This article is from
Creation 41(2):26–27, April 2019

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Do I need to be an apologist?

by

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.

Helpful Resources

From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
From
US $14.00
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
From
US $17.00

Readers’ comments

Astra W.
Thank you Lita, and yes you are right " Biblical creationists should be the most confident evangelists" our hearts sing because the truth is in us and we possess the joy that Jesus prayed for us.
Tim L.
You say, "Deal with their objections to the faith clearly and quickly, then guide the conversation toward the Gospel." Can you give any advice as to how to balance keeping our focus on the primary issue of the Gospel and not brushing objections off as irrelevant or unimportant? One I've found particularly tricky lately is that as a person who identifies as politically conservative (the law, Mosaic or otherwise, can't save us), several of the skeptics I interact with want to spend the entire time debating the morality of various political positions, and cannot seem to take me seriously because they think it is morally reprehensible to for example oppose a woman's "right to choose".
Lita Cosner
When speaking with someone with objections to the faith, it’s important not to let them dominate the discussion. Their reasons for skepticism will drive how the conversation starts, but if you have an idea how to move it to the Gospel, you can steer the conversation. It helps to have a ‘go-to’ Gospel presentation; if you listen to evangelists’ videos on YouTube, each tends to have a certain presentation they adapt for each situation. As you practice, you will get better at turning whatever you are answering into the beginning of a Gospel presentation. Or you could simply say something like, "I hope you can appreciate that my faith has an answer for [objection]. But can I tell you why I really think this is so important?" Just acknowledge that you're turning the conversation. It won't come across as rude or dismissing their concerns if you've given a good effort at engaging them.
When someone wants to debate the morality of political positions, one good question is to ask them what their basis for morality is. Why is a woman’s ‘choice’ moral, and why is the unborn child an entity without moral rights? But ultimately you want to point even those conversations toward the Gospel, because that’s the real issue.
Nicholas A.
Thanks for an interesting concise read, always good to be reminded of our goal for the glory of our redeemer God, and how to go about it.
Ronnie B.
Love the ministry! My question is this, in discussing evolution vs creation in an online group with someone who says he is a Christian, this person wants to keep discussing specific topics that ultimately go back to the premise of him accepting and starting from millions to billions of years of time. I have tried to explain this premise is flawed but to no avail, its like he is oblivious to it. What is the best way to open someone's eyes to this? I know inherently it is a heart issue and not a head issue, but at the same time, I do want to contend for the faith and give reasons for the hope that is within me and I'm afraid I might be missing something. Any help would be appreciated!
Lita Cosner
If you're dealing with a professing Christian, then you would only be evangelizing if you think he is not actually a Christian. Someone can be wrong about doctrine, including doctrines as important as creation, while still believing. Have you asked him where death came from, if not from Adam's sin, and showing him Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, which require a historical Adam to make sense of salvation in Christ? These few thoughts are all I can offer without knowing more about the situation.
Joshua B.
I seem to recall in my youth hearing someone say that in evangelism you need a winsome attitude so you can go win some for Christ. Sounds incredibly cheesy, I know, but it does make the point.
That aside, I would also note one must also be able to discern between those who are merely misinformed and those who are willfully utterly opposed to anything to do with God and have no other goal but to waste the time of the person witnessing to them with controversy and quarrels. The best method I know of for dealing with the latter is to disengage; and then pray for them. There is much fertile soil out there for redemption. Let God break the rock of stony hearts while we work in the prepared fields.
David J.
Lita, I "ditto" others comments that your article is a wonderful, concise teaching tool ( good basis for a book ,I think)
From a distance your professional life seems very humble and focused squarely on Scriptural truth. You seem happy to work collaboratively with Mr Bates, Dr Sarfati and many others. I don't see any public evidence that you look for higher distinction than being a co-worker for Christ.Truly a Godly Woman!
I think your article (& hopefully book or booklet coming) would also include an emphasis/mention on Christian "debating" skills, masterfully outlined by Greg Koulk (hopefully not misspelled). I think his basic message is not to be controlled by others , speaking, I think, to intense opposition which is in, "real world". Christian need to be prepared to deal with the unreasonable (but still talking & hopefully listening }unsaved person. . To me basic and higher debating techniques should be very helpful to most Christians.. while doing the best we can.
Seth C.
I feel the concept has suffered somewhat from proximity to the modern usage of 'apology': Saying you're sorry or making up an excuse. Considering who the prince of this world is, I'm sure that's not an accident.
Earl D.
Hello Lita,

Thank you much for this fine, well written article! I find the work of this nature an excellent exercise in communicating grace and mercy to confused hearts. Thank you.

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