The following is a post from Neil Downey for the CruPress Green Blog.
“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
What is the current reputation of Christianity in our culture? How does the world perceive those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus? One word that likely doesn’t make the Top Ten list is “rational.” Fair or not, Christians are often viewed as judgmental, illogical, and unreasonable. However, apologists like Tim Keller and William Lane Craig have been working hard to change these perceptions and to help Christians gently and respectfully give the reason for the hope that we have. Let me explain:
I just completed an online IBS class called Apologetics, which can be defined as “a rational defense of the Christian faith.” The goal of apologetics is not to win an argument, but to be a faithful witness for Christ by being a good diagnostician: both of culture and of individual lives. If sharing the gospel can be compared to sowing seed, then apologetics is thoughtfully, wisely cultivating the soil.
Apologetics is by no means a new enterprise: the apostles used miracles and fulfilled prophecy to prove that Jesus was the Messiah (when talking to Jews) as well as the evidence for God from nature (when addressing Gentiles). Scripture both demonstrates for us and commands us to give evidence for the truth we proclaim, trusting the Holy Spirit to use us to bring people to faith.
Covering subjects like theology, philosophy, history, physics, psychology, anthropology, and sociology, the class equipped us to engage with culture-shaping institutions (media, the arts, universities, business, and technology). It also gave us practical wisdom — primarily from Keller’s The Reason for God and Craig’s On Guard — for interacting with our non-Christian friends in a way that removes barriers to the gospel and helps them see the truth more clearly.
The class (which is part of Cru’s theological education curriculum) has reinvigorated me to proactively engage with people who don’t know Jesus: asking thought-provoking questions, uncovering their values, beliefs, and pursuits, and helping them to see the brilliant and beautiful Savior in a way that changes them for eternity.
What about you? What is your experience with Apologetics?
* Photo courtesy of Just Ard (Flickr Creative Commons).
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