Home > Apologetics, General > What’s the benefit of good apologetics?

What’s the benefit of good apologetics?

Christian apologetics is the discipline of defending our beliefs through the systematic use of reason. In the Bible, 1 Peter 3:15 states: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

The problem is, many Christians either do not know the reasons for what they believe, or they do more harm than good by spreading half-truths and weak arguments—most often unknowingly or with good intentions.

Now, I am certainly not claiming or implying to know it all when I write here. Even after many more years of diligent study, I’d imagine there’s no way to cover every possible topic with sufficient depth. But the important thing is for me to know my own limitations and admit when something is beyond my current base of knowledge.

Why bother, anyway? I believe there are number of direct benefits that can come from good, solid apologetics:

– Skeptics can sometimes be “won over” to the Christian faith.

This is probably a somewhat rare occurrence, at least as a direct result of apologetics. People generally do not convert based on reasoning alone. This is because, whether or not we realize it, we come to our beliefs based on a mixture of factors such as upbringing, personal experiences, emotions, social pressures, and other influences. Christians also happen to believe that people come to faith based on the beckoning of the Holy Spirit.

However, sometimes everything else falls into place in a person’s life and the last thing that remains is some mental barrier. When apologists provide reasonable answers to skeptics’ most piercing questions, that almost-believer may find that making the final, small leap of faith isn’t so hard after all.

– Christianity and its claims can gain credibility and respectability.

Sadly, the prevalent opinion of the secular world seems to be that Christians are some kind of naive, mindless sheep. “If only they’d THINK for themselves,” some point out, “these Christians might see how ridiculous their beliefs are.”

Consider this one comment I’ve seen from a skeptic: “Who would you believe? The Christians with an IQ of 95-100, or Richard Dawkins with his 160-165 IQ?” Other than the sweeping generalizations and the likely inaccuracies in his statement, this skeptic points out the unmet need for healthy Christian minds to represent the faith in a respectable fashion.

If we are publicly informed and make arguments for our faith that are at least plausible—if not convincing—then there might not be so much of a bias that is pre-formed in unbelievers’ minds. They might be more willing to open their minds and explore the possibilities of a Christian savior, rather than rule it out completely by default.

– Current believers’ faith can be solidified and strengthened.

Blind faith is faith that is standing on shaky ground. It’s true that sometimes, believers can make it through an entire lifetime without facing any serious, earth-shaking doubts and challenges to their faith. But this is kind of like a lovey-dovey relationship that has not experienced any painful fights and arguments. There is a depth that can only come from going through hardships, coming through to the other side, and being stronger than ever before. No pain, no gain.

Besides, the fact is that most believers will encounter serious obstacles at some point in their lives, whether from difficult experiences, science, the world’s views, or some combination of everything. It is prudent to become well-equipped to handle these spiritual ordeals beforehand.

***

Personally, I’ve found that being an intellectually satisfied Christian means being a happier one who is eager to explore further. Being more informed has revitalized my own faith and helped address some of the doubts that I didn’t even realize were in my subconscious mind.

The bottom line is that apologetics matters. Obviously, there are other good reasons to defend our faith to the world, but this is probably a good starting point.

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