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Monday, July 18, 2011

What is Apologetics?



"...the best argument is one that is made without words." ~ Ryan Russell 

When Christians use the term "apologetics," often someone will ask, "What are you apologizing for?" or "What's that?" Apologetics comes from the Greek word "apologia," meaning "to give a defense." 

This fits perfectly with 1 Peter 3:15 -- the Scripture in my sub-header -- which reads:

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and 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..."
The term apologetics etymologically derives from the Classical Greek word apologia. In the Classical Greek legal system two key technical terms were employed: the prosecution delivered the kategoria (κατηγορία), and the defendant replied with an apologia. To deliver an apologia meant making a formal speech or giving an explanation to reply and rebut the charges, as in the case of Socrates' defense.
This Classical Greek term appears in the Koine (i.e. common) Greek of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul employs the term apologia in his trial speech to Festus and Agrippa when he says "I make my defense" (Acts 26:2).
A cognate term appears in Paul's Letter to the Philippians as he is "defending the gospel" (Philippians 1:7 & 16), and in 1 Peter 3:15 believers must be ready to give an "answer" for their faith.....
Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that presents a rational basis for the Christian faith, to defend the faith against objections and misrepresentation, and to expose error within other religions and world views..... Apologists base their defense of Christianity on historical and archaeological evidence, theological and philosophical arguments and scientific investigation... [although]... there are various types.
Stephen T. Davis summed up the use of apologetics in this way:

"In truth, faith needs apologetics. It needs it both to answer both the negative arguments of the resurrection and to construct positive arguments in favor of it. Apologetics will not create faith, but perhaps, for some, it will pave the way for it or make it possible. What is destructive of genuine Christian faith, in my opinion, is not apologetics, but unfounded beliefs, unjustified commitments. Unsound arguments are irrational leaps of faith. It is the aim of apologetics to prevent Christian faith from amounting to anything like that." 

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