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The origin of Christian apologetics lies in the beginnings of Christianity. The Lord Jesus Christ commanded: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). And the Apostle Peter, speaking to the persecuted churches, counseled, “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 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” (1 Peter 3:15).
St. Paul was a master apologist. He knew his faith was defensible. He knew that spiritual warfare is often fought in the battleground of our minds. He also knew that divine power is available to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” – when we “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). If we are to obey our Lord’s command, we need to know what to say and how to respond to questions and challenges to our faith. It’s our duty.
The first condition of effective Christian apologetics is reverent love for God and the humble acknowledgement of our deep dependence on God’s power to change men’s hearts. When we proceed to “witness” on our own strength, we lose. Each response, each defense of our faith, is to be couched in love. Peter calls for an inner reverence for Christ as Lord. This means that we must know Christ and God’s Word in order to lead others to Him. Knowing what to say comes from a close relationship with Jesus and a commitment to knowing His Word. We need to be in Bible class all our life long. There’s no graduation; there’s no end to learning to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind.
Knowing how to respond when challenged is vital. Most people will resist a harsh, academic response, which makes us sound rude and defensive. But when we respond “with gentleness and respect,” we are more likely to be heard. Apologetics is more about honoring God than winning an argument. Biblical apologetics must somehow always link back to Christ and acknowledge Him as Creator and Lord [Colossians 1:16-18]. A reasoned defense is directly connected to the hope we have as followers of Christ.
Connecting our intellectual arguments to Christ takes special effort. Paul knew the need to “take captive every thought” and turn them over to Christ. Before we witness, should we not pray, “Lord Jesus, I need Your help with this, and I submit my thoughts to You”? Do we have the prayer discipline we need for effective witness?
Today's guest blogger is Richard Rothermel, a long-time friend of Creation Moments and an avid creationist who teaches biblical creation to the members of his church through a column in the church's newsletter.