I was once very intrigued with Apologetics. For those who do not know what Apologetics is, it is the studies of how to defend the faith of Christianity. I really became interested when I was first exposed to the study. I was overcome with the idea of proving my religion, and looking back, it was almost a prideful endeavor. I know that not every apologist is prideful, for I know many who are not, but personally it was grounds for my pride to reign. It was most likely rooted in the intelligent stench it gave my persona; it made me seem smarter than I actually was. Apologetics is crucial to the Christian faith, but my adaptation of the practice was misinterpreted, and probably did me far more bad than good.
I think my issue was this: my mindset was too offensive, not defensive. I will explain myself better: The most used Biblical foundation for Apologetics is found in 1 Peter 3 verse 15; it reads:
… but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…
The eye-opening truth in this verse is that it calls us to live a life exemplifying hope as to stir questions from non-believers. It is almost as if the most critical part to apologetics is leading a life worthy of the gospel; showing off the hope of Christ in our life and deeds. Aplogetics is not about having all the answers, or doing the most research. Those things are all very good and profitable, but if we do not live what we want to defend, our witness is empty. If we execute living out the gospel, our apology can be of some worth.
I was missing this foundation. I saw apologetics as conversational, not as relational. Apologetics gets most of its fame in the debate scene, but I think the true damage is done everyday through Christ’s disciples showing love to the loveless; showing hope to the hopeless. Before I can share the hope of the gospel with someone, I need to show the hope of the gospel through my transformed life. This is far harder. It is easy to crank out and recite the Kalam cosmological argument, but to produce love calls for discipline and patience.
The funny part is that 1 Peter 3’s context speaks of this. Verses before and after verse 15 are challenging the Christian to be patient in suffering; to live life as Christ did. It is proper context for the Apologetics verse, in that it is saying the best witness is lived out, not merely spoken.
Apologetics is best executed as a way of life, not a way of speech. Do not perform the latter at the expense of the first, but do both collectively as to spread the gospel of Christ with love. The world will know His disciples by their love.