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Can’t We Just Avoid Apologetics?

Lively outdoor discussion amoung young people: Photo 17823673 © William87 |

[Originally published as part of The Interaction of Apologetics & Evangelism]

  • Every Christian should delight in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6).
  • Strongholds are false ideas that set themselves against the knowledge of God. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
  • Defending the truth is the basic function of apologetics.

Therefore, ALL believers are apologists. It’s unavoidable if you love the truth despite the common misnomer that “apologetics can only be utilized by the super intellectual.”

Yes, there are varying degrees of depth to apologetics, but there are super simple apologetic/truth-defending arguments that are unavoidable if you believe the Bible to be true and the gospel to be the only hope for mankind.

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The most basic form of apologetics is that of our love for one another in the body of Christ: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

To further add to this point, the late apologist Francis Schaeffer once said,

Let us be careful, indeed, to spend a lifetime studying to give honest answers…But after we have done our best to communicate to a lost world, still we must never forget that the final apologetic which Jesus gave is the observable love of true Christians for true Christians.

I recently had someone say to me, “I’m not an intellectual but I have benefitted from apologetics greatly. If I had been exposed to apologetics when I was younger, I wouldn’t have walked away from the church for several years.”

Church leaders: Please listen to what this believer is saying. Praise God, this believer is now walking faithfully with the Lord, but many are not, and it’s a discipleship issue.

If you have read my review of Alisa Childers’s book, Another Gospel?, you know that I was crippled in my faith by progressive teachings as well. It wasn’t just “a heart issue” — I had been fed lies about the trustworthiness of God’s Word, his mission, and the gospel itself.

Sadly, the large majority of my peers now reject the historic Christian message. It began to strike me as very odd when I kept seeing them apologetically argue against Christian apologetics and for “just loving people,” even as they embraced homosexuality, rejected inerrancy, castigated missions that preach the exclusivity of Christ as ‘colonialism,’ denied a historical Adam and rejected the substitutionary atonement. These doctrines make up a basic Christian worldview. Oddly, my friends were strong apologists against Christian orthodoxy, at the same time, they were against the practice of apologetics itself.

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The irony was thick.

Apologetics is unavoidable. The question is: what are you going to defend as worth living and dying for with your money, time, and words?

When 65% of Americans claim to be Christian, and only 6% have a biblical worldview, it is vital that the American church sees the giant disconnect and need.

Pragmatism has driven our evangelism so much that we have produced anti-intellectual believers who claim the name of Christ, yet have not been discipled in a biblical worldview. The reality is that the pragmatism that may “get results” or “decisions” doesn’t actually produce Biblical results by making real disciples.

Church leaders: We must understand that effective biblical discipleship will fuel MORE effective evangelism and fruitful believers. I’ll give evidence to support my claim from some students in our Worldview Academy. These students receive training in biblical apologetics and frequently go out to talk evangelistically with people in our city.

Theology, prayer, worship, worldview, and biblical apologetics training FUELS confidence and effectiveness in evangelism. We aren’t just sitting around debating the finer points of theology, we are taking students out to ENGAGE with the lost!

“The most important thing I have learned in the Academy is how trustworthy the Bible is. It has been amazing learning how the gospels fit together. God doesn’t just make us believe with no evidence for our faith. He has given us the ability to search His Word and find that everything he says is true….going to UTEP [for evangelism] really challenged me. It may me want to learn more so that I could have better conversations with people. (Rebekah, Engage Worldview Academy student)

The most significant thing I have learned is about evangelism. Even though I had done it before, I always struggled to engage in a conversation with a stranger and learning more about how to expose the gospel to others.” Ruth, Engage Worldview Academy Student

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Thus, our definition of discipleship must include teaching the new believer how to obey all that Jesus has commanded, modeling the humility and love of Christ from a more mature believer (1 Cor. 11:1), grounded in the Word and prayer (2 Tim 3:15–16; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–17), serving together, and biblical worldview formation. It must include biblical worldview formation because it’s simply learning how to take captive every thought to the Lord Jesus and think Biblically about all things (2 Corinthians 10:3–5).

To be continued…

Caleb Harrelson

Written by Caleb Harrelson

Engage Apologetics was founded in the summer of 2018 and is led by Caleb and Kendra Harrelson. They were missionaries in Ukraine and served in full-time youth ministry for 6 years. Their involvement in ministry has given them firsthand experience with the vast number of questions that people have about Jesus, science, and the Bible, so they decided to devote themselves full-time to help believers understand why the Christian worldview is true and how they can fully engage their whole life to know God and make His Gospel known.

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