Many times when I do apologetics or simply talk about it people tell me they think it is the wrong approach. To them argument, discussion, or some other seemingly confrontational approach to sharing the gospel is not what Jesus would do.
Those that appose an apologetic approach are often those who I may be arguing with, but more often than not it is a fellow Christian who believes a confrontational approach is unbiblical, unloving or even unchristlike.
First, I’d like to point out that being loving doesn’t mean that you aren’t confrontational. We all know moments when our parents had to confront us in love. We have all experienced a moment that we had to confront a friend in love. So the idea that confrontation and love are mutually exclusive just doesn’t add up.
Along those same lines we often see that Jesus himself shows this tough love in many instances throughout scripture. Jesus calls Peter Satan in Matthew 16. And Jesus often corrects the disciples in such a way that wouldn’t exactly breed what we think of as kindness by todays standards. He essentially calls Phillip thick headed in John 14. The examples could go on.
As for this confrontational and argumentative approach of apologetics being unbiblical, I would like to look at several verses through scripture. These verses use the very words that we think of when we think of confrontation, argument, and apologetics:
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. -Acts 6:8-10
And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. -Acts 18:4
holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.- Titus 1:9
for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.- Acts 18:28
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. -Jude 1:3
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, – 2 Tim 3:16
The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.
– Phillipians 1:16
And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. – Acts 19:8-10
It seems if the disciples reasoned, defended, refuted, argued, contended, corrected, and persuaded people to come to Christ our apologetic approach, which does the same, is more than Biblical. Rather than this approach being the exception, it even looks as if this is the norm of how the disciples went about sharing the gospel. Acts 19 says that he reasoned daily. This was how they normally did evangelism. The disciples did not just present the gospel and hope that people accepted it they argued, they reasoned, they persuaded, and they contended with others that the gospel was true.
Even the wisdom of Proverbs encourages this approach, ‘A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!’ Proverbs 15:23
So is apologetics the wrong approach to evangelism? No, it’s a correct approach.