Promoting Accessible Apologetics

News Flash: Our discipline has a weird name.

Many years ago, my wife and I visited Citrus Heights for a family gathering. Someone heard I was in grad school and asked me, “What are you getting your degree in?”

“Apologetics,” I answered.
“I’m sorry,” she replied with a chuckle.
“It’s not really that bad,” I said, looking confused.

Today, people still ask, “Why does it sound like apologizing?” Here’s my point: Our discipline has a weird name. If we’re going to promote accessible apologetics,  we’ve got to talk about it with this in mind.

That’s why the course I teach at Bridgeway Christian Church is called “Defending the Faith.” It’s less awkward. But even this can be confusing if it makes people think of hand-to-hand combat. As Greg Koukl observed:

Them sounds like fightin’ words!

Tomorrow, I’m going to share something I learned from William Lane Craig about addressing this issue during your teaching. Until then, here’s some text I wrote for promoting accessible apologetics at Bridgeway. Feel free to use it as a starting point for your ministry. Grab it, tweak it, and make it your own:

Want to study Apologetics? You won’t be sorry!

An “apologetic” is simply a defense. Peter actually commanded all believers to be ready with answers when people ask us about our faith. In 1 Peter 3:15, the word translated as “reason” is the word apologia, which means “a reasoned statement or argument.”

Obeying this command just means you’ve got reasons for what you believe and you’re ready to talk with anyone who’s got questions. It doesn’t mean getting defensive. It doesn’t mean getting into fights. It means speaking the truth in love as we represent our Lord at work, at school, in our community and society. But in order to be prepared, we’ve got to know what we believe and why we believe it.

That’s what this course in defending the faith is all about—increasing your confidence as a Christian by exploring the reasons and evidences for the faith, and preparing yourself to be a more effective ambassador of Jesus Christ.

What do you think? What are the challenges to promoting apologetics at your church, school, or other group?

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6 Responses to “Promoting Accessible Apologetics”

  1. Melissa July 25, 2010 10:06 AM
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    Excellent points. Accessibility is one of the biggest keys to promoting and conducting apologetics education at the lay-level. Removing the mystery and the intimidation factor goes a long way towards opening minds to this discipline!

  2. Mikel February 9, 2011 8:58 AM
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    It really does. That’s why I really appreciate Biola’s recent trend of giving apologetics events titles like “Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World.” Thanks for the comment, Melissa!

  3. Dante May 31, 2011 2:14 AM
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    I’m from Cebu, Philippines. Majority of the people here are not familiar with apologetics. But it’s a very important area of study. As you may know, the country is very religious, but I sense that there’s a growing number of people who are being influenced by the ideas of the new atheism. I am constantly reading up on apologetics because I want to get equipped, so that every time I encounter challenges to my faith, I’ll be ready to give some answers. I wish more Filipinos will become interested in this stuff. :-)

  4. Apologetics Guy May 31, 2011 7:47 AM
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    Very true. While I was a missionary in Metro Manila, I knew of an atheist group which met weekly at the McDonald’s in Makati. I used to meet with a number of missionaries in Cebu to talk about the spiritual climate in the Philippines. Baka ikaw ang gagamitan ng Diyos doon sa Cebu, kapatid! Please share the foundational posts with your friends. Thanks for the comment, Dante!

  5. Philip April 5, 2012 2:57 PM
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    I recall telling my Dad, who is a Believer, that I was currently studying and excited about “Christian Apologetics”. His reaction was to basically shake his head and look away. I then realized I had to explain that I wasn’t studying on how to “apologize” for being Christian. That got me thinking about the modern interpretation of the word “Apologetics”. What do you think about perhaps the use of the phrase “Christian Philosophy”?

    Thanks, I’m also planning on attending the conference in Palm Springs later this month.

    Philip

    • Apologetics Guy April 5, 2012 3:14 PM
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      Hi Philip.
      Thanks for your comment. That might work. But apologetics isn’t just philosophy. You might find yourself focusing on history when giving a historical defense of the Resurrection of science when you infer the existence of God from the fine-tuning of the universe. I’m looking forward to the Palm Springs event. See you there!
      -Mikel