What Christian apologetics is and is not

Much of the opposition to apologetics is not from non-Christians who are offended by attempts to make Christianity seem rational, but by Christians who misunderstand the purpose of apologetics.

When I talk to atheists who say that there is no God, I ask them what kind of God do they not believe in. It may be that I don’t believe in that God either. When Christians say they don’t believe in apologetics, I would suggest asking what type of apologetics they don’t believe in.

Before suggesting that Christians should or should not embrace apologetics, it may be helpful to discuss what apologetics is and what it is not. Let’s start with what apologetics is not.

Apologetics is not

Apologetics is not about achieving certitude on every matter of theology.

Apologetics is not about eliminating all trace of mystery within the Christian faith.

Apologetics does not prove that God exists or any other theological claim.

Apologetics is not meant to bully a seeker or skeptic into becoming a Christian.

Apologetics is not about establishing an intellectual faith lacking any emotional elements.

Apologetics does not seek to stop asking questions or expressing doubts.

Apologetics does not ignore the importance of experience.

If that is what apologetics is not, then what exactly is apologetics?

What is apologetics?

Apologetics is an expression of why we believe what we believe.

Apologetics can look different for every generation and every individual.

Apologetics provides space for questions.

Apologetics keeps the Christian faith on the table of worldviews to be considered.

Apologetics helps to clear obstacles so the Holy Spirit can do an inner work.

Apologetics increases the confidence of the Christian and energizes them for ministry.

Apologetics is one tool among many that God uses to bring people to faith.

Apologetics is a means to worship God with our minds.

When apologetics is seen this way, it is difficult to see why Christians would be opposed to apologetics. This does not mean that every Christian should become actively involved in apologetics. Rather, we need to be more specific when we assert that apologetics or any other Christian activity is good or bad.

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About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Stephen J. Bedard is an author, blogger and speaker. He is interested in discipleship, apologetics and disability advocacy. He co-wrote the award-winning book, Unmasking the Pagan Christ, which was also made into a documentary. He is the director of Hope’s Reason Ministry and editor of Hope’s Reason: A Journal of Apologetics. Additional writing can be found on his website stephenjbedard.com

  • Bev Mitchell

    Clear, concise and very helpful. Thank you!