The Bible and a Need for Apologetics

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Christian apologists have been left with a task of explaining that if the Bible is God’s revealed word then why is there a need for apologetics? Apologetics is understood here to mean giving a rational defense of the Christian religion. The Bible, one would presume, is in some way foundational to Christianity, and it makes a number of claims about itself, one of which is to be God’s revelation to humankind. With this question in mind, apologists have attempted to provide the reasons why defending the Bible is necessary even if it really is God’s revealed word.

One reason is because the Bible is not a single text but rather a library of ancient documents traceable to different locations, cities, continents, and countries. It was also authored by over 40 different writers, covering a fairly long period of time, and the important events that took place within those periods. As such, there is a certain diversity to it, especially given that these societies and cultures were truly different from what we familiar with today. A general rule of thumb in exegesis (interpreting the Bible) is to understand it by locating it within its appropriate historical, socio-cultural context. Why? Because it would certainly be no good for 21st century readers to interpret the biblical texts through a 21st century lens, which would lead to many issues. We live in very different times and places, and have very different ways we go about doing things, especially when we put pen to paper.

But the diversity doesn’t only exist in the way of socio-cultural contexts, but also in the way of literary forms and genres. The biblical texts are a compendium of documents with very different genres and means for communicating ideas. As a result, this requires sound and careful interpretation. One would do an injustice should he or she interpret the book of Acts, which in many ways acts as a historical narrative, with the Psalms, which is often very poetic. Historical narrative and poetry only constitute two types of literary genre, there are far more which includes myth, hagiographic hyperbole, and so on, all of which must be considered.

Apologetics can in some way assist in correcting false interpretations of scripture. Because so many people read (and have read) the Bible it would inevitably be the case that some would derive alternative interpretations, many of which likely aren’t true or accurate of the texts. Few, if any, Christian apologists would agree that the Mormon interpretation of the Bible is a good one, especially when it comes to the doctrine of the trinity. The apologist will attempt to show where interpretations such as those are faulty.

A further, final reason, is that the Bible can be a shocking book at times. Few don’t feel uneasy reading how God asks Joshua to kill the inhabitants of Canaan. Few would deny that their are questionable or uncomfortable laws in the Old Testament. These issues drawn from the texts can become a roadblock in the path of spiritual development for many, and sometimes it can even cause severe doubt. Naturally, Christians who might be troubled with certain verses will often look for answers. And not every Christian has time or the resources allowing them to read encyclopedias on systematic theology, so they have to find answers elsewhere. The apologist is often the one to assist here for it is they who look to answer obstacles to belief.

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One response to “The Bible and a Need for Apologetics

  1. You say: “Who is correct and who is wrong is up for debate, and here the apologist’s job is just to show where a person has gone wrong…..”

    Really? Are you therefore saying that so-called apologists are always right? I see many areas in your articles that I strongly disagree with but of course I fully accept that you are entitled to your opinion, because at the end of the day that’s all it is. Apologists interpret the Bible as THEY see fit, call upon resources which THEY consider reliable, and make assertions based purely on research which THEY have done. Whether THEY are actually right or not is entirely another matter!

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