writes:

In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15 ESV).

The Greek word for 'defense' here is apologia, which means to rationally and verbally defend some belief.

In this verse, Peter is writing to encourage Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. He is reminding these Christians that Jesus is the reason that they can find hope in suffering. And Peter is telling them that they should be able to offer an intelligent explanation to anybody who asks them why they have this hope.

So, First Peter 3:15 does not directly command all Christians to learn apologetics; nevertheless, learning apologetics is one of the legitimate ways in which you, as a Christian, can fulfil Peter's command here. As Douglas Groothuis says in his book Christian Apologetics, 'Although [1 Peter 3:15] does not directly address the whole scope of apologetics, it does encourage believers to articulate the reason for their Christian confidence.'[1]

The apostle Jude, like Peter, says that it is crucial for the Christian faith to be defended. In Jude 3-4, he writes:

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend [epagonizomai] for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (Jude 3-4 NIV).

In this passage, Jude is urging Christians to contend for the faith. The Greek word for 'contend' here is epagonizomai, which means 'to contend strenuously in defence of'. So Jude is warning Christians about non-Christians who try to deceive others by distorting the truths of Christianity. And the solution to this, says Jude, is for Christians to defend their faith vigorously. This would include, for example, studying the Bible, learning how to interpret Scripture correctly, and defending biblical teachings. And of course, apologetics is one of the sensible ways in which one can defend biblical teachings.

Thus, in conclusion, one reason for us Christians to study apologetics is because it helps us fulfil the biblical command to defend our faith


NOTES

  1. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2011), 24.