"Have a Heart & Go Share Your Faith!" - Hearts For The Lost: The Podcast

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Apologetics: For God’s Glory?

Apologetics is the art of defending a position by use of logic, reason or evidence. It has been used over the centuries to defend the faith by such persons as Justin Martyr, Augustine and in modern times such as R.C. Sproul and Ken Ham. A skilled Christian apologist can easily defend the faith against the attacks of atheism, evolution and any false teaching. Today, the internet, Face Book, and the streets are full of amateur apologists. But this brings up a question: Does this kind of defense bring glory to God?

First, let’s look at the biblical evidence for apologetics:

“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” –1 Peter 3:15

Being able to defend the faith is biblical. In fact, we should ALL be ready to give a defense. “The exhortation here is instructive, for Peter assumed that believers have solid intellectual grounds for believing the gospel. The truth of the gospel is a public truth that can be defended in the public arena. This does not mean, of course, that every Christian is to be a highly skilled apologist for the faith. It does mean that every believer should grasp the essentials of the faith and should have the ability to explain to others why they think the Christian faith is true.[1]” Our obedience to this does bring glory to God when we respond to others with our defense of the Christian faith.

But how should we respond?

Regarding our response we need to understand a biblical truth. Logical, intellectual, evidentiary defenses of the Christian faith do not covert souls. It is the presentation of the gospel with the work of the Holy Spirit upon a sinner’s heart that does. If your evangelism consists of purely apologetics then you are missing the point.

Let’s look at 1 Peter 3:15 again and its following verses in context because there are parts of the verse that are often over looked.

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:15-17 emphasis added.

I am often appalled at the pride and pompous attitude by some Christians who practice their apologetics on the internet and the street. With enough knowledge and skills you can easily tear apart the foolish arguments of the typical atheist. But how is that showing Christ’s love? How do you feel when you are rebuked; especially if in public? This is what is happening to the other person when Christian apologists forgets the balance of this verse: In your hearts honor Christ the Lord, defending the faith with gentleness and respect so that you’re good behavior in Christ is what puts them to shame…not your words.

If forms of apologetics are your concentration I urge you to look inward and make sure you are not being harsh, unloving, and prideful. Need a test? When you defeat someone’s argument do you feel good about it? Do you like to tell others about it? Or do you feel sorrow over the darkness the other person is living in? Check your pride and do all to the glory of God with meekness and respect.

Foot Notes:

[1] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 174–175.