There are four core reasons why many believe that Christian apologetics is important. Apologetics is understood as the practice of giving reasonable justifications for embracing the Christian faith, as well as defending it against intellectual challenges.
1. Apologetics is a Biblical Imperative
Because the Bible instructs it the Christian is in some way obligated to defend the Christian religion against skeptical charges. Jesus Christ himself authenticated his own status by urging people to consider his works. One such case was John the Baptist, the man who baptized Christ and saw the heavens open. One learns that John the Baptist doubted Christ’s ministry (Mat. 11:3, Luke 7:19), and learning about this, Christ instructed some men to “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (Luke 7:21). Christ responded to John the Baptist’s doubt by affirming what everyone had seen him do. As such, this was an appeal to evidence: Christ used evidence to convince John the Baptist of who he was. The Apostle Paul, as one learns from the Book of Acts, too reasoned with unbelievers and in the process provided evidence for the gospel by appealing to creation and the historical facts surrounding Christ’s ministry and resurrection. Biblical directives in the New Testament texts, such as Jude 3 and 1 Peter 3:15, further instruct the faithful to contend for the faith by giving a rational answer to those who question its truth. Apologetics is therefore a biblical imperative.
2. Apologetics Answers Difficult Questions
Good and honest apologetics tends to help remove the obstacles to faith for many seekers, and therefore aids unbelievers in their consideration of the gospel as Christ preached it. Those who stand for Christ, as we saw above. have a responsibility to defend the gospel message in the face of a barrage of intellectual and ideological challenges. In the contemporary western world, mutually exclusive worldviews clash, and because of this real people find themselves caught somewhere in the middle. For those who are already Christians, this ideological battlefield can pose a sore challenge to their Christian beliefs. Apologists have also noted how the Holy Spirit can become involved in this process, as he uses evidence to bring people to the truth of the gospel. However, Christians remain obligated to assist fellow believers and spiritual seekers in their journeys, often of which doubt is a part.
3. Apologetics Can Strengthen the Believer’s Faith
A third reason for the importance of apologetics is for those who are already believers themselves. This importance lies in the fact that apologetics can (and often does) strengthen the faith of believers. This can occur in two noticeable ways. Firstly, it can give the Christian much needed confidence that his or her faith is true and reasonable, and therefore he or she need not feel ashamed for believing what he or she does. A faith such is this is one that actively encourages seeking understanding of God and the world. Secondly, apologetics helps with reorientation and illumination. Many people, Christians included, cannot see God’s work in the world or understand and appreciate certain features of the Bible. Why? Because they have not been trained to see those patterns or haven’t put the time and effort to do it themselves. Instead, they might imbibe the contemporary culture and thus view the world through a secular perspective. This can stifle the spiritual growth of the Christian, and prevent the accepting of the gospel message for the unbeliever. Apologetics can review this secular perspective and in turn question its credibility and coherency. Apologists here will attempt to demonstrate that reality is more compatible with a Christian worldview than the secular one.
4. Apologetics Contributes to Culture
Fourth, and finally, apologetics may contribute to the health of culture. Why? Because it often touches on significant topics such as human value, the nature of morality, life after death, and many more. Thus, an effective, convincing, and rational apologetic may contribute to a general cultural perception which demonstrates that moral and religious issues are not of mere subjective taste but rather are areas where truth and rational argument are appropriate. This brings some very important and touchy topics to the table of discussion, such as abortion, human rights, money, and many other important issues.
The Christian apologist and professional philosopher William Lane Craig, who has made a career being at the forefront of apologetics, suggests that,
“If Christians could be trained to to provide solid evidence for what they believe and good answers to unbelievers’ questions and objections, then the perception of Christians would slowly change. Christians would be seen as thoughtful people to be taken seriously rather than as emotional fanatics or buffoons. The gospel would be a real alternative for people to embrace” (1).
1. Craig, W. 2010. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. p. 18.