Why Do We Need To Teach High School Students Apologetics?

I don’t think many churches are teaching apologetics.  I know some that are, but I think they are the exception, not the norm.  I was never taught apologetics in high school.  The best answer I was given to why I should believe the Bible to be the word of God was to read 1 Timothy 3:16 – not the best answer!  In fact I wonder if that answer damaged the faith of the high school peer that asked it.

Here is a sampling of feedback I received from high school students after their first unit test on Christian Apologetics:

This section significantly helped me very much so. Not by strengthening my faith, I didn’t actually have any doubts or skepticisms about the Gospel that needed answering. I am already very strong in my faith. The way it helped me so much, is by making it easier for me to answer other people’s questions. Being a faithful Christian, many of my non-religious or skeptical friends, come to me looking for guidance or answers regarding Scripture. I would give them pretty good answers that would generally leave them feeling satisfied. Now I feel like I can answer all of their questions 110%, eliminating any doubt or fear in their minds.

This apologetics section definitely helped me to learn to better defend my faith. I have a lot of non-Christian friends who I regularly converse with about my religion, so this class gave me new tools & talking points that I can discuss with them, as well as raised new questions that I have further researched on my own. The most significant thing I learned was about the historical authenticity of Jesus’ life & the fact that there were pagan historians who affirmed Jesus’ life.

Yes, after studying this past month I have learned that I knew very little about how to defend my faith to those who don’t understand.

Studying the reliability of the Gospels and answering questions about who Jesus is helped me throughout my beliefs and doubts. As I was researching and reading the book, my doubts on the Christianity faded away, since it seems so true! There are so many evidences that Jesus was a real, existed figure and that he has been resurrected. These studies answered my question of if Jesus even existed because I sometimes thought that Jesus could be just a fictional character. The most significant thing I have learned from this section of the class is that only the New Testament had time gap less than 100 between the original and the copies.

Studying the Gospels and the questions about who Jesus is really helped, as it helps me to have more apologetic evidence to further back my faith, both in my own mind and to defend it to other people. The most significant thing I learned were the reasons for believing the resurrection. Since I don’t often see miracles, hearing of someone being legitimately dead, and the rising again, is worthy of attention. But it is also hard to believe. Reading the evidences for it helped strengthen the idea in my mind.

Studying the reliability of the Gospels and answering questions about who he is definitely helped me. I have gotten into situations before where I wish I had the knowledge that I need to answer various questions from friends. I feel more equipped to get into discussions from now on.

These questions have made me much more knowledgeable on the Gospels and Jesus. Before I just believed in these things because I knew that I should. Now I know that these things actually happened and are actually true. I feel a lot more confident in my faith now and feel like I can talk to people about Christ more now because I can support what I believe in.

If you still have any doubts about why you should apologetics in your church, send me a message or leave a comment.  If you need some help or suggestions in getting started, send me a message or leave a comment.  Thank you for your time and for reading.

What is apologetics?

What is apologetics?

Apologetics comes from the Greek word, apologia, which means defense.  Building a case for or defending a certain position of thought or belief is called apologetics, and a person who supplies the defense is called an apologist.  There are many different types of apologists.  Every religion can have its own apologetics.  This blog deals explicitly with Christian apologetics.

What is required for apologetics?

Apologetics is a difficult branch of Christian study.  It requires a working knowledge of many branches of Christian theology (read “What is Theology”).  For example, before a defense for the Christian faith can be given, the apologist would need to know Christian doctrine inside and out in order to know if the objection being raised against Christianity is even against a true teaching found within the Bible.  The apologists would then need to be able to correct the misunderstanding in biblical teaching from the scriptures in a way that the objector will understand.  Sometimes the misunderstanding comes from not knowing the full context of that passage within its chapter or book or within the Bible as a whole, which would require Biblical Theology.  Other times the misunderstanding might arise from a lack of knowing the cultural context, historical context, literary type, or the Biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek, which would require Exegetical Theology to resolve the doctrinal misunderstanding behind the objection.

The Apologist would need to know Historical Theology, which deals with the history of the church and church movements.  This might be necessary to know in order to answer objections to the church’s involvement in the Crusades, or objections that there isn’t satisfactory archeological proof to back up the Bible’s claims.

The study of Philosophy from different worldviews would be necessary to understand and relate to the mindset of anyone an apologist might meet.  Philosophy is good for the apologist too, because it helps the apologist build reasons for the Christian faith based on reason and logic, so as to be able to make a defense for the existence of God without needing to use the Bible.  This is important because if someone doesn’t already value the Bible as the Word of God or agree with its historical reliability then it has no authority or reason to be trustworthy to that person.

Pastoral Theology is also necessary in apologetics.  Many people may offer objection after objection and hear answer after answer but never come to faith, not because the answers weren’t satisfactory for their intellectual yearning, but because of another issue in their life: a vice or lifestyle they refuse to give up, growing up in an abusive Christian family, hurtful words from a pastor or church member, or some other personal issue apart from “head knowledge” objections to the Christian faith.

A Christian apologist must also study other religious faiths. It’s important to be able to show that you care enough about a person to take the time to learn and understand what he or she believes without only having the agenda of changing his or her believes to yours.  Also, some religions might have similarities in beliefs, teachings, and practices as Christianity, and if so these similarities might be good starting points to create a bridge to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s also good to know what other religions teach so that the prevalent teaching that all religions are at their core the same, or that they all are just different ways to the same end, can be countered by actually showing the specific differences that make them each truly unique.

A good knowledge and following of pop culture is helpful for apologetics.  Television shows, movies, music, and art all tend to present a certain worldview or philosophy in life.  Evidence of this is the current fad of putting out books with titles such as The Philosophy of South Park, The Philosophy or Star Trek, and The Philosophy of the Simpsons.  Being aware of the religious imagery, ideas, and philosophy of the people an apologist interacts with is key to initiating religious conversations in a way that is not as confrontational and in fact natural – it’s simply talking about issues brought up in a movie.

Important to Remember

Apologetics is not purely an academic, “head” practice but it is also very a “heart” practice.  Apologetics is very much related to being considerate and polite when presenting the teaching of the Christian faith and always handling the objections to the faith out of love for the objector.  “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV).

It’s important to remember that apologetics does not save a person’s soul.  God saves people, all three persons of the Trinity – the Father through sending his Son and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Jesus in offering himself as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, and the Holy Spirit through creating faith in the hearts of men.  Christians should never lose sight of this, so that we remain ever humble and in prayer through all apologetic efforts, trusting that it is the Spirit at work in us to bring others into faith in Christ.

Finally, no Christian is off the hook when it comes to apologetics.  “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [apologia – a defense] 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).