Do I need to be an apologist?
Every person has an eternal soul that will exist forever, either enjoying eternal life in Heaven or eternal death and conscious punishment in Hell. That reality should make it clear that apologetics is not simply about winning an intellectual argument—or even worse, coming out on top of a social media spat that doesn’t even rise to the level of an argument.
The biblical warrant for apologetics
Scripture clearly commands Christians to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3) entrusted to us. This is a positive command for apologetics. Peter also tells us, “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” (1 Peter 3:15). From the context of this passage, Peter has in mind a situation where a person’s extraordinary way of life radically following Christ prompts others to ask them about their faith.
In today’s climate where anyone can hop on the Internet and find a list of hundreds of alleged Bible contradictions, it’s important for Christians to be able to answer basic questions someone might have about the faith. Being able to defend belief in the Deity of the Son, the Personhood of the Holy Spirit, and answer the common sorts of Bible contradiction arguments is not beyond most Christians. You can take the time to study Scripture, and the work of bringing the answers together in a way that’s easy to understand and communicate to others has already been done by ministries like this one and other excellent sources.
The evangelistic heart of apologetics
There can be the temptation for a Christian who is newly equipped with answers to go out and find an atheist to hit over the head with proofs for the Bible’s accuracy. This is a predictable way to get into a fight, but if we actually want people to come to faith, we have to engage a bit more thoughtfully. How are we to view non-Christians? There are two broad categories of them, requiring different approaches.
First, there are those who are deceiving others with false teaching. These people are to be opposed publicly with the primary goal of keeping them from convincing others with a false Gospel. This does not give us a licence to be hateful though; we should have a winsome attitude that will help convince onlookers—and possibly even the false teachers, themselves—of the truth.
Second, there are those who are merely uninformed. They should be engaged with grace and with a goal to persuade them of the truth. This becomes easier when we remember that we ourselves used to be misinformed until others patiently explained the truth to us.
An extension of the Great Commission
We also need to keep Gospel priorities in mind. Don’t get bogged down debating ‘irreducible complexity’ when you’re talking to someone who needs to hear about salvation in Christ. Deal with their objections to the faith clearly and quickly, then guide the conversation toward the Gospel.
When we see apologetics as inextricably linked with evangelism, this will keep our priorities and our tone in check. If we genuinely want to see unbelievers converted, we can’t help loving them for the sake of the Gospel. If we are praying for our evolutionist friend, we won’t be as tempted to ‘bash’ him with the latest creation evidence, but when it seems appropriate to share it, will do so sensitively and wisely.
This calls for patience, because often someone’s mind isn’t changed overnight. It takes commitment to build a relationship with an unbeliever and gain credibility over time.
The creation foundation of apologetics and evangelism
Biblical creationists should be the most confident evangelists, because we have the true understanding of the origin of the sin problem. Our foundation is the Bible, which we understand to be absolutely true from the first verse, and which gives us a solid footing when dealing with all types of non-Christians, from atheists to those in other religions.
We should be careful that our zeal for creation doesn’t turn us into zealots who just want to bludgeon evolutionists with creation evidences. That may be a way to win an argument but turn people against the Gospel. Rather, we should be persuasive and winsome in our approach, refusing to compromise but also rejecting an inflammatory style of rhetoric.