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WHAT IS APOLOGETICS?. Dr. C.K.Tan BPharm MSc PhD MRPharmS PgCertMedEd St James’ Church, Audley, Stoke-on-Trent. Introduction. The 5th March 2005 issue of the Times reported on a year-long study of 14,000 British churchgoers and those who have left the Church. The survey showed that

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what is apologetics


Dr. C.K.Tan BPharm MSc PhD MRPharmS PgCertMedEd

St James’ Church, Audley, Stoke-on-Trent


The 5th March 2005 issue of the Times reported on a

year-long study of 14,000 British churchgoers and those

who have left the Church. The survey showed that

many clergy are unable to mount a convincing

argument in defence of Christianity and are not

interested in trying.

…. introduction

When asked to explain why Christianity might be

true, the common response is: “It is just a matter of

faith.” The report says: “This has resulted in a

growing number of people being left with the false

impression that there are no strong reasons for

Christian belief. Ultimately they abandon

churchgoing and are mystified that Christianity

continues to grow elsewhere in the world.”

…. introduction

People desperately want churches to emphasise the

many reasons why believing in God and Christianity

makes sense and to challenge a doubting society.

One of the top 5 needs of respondents is apologetics


…. introduction
  • On 31 July 2002, Jonathan Petre (Religion Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph) reported on a survey that showed a third of Church of England clergy doubt or disbelieve in the physical Resurrection and only half are convinced of the truth of the Virgin birth. The survey, carried out by Christian Research, polled nearly 2,000 of the Church's 10,000 clergy.
  • It is therefore clear that both clergy and laity need training in the reasons for their beliefs.
what is apologetics1
What is apologetics?
  • The English word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word ‘apologia’ which means “to give a reason or defense”.
  • 1 Peter 3:15: ‘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.’
  • So, the Apostle Peter wrote that ALL Christians need to be ready to give an defence of their Christian hope to everyone who asks them, adding importantly, that it should be done with gentleness and respect (1Pet 3:15).
what is apologetics2
… what is apologetics?
  • This therefore is not an activity just for those who are good at it. We must all be ready to give an answer to everyone.
  • Apologetics is the Science and Art of Christian Persuasion.
why is apologetics needed
Why is apologetics needed?

1. The Biblical injunction in 1 Peter 3:15, ‘Always be

prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone

who asks you to give the reason for the hope that

you have.’

Christians are not doing well in this.

why is apologetics needed1
… why is apologetics needed?

2. In a post-Christian culture thoroughly saturated with

humanistic and naturalistic philosophies, the seeker and sceptic alike are unlikely to accept a position that starts with ‘the Bible says’.

Apologetics is a means of engaging the non-Christian at his point of understanding in order to facilitate the eventual sharing of the message of the gospel.

why is apologetics needed2
… why is apologetics needed?

3. There are tremendous high quality resources

available which are under-utilised, or not pitched at lay and non-expert level.

4. We need to engage the younger generation. Those of you who, like me, have teenage children or young adults will understand the need to adopt an apologetic approach in addition to sound teaching in church.

what is an apologist
What is an apologist?
  • Apologists defend the faith
  • They defeat false ideas
  • They destroy speculations raised up against the knowledge of God
  • Defence or attack?

The New Testament does not distinguish between apologetics and evangelism as though they were different activities.

what is an apologist1
… what is an apologist?
  • ‘Offensive apologetics’ – making a positive case for Christianity by offering, for example, evidence for the existence of God, for the resurrection of Christ, or for the Christian faith through fulfilled prophecy.
  • ‘Defensive’ apologetics – answering challenges to Christianity like the attacks on the authority and reliability of the Bible, answering the problem of evil, or dealing with Darwinian macro-evolution, to name a few.
barriers to faith
Barriers to faith

The path to faith is often littered with various barriers.

An apologist who is seeking to help someone come to

faith must first identify the particular obstacles between

that person and a commitment of faith:

  • Barrier of Pride
  • Barrier of Sin & Lust
  • Barrier of False Beliefs
  • Barrier of False paths
what do you need to be an apologist
What do you need to be an apologist?
  • An apologist represents Christ.
  • He requires three basic skills:

I. Knowledge– an accurately informed mind

II. Wisdom – an artful method (‘tactical wisdom’)

III. Character – an attractive manner

arguing is a virtue
Arguing is a virtue
  • There is a difference between having an argument to ‘arguing your case’
  • General rule: if anyone in the discussion gets angry, you lose.
  • Make sure it’s your ideas that offend and not you. That your beliefs cause the dispute and not your behaviour.
arguing is a virtue1
… arguing is a virtue
  • The mind is important: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mk 12:30).
  • The ability to argue well is vital for clear thinking. That’s why arguments are good things. Arguing is a virtue because it helps us to determine what is true and discard what is false.
  • Truth is central to Christianity, and the ability to argue is central to the task of knowing the truth.
my approach to apologetics
My approach to apologetics

1. No one comes to Christ through intellectual understanding alone. Salvation comes from the preaching of the Word and the Holy Spirit’s sovereign work in convicting the sinner of his sin.

But it doesn’t follow that if God’s Spirit plays a vital role, then reason and persuasion play none. In the apostle Paul’s mind there was no conflict.

Acts 17:2-4 ‘As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining andproving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead….And some of the Jews were persuaded….’

my approach to apologetics1
… my approach to apologetics

2. Apologetics is a tool for strengthening the faith of believers by supplementing their Biblical and theological understanding.

Apologetics without the corresponding teaching of sound Biblical knowledge in the church will not deepen spiritual growth.

my approach to apologetics2
… my approach to apologetics

3. Apologetics is useful in the context of evangelism as an aid to removing the intellectual obstacles that hinder understanding of the gospel message.

We are removing a few ‘stones’ from the path of the non-Christian.

my approach to apologetics3
… my approach to apologetics

4. Apologetics should be used with gentleness and humility; you can win an argument and yet lose the soul

Greg Koukl and the Ambassador model

This approach trades more on friendly curiosity – a kind of relaxed diplomacy – than on confrontation.

Colossian 4:6 ‘Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’

my approach to apologetics4
… my approach to apologetics

5. Apologetics have to be set in a doctrinal framework and the reformed classic evangelical doctrinal position will be used as the basis for all my teaching.

set yourself modest goals
Set yourself modest goals

Engage with the sceptic

  • In cricket terminology, you don’t need to hit a boundary. You don’t even need to hit a run. Just getting up to bat – engaging others in friendly conversation – will do.
  • Sceptics often have other sceptics for company and have not heard really the Christian position
  • You simply present a Christian slant to the discussion
set yourself modest goals1
… set yourself modest goals

You do not need win an argument; just leave

him/her something to think about

  • I never set out to convert anyone! All I want to do is to put a stone in someone’s shoe. I want to give him something worth thinking about, something he can’t ignore because it continues to poke at him in a good way.

(Greg Koukl)

set yourself modest goals2
… set yourself modest goals

Be quick to listen and slow to speak

  • Pay attention to their story and to the reasons for their beliefs.
  • It would help you understand their real reason for rejecting the Christian faith.
  • It would help you to detect the flaws and weaknesses in their arguments
set yourself modest goals3
… set yourself modest goals

We should be real

  • Be yourself
  • Acknowledge your limitations
  • Acknowledge there are things you don’t know.
  • If there is something you cannot answer, say that you will find out for him.
set yourself modest goals4
… set yourself modest goals

Evangelism is a process

  • Individuals are at different stages in their awareness of truth, God, and the gospel.
  • You are not trying to convert the person in one step
  • You don’t have to ‘close the deal’ every time!
  • Go slowly and prayerfully.
set yourself modest goals5
… set yourself modest goals

Review your conversations

  • After an encounter, think back what you could have done differently and, therefore, prepare yourself better for the future
  • Practise with each other (‘rehearsals’)
  • Make note of what you need to learn
  • There’s no short cut to being an effective apologist!


  • Tactics – a game plan for discussing your Christian convictions.

Gregory Koukl (2009). Zondervan.

  • “True for you but not for me”. Overcoming objections to Christian faith.

Paul Copan (2009). Bethany House

  • The Case for Faith. A journalist investigates the toughest objections to Christianity.

Lee Strobel (2000). Zondervan.

… resources
  • The Case for Christ. A journalist’s personal investigation of the evidence for Jesus.

Lee Strobel (1998). Zondervan.

  • What’s so great about Christianity?

Dinesh D’Souza (2007). Tyndale House Publishers.

… resources
  • Evidence that demands a verdict.

Josh McDowell (1999). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

  • The Post-Christian Mind. Harry Blamires.
  • The Creation Answers Book

Don Batten (editor) (2006). Creation Book Publishers.

internet resources
Internet resources

General apologetics

  • Bethinking – Engage with culture. By Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF)


  • Stand to Reason.


  • Ravi Zacharias Trust (in conjunction with the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University)


  • Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig


internet resources1
… internet resources

Creation, evolution and intelligent design

  • Answers in Genesis (creationist science website)


  • Creation Ministries International (creationist science website)


  • Centre for Intelligent Design (U.K.)


  • Faraday Institute of Science and Religion (theistic evolution)

http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/index.php (some good material but exercise great caution!)