Probably the most often quoted scripture surrounding the need for apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15, which states, "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." What is apologetics and how is one to conduct himself/herself as an apologist?
Apologetics is derived from the Greek word apologia, which means to give a defense. In this case, the 1 Peter passage is referring to giving a defense for the Christian worldview. Since the beginning of the Church until the present, apologetics has been necessary to thwart those who would attack the Christian worldview.
Apologetics is very powerful, and if used properly, it is helpful in pointing out the inconsistencies of the non-Christian worldview. Our culture today, as in the past continues to challenge the Christian worldview. Apologetics serves four primary needs. The first is to defend God's Word and the Christian worldview. This is exactly what Peter is trying to get across in this passage. There are other passages that inform the Christian to be prepared to defend Christian truth (Phil. 1:16, Jude 1:3, Titus 1:9, and 2 Cor. 10:4-5). A second need is for building the body of Christ. Not only is study good for the Church, but it benefits the Christian who engages himself/herself to understanding truth. Thirdly, apologetics is needed to articulate the Christian worldview, this involves study and being relevant with current issues that face the Church. Christians need to be involved with spreading God's truth and it is impossible to do so if you have no answers to counter heretical attacks. Lastly, although apologetics is defending Christian truth, it is beneficial in meeting a divine need to those who are not followers of Jesus. Acts 17 is a classic passage dealing with Paul's defense of Christianity and his reaching out to those unaware of God's truth.
By far, the most important part of the 1st Peter passage occurs at the end, where Peter informs the Christian to dialogue with gentleness and respect. The quickest way to turn off the non-Christian is to argue from an arrogant and belittling position. Unfortunately this has been the road taken by many. Following Pete's road of apologetics benefits the individual, the Church, and a world that desperately needs to hear the Good News truth of Jesus Christ.
* An excellent article dealing with apologetics and the need for it.