This topic has been something that I have wrestled with for 10 months at this point. From November of 2020 through September of 2021. Apologetics has been near and dear to my heart practically since the beginning of my pursuit of Christ at the age of 16. The field of apologetics has been intimately involved with my spiritual formation and is actively a component of my spiritual sanctification and reformation. When I think about the relationship between apologetics, and spiritual formation, I think of three passages recorded below:
22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
1 Peter 3:15 “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”
Hebrews 5: 12 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”
From these three passages there are a few things I’ve come to realize:
- Every stage of discipleship involves Apologetics
- Proclaiming the Gospel is part of Apologetics
- Apologetics is one of the most ancient aspects of Christian Heritage
Apologetics is an essential component of every stage of discipleship, I say this for the following reasons:
Whether dealing with non-believers who ascribe to false faiths or those who claim minimal faith (agnostics) we often find ourselves answering questions about our faith. This is an apologetic moment. What about the immature believer struggling with their doubts, or the mighty philosopher struggling to find an answer to his questions, or the sincere believer struggling with the weight of their sin, all of these are apologetic moments.
Apologetics is the argument for the faith, against other faiths, the explanation of the faith, the encouragement of its adherents, and preservation of the faith’s teachings.
Proclaiming the Gospel is part of apologetics: The Gospel is an answer to a question, the Gospel is a defense of our hope, the Gospel is the most elementary and mighty defense of the faith.
Apologetics is one of the most ancient aspects of Christian Heritage:
Look back at the three passages… Apologetics is present in the New Testament, anyone who thinks of apologetics as being a modern phenomenon is grossly uninformed. there have been storytellers, hymn writers, rhetoricians, and individuals from every sphere of life who have done the work of apologetics. Even in the most stringently academic sense, apologetics is old as the Apostles, who are we to dismiss it because it causes us discomfort.
The most important thing we, as the body of Christ, can do to help create more meaningful spiritual formation is to introduce apologetics and foster curiosity about the depths of the faith among our members.