I started teaching apologetics and systematic theology at my local congregation in the fall of 2014. I felt that apologetics was a necessary tool that many people in the body of Christ lack. I still feel that way but one thing that has changed is that my methodology for teaching on the subject of apologetics looks a lot different than it did two years ago.
Apologetics is biblical, but I think the word is what scares people away. A lot of people ask “What are you apologizing for?” or they will state “Christianity doesn’t need to apologize for anything.” To put it simply, the discipline of apologetics focuses on giving an answer as to why Christianity is plausible.
If someone asks “How can you believe in that garbage?” you would respond, right? Well how you respond is under the umbrella of apologetics. Once you respond, you are doing apologetics. The problem is, many people give a bad defense. Let’s look at a couple of examples of a bad response to the aforementioned question…
“The Bible says God is real so that is good enough for me.”
What about Mormons? Mormons believe the Book of Mormon, yet, we disagree with their theology. Moreover, we disagree with Muslim beliefs and their source text, the Koran. So there has to be something that distinguishes the Book of Mormon and the Koran from the Bible.
A good way to see if your answer is good is to turn it around and see if other worldviews can use that position. If they can, it’s probably not a good response.
“Jesus lives in my heart.”
Sadly, this is a common response. Lest you think I am bashing people who use this, rest assured, I am not. What I do want to dispel here is that this response is insufficient. People who use offer this as a rebuttal are missing the fact that their own feelings can’t be felt by the questioner and therefore it’s not a sufficient response.
Again, turn this around. Can Mormon’s say that they just feel that their theology is right? Would that be an acceptable response to you questioning their beliefs? I think not.
“Once you die, you’ll find out that I was right.”
I call this the lazy man’s response. When someone is asking us questions about our beliefs, and we don’t know the answer, we use anger as a defense mechanism. It’s easier for us to dismiss their claim and try to shame them then it is to give a practical, logical response.
If you asked an atheist why they believe there is no God and they said “You’ll find out that I was right when you die”, ask yourself, is that a good enough answer for you? I doubt it.
Apologetics is biblical (1 Pet. 3:15, 2 Cor. 10:5, Matt. 22:37). We are called to give a defense, yet do so with gentleness and respect. If you can’t be kind and loving in your response, it isn’t a response of the Spirit. It’s a response of your spirit.
If you don’t know the answer, admit it. You can’t know everything and that’s all right. We are supposed to learn daily as education is a lifelong endeavor. So the next time someone asks “Why do you believe?” what will you say? Are you ready?
Grace and Peace