This is a guest post from Bobby Conway, pastor of Life Fellowship Church and author of The One Minute Apologist. Get it on Pre-Pub for a limited time.
Like most people, the first time I heard the word “apologetics” I was befuddled. I was driving down Interstate 5 in Southern California en route to work at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why there was such a stress for Christians to apologize. After showing up at work, I asked a fellow Christian what the word meant—and that’s when I discovered, to my relief, that apologetics means “to defend the faith.”
The word comes from the Greek apologia, meaning “to defend.” We see this word used in 1 Peter 3:15 where Peter says believers should “honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
Let’s unpack this verse and glean a few insights from it.
We are called to be prepared
Peter says believers should always be “prepared to make a defense.” To make a defense, we must be prepared—or at least be preparing. We need to love people enough to care about their questions. We can start by tackling the most common objections non-believers have to the Christian faith:
- Does God exist?
- If God is good, why would he allow evil?
- What about those who have never heard about Jesus—will they be saved?
- Is the Bible trustworthy?
Peter then tells us “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” This inner hope relates to our faith in Jesus Christ. Be ready to talk about the difference Jesus has made in your life. God wants to use our hope to instill hope in others.
Finally, Peter calls us to defend our faith with “gentleness and respect.” Regrettably, apologetics has been given a bad rap at times since some apologists come off as arrogant. That’s really unfortunate. And it’s exactly what Peter warns against. He tells us to defend the truth gently and respectfully. Tone matters when communicating truth. Gentleness and respect also go a long way in creating relational harmony. What you say and how you say it are both crucial. It’s not either/or. It’s truth and love.
The time is now
The need for apologetics has never been greater. In our pluralistic and secularized culture, we need a batch of Christians who are not only aware of their beliefs but also get the gist of the beliefs of those around them. This melting pot of beliefs has caused many to question truth altogether. The confusion is systemic, and apologetics can be a great tool for providing some much-needed clarity.
So prepare well, and “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
This article was adapted from Bobby Conway’s book Does God Exist?: And 51 Other Compelling Questions About God. Conway’s The One Minute Apologist, a collection of more than 700 videos and transcripts to help you find the right answers to your questions, is now available on Pre-Pub.
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Guest writer Bobby Conway is lead pastor of Life Fellowship Church near Charlotte, NC. He is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM), Southern Evangelical Seminary (DMin), and is a PhD candidate at the University of Birmingham, England. He is the author of The Fifth Gospel and Doubting Toward Faith and is the founding host of The One Minute Apologist.