Apologetics. What does that word mean? According to the dictionary, apologetics is reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine. Members of the early Church used apologetics to defend their faith; however, it is an area that has suffered neglect from many practicing Christians over the centuries. In more recent history, Christian apologetics is becoming more prominent in the Christian world. Why should people care? Even Jesus says that we are saved by faith alone, “truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24 ESV). We are saved by faith alone, but there are still reasons to care:
- Jesus also says, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38 ESV), and apologetics is loving the Lord with your mind.
- Many Christians do not have a solid reason of “why they believe,” besides the fact that they believe in the Bible because they’ve been told it’s true and have grown up in the faith – which is not entirely a bad thing; however, this leads to #3.
- Many young people abandon their faith, because they don’t know why they believe in the Christian God. The Southern Baptist Convention reports that they are currently losing 70% to 88% of their youth after their freshman year of college. Young adults are abandoning their faith in college, to the point where event the Babylon Bee has a satirical article which sheds light on this: “Congregation Prays Graduating Senior be Protected from Basic Secular Arguments They Never Bothered to Prepare Her for.”
I have a personal interest in apologetics, because I was a Christian who didn’t really know what I believed or why I believed, I doubted God’s existence multiple times, and realized that these issues are prevalent for many young people today.
Some of my close Christian friends have no facts or ideas to back up their beliefs besides their faith and the works God has done in their lives. And these are Christians who are serious about their faith, regularly attend church, and frequently do devotionals. For the record, I think it is great that they have a strong faith and that they’ve been able to see God work in their lives; however, faith doesn’t have to be blind. I have faith (or I believe, or I think – a lot of great synonyms that can be used here) that when I jump in the air gravity will pull me back down to the ground. Why do I have faith in this? I have faith in gravity because I’ve experienced gravity before and scientific evidence shows the force of gravity at work. This isn’t blind faith, so why do people place blind faith in God?
Over Christmas break, I had the opportunity to go Christmas shopping with my cousin. She’s eleven, extremely intelligent, slightly sassy, and has been raised a Christian. After shopping, we were eating out and somehow the topic changed to one about God and faith. And she said something along the lines of, “I believe in God, but there’s really no proof that he’s real.” And while I don’t think we can be 100% certain about anything, I believe there is proof in this world for the Christian God. This conversation allowed me to talk with her about her beliefs. I also remembered that I had similar thoughts just a few years ago, and I realized that these doubts really do affect a lot of Christian youths – especially pre-teens and teenagers.
So, why is apologetics is important? It impacts people – Christian’s and non-Christian’s alike, brings a more logical side to religion (which can sometimes be viewed as illogical, helps eliminate blind faith, and makes Christians better witnesses to non-believers.
Here are links to some of J. Warner Wallace’s articles, from his website coldcasechristianity.com, that specifically relate to young adults leaving the Church:
- “Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?”
- “Are Your Christian Students Ready for College?”
- Video: “Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church in their College Years”
- “Why Young Ex-Christians are Ex-Christians According to the Latest Research”