What is apologetics?
Dictionary.com defines apologetics as ‘reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine’.
The word apologetics derives from the greek word ἀπολογία (apologia) which means “speaking in defense”.
Many people have a hard time with that definition. When I first started studying apologetics, many people would ask me why Christianity needed any defense.
After all, can’t God defend himself?
Of course God can defend himself. He is God after all. I study apologetics to improve my own faith and to offer a defense for why I believe the way I do. It is for my benefit, and the benefit of those around me, not for God’s.
Ultimately, however, God is who will receive the glory of my study. For what does it benefit me to defend God unless that defense leads to people not only to believe in God, but to go and make more disciples of Christ?
Why study Christian apologetics?
Besides cultivating a deeper understanding for what I say I believe, studying Christian apologetics has the added benefit of obeying scripture.
You read that right, it is Biblically sound to study apologetics. In fact, 1 Peter 3:14-16 says:
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but set apart the Messiahas Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.” HCSB
Called to defense
So you should actually be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. More succinctly, you should give a defense for why you trusted Jesus with your eternal salvation.
This should be done with gentleness and respect, though. If not, your defense will fall on deaf ears, and you will be merely trying to win an argument instead of winning souls.
Where do I begin?
The first place is none other than the Good Book itself, the Bible. Many Christians have never read the entire Bible, myself included.
I have committed to doing that several times, and I get stuck somewhere in the first five books. So, I will be finding a plan and sticking to it. I have even found and purchased the Apologetics Study Bible, which has a great number of resources alongside the scriptures.
Another great place to learn more is to read the writings of other well known Christians. C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, J.P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, and many other authors have written some great books, letters, and short papers on a variety of subjects pertaining to Christian apologetics.
Many of the authors mentioned above also have websites and list resources for further study.