This article is a summary of a presentation I gave at North Ten Mile Baptist Church on December 1, 2019. To view a slide presentation of this material, please check out our YouTube channel.
A question I often get from people in the church is, why should I have you come to speak at my church? Why does my church need apologetics? It is a legitimate question. Churches have many issues they need to address. It is often difficult to cover even the most basic doctrinal points in a Sunday sermon. Further, with the turnover rate in both ministers and members in many churches, often there is simply not enough time for one pastor to cover everything in enough depth. This is certainly a major issue, as we shall see further on, but the Bible does command us to defend our faith. Jude 1-5 and 1 Peter 3:15 both confirm that we need to have answers for the world about what we believe.
However, oftentimes Christians cannot give answers or at least the right answers. A 2018 study by LifeWay found some terrifying statistics. Among those calling themselves Evangelicals, 56% believe man is basically good and thus is not born with a sin nature. 60% believe all religions lead to God. Incredibly, 71% believe Jesus is a created being, rather than God! That is a doctrine taught by the Mormon cult, not the Bible, yet people who claim to be Bible-believing Christians are affirming it. Clearly, even most Evangelical Christians are functionally doctrinally illiterate.
There are two reasons for this catastrophe. One is the incredible number of false teachers in the church. We have people in the church, such as N.T. Wright, propagating heresy. In Wright’s case, the heresy is a denial of penal substitutionary atonement, though he claims not to deny it. Despite his damnable doctrine, Wright is still accepted in many Evangelical churches. The same goes for Andy Stanley who thinks creation is a myth and wants us to throw out the entire Old Testament. Dare mention that Stanley might not be orthodox in the public sphere and you can expect to be mobbed by Evangelicals defending him. Many Evangelicals have bought into false teachings of dozens of false teachers on hundreds of doctrinal and Scriptural issues. Just as a sample, we are currently being called Pharisee’s on social media for believing that the Textus Receptus is more accurate than the Nestle-Aland text. Exactly how this is Pharisaical is never defined of course.
Many Evangelicals have bought into false teaching, but many times more simply have no foundation or answer. They have never been taught the truth of Scripture on a given topic so they are unable to provide an answer according to the 1 Peter 3;15 principles. The word “answer” is translated from the Greek word “apologia”. It is the root of our English word apologetics. Apologetics is giving people answers. Given that the church has failed mightily in this department, answers are more in need now than ever.
The Bible calls us to be mature Christians. Hebrews reprimands its audience for remaining babes in Christ. Yet that is exactly how so many Christians remain. They become Christians and then never grow never mature, ever reach out for the completeness that comes from knowing God and His Word. This state of affairs is part of the reason we desperately need apologetics.
There are two interconnected reasons for so many Christians remaining babes. One is they are never given a foundation for faith. Often times we attempt to fix the outside without ever giving them reasons that explain why. This is akin to Ken Ham’s common example of building a house. You always build a house foundation up, not walls and roof down. It makes no sense to do it any other way. So it is with discipleship. Unfortunately, most churches do not disciple new converts and, the few that do, usually do so from the wrong foundation. Thus many converts have no way to understand that they are living sacrifices to God, according to Romans 12, and that they ought to be serving Him with everything they are. Even if they do understand that, most churches barely even pay lip service to the idea of serving God with everything they have, let alone actually do it, so most new converts do not have a clue what this verse means, not to mention the 66% of young people who flood out of the church never to return.
Apologetics has never been more necessary than it is today. The church is bleeding young people and even some older folks who do not have answers for the hope that is in them. Apologetics can give them those answers. Apologetics helps give people assurance that what they believe is true. This is why apologetics matters. They give people an answer.