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Apologetics

The Christian faith is often attacked or questioned by non-believers – and many of the questions they have, may occupy believers as well. Some of these questions relate to apparent contradictions within the Bible, others are about the relationship between faith and natural sciences, or about the Bible’s position towards other religions.

Throughout history, Christians have tried to think through these though questions and to defend or proof the doctrines of their faith. This is called “apologetics”.

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Apologetics in the Bible

In a way, the whole Bible is a great apology. In it, God shows that He is the only real God, not to be confused with idols. This theme is frequently addressed in God’s commandments, in narratives, and in prophetic texts.
Moreover, God shows what humanity’s problems are (of which the most profound is sin), and which solution He has offered.
Naturally, people are blind to these truths, they even resist them. This is for example seen in people’s reaction on the preaching of the gospel, as recorded in the book of Acts. Religious leaders are annoyed and arrest the preaching Christians (e.g. Acts 4:1-3), some believers are even arrested and killed (e.g. Acts 7). God’s message about sin and forgiveness is often rejected and questioned. And yet, the apostles state that “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Being filled with the Holy Spirit, they cannot help but defend their faith and share it with others. That is no wonder, given the fact that the Holy Spirit himself is a kind of apologetic: “He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

The goal and the means of apologetics

Apologetics is concerned with the defense of Christian doctrines. But it is more. Since Christians are deeply convinced that belief in God is of life importance, they try to show others the relevance of the Christian faith as well. Their goal is not just to proof that they are right, but to defend God’s honor and to lead others to Jesus.
How this can be done is dependent on the cultural and social context. In academic circles, scientific reasoning might be appropriate to show that faith in God is not “stupid” or outdated. For your neighbors, your way of life may be as important a testimony as words can be. And with a good friend, you might have the chance to talk about life issues from a biblical perspective. Key is that we should always be 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” (1 Peter 3:15).