A few days ago I was talking with a friend about a well known apologist, Dr. Ravi Zacharias. His comment to me was, “I’d love to be one tenth as smart as him”. We talked for a bit on the fact that Dr. Zacharias has 30 or so years of full-time experience in apologetics, as well as an extensive education in that field. What is ‘apologetics’? It stems from ‘the Greek word apologia, which was originally used of a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure’.1 So an ‘apology’ is making a logical, courtroom-style defense of the Christian faith.
The biblical admonition from 1 Peter 3:15 is, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have“. That seems to indicate that the need to be an apologist impacts us all, but how many of us can earn a doctorate and spend 30 years getting to the point we feel comfortable in witnessing to people? Moreover, what use is there for this type of ministry for the typical bivocational pastor? What do we really need to know?
I intend to cover some of these questions in the next few posts, but let’s start with the low hanging fruit. Who has the time and energy to get a doctorate and 30 years of experience? Very few people, and probably even fewer bivocational pastors. When is the last time you heard a guidance counselor advise a young person to get an education in apologetics because they are in demand and pay well? And yet, we need to follow the call of God faithfully.
God tells us there are various kinds of ministry and we listen to Paul’s analogy of the Church to a body…interconnected and interdependent. “Ephesians 5:11 ff says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” Those of us who are not specifically called to this ministry still have the need to give a reason for our faith. Using the analogy of a body, even though we may not be that particular body member called ‘apologist’, it is still in each cell’s DNA.
The second question is similar, but different. How much should we as bivocational ministers be concerned with apologetics? What do we really need it for? The answer is perhaps even simpler for us than for fully-funded pastors. We work outside the church and are in constant touch with people who have questions and no grounding in the Christian faith. We truly need to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks”. If someone comes to us and asks genuinely seeking questions we need to be able to address those queries in an intellectually honest way. We need to be able to meet the world on it’s own ground and show that our faith really does make sense. This sounds scary, but it is not as bad as it sounds. Over the next few posts I will explain this radical statement.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” Isaiah 1:18 (KJV)