Introduction

readinggirlLong time ago, before I met Christ and accepted him as Lord and personal Savior, I wasn’t really interested into reading and studying academic books. Books was an obscure, incomprehensible entity to my taste. I never even bothered to read newspapers or other novels just for curiosity. No, books was a waste of time, and so I believed. But when I became a follower of Jesus Christ almost twelve years ago, I felt the sudden hunger for knowledge. I never felt this craving for knowing and learning before in my life. And so I become a “bookworm” (a person devoted to reading and studying). While not neglecting studying my Bible, I indulge and keep indulging myself in reading books that touches the areas of epistemology, ethics, church history, metaphysics, theology and philosophy. There is not an hour or a minute that I actually have been in negligence with my studies until this very day. My passion in studies leads me to study apologetics and its discipline and reading other apologetical methodologies. So, my major part in my life is having possessions of numerous academical books and yes you can call me bibliophilia so much so, I find a quote from Erasmus rather telling of my condition: “When I have a little money I buy books, and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”

    By studying certain subject (s) I came to understand the importance of knowledge and how we as thinking person should not waste our God given mind by not learning, thinking well and avoiding much irrationality or faulty thinking.  Besides from reading the Scripture, apologetics has been a great help to me because it involves, not only in knowing how to defend my faith, but it  has also given me much insight that apologetics as a discipline makes you more able and prepared in handling skeptics objections against your Christian faith. Being exposed to apologetics is absolutely not peripheral but essentially crucial in our Christian world and life view. It is really sad that not all Christians even seriously considers the study of apologetics. In this essay I will try to explain, in this essay what apologetics is and then we will proceed to why the discipline of apologetics is necessary. May you find this written material helpful and inspiring in your pursuit in studying apologetics.

What Is Apologetics?

I went to Wushu Kung Fu Academy in Stockholm and I studied there with my brother for five years under the instruction of Lois Lin. The training was quite rigid and uncomfortable because it requires techniques, skills, stamina as well as flexibility in your part. Timing was also important and so is balance. I was probably almost fifteen years of age when I begun training martial arts because it, not only teaches you to have self-control, it teaches you how to defend yourself against any kind of assault. Having knowledge in martial arts or self-defense can be very quite handy now a days, one must fight or defend through any kind of situations with little damage on your part as possible. While, Kung Fu is good with physical and mental training, it also teaches you how to defend yourself from anyone. Apologetics is almost the same as Kung Fu but not quite. Wushu, involves physical, muscular, balance, timing, strength etc., If there is no other way to avoid confrontation, one must engage and even damage your opponent in order for you not to be in his situation. Apologetics on the other hand need not have any physical confrontation but only verbal, logical, rational argumentation, and and so fort. Wushu is an art of defense while apologetics is also an art of defense and it has to do more in thinking logically and defending your faith.

Apologetics (Greek apologia) means defense as I have mentioned earlier. To give an “apology” does not hereby mean to apologize or showing regret. It means to give a rational defense of what or why you believe in certain things be it God, the Bible, Jesus and your world and life view as a Christian. Defending the Christian faith is not an option but a command to do apologetics and explain to whom why we believe what we believe. Peter a disciple of Jesus Christ wrote,

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

In additional of our understanding what apologetics is, Norman Geisler wrote,

The most important reason to do apologetics is that God told us so. The classic statement of 1 Peter 3:15, which says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” This verse tells us to be ready. We may never run across someone who asks tough questions about our faith, but we should still be ready to respond if someone does. [Normal L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Books, p. 37]

