Even with the recent increase in atheistic attacks against the Christian faith, there are still those who question the value of Christian Apologetics (apologetics simply means "to give a reason for"). Peter calls us to give a reason for the hope that is within us in 1 Peter 3:15, but some still question whether there is value in learning how to defend the Christian worldview.
When considering this, it can be helpful to remember two incidents from Jesus' life. These incidents both show how Jesus gave an answer for his own ministry and they help point us toward a Biblical view of defending the truth of the Christian worldview.
First, in Luke 7, while John was in prison, we read of the following conversation:
18John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
20When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?' "
It's interesting to note what Jesus' response was to John's disciples. What answer did he tell them to pass along to John? In verses 21-23 we see his answer:
21At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
In other words, Jesus offered evidence for who he was. He "gave a reason" (an apologia) that the disciples could report back to John.
In John 10, we find another episode from Jesus' life in which he was confronting a group of unbelieving Jews who were demanding to know if he was the Christ. In verses 37-38, we see part of his response to them:
37Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
Jesus was pointing to his miracles as stamps of authenticity on his ministry. He was saying "here is a reason you can believe I am who I claim to be".
So when it comes to the topic of Christian Apologetics, the question becomes a simple one. If Jesus used apologetic arguments as ways to authenticate his ministry, is this not something we should be seeking to do in our own ministry?
Remember Peter's words in 1 Peter 3:15-16:
15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
He encourages us to be prepared to give the reason for the hope we have. We may not have to offer a defense for our beliefs every day. But we can never know when someone might ask us to give a reason for the hope we have. Jesus gave reasons for why people should believe in him, and it seems to me that it's quite Biblical for us to be prepared to do the same today.
Posted on Sun, February 28, 2010