“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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
This is known as the apologetics scripture. Defense is apología – a verbal defense, a speech in defense of, a reasoned statement or argument. Ironically it is also the word from which the English word apology is derived. a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure. While the word of God most certainly is an offense to many, we are not apologizing for it. We are arguing for it’s validity.
Paul and Peter were the first Christian apologists. Justin Martyr followed. Christians were accused of being atheists and cannibals. Hence Martyr’s was a formal legal defense of Christianity before the Roman Emperor.
There are at least eight primary schools of apologetics. While each assumes a different approach they support one another and frequently overlap. They are as follows.
Experiential Apologetics is most easily recognized in personal testimonies about salvation and other encounters with the presence of God. This approach is most common and most accepted within charismatic circles. As valid as testimonies may be we must consider that Mormons, Muslims, and especially New Agers all have testimonies as well. Testimony alone is often ineffective unless we also expose the fallacies of any worldview devoid of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Historical and Evidentialist Apologists like J Warner Wallace a former cold case homicide detective use the same investigative principles employed by detectives to defend the historical accuracy of the Bible.
Presuppositional Apologetics begins with the fact that everyone has a worldview and every worldview is rooted in at least one empirically unprovable assumption or presupposition. “God exists” and “God does not exist” are equally unprovable. Hence everyone is a person of faith. The question that follows is, “Which statement of faith has the most supporting evidence?”
Biblical Apologetics assumes the inerrancy of scripture and argues for or against theological truth claims such as Continuationism – “The gifts are for today” based on scripture alone. Biblical Apologetics and Presuppositional Apologetics are close bedfellows.
Philosophical Apologetics, argues for the existence of God but not the deity of Jesus or the inerrancy of scripture. The Cosomolgical
Argument argues points like, the Kalam cosmological argument.
1. Everything that exists has a beginning.
2. The universe exists.
3. Therefore the Universe has a beginning.
What often follows is the
Teleological Argument which includes arguments like one based on Complexity. One such argument is called the “Wristwatch Argument”. If an alien landed in a remote forest and found a wristwatch he would based on its complexity alone, assume there was a designer and a maker. A single human cell is far more complex than a wristwatch. Therefore it follows that the cell had to have a designer and maker.
Prophetic Apologetics argues for the accuracy of scripture on the basis of fulfilled prophecy and may include evidential arguments such as the mathematical impossibility of their being random chance events.
Absolute moral law exists. That’s how we know it is wrong to torture and kill babies. That absolute moral law exists implies a creator. If there is no creator then absolute moral law does not exist. You are free to “do as thou wilt”. Moral apologetics converges with presuppositional and Biblical apologetics and illustrates how inherently sinful we are, how incapable we are of being good, and our subsequent need for a savior. Ray Comfort frequently applies Moral Apologetics in his evangelism.
Still, Peter prefaces this famous apologetics verse with “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy… The KJV says But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…
Honor or Sanctify is hagiázō – to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow, to separate from profane things, to consecrate, to purify…
One thing you will learn if you study apologetics is that a logically valid argument can be made about almost anything provided it remains faithful to the original supporting presupposition. That Jews should be killed is a valid statement by Hamas in the context of Jews committing genocide against their people. The same argument is valid in the case of Jews as the recurring victims of genocide for hundreds of years. If there is no God there are no absolutes. There is nothing outside of group consensus to stop anyone from doing anything be it exterminating a group of people or hybridizing mankind. A man can be a woman, a woman can be a man and a child can be a cat or a dog. Hence logically valid is not always the same as
It is for this reason that Peter instructs us to consecrate our hearts onto to God. We need to separate our hearts from profane things such as war and the mutilation of His images and consecrate them to God.
Herein lies the paradox.
Peter instructs us to lead with our hearts. But we can not do so unless our mind informs our hearts. One problem I see in the church today is that we have
too many heartless minds and just as many mindless hearts.
Heart and Mind are not exclusive nor are they adversaries. They are interdependent and complementary.
Here is an exercise for our next Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible Study.
I posted this video in the previous post. A Jewish man tells a Christian evangelist that Christians should be killed. The Christian man does a great job of sanctifying his heart and a horrific job, in my opinion, of making a defense for the hope that is in him.
One thing is certain
We owe this Jewish man and everyone like him whose jealousy we are called to provoke an apology.
Make a defense as if you were the evangelist he confronted.