Living in a secular age means living with our faith being contested. We are surrounded by people who believe and act differently from us. We must not take for granted the faith handed down by our parents. In fact, statistics show that those who merely have a faith that is passed down to them end up losing it if they never come to accept the faith’s claims for themselves. Here are three reasons apologetics is beneficial to Christians and non-Christians alike:
1. Apologetics explains Christianity to a modern audience.
Apologetics seeks to unpack the claims of the Christian faith in light of its historical evidence and give a reason for the hope within us (1 Pet. 3:15). Modern arguments against religion must be answered if Christians are to have a clear conscience concerning what they believe and why they believe it. It also has benefits for unbelievers. The Holy Spirit uses historical arguments and evidences for Christianity in real discussions to bring people to faith in Christ (Acts 17:22–31).
Christians should answer the many objections, misconceptions, distortion of facts, and excuses as part of their witness, as the apostles did in the first century. Believers should become informed in doctrine, the history of their faith, philosophy, logic, and other disciplines as they relate to Christianity broadly and the gospel specifically. These tools must be used wisely and graciously, so that the way to faith in Jesus can become clear for every generation (Eph. 4:29).
2. Apologetics exposes the unbelief in human hearts.
No one wants to be told that they are sinners or that they actively seek ways to distort the truth of God that is seen all around them (Rom. 1:18–32). Yet, our self-centered hearts seek to create elaborate systems and worldviews that try to make sense of reality, so that our minds aren’t confronted with a terrible truth: we are sinners who have rebelled against God and deserve his judgment. We doubt God’s existence or we question his goodness. This unbelief affects us all—believers and unbelievers alike.
We need to know the facts, arguments, and theology of the faith to undermine the lies we easily believe. We need to understand how to employ them in a way that will effectively engage the culture with charity and grace, while still speaking to the unbelief in our hearts.
3. Apologetics worships Christ as Lord.
By removing the intellectual arguments against Christianity, the credibility and reasonableness of Christianity can be established. If we can winsomely show the faith’s plausibility, we will make great gains with those around us. The goal should be to remove any hindrance before us, so that our hearts and minds might come before the cross of Christ, where every knee may bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:10–11).
Being able to explain a biblical vision of the world and what Christ came to do removes the assumptions and hindrances others might have. If we are to confess Jesus’ name before others, we must understand what the faith means and how it speaks to our doubts. For believers, the credibility of Christianity nurtures their faith and leads us to worship. By calling people to love their Lord with their minds as well as their hearts, we are called to devotion and worship by leading all men, women, and children into a knowledge of Christ (Matt. 22:37). Apologetics is ultimately then about worship.
For a helpful introduction to Christian apologetics see Doug Powell, Holman Quicksource Guide to Christian Apologetics (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2006) and Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 2011).
For other apologetics questions you might have, check out this online resource Ratio Christi.