Thus, Christian apologetics seeks to serve God and the church by assisting fellow Christians to carry out the mandate of 1 Peter 3:15-16. This particular verse tells us to be on alert and ready if someone or somebody ask us tough questions about our faith. We may not always encounter tough questions about our faith but we should still be on the look out nevertheless. And if this happens we should not run and hide and hope the skeptics will soon vanish into thin air. Rather, we should answer him or her whatever the skeptic have in mind only with meekness and fear. I think we must keep in mind is that not all skeptics are sincere in knowing the answer of why you believe what you believe. Some, if not most skeptics are just out to win or with an axe to grind, and probably wants a simple quarrel, and if this happens, then no reason for giving him an answer in why you believe what you believe, because this will only cause unnecessary, waste of time discussion, that should not have happened in the first place. Likewise, as a martial artist, I have been told not to look for a fight nor fight if absolute necessary. If anyone challenges you to fight, as an self-defense practitioner, one is likely to ignore. The manners or code of conduct as a martial artist is to avoid trouble as much as possible and not to use the skills of fighting when one is provoked or challenged. This is true with apologetics in some sense though some challenges (debate) from skeptics should be faced head on just to demonstrate that their arguments are futile. In addition with our discussion, doing apologetics is more than just an intellectual task or having a brain tease. It actually enhances our understanding about God, Jesus, Scripture, science, philosophy and the discipline of theology. By having a greater insight in the area of apologetics, makes us more prepared in handling various objections against the Christian faith. Philosopher Greg L. Bahnsen wrote,

According to Cornelius Van Til, apologetics aims to defend the Christian faith by answering the variety of challenges leveled against it by unbelievers, thereby vindicating the Christian philosophy of life (world view) over against all non-Christian philosophies of life (world views). [Greg L Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, P&R Publishing, p.29]

The Necessity Of Apologetics

The world is never a safe place whether you a an expert of martial arts or not. Likewise, the Christian faith is never safe or accepted in the market of ideas but is constantly marginalized. Hostility, antagonism, mocking, and persecution towards the Christian faith is common and is unlikely to refrain. Our Lord Jesus warned us that,

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (Jn. 15:18-19)

The beloved apostles faced similar hostility and persecution yet did not commence to witness and boldly defended their faith even unto their death of martyrdom. Though martyrdom for having the faith in Jesus Christ is uncommon in the Western hemisphere, the mocking, hostility and some form of persecution against Christians is prevalent. News media, Hollywood filmmakers, politicians , teachers, professors, etc., are united in one common agenda and this is to destroy Christianity once and for all. Why? The as the apostle Paul said, “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7). What this mean is that, the mind of the flesh is hostile to God and can never submit itself to the law of God. Becoming a faithful follower of Christ is to renew our thinking and not have the same mind of the carnal mind of the unbeliever because it is hostile to God. Again Paul wrote,

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2).

The Christian mind should not be conformed (be similar) to the way of the rest of the world (“age” or “era”). The enmity against God, and its sinful, dehumanizing values should not be entwined by the believer, instead, the believer should be transformed (Gk. metamorphoo, “change”) by the renewing of the mind. Godly transformation starts in the mind and heart. In his two great commandments, Jesus Christ thought this to his disciples namely to, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mk. 12:30). Followers of Christ who are steadfastly allured by the philosophy of the world are unlikely to love their Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Doing apologetics is one of the means by loving God with all our minds, strengths, soul and heart. The Christian mind who is in accord with his faith in Jesus Christ are likely to be able to distinguish falsity and irrational arguments augmented by the carnal minds of the world. The enmity of the world against God and its false pretensions (atheism, nihilism, evolutionism, communism, homosexuality, false religions etc.,) contradicts the Christian mind. The Christian mind, by correctly being discerned (between coherent and incoherent in thinking) do not stand in common ground with the unbelieving mind, nor does he be neutral. Paul warns Christians in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Bahnsen as quoted earlier commented,

By attempting to be neutral in your thought you are a prime target for being robbed– by “vain philosophy” of all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” which are deposited in Christ alone (cf. v.3). Paul explains that vain philosophy is that which follows the world and not Christ; it is thinking which subsuppositionally committed to Christ in all of our thinking. [Greg L Bahnsen, Always Ready, Covenant Media Foundation, p.5]

