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The Wonderful World of Apologetics
“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.” 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
Do you have anyone in your life asking lots of “why” questions? If you’re a parent of young children, “why” might be one of the most common words in your household right now.
I remember when our children were between 3 and 5, it seemed like we could get 100 “why” questions a day. These questions would eventually phase out and reappear again at different seasons as they were growing up.
One morning when our kids were coming into their preteens, I came into our ensuite to get ready for work and written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror was: “ANSWER YOUR CHILDREN’S QUESTIONS”.
The LORD had spoken to my wife that morning and we recognized that we had another important window where we needed to be ready to answer their deeper questions about God, life and everything else. We kept that reminder on our mirror for months.
It may seem exhausting when our kids ask so many questions, or ask deep questions at the most random times, but it’s a very healthy sign and it’s an opportunity we can’t miss!
Even though we have so many great resources and teaching happening in our Coastal Kids and Youth ministries, we can’t expect that all their questions will be covered. As parents, we are still the most important Bible teachers in our children’s lives.
I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit as He helped us raise our kids and I’m thankful that they’re serving God today, but I’m also aware of missed opportunities where I didn’t take the deeper dive with them at times into certain doctrines and subjects and “why” we believe what we believe.
We live in a generation where “answering our children’s questions” is more important than ever and we’re not guaranteed good outcomes if we’re slack in this area.
Is God afraid of the big questions?
Some people think that to be a Christian means you never ask questions and that you just accept everything about God and the Bible on blind faith. The reality is that God wants us to ask tough questions and He’s not afraid of anything that you would ask Him. He’s actually inviting us to explore and seek out the answers to our most difficult questions.
God is also not afraid of being scrutinized. If something is truth, if the Bible is true, it can withstand the toughest scrutiny.
If your questions are sincere and you’re honestly seeking truth, exploring the answers will take you on a wonderful journey where your faith will become even stronger and you’ll find yourself even more amazed.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
Where will my questions lead?
What happens when you seek out the answers to your questions? Sometimes asking questions leads to other questions, or even better questions.
The ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, was known for persistent questioning in search of clarity and today we still call this style of teaching and learning the Socratic method. Answering a question with another question was also the hallmark of the Jewish rabbis who taught in Jesus’ day. In the gospels we see how Jesus also would often answer a question by posing another question.
Every sincere question we ask opens the door for us to increase and multiply in wisdom.
“But oh, that God would speak…that He would show you the secrets of wisdom! For they would double your prudence.” Job 11:5a,6a NKJV
The picture here is that behind every door of knowledge opened to you from questions you’ve asked; you will discover two new doors to open. For every question answered, God gives you two new questions to explore.
This is where the saying rings true, “The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know yet.”
Over time it becomes apparent that God’s wisdom and knowledge is truly inexhaustible, and that we will never stop learning and discovering truth as we continue to grow in Him.
If we say we have all our questions answered, is it possible we got the wrong answer – or the wrong question?
Discovering Christian Apologetics
Apologetics is focused on asking and answering questions that make for a sound, reasoned case for the Christian faith. It helps us gain a deeper understanding for why we believe what we believe and helps provide a defense for our faith to those who don’t understand or agree with it.
Personally, I love apologetics. I’m fascinated by each new discovery and believe that studying apologetics should be an important part of every believer’s spiritual diet. Often, we’ll see apologetics weaved into how the message of Christ is communicated each week at Coastal Church.
Apologetics comes from 1 Pet 3:15, where Peter encourages us as Christians to always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks us the reason for the hope that is within us. The Greek word for answer here is “apologia” which means to give a reasoned statement or defense.
In this verse we notice that Peter didn’t ask us to be ready to share “what” we believe, but to be ready to share the reasons for “why” we believe what we believe.
Some people might not believe that you can be a thinker and a Christian at the same time, but God wants us to think. He wants us to be very reasoned and thoughtful in our understanding of the hope we have within us in Christ.
Breaking down this verse gives us the essence of apologetics:
- Apologetics is honouring God. Peter says to sanctify and honour God in our hearts. Sharing and giving reasons for our faith comes from our intimate relationship with God.
- Apologetics is preparation. Love for God and others means taking the time to search and prepare thoughts and reasons for our faith that will help others discover Christ. It takes effort sometimes exploring these topics and finding answers.
- Apologetics is good conversation. If a conversation is flowing well, people will ask questions. Questions are good. In healthy conversation, honest questions are encouraged, validated, clarified and explored. Good conversation will invite more questions too.
- Apologetics is sound reasoning. While most of us still want to know the “who, what, when and where” questions, the deep need of humanity apart from all of God’s creation is the hunger to know “why”. When sharing our faith, we share the reasons “why” there is hope in Christ.
- Apologetics is personal and hopeful. Our personal testimony is often the most compelling explanation for our faith. People can see how Christ has changed us, how He is blessing us and where He’s taking us. It gives hope that if God did it for us, he can do it for them.
Do apologetics with gentleness and respect.
In our sharing and reasoning for our faith, gentleness and respect is at the core. We have many examples in our world around us of unhealthy dialog and discourse where people break down into divisive arguments when discussing difficult subjects. This can even happen within families.
Remember, Christians aren’t out to burn people with mic drops or ask gotcha questions. We communicate with gentleness and respect.
During a recent Coastal Leadership Summit, astrophysicist and outstanding Christian apologist, Dr. Hugh Ross shared how, “Gentleness and respect is not easy to build in your life. It takes time. It takes decades. But the pathway is through sharing your faith.”
What questions do you have?
Sometimes the best place to start when exploring the wonderful world of apologetics is with some of our own questions. What are some of the big questions you or your children have? What about some of the loved ones in our lives or our neighbours or coworkers? What questions do they have? Why not ask them?
You might be surprised how much you love exploring the answers.
I love anything to do with science and the Bible or with Biblical archaeology. Questions such as:
- What archaeological evidence is there for all the accounts and stories in the Bible?
- What about evidence for the Flood of Noah?
- Where is Mt. Sinai?
- How can I have confidence that the Bible is true?
There are so many great questions to ask and so many excellent apologetics resources available. I recently came across a blog from a young mom I thought was great entitled: 65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer.
It includes question like:
- What key arguments are there for (and against) God’s existence?
- Why would a good God allow evil to exist?
- What is the difference between absolute and relative truth?
- Where does it show in the Bible that Jesus claimed to be God?
Let’s enjoy exploring and let’s prepare ourselves for the questions that will be asked from those around us and especially from our children and the next generation.