A Question I Was Asked:

Why Do Some Christians Reject 'Christian Apologetics'?

The Question:

"I am at a loss to understand why some Christians don't like Apologetics and a few are really opposed to it. Where on earth can they be coming from?"

UK Apologetics Reply:

Hmm - that is a very good question. Let us consider it.

First of all we need to understand that Christian Apologetics concerns the defence of the Christian Faith. In my long experience in this area, I would say that there are three groups of professing Christians who reject Christian Apologetics.

Did Paul say, 'I am not even going to discuss God with these people because they can't possibly understand unless the Holy Spirit opens their minds.'? Of course not!! Indeed, Acts 17 is one of the finest outlines of Christian Apologetics you will find. Preaching the Gospel cannot avoid the discipline of Christian Apologetics, that is, to preach the Gospel is to proclaim, explain and defend the Christian Faith.

1. Emotional Christians.

These are the sort of believers whose faith is of the 'airy-fairy' variety. They say things like, "My Christianity is a matter of the heart, not of the intellect. I don't want to define it. I know and love Jesus and that's enough for me."
Whilst not doubting the sincerity of many such people, I'm afraid that these are the sort of Christians who fall prey to New Ageism and to the cults and sects in the thousands every single year. Why? Because they refuse to pin down what they believe; they think it is a bad thing to attempt to define it. But it is not a bad thing, it is simply common sense.

As soon as the cults and sects arrived on the scene (which was quite soon), the early Christians discovered that they needed to define their Christianity; they did this through such things as the very early Apostles Creed and, later, through the later great 4th century creeds, such as the Nicaean Creed. When people want to pervert biblical teaching they are subtle, attempting to win you over to their side by accepting part of what you believe when their real agenda is to get you to agree to a whole group of things which are just plain unbiblical. Do we value our Faith or don't we? If we do, we must arm ourselves to defend our beliefs against Satan's subtle tactics. You think I am wrong? Then go right through the New Testament epistles and note how important the apostles thought it was to define what Christianity is, and what it is not!

Notice these words,

'Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.' (Ephesians 6:11-13).

What do you think Titus 1 - and many similar New Testament warnings - means by such things as the following:

'They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.' (Titus 1:16).

These were people who claimed to 'know God.' To be 'armed' in this area, we need at least some grasp of Christian Apologetics, at least to the degree that we can define what Christianity is by being able to quote a few Scriptures!

Why do we think that Matthew records the following words of Jesus:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:21-23).

So we see that not all who profess to know God or to know Jesus should be accepted at face value. We cannot glorify Christ by being purely 'emotional' Christians who stoutly refuse to explain nor to define what we believe.

2. Reformed Five-Point Calvinists.

I worked with a man like this a few years ago. He was of the 'old school' of very strict five-point Calvinists. He was quite sincere but, and to my amazement, he rejected any place for Christian Apologetics. Why? He thought it could only lead to error and to a purely-human understanding of God. He would say that divine knowledge is only granted by the Holy Spirit and, if one is granted that, one does not need Apologetics - Incredible! He was incredibly wrong on this point but would never budge. Of course, ultimately, certainly only God grants us true spiritual knowledge - I fully agree, but what about that in-between stage as the Spirit starts working with us and gradually opening our minds? If this man was right, why even preach the Gospel? But wait, did not Peter say the following:

'But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.' (1 Peter 3:15-16).

How can we 'be prepared to give an answer' concerning the hope of the Gospel if we refuse to get involved in Christian Apologetics? I'm sorry but it is a nonsense. It (apparently) did not concern my old friend that Paul can be found engaging in Christian Apologetics on several occasions within the Book of Acts (about which more later)!

People who don't like Apologetics sometimes quote this:

'On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.' (Matthew 10:18-20).

Actually Matthew 10:18-20 is also used by some preachers to say one should never carefully prepare a sermon. I think I have heard such sermons: repetitive!!!

But the Matthew text is talking about giving a defence of Christianity in a time of serious trial before magistrates, rulers and judges. At such a time we do not need to prepare our defence because the Holy Spirit Himself will speak through us. The context of these verses is set in verse 17:

'Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.'

Frankly, to consider that Mattew 10:18-20 bars Apologetics and even bars preparing sermons is to show a most lamentable grasp of Holy Scripture! We have already noted 1 Peter 3:15 which tells us to be prepared to give an answer - if this should seem insufficient to some we really should consider the Book of Acts which shows the Apostles regularly involved in Christian Apologetics. Don't accept my word on that? Then go right through Acts and note the strong use of Apologetics. Here is an example:

'Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."' (Acts 17:22-31).

So here we see Paul freely engaging in Christian Apologetics! Did Paul say, 'I am not even going to discuss God with these people because they can't possibly understand unless the Holy Spirit opens their minds.' Of course not!! Preaching the Gospel cannot avoid the discipline of Christian Apologetics, that is, to preach the Gospel is to proclaim, explain and to defend the Christian Faith. However, nothing I am saying here is to suggest that we should force the Gospel on to disinterested and closed minds. That is wrong.

Other Scriptures clearly advise believers to study the Scriptures to improve their knowledge (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Peter 2:2, for example).

So Reformed people - no matter how well-meaning - are wrong and, indeed quite catastrophically-wrong on this point. Having said that, most Calvinists are not that extreme and do indeed welcome Christian Apologetics.

3. Those Who Fear Having Their Beliefs Exposed to the Light.

I have never yet heard of a 'health, wealth and prosperity' teacher who is also keen on Christian Apologetics. Why? Because Christian Apologetics, encouraging as it does a more in-depth biblical understanding, is to expose the dreadful errors of the prosperity teachers to the light. The extremist wing of the charismatic movement also avoids Apologetics like the plague. It is totally against the strategy of such people to get involved in Apologetics or to encourage their followers to do so. I think we all know that such groups usually have a woeful knowledge of Holy Scripture and that is where they want their followers to stay! But Apologetics wants to enlighten people's minds.

The above may be an extreme and unbalanced form of Christianity but, of course, there are also the cults and sects which detest Christian Apologetics writers like myself. These people have no wish to have their doctrines exposed to the light so they stay a mile clear of us and warn their followers to keep away from us. They hypocritically indulge in 'pop calling the kettle black' by telling their people that Apologetics wrtiters are doing the 'work of Satan.'

So there you have it: three groups of professing believers who never seem to like Christian Apologetics but, as I think I have demonstrated, the New Testament fully advocates this discipline for the followers of Christ.
Robin A. Brace. October 15th, 2010.