Do you ever feel alone or powerless when you find yourself in a faith conversation? Are you afraid you will be mocked or that you will upset others when sharing your faith? You are not alone. 64% of American Christians do not feel comfortable in their ability to effectively share their faith. 74% of Christians are
What if you could feel more confident, and effective in your faith conversations? There is a way. Allow me to introduce you to apologetics.
Christian apologetics can transform lives – including yours
I talk to a lot of Christian women and I frequently hear the same fears and concerns when it comes to faith conversations. Women are afraid they don’t have enough knowledge to clearly communicate what they believe, and why. They are afraid of confronting hate, or they won’t remember everything. Or they are afraid they won’t be able to think quickly on their feet.
Whatever their concerns (and yours!) when it comes to sharing the Gospel with the everyday people in our lives, Christian apologetics can help. It is not a magic bullet, nor is it up to us to argue people into the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit will do His work in the minds of people. But we can have genuine, confident faith conversations without worrying we are saying the wrong thing or be ridiculed for our faith.If our culture is to be transformed, it will happen from the bottom up – from ordinary believers practicing apologetics over the backyard fence or around the barbecue grill. ~ Chuck Colson #Christianity #Apologetics #Reasons Click To Tweet
What does apologetics mean in Christianity?
Apologetics is an intellectual discipline commonly used in religion, philosophy, and law. In practical application, it is the use of reasoned arguments to convince or persuade someone of something. All people are apologists for something. When your kids want to stay up past their bedtime, what do they usually do? They attempt to convince you by giving you reasons why they should.
Making a persuasive case for faith
Now that we have established an understanding of general apologetics, let’s look at it from the Christian perspective.
The word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia. And the Greek word apologia comes from combining 2 other Greek words, apo and logos. Apo means from, and logos means intelligent reasoning.
It literally means to answer from intelligent reasoning. Intelligent reasoning is equal to our modern term critical thinking. It is a legal term of the ancient world, used in legal defenses. Lawyers in our legal system still use apologia today in opening and closing arguments, and in cross-examinations. The goal is to make a persuasive case, to convince the jury of your position. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Law & Order, then you know what I’m talking about.
From the Christian perspective, the Bible commands us to do it. One classic example is 1 Peter 3:15
but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.HCSB – emphasis mine
The word translated as defense (or sometimes, answer) is our favorite Greek word, apologia.
Types of apologetics
Now that you know the word apologetics comes from a Greek word meaning intelligent reasoning and was a legal term used to make a passionate defense on behalf of another, it is good to talk about what types of apologetics there are.
Basically, there are two general classifications of apologetics. Positive apologetics and negative apologetics. Positive apologetics does not mean happy or affirming, and negative apologetics does not mean contrary or contentious. Even if you’re not much of a sports fan, football is a helpful analogy.
What is positive apologetics?
Positive apologetics in Christian apologetics is one that builds a case for Christianity, similar to the case a prosecuting attorney would present for why the jury should find the defendant guilty. It is an offensive strategy (not offensive, as in contentious) like in football’s offensive line. Positive apologetics seeks to advance the ball towards the goal.
What is negative apologetics?
Negative apologetics, on the other hand, is a defensive strategy. It seeks to deconstruct an opposing worldview. One way to do this would be to deconstruct the opposing worldview by demonstrating it as logically inaccurate or inconsistent.
Using our football analogy, negative apologetics is the defensive line attempting to prevent the opposing team from scoring by defending the goal.
Simply defined, apologetics is being persuasive for your position. As you learn to give answers from intelligent reasoning you will discover your nervousness about your ability to be effective in your faith conversations will begin to diminish. God gave you a brain. He expects you to use it. He never said to check your brains at the church door.
Resources I Recommend:
If you’d like to learn more about apologetics and why Christian women need it, I recommend Defending the Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry by Mary Jo Sharp. I don’t know of any other book published focusing exclusively on this topic. It specifically challenges women (and women’s ministry leaders and pastors!) to take a look at their current study opportunities and evaluate if we are truly equipping Christian women to be able to defend the faith.
We’d love to hear what you think!
What do you do when you don’t feel like you can have an effective faith conversation? What is the number one question you get about your Christian faith that stumps you?