Apologetics Means Defense
Do you worry that someone will ask you a question
about your faith that you can't answer?
Have you tried to learn how to defend your faith
but gotten lost in confusing language and theology?
Do you struggle with times of spiritual doubt yourself?
This concise training manual by renowned scholar William Lane Craig is filled with illustrations, sidebars, and memorizable steps to help you stand your ground and defend your faith with reason and precision. In his engaging style, Craig offers four arguments for God's existence, defends the historicity of Jesus' personal claims and resurrection, addresses the problem of suffering, and shows why religious relativism doesn't work. Along the way, he shares his own story of following God's call.
This one-stop, how-to-defend-your-faith manual will equip you to advance faith conversations deliberately, applying straightforward, cool-headed arguments. You will discover not just what you believe, but why you believe—and how being on guard with the truth has the power to change lives forever.
An excerpt from On Guard
©2010 William Lane Craig. On Guard. Published by David C. Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.
Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.
(1 Peter 3:15 RSV)
I teach a Sunday school class called “Defenders” to about one hundred people, from high schoolers to senior adults, at our home church in Atlanta. We talk about what the Bible teaches (Christian doctrine) and about how to defend it (Christian apologetics). Sometimes people who aren’t in our class don’t understand what we do. One fine Southern lady, upon hearing that I teach Christian apologetics, remarked indignantly, “I’ll never apologize for my faith!”
Apologetics Means a Defense
The reason for her misunderstanding is obvious: “Apologetics” sounds like “apologize.” But apologetics is not the art of telling somebody you’re sorry that you’re a Christian! Rather apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which means a defense, as in a court of law. Christian apologetics involves making a case for the truth of the Christian faith.
The Bible actually commands us to have such a case ready to give to any unbeliever who wants to know why we believe what we do. Just as the contestants in a fencing match have learned both to parry each attack as well as to go on the offensive themselves, so we must always be “on guard.” First Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (author’s translation).
Notice the attitude we’re supposed to have when giving our defense: We should be gentle and respectful. Apologetics is also not the art of making somebody else sorry that you’re a Christian! We can present a defense of the Christian faith without becoming defensive. We can present arguments for Christianity without becoming argumentative.
When I talk in this book about arguments for the Christian faith, it’s vital to understand that I don’t mean quarreling. We should never quarrel with a nonbeliever about our faith. That only makes people mad and drives them away. As I’ll explain later in this chapter, an argument in the philosophical sense is not a fight or a heated exchange; it’s just a series of statements leading to a conclusion. That’s all.
Ironically, if you have good arguments in support of your faith, you’re less apt to become quarrelsome or upset. I find that the better my arguments, the less argumentative I am. The better my defense, the less defensive I am. If you have good reasons for what you believe and know the answers to the unbeliever’s questions or objections, there’s just no reason to get hot under the collar. Instead, you’ll find yourself calm and confident when you’re under attack, because you know you have the answers.
I frequently debate on university campuses on topics like “Does God Exist?” or “Christianity vs.
Atheism.” Sometimes students in the audience get up during the Q&A period and attack me personally
or go into an abusive rant. I find that my reaction to these students is not anger, but rather simply feeling
sorry for them because they’re so mixed up. If you have good reasons for what you believe, then instead
of anger you’ll feel a genuine compassion for the unbeliever, who is often so misled. Good apologetics involves “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
On Guard by William Lane Craig
David C Cook/March 1, 2010/ISBN: 978-1-4347-6488-1/286 pages/softcover/$16.99
Thank you to Audra Jennings at the B and B media group for providing me with a review copy. http://www.tbbmedia.com