Not only that Christians should transform their minds and not to conform with the philosophy of the world, Christian apologists might strive also in defending the Gospel of Christ against those who ridicule, and mock it. Paul said, “Inasmuch as both in my bonds (prisoned), and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.” (Phil. 1:7) What Paul is telling us is that he defended and confirmed the gospel against opponents’ assault and were not silence even while in prison. Not only that Christians ought to defend the Gospel from the claws of its enemies, iy should also be advanced by witnessing to unbelieving mind. To many arguments has been advanced by atheists, and Muslims alike, for instance, the historical reliability of the Gospel, the true deity of Christ, the existence of God and so forth, yet the Scripture reminds us to “let God be true, but every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4) The Christian soldier have the obligation to devastate the skeptics prideful objection of God, His Son etc.,

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ ( II Cor. 10:3-5).

Paul reminds his fellow believers in Christ that they are at war in the world of ideologies against the unbelieving mind–the carnal mind. The Christian apologists cannot afford being neutral and carnally minded. The loyal servant of Jesus Christ should cast down the arguments that exalts itself against the knowledge of the Creator and Savior which is God. The strong holds of neo-atheism and its false pretension of arguments should be demolished by confronting it with cogent, logical, Christ-centered apologetics, yet with love and respect. The “strong holds” of the 21st century that we should be busy engaging in demolishing against their false pretenses are the neo-atheists such as Dawkins, Hitchen, Harris, Dennet and story teller and author of the Golden Compass, Philip Pullman. These infidels are not only anti-God but also anti-Christian. You don’t have to take my word for it, all you have to do is read the literatures of these fundamentalist atheists. If these militant atheists mentioned above were granted political power, Christians would probably end up similar to Hitler’s concentration camp probably for brain examination, because belief in God, Jesus, angels, hell and heaven, according to them, is a sign of having brain damage. These men as well as other secularists out there are not you average atheists. Their intentions is no longer to befriend Christians and convert them to atheism but sees us as disillusioned, fanatical sponges worthy of desolation.

God created this universe including you and I but most of us doesn’t want God to be our ruler and King in our lives. We prefer our own selfish, sinful way of life and so we tend to suppress God and worship the things that the Creator created more than Himself. Amongst the things we adore and worship which God made is our minds. We repress the Creator who created our mind by using it in denying His existence. The very mind that God endowed upon us has become the primary weapon in denying His existence. The is exactly what the prideful, militant, fundamentalist neo-atheist has been doing for all eons. They denied their Creator and even insults Him with their arrogance and consuming hate. The neo-atheists are the “sage” of this world. They call themselves the “Brights” or “wise men.” They are the Enlightened of the 21st century since the Renaissance. But, these wise men has been confounded by God as fools. “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (I Cor. 1:20).

Christians who engages in apologetics on the other hand doesn’t need to fear the arguments made by fools because God grants him understanding in all things (II Tim. 2:7). Should Christian be intimidated by atheists ridicule and hostility? No, because God has not given the Christian spirit of fear but with a sound mind (II Tim. 1:7). Before taking stand by defending our faith against infidels we must learn that wisdom and knowledge can only be located in Christ. True knowledge (of God) cannot be found in realm of atheism and also in the realm of world religions. “In whom [Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:3 ) [emphasis mine]. The Christian mind cannot adopt the carnal mind way of thinking because the believer can only have full access of the true wisdom and knowledge in none other but Christ Jesus. The Christian world and life view is far more rational and realistic than any other kind of anti-Christian world view combined. If the God of the Bible exist, and that he came into the world by entering time and space and became in the person of Jesus and lived with us for a moment then crucified and died for our sin, and then rose back to life three days later and ascended back to heaven really is true (which it is!), then why should we fear antagonistic philosophies that undermines the Christian faith? We have no reason to fear in reasoning by defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of Christianity.

Is apologetics necessary? I already given you my answer. The discipline of apologetics is mandated by God. Apologetics is needed today as it was needed two thousand years ago. By doing apologetics in different areas of human enterprise (epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, logic etc.,) can be divided in three ways. Apologetics can be used as proof, as defense and as offense. More about this later in my The Discipline of Apologetics article.

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