What is Christian Apologetics?
To understand what is Christian apologetics, we must first understand the definition of the term ‘apologetics’. ‘Apologetics’ comes from the Greek word apologia, which means “a defense.” The kind of defense implied here refers to a rational defense, such as a defense made in a court of law. Paul uses apologia this way in Acts 26:2 when he is defending his own innocence before a Roman court. Thus, to practice apologetics is to give a rational defense for the truth of something.
To practice Christian apologetics, then, is to give a rational defense for the truth of Christianity. It involves making a case for the truth of the Christian faith, providing rational justification for its truth claims. Providing a rational justification for the truth claims of Christianity itself involves giving positive arguments for those claims, and responding to opposing arguments purporting to show that those claims are false.
What is an argument?
The term ‘argument’ is used here in a philosophical sense. It does not refer to the everyday use of ‘argument’, which often involves connotations of fighting or quarreling. Rather, the philosophical sense of an ‘argument’ merely refers to the giving of reasons to believe that some conclusion is true. As such, arguments need not always be presented in a hostile or angry way. Arguments can be presented in a kind and respectful manner as well.
And this is the way in which the Bible calls us to give arguments. As 2 Tim. 2:24-25 states, the “Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone…correcting his opponents with gentleness.” Thus, while we are called to argue with our opponents, we are to do so in a way that is not quarrelsome but kind. 1 Peter 3:15, the standard verse on apologetics, is especially clear on this point:
…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
As Peter says here, we are to give reasons to those who want to know why we hold to our Christian faith. In other words, we are to provide arguments for the conclusion that the Christian faith is rational. But we must do so in a way that is gentle and shows respect to those with whom we are conversing, not in a way that is angry or quarrelsome.
We thus come to our final definition of Christian apologetics: Christian apologetics is the practice of giving a rational and respectful defense of the truth claims of Christianity.
The Basics of Apologetics
This article represents the first in a series of four lessons in our Apologetics Basics series. This introductory series introduces the discipline of apologetics in an accessible way, shows how the study of it is both biblical and practically beneficial, and then outlines the basic topics covered in Christian apologetics. Check out the other lessons in this series here:
Lesson 2: What Does the Bible Say about Defending the Faith? – See how the study of apologetics is biblically supported.
Lesson 3: The Benefits of Studying Apologetics – Discover the benefits apologetics brings to ourselves, non-Christians, and the culture in which we live.
Lesson 4: A Basic Introduction to the Types of Apologetics – Get some direction going forward by getting a basic overview of the topics that apologetics covers.
Explore Christian Apologetics Training
Once you are ready to learn more about defending your faith, we encourage you to explore the various other features of this site. From recommended resources to apologetics articles produced directly by Christian Apologetics Training on a wide array of topics, our hope is that you receive a well-rounded training here. We encourage you to check out some of the following resources:
Best Christian Apologetics Books – Here you will find our master list of recommended books, with links to reviews by Christian Apologetics Training. If you consider yourself a beginner, check out our top five books for beginners.
Arguments – This menu contains a continually updating collection of our own apologetics articles. Popular articles include our advice for resolving all kinds of Bible difficulties, and our Evidence for the Resurrection series.
Current Events – This menu contains articles featuring reasoned Christian approaches to various current events.
See our reviews of resources like these here.
Be sure to leave any thoughts or questions you have about apologetics in the comments section below!