Matthew R. Perry

Apologetics: For Whom Is This Area of Study?

In Apologetics on February 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

When ministers begin to introduce the function of apologetics to their people, many (myself included) feel the need to make the obligatory joke that this is not the study of apologizing for what you believe. This is a study of defending what you believe and why you believe it (coming from the Greek apologia which means “in defense of”).

I began to think on the role that apologetics plays in the life of our church and culture. After reading 1 Cor. 2:9-15, I began to understanding the main beneficiaries of this area are.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
[10] these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. [11] For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. [13] And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
[14] The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. [15] The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. [16] “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Notice verse 11: “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Trying to speak about the things of God to someone who does not have the Spirit of Christ in Him will fall on deaf ears. How do we receive the Spirit? When the Spirit moves on our hearts to repent and turn from sin, we surrender to Jesus Christ by faith in His death, burial and resurrection for our sins. Then we are no longer are own, but Christ reigns through the Holy Spirit. We now have a heart that is sensitive to the leading of God (Ezekiel 36:26-27), but we also now have a connection to God through the Spirit.

Given how the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is only through the indwelling Holy Spirit that anyone can “discern” (v. 14) the Scriptures. The natural person will not accept them, no matter how well-crafted those arguments are. “We have the mind of Christ” (v. 16), therefore Christians are able to receive the things of God in a right manner.

I say all this to say, the area of apologetics is not ultimately to convert non-believers, but to strengthen believers and to plant seeds in the hearts and minds of non-believers.

What think ye?

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  1. Seems a valid point. I wonder though about ones appologetic method and if one has more use in an area than another. I would be interested to see a post regarding different types of appologetics, pre-sup., evidential, ect. Do you consider one of these a more biblical approach? I have heard evediential is great for encouraging believers in their faith but not the best for dealing with non-believers.

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