Apologetics is all about defending the truth of Christianity. Truth is important and Peter comments, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15)." Peter adds to this statement by saying, "But do this with gentleness and respect." Often times it seems that the Christian forgets this last part. It's as if the heart of the Christian message is left to the wayside at the expense of truth. We should always be concerned with truth, but more importantly, we must share in a loving way. After all, are you concerned for the person you are in dialogue with or are you only interested about winning an argument?
Perhaps the best example of how to dialogue with those who have not come to accept the truth is found in Acts 17. I feel the most glaring passage is found in verse 16, where Paul observes the various idols and in his heart, "he was greatly distressed." Paul's main concern was for people. He desperately wanted to share the truth of Jesus from his heart to all individuals. This is the same attitude that Peter had on the day of Pentecost when the Church originated. In Acts 2:40 Peter, "pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Apologetics is far more than winning a debate, it involves an urgent love for those who don't know Jesus.
Apologetics is also about relating to others in order to persuade them toward the good news of Jesus. Paul said, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some(1 Cor. 9:22)." According to Paul, what is important is the person you are in dialogue with, not just trying to win an argument. With that said, we should still be prepared to answer all in a gentle and respectful manner (1 Pet. 3:15). On two occasions, Paul tailored his dialogue depending on the audience he was addressing. When talking to the Jews, Paul used reason and Scripture (Acts 17:2-3) in order to win them to Christ. In addressing the secular gentile thinkers, Paul made no reference to the Scripture as this would have been irrelevant to them. Instead, Paul appeals to them on their level, even referencing know poets in order to make a case for the good news of Jesus (Acts 17: 24-31).
Apologetics is needed more than ever in a skeptical world, especially when many seem so antagonistic against the Christian worldview. We are living in an interesting time in the West. The Christian man and woman must always be ready to give an answer to anyone who would ask. This means, the Christian needs to study God's word and stay relevant on current issues that are facing the Church. Given the need for apologetics, the apologist should never seek to win an argument at the expense of love. We always need to pray and dialogue with those who would question the Christian worldview with gentleness and respect.
What a great definition of Apologetics. I agree with you entirely. Unfortunately I need to practice what you preach; compassion in my conversations. I often fight to win an argument instead of fighting to win the person.
that is wisdom from God...and the Church needs much more discernment and wisdom..Paul said anything we do without love is useless...Because I want to give a gentle answer doesn't mean my loyalties to Christ are less...also the part of not quoting scripture to a non-believer is dead on...Bless you and your ministry
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