The Biblical Mandate for Apologetics

No matter how many logical and practical reasons one can supply showing the importance of practicing apologetics, the ultimate reason we should practice apologetics is that God Himself tells us to practice apologetics.  Indeed, I could argue from a number of verses that imply the practice of apologetics, but I want to emphasize two passages that clearly mandate the practice of apologetics.

Jude tells us that he was going to write a letter dealing with the wonderfully positive message “of the common salvation” (v.3) when the Holy Spirit brought to his attention something that caused him to change his letter and write to warn his readers about false teachers.   In face of these false teachers, he exhorts his readers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (v.3).  The phrase “earnestly contend” is a translation of one Greek word found only here in the Bible that can be defined as “to contend about a thing, as a combatant” (Vine).  Its tense indicates a continuing struggle.  The subject of this contention is “The faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”  This phrase refers to “The body of Christian truth that brings salvation to the soul who receives it.” (Hiebert) that was once and for all time delivered to us.  This phrase points  out that “The Christian faith cannot be changed; its foundational truths are not negotiable” (Blum).  This verse, therefore, is clearly exhorting every believer to be engaged in contending for the eternal truths of the Christian faith.

The other passage is certainly the most-used passage in support of practicing apologetics, I Peter 3:15.   This verse is a clear command to all Christians “to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you”  The phrase “to give an answer” translates the Greek word from which we get the word apologetics.  As I have previously pointed out, this Greek word means “a defense against an accusation” (Vine) originally referring to a formal defense in public (cf. Ramm, “Apologetics,” ISBE, Rev.).  Not only so, but Peter tells us to give “a reason.”  This word is often translated “word” and refers to “a reckoning or reason” (Vine) and “denotes a rational account given in response to inquiry” (Hiebert).  This is to be in response to “every man that asketh.”   This phrase shows us that “Peter sees his readers as being ‘on trial’ every day they live for Christ in a pagan society”  (Michaels quoted by Hiebert).  Clearly, then, Peter commands every believer to be able and ready to defend their beliefs and practices at any moment in an hostile environment.

These verses alone make perfectly clear that not only can we practice apologetics, but that we must whenever called upon to do so by challenges to the body of Christian truth.  We are negligent if we do not do what we can to be ready at any moment to render a reason for what we believe and how we live as Christians.  Not only does the Bible exhort and command us to practice apologetics, but it demonstrates the practice in it own content.  My next blog, Lord willing, will give some examples of the practice of apologetics found in the Bible itself.


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