Christian Apologetics Free Course 06, Lesson 01
The Preparation To Become An Apologist 01
As we begin the twenty-first century, attacks directed against the Christian Faith are growing at an exponential rate, and no Christian remains unaffected. By now, every professing Christian has experienced some sort of opposition, whether in school, at home, or at the office. Friends, relatives, or colleagues have asked pointed questions that, in effect, attack the Christian’s faith. The options are always clear: either give us a satisfactory answer, or quit talking about your faith around us.
Anti-Christian sentiments have become so widespread that books attacking the Bible become instant best-sellers in any language and in any country. T V programs routinely attack Christians and present them in a highly distorted, demeaning, and often slanderous manner. Numerous magazines and technical journals are devoted to opposing the Bible, and several large publishing houses regularly put out books meant to destroy, cripple, or belittle the Christian faith. Numerous anti-Christian ideas permeate society and questions hostile to the Christian faith are repeatedly fired at Christians, individually or collectively. Ideas have consequences, and this is why practicing apologetics has become an unavoidable and necessary activity for Christians.
The response from the Christian community takes many forms. Some jump into the fray without any preparation whatsoever and some remain silent in the face of attacks. Fortunately, there are others who believe a proper defense of the faith requires serious preparation. Those in the first group feel that anyone can be an apologist. They ignore the need for preparation, go to war against powerful enemies of Christianity, and are humiliated by their opponents. Even with truth on their side, unprepared defenders are made a laughingstock in front of others only because their opponents are better prepared to influence an audience. Instead of defending the faith, these people only invite shame.
The second group feels that Christians should keep silent even in the face of increasingly frequent attacks against the faith. Some of these people do not understand the issues, and they continue to live in a fool’s paradise. Others are escapists and do not wish to get involved. Still others do not know what to do and so they remain silent. Though this group is made up of inactive people who never respond to challenges against the faith, they are still somewhat better than the first group. In the long run, those who rush in without preparation cause embarrassment, whereas the silence of the second group doesn’t actively challenge belief. Unfortunately, it still allows the church to lose many young believers to unbelief.
Thankfully, there is a third group that rises to the task. This third group is made up of people who are prepared for Christian apologetics. They know that the well-prepared opposition is causing much damage in the Christian community, especially among the young people. They know that someone needs to stand as a bulwark in the Christian community, and that this is possible only with adequate preparation. It is, thank God, these people who silence the critics, answer sincere inquirers, and help the doubting Thomases of the world. Following the model of Christ, they are willing and ready to offer evidence to anyone who asks for it.
Almost all sincere Christians can practice apologetics if they have done adequate preparation. As in any other field, it is not necessary for every practitioner to become a specialist. A good analogy can be drawn from the field of medicine. Most people who go to a hospital suffer only from common ailments, and they need only a General Medical Practitioner for help. Twenty per-cent or fewer need a specialist. Among those only a small percentage needs the help of a super-specialist. Similarly, the average well-informed Christian can handle the bulk of the questions faced in everyday life, and only twenty per-cent of the questions will need the help of people who have specialized apologetics training.
So how does one prepare oneself to become an effective defender of Christianity? Several types of preparation are necessary. Spiritual Preparation: Since Christian apologetics aims to defend the Christian faith, apologists should obviously be born-again Christians of good spiritual commitment and standing. If their faith is worth fighting for, then they themselves should be fully committed to it. Without this level of commitment, they are getting into a battle by proxy. They are trying to lay down their lives for something they are not convicted of in the first place. That will not work.
Spiritual commitment is not a one-time or once-for-all event, but an ongoing process in which one examines oneself every day and affirms one’s commitment on a regular basis. This demands a life in which daily devotion, study, reflection, and resolution are all geared to continuous spiritual growth. Yet for the spirit-filled student, this will likely be a pleasurable endeavour rather than an arduous task.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'” (Matthew 4:4). The spirit-filled student will be nourished by the study of the Word. It is food for the spirit. In the same way that we must feed our bodies, our spirits must also be fed. If the main course is the Word of God, fellowship is our dessert. We depend on God, but we also depend on one another in the body of Christ. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1Corinthians 12:7).