Apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia which means to give a defense. Peter uses it in 1 Peter 3:15 when he instructs us to “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” That word “defense” is apologia in Greek. It means to give a defense, in the sense of a legal defense, or what an attorney does in a court of law.
Why does Peter tells us this? Well Christianity is founded on historical events, the life death, and resurrection of Christ. Therefore Christianity is something that is testable. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” This means that Christianity is falsifiable. In other words, Christianity is able to be tested and there is a way to know if it is false.
Why is falsifiability important? Falsifiability is an indicator of a good scientific theory. For a theory to be scientific there needs to be a way to test it and disprove it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be dis-proven, what it means is there is a way to know if it is false.
We have that with Christianity, we know what would make Christianity false. Christianity would be false if it could be proven that Jesus did not rise from the dead. This is goodnews! Because if we have a way to know if Christianity is false, and we are able to give good reasons why it is not false, then Christianity is a theory (to use a science term) or a worldview (to use a philosophy term) that should be seriously considered, in the same way any other theory should be seriously considered, until such a time when it can be dis-proven.
So why does all this talk of true and false matter? Well I’m glad you asked! 😉 Because of all the things you can study, know, or believe: what you believe about God is the single most influential belief in your life. It affects every other area of belief or action whether consciously or unconsciously. And if you believe something that is untrue there could be considerable cost. For example if you believe the stop light is green even though it is red, you risk quite a bit, maybe even your life as a result of an untrue belief. Belief is important but it needs to be in something you have good reasons to believe is true.
That’s where apologetics comes into play. Christian Apologetics seeks to answer people’s questions about the truth of the Christian faith. It’s useful for both the Christian as well as the non-believer. For the Christian, apologetics can strengthen their faith because it gives the Christian the foundation to know that what they believe is true. Apologetics is also the tool that the Christian can have available in their tool belt to help answer the questions of their non-believing friends, family members, and others they encounter.
Stay tuned for more in this series! Next time we’ll cover the different styles of apologetics!