“So, um, do men who become pastors have to have any . . . you know . . . education?” The man with whom I was speaking, upon learning that I was a minister, seemed genuinely intrigued. He wanted to know how we preachers could possibly “think of something to say for 30 minutes every Sunday morning.” He assumed that the call to ministry involved nothing more than hubris and talkativeness, and was amazed when I began to explain that education (even to the doctoral level) was a significant part of an effective minister’s commitment.
My friend and apologetics leader Craig Hazen, Ph.D., observed that many spiritual skeptics simply assume that Christians are people who, “Just, uh, you know . . . believe stuff.” Indeed Christians do believe some very specific truth claims: that God exists, He created all things, has revealed Himself to the human race, and may be personally experienced and known. True Christians submit to the authority of God’s Word, and accept that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, paid for our sins on the cross and rose from the dead.
Christianity is about a very specific set of truth claims, and our personal response to them. What surprises many skeptics (and also many believers) is that the claims of Christianity are undergirded with very compelling lines of evidence. Christians are saved through faith in Jesus (the Greek translated “faith” is pisteau, which means “trust”). Contrary to what some might assume, our faith is no mere “wishful thinking,” birthed in a vacuum. Christianity is a faith accompanied by empirical proofs that validate our trust in Jesus.
It has never been “less cool” to be a Christian. In this time of growing secularism, it is imperative that Christ’s followers attend to the life of mind. For most non-believers, it is a bombshell to learn that faith claims can be tested. The claims of a belief system can be validated as true, or can be exposed as false. Rather than just being people who, “Uh…. Believe stuff,” today’s disciples must rise to the challenge of I Peter 3:15, and, “be ready to give an answer.”
This is likely the most famous verse associated with the discipline of apologetics (though the Greek word meaning a “defense of the faith” appears in the New Testament about a half dozen times). The base word apologia can mean “answer” or “to give an account.” Biblically, apologetics involves use of evidences and sound reasoning to reach individuals for Christ. Read I and II Peter, Colossians, and note Paul’s evangelism approaches in the book of Acts, and it is hard to miss the implication of a reasoned, logical approach.