I think the reason it is important for every believer to be able to practice apologetics is because if we are articulating the Gospel truthfully, clearly, and rightly, there is going to be resistance.
When we prepare people to do apologetics, we are doing two things good for them. We’re helping them, first off, not be surprised at resistance. Sometimes believers are surprised. “Oh my goodness, people are resisting my message,” and that’s because we haven’t trained them for apologetics. There is going to be resistance to you.
Secondly, it helps them to be able to recognize within themselves that their faith is not merely experiential or existential; there are reasons that make their faith plausible. That’s important because one of the things we’ve done in contemporary, evangelical Christianity is we have, in some sense, allowed people to think that your own experience of faith is enough. Just tell people about how you came to faith. Tell them your story.
That’s not entirely wrong but people have to realize that, at some level, if all you can tell is your own experience then somebody else is going to say to you, “Well, here’s my experience,” and when you’re in that circular loop of, “Well, I gave you my experience, you gave me your experience, and they don’t match up,” what’s going to get you out of that circularity of experience against experience?
What helps you get out of that, in a human sense, is being able to articulate reasons why your faith is plausible and makes better sense of the world than their faith does.
In a spiritual sense, only God’s Spirit can get you out of that circle of your experience versus their experience. But God’s Spirit works through human means and the means God uses to work through that is us being able to articulate reasons for our faith.
Most of apologetics is not being a guy up on a stage at a debate defending the faith. Most of apologetics is engaging with people at a personal level and being able to defend the faith at that level.
That’s deeply biblical. Look at 1 Peter 3 where it speaks of being able to defend the faith. What is given there in terms of being able to defend the faith is not given to the pastors, it’s not given to even any certain groups within the church, it’s given to the whole church to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in you.
-Timothy Paul Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President for the Global Campus
C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Family Ministry
Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry