Incarnational and Informational Apologetics

Apologetics concerns the defense and commendation of the Christian faith. Such an activity involves more than a simple relay of information, though it certainly consists in information.

1 Peter 3:15 is the classic apologetics verse, and it reads ‘but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.’ Notice that it is prefaced by an incarnational imperative – i.e. ‘in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.’ Apologetics, therefore, must be prefaced by the believer’s foremost focus on union with Christ. The Christian ethic, so defined by the life lived in Christ, anticipates the defense. When a believer embraces the necessary transformation that proceeds from faith in Christ, the unbeliever will naturally question the believer’s life now lived in hope. From this questioning spawned from the believer’s incarnational apologetic, the believer then proceeds to informational apologetics, which serve to warrant and elucidate the unbeliever’s observation of the believer’s incarnational apologetic. Nevertheless, incarnational apologetics can only function from a basis of information concerning the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no incarnation without information, for how can one have faith (be united) with Him they do not know? But again, how might information of Jesus Christ be known without the historical incarnation of Jesus Christ? The interplay goes back and forth, which essentially expresses their cooperation.

As it practically manifests itself in apologetics, one begins with the truth of Jesus Christ. The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ set the precedent for God’s communication with man. God’s informational revelation to us was prefaced and worked through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Once the information (the truth of who Jesus is and what he has done in the gospel) was transferred to us, it pointed us back to the incarnation of Jesus Christ, where once we had faith in Christ, the incarnate Jesus actually became united with us and dwelt within us. Thence, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. We now carry the life of the incarnate God within us. Such a life prompts questioning by unbelievers, and the cycle continues: we elucidate the information as to point the unbeliever to the incarnation, whereby the unbeliever can become united with the living Christ and live in him.

Incarnational vs. informational apologetics is a false dichotomy, whereby one should never choose one over the other. We should strive to honor Christ with both approaches, because both are necessary to holistically commend and defend our risen Lord.

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