Contending for the Faith
The Apostle Peter commands believers in Jesus Christ to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15; emphasis mine). The word “defense” is the Greek apologia, from which is derived the English apologetics. Christian Apologetics is the study of how to provide a rational defense of the truth of the Christian faith, in other words, to explain why what one believes about the Bible, God, Jesus Christ, salvation, etc., is indeed true. Shamefully, too many Christians are ill-equipped for fulfilling the Apostle’s command. Rather than intellectually engaging their faith, many settle for an uncritical, simple-minded profession of belief and are thus inept when it comes to handling difficult questions and challenges proposed by nonbelievers. However, this runs contrary to Scripture’s model for effective evangelism.
The Apostle Paul describes spiritual warfare as fundamentally a battle of ideas that requires the ability to think critically in responding to unbelief. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, he speaks of “pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God; bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ.” Paul made it a regular practice to enter the synagogue as he “reasoned…from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3; cf. v. 17). He also visits Athens, the Greek philosophical center of the ancient world, and confronts head-on the false philosophies of the day, convincing many of the truth of God and Jesus’ Resurrection (Acts 17:16-34). Moreover, while in chains, Paul writes to the Philippian church of his continued “defense and confirmation of the gospel” (1:7). Needless to say, the New Testament makes it very clear that Christians are to be equipped to address the intellectual barriers and hindrances to belief in Jesus Christ which permeate any unbelieving culture.
It has been said that the mind is the gateway to the heart, and thus false ideas or beliefs are one of the biggest obstacles to the reception of the Gospel. Believers may face any number of questions in their attempts to evangelize the lost, including: How does one know that truth exists, or that there is only one truth? Is there any evidence for the existence of God? Even if God exists, how do I know the God of the Bible is the true God? Hasn’t the Bible been proven to be unscientific and unreliable? Are miracles really possible? Do the Gospel records give an accurate, historical picture of Jesus of Nazareth? What about the portraits of Jesus in The Da Vinci Code or the Gnostic Gospels? Why should I trust the New Testament over these competing accounts? Is Jesus really the only way to salvation? Hillsdale FWB College is committed to equipping students to answer such questions in a way that demonstrates the reasonableness and credibility of the Gospel message. Students learn to share the truth of Jesus Christ with a boldness and confidence through training in Christian Apologetics so they may “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Article written by Denny Kuhn