Archive for July 6th, 2011

Apologizing or Using Apologetics

President Obama has received a lot of flak for apologizing for the United States of America. I recently read an article that brought up the subject. It got me to thinking about Christian apologetics – giving a reason for why we believe what we believe.

In my short 27 years, 8 months, and (roughly) 2 weeks of life I have noticed that there are a lot of Christians who spend their time apologizing for declaring truths or offending people or the Crusades. They tend to act like a puppy who pooped on the floor and do everything they can to hide from the shame of past offenses and being friendly. Some people just ignore the sin topic entirely and sometimes ignore Jesus Christ, because these are the top two issues that offend people.

Why are you a Christian, then?

If Jesus is not our central focus, if His death and resurrection did not happen and our sin is a non-issue, then why even call yourself a Christian? Did you know there is a name for this Christian? The “Christian Atheist” is one who goes to church … maybe … does all the right things, is a generally good person, and helps people. Yet these people rarely mention the cross, Jesus, or sin.

There is another name for that: Atheist. So, you might as well own up. We will miss you, but you cause more harm than you realize.

If you truly wish to live a God-honoring life, speak for your faith and your God. Yes, it can be tough talking with people about sin and the need of a Savior, but that is actually the one thing a Christian is supposed to do (see Matthew 28, especially verses 17-20).

So, give a reason.

Peter, the Apostle, told us “But in your hearts set apart 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV). The greek word used for “give an answer” is where we get our words “apologize” and “apologetics.” We were commanded by our Lord and reminded by one of His closest followers to share the message, to know what we believe and why, and to share these reasons.

But we can do it “with gentleness and respect.” We do not have cram “You are sinner and you need Jesus!” down the throats of people. One of the best definitions for gentleness I have ever heard is “controlled strength,” and for respect “loving patience, service, and humility.” Yes, you should find times to share your faith, but the loudest message will be faithfully living your life for Christ. If you are living well in a God-honoring way, you study His Word regularly, and are always willing to listen and help and humbly live your life, people will ask you about why this is. Then you can share your story and the story of Jesus Christ. It does not have to be all fire-and-brimstone, follow Jesus or suffer talk. In fact, a simple and straight-forward explanation usually opens the door to further conversation.

And do not worry if you do not have all the answers. You can ask your pastor or friends for advice or even refer the asker to one of them.

If want some help, here are a couple of common questions and answers that may come up:

“Faith is abandoning reason and believing for believing’s sake! So why have faith?”
“Actually, faith is reasoned belief. I have faith in what I do not see or understand, because I have seen enough evidence that what the Bible says is true enough places to trust the others.”

“How can you believe in a God when there is so much evil on the planet?”
“Evil can be defined as “the absence of God.” If most of our world wants nothing to do with God and often pushes Him away, you would expect to see “the absence of God” in many places. If some people do not want His help, why would He? Should we not be more amazed that have not destroyed ourselves? Our continued existence can be seen as evidence that God is good and gracious in keeping us from destroying ourselves.”

These are just a couple of short, quick responses, and by no means full rebuttals. It takes practice reasoning skills to become proficient.

Another reminder: Anyone who says the Christian life is easy is trying to sell you something. Jesus warned us there would be difficulties, but we have the Holy Spirit to help us.

Do not apologize for the faith we hold. If we truly believe we have access to the truth, there is nothing to apologize for. We should acknowledge the sins the Church has committed, but we should explain the difference between what has been committed and what Christ has called His Church to do. And we live it.

What do you think? Do you see more apologizing or apologetics? Do you have any stories of your own?