Why Christian Apologetics Matter

April 21, 2021

As a young person, Christian apologetics held a strong appeal for me.

I thought “having all the answers” would enable me to beat my non-believing friends into a relationship with Jesus.

As a youth pastor, I’d often take young people on evangelistic training missions. Armed with scripture booklets and arguments, we’d randomly accost strangers with the gospel. One of our favorite places was the Los Angeles airport (decades before 9/11). Then I had an epiphany of sorts…

We ran into a philosophy major from UC Berkeley. When he discovered our intent, he attacked us over the resurrection, “If I can debunk the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I can destroy your Christianity.”

Game on. I’d been soaking in C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell. In a half-hour, I managed to defeat his arguments. But my triumph was short. We left him somewhat discouraged, and my two young charges pridefully arrogant that their youth pastor had shattered a stranger’s arguments. However, what little we accomplished was primarily negative.

Though we’d never see that young man again, we’d made an enemy, not a friend. My much-impressed compatriots now believed that they would never know as much as I did, engendering fear more than faith. They now felt that they didn’t know enough to tangle with people who doubted God, his Son and the offer of unyielding love.

In the days after that unfortunate encounter, I began to understand that the doubter who most needed Christian apologetics was me. Call me cynical, but I constantly question my faith. I question everything I hear or read, so why not my Bible? I need to know that I can believe the first three chapters of Genesis so I can believe the rest of the book. Romans 1 describes a culture that has lost its way because its people reject what they can see of God through his creation. I don’t want to be numbered among them, but I doubt I’ll solve the problem by pounding others into submission or teaching people I lead to do so.

The people I lead need to know why it is safe to believe the scriptures. I need enough information and understanding to equip them to trust God’s word as it comes under assault from the surrounding culture. I have a deep personal need to know why what I believe is true. For me, that takes me beyond the books of believers into those of biologists, astronomers and cosmologists who can’t see the brain behind the big bang. Such reading also yields a valuable harvest strengthening the faith of those I lead. But it seldom brings people into that faith.

In the end, we bring people into God’s Kingdom by loving them when they know something is missing. Apologetics helps us, and those we lead, stand firm in that love.

Your thoughts? Do you teach apologetics in the course of your weekend messages? Are they still important in this rapidly changing world? How do you best equip young people to maintain their faith when you send them off to a secular university? We’d like to hear from you in the comments box…

Watch the video https://youtu.be/x4_0K6K0uhI

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5 thoughts on “Why Christian Apologetics Matter”

  1. You never win anyone with arguments. They are looking for love. Sometimes apologetice can help provide assurance but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time on it. Recently I’ve be learning more about what David Watson learned resulting in tens of millions of obedient disciples (not converts) around the world in the movements he had a major role in leading or training leaders. After he had 6 Indian co-workers martyred and was kicked out of India, he was depressed. He asked god to show him HOW to make disciples as he spent a year reading nothing but the Bible. He read it many times but had never really seen John 6:44&45 where Jesus tells HOW people come to Him, by hearing and learning (Learning includes obeying) from the Father (God’s Word). He distributed 1000 audio Bibles in villages that killed missionaries and saw 600+ churches start. He developed Discovery Bible Studies and his movement in India had a leading role in the book, Church Planting Movements.

  2. I was driving my teenage son & his friends up to Big Bear for a snow play Saturday when they all got into religious arguments. We had one Jewish friend, one Athiest, and my son & I , who are both Christians.

    Anyways, if the engine kept the temperature of the cabin, I’d pull over to call AAA. I finally barked at them to tone it down, and if feeling tense about the subject of Faith & God, maybe pause on the self-talk and go feed people, which is something my son & I work on. It kind of worked but I sensed that it made a dent. I learned that when I’m with people who have passionate arguments about God’s presence (and accountability) in their lives, sometimes it’s okay to take a break from that discussion and go out, do some service, and see what comes from there. It’ll be something good. The conversations afterward may yield better fruit.

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