When reading the Gospels, have you noticed how smart Jesus was? People asked him questions, both sincere ones and duplicitous ones, but he was always able to give an answer that “marveled” them. He was a master of words and very good at poking holes in people’s arguments. So what about us?
As Christians, we typically cultivate our hearts. We do our daily devotionals, like praying and reading the Bible, and we worship the Lord in song in order to develop our affections for Him. This is a good thing, and we should never get lethargic in such an endeavor, but what we Christians can easily neglect is our intellectual life.
While having vast knowledge in systematic theology or the laws of logic aren’t required for genuine faith and evangelism, doctrine and apologetics can serve as their handmaiden. Have you ever been challenged in your faith by the simple enquiry of an unbeliever? When told that the church has caused many of the wars in history or that we don’t believe for intellectual reasons, do you know how to respond?
Peter says to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:15). Having intellectual stability in your Christian faith not only strengthens it, but is a powerful tool to reach the lost. The truth is we aren’t all going to be able to give the kind of answers Jesus did. We don’t need to be geniuses, but it’s important to think critically about the challenges to our faith and how to respond to them to the best of our ability. Over the next several months I will be examining some common challenges to the Christian faith and showing why they are ultimately toothless.
The most important thing to remember is that non-Christians are made in the image of God just as we are. Peter says to always give an answer “in gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (v. 15-16). We need to respect and love non-Christians, not break them down. We’re not trying to win arguments, we’re trying to win people. The ultimate reason for learning apologetics isn’t to get puffed up in our knowledge, but to win people into the Kingdom of God. So let’s cultivate our hearts and our minds for the glory of our Savior.