*Below is a guest post by Terrance Covin who is a part of Mercy Hill Church. Terrance has an apologetics ministry called Jetics League (jeticsleague.org).
It is reported that statistically up to 70% of youth leave the church once they reach college. This is based on recent surveys conducted by the Barna Group and LifeWay Research. According to a separate study conducted by American Bible Society, more and more Americans are losing faith in the bible as it pertains to believing it can have a real impact on their lives.
American Bible Society:
“While 66% of those surveyed agreed that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, 58% say they don’t personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible and about the same amount (57%) read it fewer than five times per year.”
The 57% the study mentions are of those aged 18-28.
Another study conducted by Britt Beemer, chairman of American’s Research Group, aimed at ages 20-29, concluded that over 40% of youth developed doubts about the bible as early as High School.1
These reports, coupled with the attacks on the bible, such as those by Bill Nye “The Science Guy”, who claim the bible isn’t suitable for children, exposes the importance of being able to accurately teach our faith, share our faith and defend our faith. A decline in biblical literacy, a decline towards believing the bible is inerrant along with increased attacks against the bible showcase what can happen when this is not done. This also highlights the fact that there is additional work that must be carried out concerning the training and equipping of Christians after a confession of faith has been made. Many have made a confession of faith only to never really be soundly converted from the start (false converts). So how do we as Christians combat against these current challenges the church is facing? The answer, is through what is commonly called Apologetics. So what is apologetics and how does it help us?
Apologetics is the branch of Christian theology that is concerned with giving a reasoned defense for the truth of the Gospel. An apologist, is one who practices apologetics and seeks to give a defense for this truth.
Apologist Joshua McDowell delivers a short thesis for the truths we are defending:
“There is an infinite, all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God who has revealed Himself by means natural and supernatural in creation, in the nature of man, in the history of Israel and the Church, in the pages of Holy Scripture, in the incarnation of God in Christ, and in the heart of the believer by the gospel.” 2
In Christianity there are 4 major truth claims that are being made known as it pertains to the faith.
1. That an eternally existing, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, just, perfect, holy, merciful and righteous God exists.
2. That this God created all things that exist. This includes the Heavens and the Earth and everything therein including mankind, all created in 6 actual 24hr days.
3. That this God has revealed Himself to all mankind through His wonderful creation including mankind in the person of Jesus Christ who lived and walked on the earth, through scripture and lastly through the Holy Spirit within every believer.
4. That the historic claims that Christianity presents in the bible are actual events that happened in space-time and are not fictional or mythical accounts.
It is these 4 major truths the world seeks to destroy and it is these truths that the Christian seeks to defend. Although some Christians have heard of the term Apologetics, many times they’re not sure who it is for and how it plays into sharing the Gospel.
Who Is Apologetics For?
Scripture explains that all Christians are called to give a defense for the truth.
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15)
Here Peter is impressing upon all believers to always be ready to give a defense for what we believe and to be able to explain the source of it.
“3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
“The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:16)
We see in verse 16 of Philippians that Paul is confessing that he has been purposed to defend the gospel. Eleven verses later Paul impresses upon the Philippians to stand firm and contend for the Gospel of Christ.
“Only let your manner of life be worthy8 of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” (Philippians 1:27-30)
Here we see Paul expressing 2 key points that fall underneath the umbrella of apologetics.
1. Lead your lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel, standing firm in one spirit, contending side by side for the faith of the gospel.
2. Do not let yourselves be intimidated by your opponents.
What we should take note of, is the fact that Paul, does not single out any particular member within the church to defend and contend for the Gospel of Christ. In other words, apologetics is not something meant only for a select few. Giving a defense for the Gospel of Christ is not a responsibility that lands only on the shoulders of Pastors or modern day theologians. It isn’t a branch of theology meant only for the days of the early church and the apostles or disciples. Apologetics is meant for every believer in Christ.
In part 2 of this series we will discuss some of the chief aims of apologetics and look a bit more closely at why being able to defend the Gospel is so vital for the Christian faith.
1. Already Gone: Written by Britt Beemer , Todd Hillard and Ken Ham
2. McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville