I have been thinking about apologetics. As I have been researching this through literature, conferences, seminars and classes, I realised that there are overwhelming resources in this area. There are many books, journals, articles, classes and discussions.
Nevertheless, it caused me to question,are we missing something? If so, what is it? I found a few things in the way we do apologetics that are questionable.
First, I realised there is much attention given to the intellectual debate in apologetics. Let me clarify that I am not against intellectual debate or research. I am trying to point out something that I feel is missing in apologetics. In my view we are missing a huge part in apologetics, that is, apologetics in the way we live.
Why do I say this? We can see that most of the apologetic books and articles we read focus on the intellectual debate and their goal is simply to win the debate. We do not find much about how we can win the souls and hearts of men and women. The winning of souls and hearts is not solely an intellectual debate.
Rather I submit, it is on how we live, how we treat others and how we live. It is important to remember that Jesus did not win the heart of the people solely by intellectual debate and demonstrating how wrong they were. Jesus also won the hearts and the souls of people by the way He lived, the way he treated people and the way He showed them care and love.
Is Christian apologetics purpose to win the hearts of people? I am sure every Christian would say yes. But, if that is true, where is Christ's model of apologetics in us? In my view this is something we need to start reflecting upon.
One of the main scriptures utilised in apologetics is 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 15. Most of the people who are into apologetics use this passage as a reference for the scripture telling us to defend our faith. I think it is true and there is no problem with it. Let's understand this passage and try to dig what is the purpose and goal of it: This is that text: "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 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".
The theme of 1 Peter is standing strong when suffering for Christ. The reason Peter writes this epistle to believers in the first century was to encourage them to be strong and have hope in Christ in the time of persecutions and sufferings that they were facing.
Right before this passage, before Peter introduced his topic, he was was talking about respecting one another (1 Peter chapter 2 verses 13 to Chapter 3 verse 12). After covering the topic of respecting each other, Peter starts talking about suffering for doing good. It is in this context of suffering and respect that this passage was given.
He says, "Always be prepared to give answer to everyone who asks to give you reason for the hope you have." Here Peter is talking about the hope we have in Christ in the midst of suffering and persecution. Then he proceeds with a condition where he says, "do this with gentleness."
We see this passage is primarily concerned about our behavior and actions. The condition of answering of our hope has to be done with a certain manner and that is with gentleness and respect. Even in this passage, our behavior and action have been emphasised.
Traditionally, apologetics is used to defend one's faith when it is under attack or being questioned. In our time, apologetics has shifted from defending our faith to 'offending others'.
It means that it is no longer a defending tool. We are so eager to attack and critique other people's beliefs and faith and prove them all wrong. It's almost become a game.
It is time for us to rethink our culture of apologetics and think where this culture is leading us if it continues to be this way. We have to bring in balances in our culture of apologetics and match it with deeds, actions and lifestyle along with intellectual debate.
The most powerful apologetic is how we live and act.
Mumin Faizy is a young Christian from the Middle East (Islamic world) and his interest research areas are philosophy and religious studies.
Mumin Faizy's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mumin-faizy.html