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Christian Apologetics: What it is, Where it Comes From, and Who Does it Today

Brett Nichols

Posted on February 1, 2020 02:54

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A brief definition and overview of the context of apologetics in the Greco-Roman world mentioned in the New Testament and a few names who have practiced the art of Apologetics in the 20th and 21st centuries.

What is an Apologetic?
The common understanding of the word “apologetic” tends to mean that one has offended another individual and they are in a disposition of regret for what they have done. However, this word originates from the Greek word Apologia (απολογια) which, ironically to our understanding today, means to “state [or justify] a defense.”

A notable example of apologetics, for example, in a historical Christian context is the apostle Paul's statements at a Greek acropolis in Acts 17. Here Paul interacts with philosophies and systems of belief that were popular within the Greco-Roman culture during his visit. The ideas he interacted with were those of Judaism, stoic philosophy, and Epicurean philosophy. Paul was impressively versed in the Greek’s perceived views of religion and philosophy in addition to being greatly educated in the Jewish doctrines. He used his established knowledge to better segue teachings that were spread by Christ. Paul was able to speak coherently about the cultural motifs and beliefs while incorporating Christ into their system of beliefs. In doing so, Paul created a 'reasonable' defense for his faith and was able to bring "some" of them over to Christ (17:34), which is the fundamental goal in the practice of Christian apologetics today. 

Apologists Today
Those that adopt a methodology like Paul, creating a basis for their belief in light of the philosophical or scientific beliefs in society are called “apologists;" in a general sense, a (theistic) apologist is an individual that aims to defend their theistic premise with an argument (i.e., an established view based on reason and logic) that involves founding an argument (position) or making counterarguments against a said opposing premise.

An example of a modern apologist is Ravi Zacharias of whom most famously is known as an “interreligious apologist,” insofar that he creates defenses for the Christian scripture in light of other major world religions, like Islam and Hinduism arguing that all of these religions cannot all be valid on the basis that they all make claims incompatible with each other.

Another apologist is William Lane Craig, he specializes in defending the Christian faith in light of the secular humanistic ideas of Dawkins and Dennett. Some of his most notable contributions are in the fields of cosmology, philosophy, and the theological argument for the historicity of Christ’s resurrection.

A philosopher that is more widely known generally is the prolific writer C.S. Lewis, the creator of the Chronicles of Narnia children’s series and other literary pieces; those including Mere Christianity, The Abolition of man, and The Problem of Pain. His pieces tend to contest for the Christian values of objective moral truth, humanity being made in the image of God, and that humanity has had a falling from grace that Jesus repaired through his death and resurrection. 

The discipline of Christian apologetics has far many more defenders of the faith not mentioned here throughout many disciplines and the field only continues to grow. Only time will tell which direction it will go next.

Brett Nichols

Posted on February 1, 2020 02:54

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Eight Christians have been arrested in Nepal for distributing Bibles to schoolchildren, according to ChristianToday.com.

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