I’m starting a new series called How to be a Good Apologist. I do not write this series because I am an expert at it. I write it because I’m on a journey to become that, and I want to encourage you all to take that journey with me.
A person’s worldview encompasses everything he thinks about life and reality. As a Christian, how well do you know your own worldview? What do you believe about God? Why is Jesus worth putting trust in? How can God be triune? What does the Bible say about slavery? Why do you have the ethical beliefs that you have?
The reason that it is important to know your worldview well is because it has apologetic value. In a previous post of mine, I distinguish between offensive apologetics and defensive apologetics. Offensive apologetics is the exercise of defending your faith by refuting arguments against it. Knowing your worldview well gives you valuable tools for responding to arguments against your faith.
The reason that it is important to know your worldview and engage in offensive apologetics is because it has evangelistic value. Often times, people have intellectual barriers to the Gospel that keeps them from accepting it, and these barriers are based on misunderstandings of what the Gospel is, what the Bible teaches, and what Christians believe. For example, if someone says “The doctrine of the Trinity is clearly contradictory. Nothing can be one and yet three. Since logical contradictions cannot exist, the Christian God cannot exist.” How would you answer that? Knowing your worldview well can help you articulate what you actually believe as a Christian and correct basic misunderstandings that people have towards Christianity. This can break down intellectual barriers and make them more open to the Gospel.
Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) was himself a Manichee before he became a Christian. When he was part of the Manichee community, he had many misunderstandings of Christian teaching that kept him from accepting the faith. But when he started listening to a bishop named Ambrose in Milan (A.D. 337-397), the absurdities that he thought the Christian worldview contained were actually straw men of what Christianity really taught.
“First what he said began to seem defensible, and I did not now think it impudent to assert the Catholic faith, which I had thought defenceless against Manichee critics.”
Over time, Augustine’s intellectual barriers broke down and he began to be convinced of the intellectual credibility of the Christian worldview.
“More and more my conviction grew that all the knotty problems and clevery calumnies which those deceivers of ours had devised against the divine books could be dissolved.”
Because of this and other factors in his life, he was eventually able to become a follower of Christ. This can still work today, and it will make your evangelism and outreach much more effective.
Apologetics isn’t just an intellectual exercise, but the intellectual side of the faith is neglected all too often in Christian circles. We’re not all called to be philosophers or theologians, but it is a part of our calling as Christians to be well informed about our worldview and destroy arguments against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5).