September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
The last of a three part series, this post dissects 1 Peter 3:15 and relates a framework for what I consider to be the ultimate goal in doing apologetics.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord…”
Regardless of the approach we use (see previous post), we should keep the goal of apologetics in mind and follow a blueprint that will get us there. With the goal of presenting the Gospel in mind, there are often courses and directions that will take us there efficiently. I think the best way is the introduction of the sin problem. It’s something that everyone has in common and so many relevant arguments about current issues and common questions that lead there quite naturally. There would be no need for the Gospel without the reality of sin. Get people talking about sin and present the Solution that is the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Our calling seems to be continual (“Always…”). The primary method of being continually prepared to give an answer about Biblical Christianity is to study the Bible. There are great books and resources available to help with that. Some are pretty deep in philosophy but others are not.
Know what you believe, but avoid being ignorant of other beliefs. Take the time study the doctrine of other religions and worldviews if that’s who you are having a dialog with.
Another great way to get into defending your faith is to simply practice it. Engage in a conversation with that friend, neighbor, family member, co-worker or classmate, and you know who they are. There are many more opportunities online for apologetic debate that aren’t as nerve-wracking as face to face debate. Online discussion forums or the comment area beneath most news articles are great venues to do apologetics for two reasons. Firstly, you have opportunity to research your answers before you give them (it’s natural to feel unprepared going into any conversation). And secondly, your discussion often remains public for many to see and perhaps be persuaded.
Lastly, Paul encourages gentleness and respect in our discourse with unbelievers. NEVER engage in personal attacks, excess sarcasm or course language. Christians argue that our faith is set apart from the world’s, so we should be set apart from the world’s way of debate. G. K. Chesterton notes that many people quarrel because they don’t know how to argue. An argument is a statement of a position that doesn’t require it to be heated or angry, and reasonable arguments follow civil guidelines. Do it with gentleness and respect!
By the way, you don’t rob anyone of respect if you politely get out of what Proverbs 26:4 considers “foolish arguments” (Don’t Waste Time on Apologetics).
Follow these guidelines and there will be NO guarantee that an unbeliever will see the truth. God can and does use apologetic arguments to open darkened eyes, but ultimately this responsibility is the work of the Holy Spirit (Let the Spirit Do His Thing). Do apologetics, pray as you go, and leave the rest to Him.