Pastor, you are an apologist.
Apologetics is the discipline of defending and making a case for the validity of the Christian faith. It will come as no surprise that contemporary culture and Christianity are not on friendly terms. At some level contemporary culture suggests that we are all good people trying to make our way in the world. Biblical Christianity claims something far different—we are sinners and can’t make our way in the world apart from God. Apologetic themes and arguments have a vital place in our preaching and teaching ministry.
I believe Apologetics is the connecting discipline between culture, theology, and evangelism. Culture, as I will use the term, is the essence of the contemporary way of thinking, values, and behavior in today’s America. Culture is partially responsible for shaping our perspectives. Therefore, when we preach and teach, we must address the cultural disconnect between people and God’s truth.
Theology is the understanding of and relationship to God that we have as believers and how that influences our interaction with the world around us. Theology (whether sound or poor) permeates what we do in church life. Our challenge in preaching and teaching is to make sure that we preach and teach theology in a way that is biblically sound.
Evangelism is our responsibility to share the story of Christ and message of his gospel for the purpose of winning people to Jesus Christ. Churches that are fulfilling their Christ-given mission are evangelistic, and our preaching must reflect a gospel-centeredness that challenges people to follow Christ.
As a discipline, apologetics assists the preacher in connecting theological truths to the issues of contemporary culture for the purpose of evangelism. In this understanding, apologetics is a supportive discipline. Theological truths matter, but they matter infinitely more as they challenge cultural practices. Apologetics built on a solid theological foundation frames questions and answers precisely in order to address the culture and confront people with the gospel.
Let me give just one example from our current context—gender defined by self rather than biology. Contemporary culture’s shift to accept self-identified gender stems from the sexual revolution of the past. Moreover, rejection of one’s birth gender is a rejection of the biblical definition of mankind being created in the image of God. This is a theological issue. Apologetics is not content to merely state the error of contemporary culture on this topic. Rather apologetics (particularly presuppositional apologetics) teaches us to question and engage the issue at a deeper level.
- Why do people believe we can identify as a different gender than our biology?
- Who is teaching these ideas?
- What implications do they have ethically and even practically?
- What is the logical end to a claim like this?
Researching and answering these deeper questions provides depth and clarity when preaching and teaching on the topic.
Instead of merely affirming a theological fact—we have been created in the image of God—addressing this issue through apologetics makes our theological affirmations reasonable and maybe even evangelistically fruitful.
For accessible apologetic reading that provides insights for preaching and teaching, here are several recommendations.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Tim Keller, The Reason for God
John Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God